Many expensive gifts that were given to former president Donald Trump and his family by foreign leaders are being investigated by congressional investigators.

According to those with knowledge of the situation, the National Archives, one of the institutions tasked with preserving presidential gifts, has been approached for assistance by the House Oversight Committee in locating the artifacts.

An individual who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the gifts were unusual and included golf clubs from the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a soccer ball from the 2018 World Cup from Russian President Vladimir Putin, a gold-plated Horus collar from Egypt’s president, a huge painting of Trump from El Salvador’s president, and a $6,400 King Abdulaziz al Saud collar, a ceremonial honour from Saudi Arabia, according to The Washington Post.


People familiar with the request believe that the dozens of gifts are worth at least $50,000 as a whole. According to sources familiar with the request, the committee has requested the archives to determine if the presents are among those that were legally obliged to be transferred from the White House to the archives at the end of Trump’s presidency. According to a Trump adviser, the committee is also interested in hearing from Trump’s team on its record-keeping practises.

A representative for the Oversight Committee refused to comment other than to note that the inquiry is still underway, so it’s unclear why the committee asked for these particular things. Additionally, the Archives declined to comment, leaving it unknown as to how far along the search for these items is and whether or not any of the presents on the list were truly accounted for.

Both the Trump administration’s gift-handling staff and a spokesman for the president did not reply to requests for comment.

Following the discovery of troves of documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, including extremely sensitive intelligence about China and Iran, agents launched an inquiry into whether he and his advisers improperly handled classified documents.

The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, a 1966 law that forbids presidents and other government officials from personally keeping gifts from foreigners worth more than $415 unless they pay for them, was the subject of a separate investigation this summer by the Oversight committee at the request of its chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney.

Anyone who wrongfully retains the presents is not subject to any specific criminal punishment under the law. But according to ethics experts, depending on the situation, criminal prosecution might be necessary.

“If you have a very valuable item that you are obligated by law to turn over to the federal government and you fail to do that, I don’t know that would preclude a criminal action — we’ve just never seen it done,” said Virginia Canter, the chief ethics counsel at CREW, an ethics watchdog organization.

Items that were presented to members of the Trump family but may not have been properly reported to the State Department are among the items the Oversight committee has requested from the Archives. Additional items that were reportedly in the Trumps’ executive residence in the White House, the West Wing, or other places near the end of the administration, such as Trump Tower or Mar-a-Lago, are items that were most likely given in 2020, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The White House failed to provide the State Department with a list of gifts that officials received from foreign governments before leaving office, according to the New York Times, which broke the story that the State Department was unable to fully account for gifts that Trump and other White House officials received during their final year in office. According to testimony gathered by the committee, the office was in complete disorder.

Maloney’s committee is currently attempting to account for particular gifts. Various dresses from Oman, a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, an Afghan rug, a crystal ball, and various jewellery items, including diamond and gold earrings, are also included in the extensive request sent to the Archives. It also includes a marble slab commemorating the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, an antique framed signed photo of Queen Elizabeth II, a marble photo of the monarch from the early 1900s, a bust of Gandhi, an Afghan rug, and a bust of Gandhi

A 2012 congressional research study states that the White House Presents Unit typically keeps track of all domestic and international gifts received by the president and the first family, as well as the gift’s value. A representative may pay the full worth of a gift if they want to keep it.

If not, the gift is taken to the Archives, where it is kept for presidential libraries. The park service of the Department of the Interior receives gifts intended for the White House, whereas the General Services Administration receives gifts that are not intended for the Archives or the president’s personal collection.

A distinct list of all presents from a foreign government to a federal employee is published each year by the Office of Protocol in the State Department. Trump “failed to comply with the law requiring foreign gift reporting” during his final year in office, according to data provided by the State Department, Maloney said in a letter asking for a review of Trump’s gifts to acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall in June.

“The Department of State noted that during the Trump Administration, the Office of the Chief of Protocol failed to request a listing of foreign gifts received in 2020 from the White House. The Department is no longer able to obtain the required records,” Maloney wrote to the Archives.

Maloney asked for all records and information pertaining to gifts received by Trump or members of his family from the final year of the Trump administration, as well as all correspondence between the Archives and Trump, his family, and White House staff regarding foreign gifts. This information included the location and value of the gifts, the identity of the donor, and any gift reporting.

The Trump administration’s record-keeping procedures have a pattern that includes the failure to account for presents.

The FBI seized a number of things during their August raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and house that were labelled as “gifts.” It’s unclear whether the seized items were lawfully transferred to Mar-a-Lago after being provided to Trump by foreign countries when he was president.

The Washington Post has previously reported that White House officials expressed worries about the presents that Trump had received as president that were still in the White House rather than being properly turned over to the National Archives in the final days of his administration.

The Post has previously reported that Trump departed the White House with a variety of objects, including a scale model of the proposed makeover of Air Force One and a miniature replica of one of the black border wall slats with an engraved inscription on top. Trump’s correspondence with Kim Jong Un, who is the leader of North Korea, was found in 15 boxes of materials that the National Archives retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in January. Trump had earlier called these letters “love letters.”

“This president was very much into holding onto things,” said a former Trump White House staffer who was involved with record management and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “Mementos and gifts are a big thing with him. Throughout his whole life he has created mementos.”

According to John Kelly, a former chief of staff at the White House, when Trump was in office, he always sought to keep gifts from foreign heads of state.

Kelly said that while he had given his staff instructions on how to record gifts from foreign leaders when offered the chance to purchase the items, Trump vehemently refused to do so. Kelly said that “Trump was adamant that they were his gifts, and he said that he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t keep them.”