Throughout his administration, former President Donald Trump was criticized for his efforts to ingratiate the Saudi Arabian kingdom without condemning its human rights abuses.
When U.S. resident and Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered on the order of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the Trump administration continued to negotiate with the Saudi royal family. In a statement, Trump defended them as a "great ally" and said Khashoggi was likely an "enemy of the state."
Trump showered Saudi Arabia with favors as well, resuming the sale of precision-guided bombs to the nation, despite concerns on civilian deaths resulting from airstrikes in Yemen. Trump vetoed bills preventing billions of dollars in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the U.S. threatened to veto a United Nations resolution condemning the Saudi kingdom's human rights abuses in Yemen.
And in 2017, Trump chose Saudi Arabia for his first presidential trip abroad.
Trump has been criticized in the past for being too susceptible to flattery, so he was overjoyed when Saudi officials lavished him with extravagant robes of cheetah and white tiger fur, along with a dagger sporting an ivory handle.
The administration didn't disclose the gifts (whose possession, according to a White House lawyer, likely violated the Endangered Species Act) to government accountability offices.
Now, a new report from Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times, details the saga of what happened to the gifts in the final days after Trump's presidency.
The administration finally turned them over to the Government Services Administration instead of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the correct agency), which eventually seized them.
But soon, experts discovered that the immensely wealthy Saudi royal family had gifted Trump with fake furs.
An Interior Department spokesperson said:
"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."
People couldn't resist mocking Trump.
For many, the exchange perfectly characterized Trump and his administration.
The millions of dollars Trump made from the Saudi government, however, were very real.