- The Saudi royal family gave former President Trump robes made of fake cheetah and tiger fur.
- The New York Times uncovered the fake robes as part of an investigation into foreign gifts.
- Federal agents found “the linings of the robes were dyed to mimic tiger and cheetah patterns,” an Interior Department spokesman said.
The ultra-wealthy Saudi royal family gifted former President Donald Trump and his team luxurious cheetah and tiger robes that federal inspectors later determined to be fake, The New York Times reports.
The Times uncovered the robes, which were among the slew of over 80 gifts the Saudis lavished on Trump during his first visit to the country in 2017, as part of a larger investigation into the Trump administration’s practices of accepting and disclosing gifts from foreign leaders and nations.
Initially, The Times reported, the White House counsel’s office warned that if the fur was indeed real, the White House risked being in violation of the Endangered Species Act, the 1973 environmental conservation law.
But instead of giving them up, the White House simply didn’t disclose receiving the robes and held onto them for almost four years, The Times said.
It wasn’t until January 19, 2021, the last full day of Trump’s presidency, that the White House handed over the robes to the General Services Administration.
When The Times learned of the robes through a Freedom of Information Act request and asked the GSA about them, the agency alerted the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which took the robes from a Virginia warehouse for analysis over the summer.
And once the robes (and a dagger with what appeared to be an ivory handle also gifted to Trump during that 2017 visit) finally made their way to the proper agency for inspection, they turned out to be imitations.
“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 told The Times.
As for the dagger, the Interior Department said its handle “appears to possibly contain tooth or bone of some variety” but couldn’t immediately determine a species.
In addition to the robes, The Times found that the Saudi royals also gifted Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner, who maintained a close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, two swords and a dagger valued at over $47,000, which Kushner eventually paid them back for out of his own pocket.
State Department officials told Politico in August that at least 20 kinds of gifts — making up an unknown number of items — went missing from the Department’s vault during the transition between administrations.
Some of those disappearances continue to be under investigation by the State Department’s inspector general.
The State Department’s watchdog is probing a mysterious case of a missing $5,800 bottle of Japanese whiskey intended for former Secretary of Mike Pompeo, which Pompeo says he never received, and whether Trump appointees stole gift bags intended for foreign leaders at the 2020 G7 summit set to be held at Camp David that was canceled over COVID-19, The Times reported.