Skip to main content

I Don’t Mean to Shock You but Donald Trump Might Not Have Donated All of His Presidential Paychecks as Promised

Donald Trump makes a pouty face during a press briefing.

Some questions have been raised about Donald Trump’s promise to donate his entire presidential salary.

Trump made that pledge in 2015, at the start of his campaign. He initially said he would decline to take a salary at all but the Constitution requires it, so he promised to donate it instead. And he actually did so for most of his term.

He also, predictably, routinely complained about how no one talked about his donations or said thank you enough. He repeatedly claimed that he was the only president to donate his salary as well, which is untrue. Both JFK and Herbert Hoover did so first.

Trump donated his $400k annual salary in $100,000 increments to various federal agencies, which correlated with his political agendas at the time. For instance, as the Washington Post reports, “He donated to a Transportation Department infrastructure program in early 2018, during one of his many doomed attempts at holding ‘Infrastructure Week.’ (That one was derailed by the revelation that Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen had paid hush money to an adult-film star who claimed she had an affair with Trump.)”

He also donated to the Park Service “to support its efforts in repairing and restoring our national monuments.” This was in July of 2020, during the nationwide protests for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd, at a time when Trump was also threatening to prosecute anyone who damaged monuments to slave owners or any federal property.

So while Trump did actually follow through on his promise to donate his salary for most of his time in office—something the Post’s David A. Fahrenthold notes differed from his patterns pre-presidency, when Trump regularly promised to make charitable donations that then never appeared—those payments abruptly and mysteriously stopped after last summer.

“In recent weeks, The Post contacted 15 major federal departments, including the eight that Trump had given to before, plus five agencies whose leaders attend Cabinet meetings. None provided any confirmation of a gift from Trump after July 2020,” Fahrenthold writes. He’s also been ghosted by several Trump reps:

The Post also contacted two different spokespeople for Trump’s post-presidential office. On June 10, spokesman Jason Miller wrote back, “Let me inquire and get back to you.” But he did not provide details, and later left Trump’s office.

Liz Harrington replaced Miller as Trump’s spokesperson. “I will try to track this down,” she wrote on July 21, when The Post asked again. Since then, Harrington has not responded to queries about the pledged donations.

And while, as the paper notes, that isn’t proof that a donation wasn’t made, Trump is so desperate for recognition over these donations, it seems unlikely that he and his team would just keep it to themselves.

After his last donation, Trump continued to brag/complain about his donations and the lack of positive coverage they got.

“They [the media] never write about that [his donations]. If I ever didn’t give it up, there would be headlines, ‘Trump refused,’” he said at a campaign rally in October of 2020.

I guess he was right!

(via Washington Post, image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.