The president’s son could potentially face criminal charges after an environmental watchdog group’s complaint resulted in a federal investigation of his trip to Mongolia to kill an endangered sheep.
Donald Trump Jr. got caught obtaining special treatment from the Mongolian government after traveling to the landlocked Asian country surrounded by China and Russia and shooting down an endangered argali sheep this August. On September 2nd, Mongolia gave him an unusual retroactive permit to slay the endangered animal, a species notable for its horns that grow up to six-feet long.
Five days ago, the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter (embedded below) asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to investigate Trump Jr. for violating a federal law that prohibits Americans from engaging in illegal trophy hunting or importation of the slain animals. Today, Roll Call reports that FWS is investigating the president’s son:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will review allegations that Donald Trump Jr., may have illegally killed a rare sheep during a recent trip to Mongolia and imported parts of the animal back to the U.S.
Under the Lacey Act of 1900, it is illegal to import animal trophies in contravention with foreign laws and individuals found in violation can be subject to fines and prison time.
Federal laws regularly prohibit Americans from traveling abroad to violate foreign laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that prohibits bribery of officials outside the United States. What that means is that Donald Trump Jr. could face federal prosecution if he violated Mongolian law during his repulsive habit of killing endangered species.
Another consideration under the Lacey Act is that it prohibits illegal “importation of wildlife” in contravention of foreign law. Lastly, in order to import a listed endangered species animal, Trump Jr. would have had to work with the US C.I.T.E.S. agency, which regulates their trade and would create a paper trail if he bothered to ask permission to bring his ill-gotten trophy home.
While we don’t know if Donald Trump Jr. used the Mongolian Ambassador’s visit to Mar-A-Lago four months before the hunt in order to get the permit, that act itself appears it could be one of President Trump’s many violations of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause that prevents a president from obtaining anything of value from another country’s government.
It’s bad enough that the Trump family is free to fly around the world and use the power of the White House to get favors, Don Jr. also wasted public funds from both nations on his Mongolian hunt.
The mostly agrarian Asian nation of Mongolia has been facing an extinction crisis since the middle of the last decade, and foreign trophy hunters offering big bucks to kill rare animals is the prime driver of the problem.
Donald Trump Jr.’s trophy hunting is an anachronistic hobby which is best-left altogether in the past. His present use of tax money, the imprimatur of presidential power to strong-arm a foreign nation into giving him a rare favor after he executed an endangered animal, and his potential violations of foreign law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The penalty for a criminal violation of the Lacey Act involving the importation of endangered species can result in up to five years in prison.
Read the complete letter to FWS here:
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition