White House: Florida trip a ‘gift’ to Japanese PM

White House: Florida trip a ‘gift’ to Japanese PM
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President Trump will personally cover the cost of a weekend trip to Florida with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, The White House said Thursday.

A White House official told reporters during a media call that the trip to Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort“is a personal gift ... something the president is doing for the prime minister."

Abe is set to arrive in Washington on Thursday night and will hold meetings with Trump at the White House on Friday before departing to Palm Beach. 

The two leaders are expected to play golf in Florida on Saturday.

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not have an answer when he was asked Wednesday how the trip was being financed and whether the U.S. or Japanese government was covering the still unknown costs. 

“Let me get back to you on that. I will follow up with you on the exact financing,” he said, adding he would “be glad to find out.”

If the Japanese government pays, the president would likely be in violation of a constitutional provision that forbids him to accept gifts from foreign countries without permission from Congress, according to ethics experts. 

Trump may be able to officially host Abe as a guest of his resort if Japanese ethics rules allow, said Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush. 

If Japan decides to pay for the trip, the money would probably need to be paid directly to the Treasury, Painter added.