WASHINGTON – Donald Trump announced Monday he sent a gold-painted golf club to the National Archives and Records Administration after House Democrats criticized him for failing to report more than 100 gifts from foreign leaders he received as president.
The National Archives didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the golf club had arrived.
House Democrats had criticized Trump for failing to pass along gifts to the government because of their potential influence on his foreign policy. But Trump argued he didn’t need to report the golf driver worth $3,755 because he received it in November 2016 as president-elect before he entered the White House.
“I am pleased to report that after a search, we were able to find the gold (paint!) Driver given to me by my friend & former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe,” Trump said in the post. “It was in a locker, with other clubs, at Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach County, Florida.”
Trump said he had never used the club. But Golf Digest added to a report from Politico that Trump appeared to swing the club at a driving range.
Foreign gifts are just part of Trump’s disputes with the National Archives. The agency sought documents from his administration under the Presidential Records Act for more than a year before the FBI searched his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, and found thousands of documents, including hundreds with classified markings.
A Justice Department special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating the documents for potential criminal charges. Trump’s return of the golf club came a week after he was arraigned in New York on charges he falsified business records.
Here is what we know about the gifts:
Trump and his family failed to report more than 100 gifts worth more than a combined $250,000 to the State Department from 2017 through 2019, according to an inspector general’s report. Another report in April 2022 found the department couldn’t fully account for gifts received in 2020, the final year of the former president’s administration.
In releasing the findings last month, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, warned that if presidents didn’t report valuable gifts they receive in office, foreigners could influence U.S. policy.
The General Services Administration and National Archives and Records Administration are supposed to track the gifts reported through the State Department, which the report says didn’t happen.
But Trump spokesman, Steven Cheung, has disputed the report’s findings. He has said House Democrats were working with accomplices at the National Archives to lie about the disclosures.
Committee Democrats reported a variety of gifts to Trump and his family that lawmakers claim were reported to the State Department, but then not bought by the recipient or turned over to government agencies.
The gifts Democrats said the agencies couldn’t locate or find receipts for included:
From Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates: items worth more than a combined $45,000, including three to Trump and one to his wife, former first lady Melania Trump. The gifts included a $24,000 Saudi dagger and two sword sets worth $8,800.
From El Salvador: a “larger-than-life-sized” painting of Trump.
From Japan: in addition to the “gold” driver, a putter valued at $460 and another driver valued at $3,040.
From India: 17 items worth a combined $47,000 including an $8,500 vase, a $4,600 model of the Taj Mahal and $1,900 cuff links.
The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act requires disclosure of all gifts over a minimal value to the president, vice president and their families. The White House compiles the list and provides it to the State Department, which publishes an annual list.
The government typically holds on to the gifts unless the recipients buy them. For example, General Services Administration records show Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who was also a senior adviser, bought five Saudi gifts.
But committee Democrats say the White House requested the National Archives return a number of foreign gifts. The archives had no record of other gifts, according to the report.