According to The New York Times, the ultra-wealthy Saudi royal family sent former President Donald Trump and his team luxurious cheetah and tiger robes, which federal inspectors later confirmed to be phony.
The robes were discovered as part of a bigger examination of the Trump administration’s policies of receiving and revealing presents from foreign leaders and states. They were among over 80 gifts the Saudis heaped on Trump during his first visit to the kingdom in 2017.
The White House counsel’s office initially warned that if the fur was real, the White House would be in breach of the Endangered Species Act, a 1973 environmental conservation legislation, according to The New York Times.
The White House, however, did not report receiving the robes and kept them for almost four years.
The robes were not handed over to the General Services Administration until January 19, 2021, the last full day of Trump’s presidency.
When The New York Times queried the GSA about the robes after learning about them through a Freedom of Information Act request, the agency alerted the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which took the robes from a Virginia warehouse for analysis over the summer.
And when the robes along with a dagger with what seemed to be an ivory handle, which was also given to Trump during that 2017 visit, arrived at the correct agency for inspection, they were discovered to be fakes.
“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,” Interior Department spokesman Tyler Cherry said.
The dagger’s handle “appears to possibly contain teeth or bone of some sort,” according to the Interior Department, but a species couldn’t be determined right away.
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The Saudi royals also sent Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, who had a close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, two swords and a dagger for more than $47,000, which Kushner later paid back out of his own pocket, according to The New York Times.
Officials from the State Department informed Politico in August that at least 20 different types of presents went missing from the Department’s vault during the transition between administrations, totaling an unknown number of items.
The State Department’s inspector general is still looking into some of those disappearances.
According to The New York Times, the State Department’s watchdog is looking into a mysterious case involving a missing $5,800 bottle of Japanese whiskey intended for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which Pompeo claims he never received, and whether Trump appointees stole gift bags intended for foreign leaders at the 2020 G7 summit, which was canceled due to COVID-19.