Following MSNBC’s report over questions about whether President Donald Trump has donated his paycheck, Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted during a White House briefing Monday, "the president’s intention right now is to donate his salary at the end of the year."
On Sunday evening, MSNBC’s legal unit reported that it had sent a letter to the White House, the Treasury Department and Office of Personnel Management requesting details about whether Trump received his first February paycheck and if he had donated the money to charity or to the Treasury Department, as promised.
All declined to say whether Trump has donated any of his salary to date. (OPM referred questions to the White House.)
Federal law mandates the president receive a $400,000 annual salary, paid out once a month. Under the law, Trump would have received his first monthly paycheck for $33,333 on Feb. 20, and another $33,333 on March 20.
On the campaign trail, Trump boasted that he would not need to take a paycheck if elected.
“The first thing I’m going to do is tell you that if I’m elected president, I’m accepting no salary, OK?, that’s not a big deal for me,” he said at rally in Rochester, New Hampshire, in September 2015. Trump repeated that promise during his first sit-down interview as president-elect.
“I think I have to by law take $1, so I’ll take $1 a year,” he said during an interview with "60 Minutes."
A spokesman for the billionaire-president, whose net worth Forbes estimates is $3.7 billion, told a newspaper in February he was going to give his salary back to the Department of Treasury or donate it to charity.
Similar questions remain over the president’s pledge to “donate all profits from foreign governments’ patronage of his hotels and similar businesses” to the Treasury Department.
In January, his attorney Sherri Dillon said that to avoid concerns that his family’s vast business holdings would pose a conflict of interest, he would donate all profits from foreign government payments from his hotels to the United States Treasury.
“This way, it is the American people who will profit,” she said.
Trump has reacted harshly to media scrutiny over questions about his donations in the past. Last year, he refused to release details about his promise to donate $6 million he claimed that he raised at a charity event for veterans, of which, $1 million he promised from his own checkbook.
Trump made the million-dollar donation four months later, after news outlets pressed him on where the money had went. During a combative press conference, it was also revealed he had only raised $5.6 million.
"Are you ready? Do you have your pen?" he said at Trump Tower in New York last May. Then, before releasing the names of charitable groups he donated to, he said, "My opinion of the media, it's very low. I think the media is, frankly, made up of people in many cases, not in all cases, are not good people."
On Monday, Spicer also ribbed the media. In regards to who or what will be the beneficiary of the president's salary, the press secretary quipped, “He has kindly asked that you all help determine where that goes.” He continued, "The way that we can avoid scrutiny is to let the press corps determine where it should go.”