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Tuesday August 16, 2022

Like ‘buddy’ Imran, Trump also faces Toshakhana scandal

Investigations have been launched against Donald Trump's “apparent failure to account for gifts from foreign government officials while in office"

June 08, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Like Pakistan's Toshakhana gate, Washington authorities have started an investigation against former President Donald Trump's “apparent failure to account for gifts from foreign government officials while in office" after learning there may be thousands of dollars-worth of items that are either missing or were not tracked properly, according to a new letter sent to the National Archives by the House Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman.

The committee says it has received information from the State Department which “indicates the Trump administration did not prioritize this obligation and failed to comply with the law that governs foreign gift reporting during President Trump's final year in office," the letter states. The US media has flashed the story. "As a result, the foreign sources and monetary value of gifts President Trump received remain unknown," it adds. Interestingly, Pakistan’s deposed prime minister Imran Khan, a known friend of Trump, has been facing similar charges on account of foreign gifts. Imran has been accused of selling valuable gifts, including a precious watch gifted by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Later, the watchwas procured by the Crown Prince from the market where it was sold. Imran used to call Trump his personal buddy and incidentally they had several resemblances, including the use of harsh and insulting language about their opponents and critics. The media has been their favourite target.

Observers pointed out that despite repeated requests former Prime Minister Imran Khan has failed to furnish details of the gifts he had received from foreign dignitaries. In Washington, the Oversight Committee is now requesting information from the National Archives about the foreign gifts that Trump and members of his family received during the former president's term.

The committee has asked the National Archives to provide all applicable documents and communications about the gifts that Trump and his family members received from January 2020 through January 2021 by June 20.

Now, due to media reporting, the department knows that certain gifts are missing. "For example, during President Trump's visit to India in February 2020, he received a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, a marble replica of Gandhi's 'Three Monkeys' statue, and a spinning wheel, among other gifts," the letter says. The State Department has been trying to track down the missing information, but it does not have access to all the necessary records, according to the letter, signed by chairwoman Carolyn Maloney.

The laws, including those that place limitations on what foreign gifts US officials are able to accept, are put in place to ensure members of an outgoing administration are not inappropriately influenced by other governments either during their time in office or after they leave. A US official cannot legally accept a personal gift from a foreign source of more than $415, the committee notes.

According to a top State Department official who briefed the committee last month and public reporting, Trump officials, including members of the former President's family, maintained possession of items each valued in the tens of thousands of dollars range -- raising concerns that there are potentially more items missing that are worth just as much, if not more. Other gifts, such as a rare whiskey valued at $5,800 that was gifted to then-Secretary of State Pompeo, went missing, according to the State Department. Last year Pompeo's lawyer, William Burck, told The Wall Street Journal that the former secretary of state had "no recollection of receiving the bottle of whiskey and does not have any knowledge of what happened to it."

Traditionally the gifts a president receives on a foreign trip and the gifts for the secretary of state are eventually given to the State Department to be storage in a gift vault before the gifts go to GSA if they are worth over $415. But another complexity is that State

Department officials told the congressional committee that the Trump administration's accounting of the "vault" was left in "complete disarray.

Comments

    Saleem commented 2 months ago

    What happened to bigger buddies; Nawaz & Zardari?

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