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False stories revive claim about Trump donating salary

Q: Did President Trump donate his $400,000 salary to military cemeteries?

A: No. A year-old viral email makes that claim. But the president does indeed donate his salary to different government initiatives each quarter.


Did the president donate his 400,000 salary to rebuild military cemeteries today or ever?


Numerous readers have asked FactCheck.org in recent weeks whether President Donald Trump has donated his $400,000 salary toward repairing military cemeteries — supposed news that some websites are accusing the press of ignoring.

But while the president does donate his salary to different government initiatives each quarter, no donation to date has been specifically made to repair military cemeteries. Nor has he donated $400,000 — a whole year’s salary — to one specific cause.

An Aug. 1 headline on the Gateway Pundit told readers otherwise. “Trump Gives $400,000 to Repair Military Cemeteries — Liberal Media Ignores the Story,” it reads.

Thousands have shared and reacted to the Gateway Pundit story on Facebook. The story’s only evidence was a widely shared tweet by New York-based radio host Mark Simone, who claimed that Trump has donated his annual salary for “construction and repair needs at military cemeteries” but that the “media gave this no coverage.”

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We emailed Simone to ask which report he was citing, but we did not receive a response.

The direct quote included in Simone’s tweet is the exact language in a viral email that has circulated since last year, and which some readers recently forwarded to FactCheck.org. That email also was posted as early as July 2017 on several websites, and was the basis of a YouTube video.

The viral email cites an “annual report to Congress on White House Office Personnel. It includes the name, status, salary and position title of all 377 White House employees.”

Yet the 2017 White House Annual Report to Congress on White House Office Personnel does not make any mention of Trump’s salary. Nor does the 2018 report provided to Congress in June.

The president in May donated his salary for the first quarter of this year to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a press briefing. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the donation had been earmarked for “caregiver support in the form of mental health and peer support programs, financial aid, education training, and research.”

That announcement was indeed covered by the press, as were the president’s other quarterly donations. Here’s where the president donated his salary during his first year in office, with links to both the White House announcements and some of the many examples of corresponding press coverage:

Trump’s first donation — of $78,333 — in 2017, to the National Park Service, did go toward a pair of projects at the Antietam National Battlefield — which houses the Antietam National Cemetery. But the Interior Department said the money, along with other funds, would be used to “restore the historic Newcomer House on the Antietam battlefield, and will underwrite the replacement of 5,000 linear feet of deteriorated rail fencing along the Hagerstown Turnpike.”

We could find no announcement indicating how Trump will use his salary for the second quarter of 2018. The White House did not respond to our inquiry, though it’s likely an update will come soon; the 2017 second quarter salary announcement was made July 26 last year.

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If Trump does decide to give his second quarter salary to the Interior Department for military cemeteries, that amount would not be $400,000 – but a quarter of his salary.

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President Trump arrives at a meeting of NATO leaders, July 2018.