Gifts to Mike Pence from foreign leaders: Why a $5,730 clock was destroyed

Vice President Mike Pence, shown at a rally last month at the state Capitol in Madison, will return to Wisconsin on March 5 with his wife, Karen, for a “Women for Trump” event in Onalaska.

WASHINGTON – Panama-style hats given to Vice President Mike Pence and his wife by the president of Ecuador have been turned over to the National Archives.

Framed paint brushes presented by the president of South Korea are on display in the office of Second Lady Karen Pence, an artist.

But the $5,730 desk clock given to the vice president by the crown prince of Bahrain has been destroyed out of apparent concern that it could be a secret surveillance device.

The destruction was “per policy” of the U.S. Secret Service, according to an annual disclosure of gifts given to members of the Trump administration by foreign leaders that was released Monday.

A number of watches given to unidentified CIA employees were also listed as “pending destruction.”

A spokesperson for the Secret Service said the agency does not comment on the “means and methods of protective operations.”

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence wave to the crowd during the Trump rally in Giant Center in Hershey, Pa., on Dec. 10, 2019.

Presidents and other federal officials are barred from receiving gifts from foreign governments under the Constitution unless approved by Congress.

But gifts of “minimal value” presented as a courtesy between heads of state are common. In those cases, a gift can be accepted on behalf of the United States to avoiding causing “embarrassment to (the) donor and U.S. Government.”

Presidents and other officials may purchase a gift for market value.

The most expensive gift Trump received last year was a Louis Vuitton vinyl brown golf bag complete with beige lettering that carries photos of seven soldiers standing before the U.S. flag. That gift from French President Emmanuel Macron was valued at $8,275. It was given to the National Archives.

The clock that was destroyed was the most expensive of the 13 gifts the Pences received in 2018. It was described as a mother-of-pearl paneled clock face set in a sterling silver case with a zigzag styling that copied the flag of Bahrain.

In 2017, the crown prince of Bahrain gave Trump a model jet fighter, made of gold-plated silver, complete with missiles and rockets, worth $4,850. It was not destroyed.

Other gifts the Pences received in 2018 included:

• A menorah created from a rocket that landed in Israel during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. The gift from the chairman of Israel’s Labor Party was valued at $465.

• A hand-embroidered silk bed cover from the wife of the president of Uzbekistan, valued at $440.

• A cobalt blue vase from Macron, valued at $680.

• A bronze sculpture depicting kokpar, a game played on horseback with a headless goat carcass. The $2,950 gift was from the president of Kazakhstan.

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