Trump accused of being ‘really stupid or really corrupt’ over missing gift records

Government ethics experts say they are stunned after the US State Department said records are missing of the gifts Donald Trump received while he was president.

“It’s flagrant and it looks terrible,” Richard Painter, who served as former president George W Bush’s top ethics lawyer, told The New York Times. “Either it was really stupid or really corrupt.”

Federal officials are required by law to inform the State Department of any gifts from foreign governments worth more than $415. But as the Trump administration made its chaotic exit from the White House in January 2021, it allegedly neglected to send the list.

As a result, the State Department said in its report, much of the required data is missing – specifically, all gifts to all White House officials for the entire year of 2020.

In a footnote, the department explained that the Chief of Protocol – who in 2020 was a Trump appointee – did not gather the information.

“The State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol did not submit the request for data to all reporting agencies prior to January 20, 2021 (at which time there was a change in administrations),” the report says. “In addition, the Executive Office of the President did not, prior to that date, transmit to the Secretary of State a listing of all statements filed during the preceding year, 2020. As a result, the data required to fully compile a complete listing for 2020 is unavailable.”

An alternative explanation might be that White House officials received no gifts at all in 2020 – but as Times reporter Michael Schmidt pointed out, this is not the case.

“Despite the pandemic in 2020 at least a dozen foreign leaders visited the White House and Trump traveled abroad to India and Switzerland,” Mr Schmidt tweeted. “In India he received a bust of Gandhi, a sculpture of Gandhi’s famous ‘three monkeys’ metaphor and a spinning wheel. None were listed.”

Gifts to Trump officials outside the White House – such as former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, former secretary of defense Mark Esper, and former CIA director Gina Haspel – are accounted for in the report.

But gifts to Mr Trump himself, his family, former vice president Mike Pence, and other White House staff members are all missing.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Trump’s spokesperson for comment.

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