Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | ePaper

Obama reports no gifts from Putin in 2016 - sad!

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AP, Washington :
Throughout 2016, foreign officials showered then-President Barack Obama with gifts seemingly meant for a post-presidential "man cave" - including bottles of Italian wine, an Australian billiards cue, a Jordanian chessboard, a cured ham leg from Spain, and a complete set of William Shakespeare's works, courtesy of Great Britain.
The gifts appear on a legally required list compiled and released each year by the State Department. The gifts aren't bribes, and Obama probably won't even get to enjoy most of them. They may go on display at his future presidential library, but U.S. officials must pay the Treasury fair market value of any presents they want to keep for personal use.
While this happens relatively rarely, the list released on Wednesday shows that former Secretary of State John Kerry bought a $2,200 bronze sculpture of a Mongolian on horseback (gift of Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj). And Kerry also acquired, at a price that could not be immediately determined, a brass-inlaid wooden chest from Kuwait's foreign affairs minister.
The most expensive package Obama received came from King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family, which has been one of  the most lavish benefactors of American presidents. Here's how the State Department describes it:
"Sculpture of a Bedouin group, entitled 'The Small Caravan,' including two men and three camels, painted in gold and silver and decorated with precious stones, mounted on green granite. Silver tone letter opener with golden Falcon handle and silver tone Chopard pen."
At the other end of the spectrum, the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin didn't appear at all. There were no gifts to report in 2015, either, from the Russian leader, who has been accused by the U.S. intelligence community of meddling in the 2016 election. Federal rules require the disclosure of only those gifts valued above roughly $335, so Putin could conceivably have given Obama something inexpensive. But in a year marked by tensions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine and support for Syria's Bashar Assad, it seems more likely that the American president was just left off Putin's list.

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