KEY POINTS

  • Donald Trump promised he would refuse to take a salary as president while campaigning in 2016
  • As it is illegal for presidents to decline their salary, he instead donated the money to various federal agencies
  • Trump's move to forego a salary follows similar steps taken by Herbert Hoover and John F. Kennedy

Donald Trump kept his promise to donate his salary as president, reports say. Here’s how he donated the paychecks he received during his four-year term at the White House.

As president, Trump received an annual salary of $400,000. As presidents are not legally allowed to decline their salary, he wrote checks equal to a quarter of his annual salary every quarter to various government agencies.

The National Park Service (NPS) was the first recipient of Trump’s presidential salary in 2017, Forbes reported. The government agency received his reported take-home pay of $78,333, plus an additional $22,000 from an anonymous donor to bump the donation to $100,000. The donation was reportedly used for the Newcomer House on the Antietam battlefield restoration project and the replacement of its rail fencing.

Donations to the Department of Education ($100,000), Department of Health and Human Services ($100,000) and the Department of Transportation ($100,000) followed Trump’s grant to the NPS in 2017.

In 2018, the Veteran’s Administration, Small Business Administration, National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and Department of Homeland Security each received $100,000 in donations from the billionaire. 

The following year, the former commander in chief made similar donations to the Department of Agriculture for a program benefiting farmers and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Surgeon General. 

In 2019, he also gave $100,000 each to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health to help “the ongoing fight against the opioid crisis” and the HHS to “support the efforts being undertaken to confront, contain and combat #Coronavirus.”

For 2020, Trump donated $100,000 to the HHS’ efforts to find treatment and prevention methods for COVID-19 and another round for the NPS. The latter was used for the repairs of national monuments across the country.

Forbes noted that he has donated at least $1.4 million of his $1.6 million total salary as president, and it is not clear if he also donated his last two paychecks and which agency received them.

While Trump claimed he was the first since George Washington to forgo a presidential salary, two of his predecessors had already made a similar move, Politico reported.

Herbert Hoover was the first American president to donate his salary to charity. An engineer and a businessman prior to getting elected, the 31st president already had millions in the bank.

John F. Kennedy replicated Hoover’s move when he became president in 1961. Born into wealth, Kennedy was the richest man ever to sit in the Oval Office at that point, with his family fortune estimated to be around $1 billion.

Donald Trump, seen in this October 5, 2020 file photo removing his mask after returning to the White House from treatment for Covid-19, often played down the virus and only later revealed he had been vaccinated Donald Trump, seen in this October 5, 2020 file photo removing his mask after returning to the White House from treatment for Covid-19, often played down the virus and only later revealed he had been vaccinated Photo: AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM