Former President Donald Trump walked away from the White House last year without providing the State Department with a legally required accounting of the gifts he received from foreign governments in 2020, officials revealed in a report Friday.
The requirement was also ignored by former Vice President Mike Pence and other officials in the Trump administration, according to authorities.
The department made attempts to collect the missing information from the National Archives and Records Administration and the General Services Administration, but was told that “potentially relevant records are not available” to the protocol office “under applicable access rules for retired records,” the report stated.
Trump’s now predictable brazen flouting of procedure means that the State Department lacks basic information to determine if the gifts were somehow improper — such as so expensive that they could be construed as a bribe for special favors.
Federal law requires that each government department and agency must submit a list to the State Department of gifts over $415 officials received from foreign governments. The scrutiny is intended to ensure that foreign governments don’t gain undue influence over U.S. officials.
Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush administration, tweeted that “Trump’s entire White House staff flipped the middle finger at a federal statute and the emoluments Clause of the Constitution. We have no idea what foreign payoffs they got and from whom,” he added.
Trump’s refusal to abide by records laws was apparent when he hauled some 15 boxes of official documents — including some clearly marked “classified” and even “top secret” — from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago residence when he left office. It was all supposed to be turned over to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
He also constantly ripped up documents in the White House that should have been saved and turned over to the Archives. Officials from the National Archives had to tape back together what they could when documents were demanded by the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection.
The Justice Department is launching an investigation into Trump’s removal of official documents to his residence, The Washington Post reported Thursday. The FBI would be expected to investigate if any foreign actors had access to the top secret information, The New York Times reported.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform began investigating the swiped boxes of documents in February.
Trump has insisted that taking official documents home with him was completely “routine” and “ordinary.”