Boxes are stacked on West Executive Avenue before being loaded onto a truck at the White House on January 14.
Mandel Ngan/ AFP
- Trump aides worried about official gifts being mixed with personal belongings during the president’s move.
- Trump took more than a dozen boxes of White House items with him back to Mar-a-Lago.
- The items should have been turned over to the National Archives when Trump left office.
Former President Donald Trump’s aides worried about official gifts given to Trump in office inadvertently being mixed in with his personal belongings during his chaotic move out of the White House, the Washington Post reported.
Under federal law, official presidential documents and records must be turned over to the National Archives by the time the president leaves office.
“There was quite a bit of concern about the amount of mixing of personal effects with gifts that had been received during his time in office, which I’m sure in a traditional White House would have immediately been processed and given to the Archives,” a former Trump aide told The Post. “But in the Trump White House, it was scattered throughout the West Wing, displayed behind glass, in the private dining room, and in the private residence on the second floor.”
Trump’s White House exit was rushed because he spent his final weeks in office obsessed with trying to overturn his 2020 election loss, The Post and The New York Times reported.
Trump took over a dozen boxes of official White House materials back with him to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort and winter residence, upon leaving office, likely in violation of the Presidential Records Act, the Post first reported on Monday.
The National Archives and Trump have confirmed that both parties have “arranged transport” for 15 boxes containing official White House documents and materials to be returned to the agency’s custody.
Trump said in a statement to The Post that he had “collaborative and respectful” negotiations with the Archives about the “transport of boxes that contained Presidential Records in compliance with the Presidential Records Act.”
The Post and The Times reported that some of the items in the boxes included letters to Trump from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — which Trump described as beautiful “love letters,” a note from former President Barack Obama, a map on which Trump drew with a Sharpie to mark a possible hurricane path to Alabama, and at least one piece of clothing.
Gifts that made their way from the White House to Mar-a-Lago include a plaque and replica of a piece of the US-Mexico border wall, a signature Trump 2016 campaign pledge, which was previously displayed in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, the Post said. A miniature replica of Air Force One, decorated the way Trump wanted to repaint and redesign it, went from being displayed in the Oval Office to a prominent spot in Mar-a-Lago’s lobby.
The Democratic leaders of two congressional committees, Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Sen. Gary Peters, have said they will open investigations of Trump’s potential violations of federal records laws. The Archives has also asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether Trump broke the law in taking official White House items, the Post reported.
Representatives for Trump did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.
The latest reporting isn’t the first time the Trump administration has faced scrutiny over missing and undisclosed gifts. Politico reported in August 2021, for example, that over 20 types of gifts were missing from the State Department’s gift vault after Trump left office.
The Department’s internal watchdog is investigating, among other missing gifts, whether Trump political appointees stole gift bags intended for foreign attendees of the 2020 G7 summit, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, upon leaving office The New York Times reported in October 2021.
The White House also failed to disclose gifts of what appeared to be cheetah and tiger fur robes given to Trump by the Saudi Royal Family until Trump’s last day in office, when the White House turned them over to the General Services Administration, The Times reported last year. The US Fish and Wildlife Service later determined the robes were not, in fact, made of real tiger or cheetah fur, but had been dyed.
Jared Kushner, a senior White House advisor and Trump’s son-in-law, also reportedly repaid the US government for over $47,000 in gifts from the Saudi Royal Family, including two daggers and a sword. The value of the items far exceeds the maximum of $415 worth of gifts that US officials are allowed to accept and keep from foreign entities and governments under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act.