Foreign leaders restrained in gifts to Trumps in 2018

1010 WINS Newsroom
February 24, 2020 - 3:46 pm

U.S. President Donald Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, look at gift from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as they tour Gandhi Ashram, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Ahmedabad, India. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Foreign leaders appear to have scaled back their generosity when it comes to gifts given to President Donald Trump, his family and top officials.

That's according to an accounting of official presents to the first family and senior Trump administration officials posted to the Federal Register website Monday. The list shows that Trump, his wife, Melania, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner reported receiving $88,420 worth of gifts from foreign leaders in 2018. That's down from more than $140,000 they reported in 2017.

As in 2017, Melania Trump received the single most valuable item on the list. This year it was a set of six Nymphenburg porcelain plates valued at $23,000 from the sheikh of Qatar. She also received two decorative chairs from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi estimated to be worth $10,000, a $4,200 bed cover from the Uzbek president, a set of candle prickets valued at $1,010 from Jordan's queen and a $1,280 clutch from the Belgian prime minister's partner.

Virtually all the gifts to the Trumps were turned over to the National Archives for display or storage, but as government employees, they have the option to purchase them. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump opted to buy four bracelets they were given by Jordan's king and queen that were valued at a total of $3,185.

The most valuable gift given Trump himself was from French President Emmanuel Macron: a Louis Vuitton golf bag and a collection of photographs that was valued at $8,250. In keeping with the golf theme but on a more modest scale, Trump was gifted a hickory putter by the mayor of Davos, Switzerland, valued at $450.

Trump also received crystal footed bowl adorned with American and Irish flags from Ireland's prime minister worth $3,800; a miniature silver replica of Uzbekistan's Registan complex from the country's president that was valued at $2,950; and a porcelain vase and framed facsimile documents issued by Queen Mary of Portugal in 1783 from the Portuguese president, estimated to be worth $2,270.

Saudi leaders are often the most prolific gift givers to U.S. presidents, and 2018 was no exception. Saudi King Salman gave Trump a figurine of a gold-plated camel standing near a watering hole with palm trees, valued at $2,650, and the Saudi crown prince gave Melania Trump a bowl and frame ensemble estimated to be worth $2,000.

As in the past, some gifts seemed designed to appeal to the president's ego, and Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc went in on that theme for a second year in a row. He presented a portrait of Trump in a gold frame that was valued at $3,100. In 2017, he gave a $1,880 gemstone portrait of Trump in front of an American flag.

Few of the gifts had direct connections to Trump's policies, a rare exception being quasi-rectangular stone block that recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel given to the president by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, valued at $600.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, absent from 2017's list, made an appearance in the 2018 accounting, having given Trump a World Cup collectors' box containing 12 silver medallions worth $1,500.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was another frequent recipient of gifts from foreign leaders in 2018. He reported receiving a $1,580 wooden table and chair set from the president of Uzbekistan, a bronze statue on a marble base valued at $1,300 from the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, a $1,400 pen from Japan's foreign minister, and a painting and a bottle of Moldovan cognac from Moldova's prime minister worth $1,060.

Most of Pompeo's gifts were transferred to the General Services Administration, but the disposition of one batch of presents — from Egypt's intelligence chief — valued at $520 was listed as “pending.” That included a crystal statue, a mother of pearl backgammon set and a book entitled “The Crimes of the Brotherhood Terrorist Organization.”

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