Trump Donates First Quarter Salary to Veterans
President Trump has donated his salary for the first quarter of 2018 to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the White House said Thursday. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Trump’s $100,000 quarterly salary will go toward the VA’s caregiver programs.
The president is donating his salary each quarter to important projects, she said. Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie attended Thursday’s press briefing to accept the donation. He said the money will go toward mental health and peer support programs as well as financial aid and research that will assist individuals who care for veterans.
Wilkie said that the president’s gift underscores his promise to do all he can for vets, which includes supporting those who care for veterans. The VA is currently without a full-time director after Trump fired former VA Secretary David Shulkin in March. He nominated Adm. Ronny Jackson to replace him, but Jackson withdrew last month in the face of allegations of improper behavior.
The big three
Before he took office, Trump said he would not accept his presidential salary. An aide stated that he would donate the money instead. The Trump Organization pledged to not keep any profits that it made by renting hotel rooms and banquet halls to foreign governments. Those proceeds would be given to the U.S. treasury. And the committee that raised a record $90 million for Trump’s inauguration pledged that the remaining funds would be given to charity.
In all three cases, these pledges of generosity seemed designed to allay a concern about Trump expressed by some critics — that this wealthy president, who had refused to relinquish ownership of his businesses, might use his public office to enrich himself or his friends. But nearly two months into the Trump presidency, little information has been released to show how, or if, those promises are being kept.
Where did the money go?
The Trump Organization said it would not make its donations until the end of each calendar year. A spokeswoman provided few specifics about how the amount would actually be calculated. The White House seemed to acknowledge that Trump has been keeping his monthly paycheck, yet he still intends to give the money away at year’s end but Trump has not yet chosen a charity to receive it.
Erik Jensen, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland who has studied conflict-of-interest rules, said that If you have promised to take steps that would at least lessen the appearance of impropriety, and then you don’t take those steps, it would affect the evaluation of Trump.
Last year, it was highlighted that Trump’s past promises of charity had not come to fruition even months after. In January 2016, for instance, Trump said he had donated $1 million of his own money, and raised an additional $5 million for veterans’ charities. But Trump did not make good on his $1 million promise until four months later, under pressure from the media.
During last year’s presidential campaign, it was revealed that Trump had spent years promising large donations to charity. He was building a public reputation as a man whose generosity was as impressive as his wealth. But there was little evidence to be found to show Trump’s actual generosity matched his boasting.
450 charities that seemed close to the candidate were asked whether each had received a gift from Trump’s own pocket. That search turned up one donation from Trump himself between 2008 and 2015 which was a gift of less than $10,000 to the Police Athletic League in New York City.
Trump, who boasted frequently as a candidate about his wealth, promised early in the campaign not to take his presidential pay. Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire in September 2015 that he accepts no salary and that it was no big deal for him.
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