No Animal Was Hurt: Saudis Gifted Trump Fake Big Cat Furs During 2017 Visit - Report
© AP Photo / Evan VucciIn this May 20, 2017 file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump holds a sword and dances with traditional dancers during a welcome ceremony at Murabba Palace, in Riyadh.
© AP Photo / Evan Vucci
The extravagant gifts were offered to Trump on his first overseas presidential visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017. During that visit, Trump administration officials reportedly received a total of 82 gifts.
According to a New York Times fresh report, the Saudi royal family gave former President Donald Trump phony tiger and cheetah fur gifts, as well as a dagger with an ivory handle.
Citing a State Department report, obtained by the newspaper via a Freedom of Information Act request, the outlet noted that the furs and dagger were reportedly investigated for probable Endangered Species Act violations.
According to the report, the dagger and furs, among the most expensive gifts, were not disclosed to the government as the law states until Trump's final full day in office. The gifts were seized by the US Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service citing endangered species concerns, however, the furs did not break any laws because they are not made of genuine large cat furs.
“Wildlife inspectors and special agents determined the linings of the robes were dyed to mimic tiger and cheetah patterns and were not comprised of protected species," Tyler Cherry, a spokesman for the Interior Department said.
The exquisite gold-clad ivory handle of the dagger, meanwhile, "appears to possibly contain tooth or bone of some variety," according to Interior investigators, but "additional laboratory analysis would be required to identify the species."
Trump was presented with the dagger during the 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia by a Qatari official.
© AFP 2023In this image from 21 May 2017, US President Donald Trump, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Saudi King Salman, grasp an orb during a forum in Riyadh.
In this image from 21 May 2017, US President Donald Trump, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Saudi King Salman, grasp an orb during a forum in Riyadh.
© AFP 2023
The report noted that it is unknown whether the Saudi royal family was aware of the fact that the furs were actually fake. The revelations could become an embarrassment for the Saudi ruling dynasty, as it is very important for them to show their wealth, according to the report.
“The two most important things for them is to look like they’re aboveboard world actors, and are rich and show their wealth," Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who is an expert on US-Saudi relations, is quoted in the report as saying.
According to the State Department's obtained document, the royal family also handed Trump framed paintings of himself as well as many swords and daggers.
Trump's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner was also reportedly given two swords and a dagger valued at almost $48,000 which the White House never disclosed, according to the report. He paid the government for the gifts after he left office in February.
© AP Photo / Evan VucciIn this Saturday, May 20, 2017, file photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, right, walks with Ivanka Trump at the Royal Court Palace, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In this Saturday, May 20, 2017, file photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, right, walks with Ivanka Trump at the Royal Court Palace, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
© AP Photo / Evan Vucci
Earlier Sputnik reported that a $5,800 bottle of Japanese whiskey offered to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which he claims he never got, and a 22-karat gold coin donated to another State Department official, are still being sought by the inspector general, as they are listed as displaced by the agency.
Interestingly, the value of some presents gifted to President Barack Obama by Saudi officials surpasses the described gifts presented to Trump. Obama reportedly received a $57,000 gold-plated brass replica of the Makkah Clock Tower in 2014. He also received a $67,000 white gold wristwatch. His administration, however, was never accused of underreporting diplomatic gifts.
Although there is no indication that Trump or former First Lady Melania Trump ever collected gifts unlawfully, the Trump administration was previously investigated by ethics regulators for allegedly mishandling diplomatic gifts.
According to a 1966 law, US officials are only allowed to keep gifts worth less than a few hundred dollars. The maximum value was $390 in 2017, and it is now $415. Gifts with a higher value are considered government property. The Office of Protocol of the State Department is responsible for keeping track of these and recording their disposition. Recipients must either turn them over to the National Archives or another government agency, or acquire them at their full value for personal use.