In late May 2018, we received a batch of inquiries from readers asking for verification of the claim that United States President Donald Trump had donated his first-quarter 2018 salary to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As a candidate, Trump famously promised to forgo his entire $400,000-per-year presidential salary if elected, following in the footsteps of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover, both of whom were independently wealthy and donated the entirety of their salaries to charitable causes.
Thus far, Trump has made good on that vow, announcing quarterly donations during the first year of his presidency to four federal agencies: the National Park Service, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Transportation.
Each announcement has included the presentation of a signed check drawn on the president’s personal bank account to the appropriate department secretary, as in this example provided by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke:
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) April 3, 2017
On 17 May 2018, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that the first beneficiary of the president’s salary donation for the year would be the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs, whose controversial secretary Trump fired in March, and whose replacement nominee, White House physician Ronny Jackson, withdrew from the confirmation process after allegations of improper behavior surfaced.
Acting Veterans Affairs secretary Robert Wilkie, Trump’s latest nominee to permanently head the agency, accepted the donation on behalf of the department and thanked the president for his generosity:
The President’s gift underscores his promise to do all that he can for veterans, which includes supporting those who care for our veterans — not just those of us at VA, but the husbands, the wives, the families, and the community caregivers who are out there day in and day out making life easier for those who have borne the battle.
President Trump understands the critical role of caregivers in meeting the essential needs of America’s veterans.
So we have already earmarked this gift for caregiver support in the form of mental health and peer support programs, financial aid, education training, and research.
Some scattered reports in July 2018 claimed that President Trump had donated his entire $400,000 salary to the Department of the Interior “for construction and repair needs at military cemeteries,” but that information was false.