The White House just doesn’t get it. It has just been announced that President Donald Trump has donated his salary from the first quarter — or US$78,333.32 — to the National Park Service as part of his plan to donate his entire $400,000 annual salary to charitable causes. This is the same organisation that will lose 12% of its funding under Trump’s first budget. The National Park Service looks after parks, memorials and other US property covering 20% of the country’s landmass. The Park Service was also the organisation Trump blamed for underestimating the size of his inauguration crowd on January 20. He called the acting head (the boss had been dispatched by Trump’s transition team) on January 21 to ask for photos that proved the media had lied about the size of the crowd. The Park Service was also told to stop using its Twitter account after it had sent out pictures of Trump’s crowd compared with that for president Barack Obama in his first inauguration back in 2009 (Obama’s was bigger).

This donation will become a tax deduction for Trump. Many Americans, especially Trump’s supporters, think that Trump is not being paid and that his pay is going to be donated straight to various charities (because that is what he promised). What Trump isn’t trumpeting is that the donation is tax deductible. At the same time, just how much money Trump withdraws from his trust fund has become more difficult to uncover. According to media reports overnight Trump and his family have quietly changed the trust deed over his personal assets to make distributions easier to make, without the need for them to be disclosed. The trustees are his son, Donald Jr, and Allen Weisselberg, long-time chief financial officer at the Trump Organisation.

Peter Fray

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