During an interview on ’60 Minutes’ in the aftermath of his November election victory, then-President-elect Donald Trump promised Leslie Stahl that he would only accept a $1 salary as President, donating the remaining $399,999 to a charity or returning it to the United States treasury. In February, Trump was reportedly issued his first monthly presidential paycheck in the amount $33,333. According to a new report, there is no evidence yet that President Trump has followed through on his promise to return or donate his salary.
MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber investigated the matter on Sunday in a segment on his TV show, “The Point.” According to his reporting, MSNBC has made repeated efforts to obtain information about Trump’s salary promise from both the White House and the U.S. Treasury Department, but neither agency would answer.
Melber then cited a Politfact report from last month in which White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the online fact-checking website that the President “is required to get a paycheck but will be giving it back to (the) treasury or donating” the money, presumably some charity. However, the MSNBC report left out the second part of Huckabee-Sanders’ comment that said Trump’s staff was still in the process of sorting out any legal issues associated with him returning or donating the salary.
It could be that his legal team is still looking into the matter and has yet to determine a strategy for declining the salary. As the Politifact report notes, President George Washington also tried to decline to accept a salary when he was he was sworn in as the first elected President back in 1789. But Congress would not allow Washington to decline his pay, saying it was mandated in the Constitution and by declining a salary Washington would be putting himself above the Constitution. Washington reluctantly accepted the argument and took the salary, essentially setting a precedent for all future Presidents.
LawNewz also reached out to both the White House and the U.S. Treasury for comment on the report and we will update this story when we receive a response. At this point it is impossible to say whether Trump has followed through on the promise.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect Ari Melber’s official title at MSNBC.
1:40 PM UPDATE:
White House spokesman Sean Spicer commented on the salary story during the daily briefing on Monday. According to Spicer, Trump will make a decision at the end of the year about where to donate his salary.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 13, 2017
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