Trump Jr. Got Special Permission To Hunt, Kill Endangered Sheep In Mongolia
President Donald Trump’s eldest son made a trip to Mongolia over the summer to hunt the endangered argali — the world’s largest sheep — spending taxpayer money along the way, according to ProPublica.
Donald Trump Jr. shot and killed an argali in August, and his adventure to the rocky highlands of Central Asia made use of government funds from both the U.S. and Mongolia, which each provided security services for the multi-day excursion.
ProPublica noted that trophy hunting in Mongolia is highly controversial, with the population viewing the large-horned rams as a national treasure. Killing an argali requires a permit, but the system is criticized for lack of transparency and experts say it is primarily based on money, connections and politics.
Trump Jr. received a retroactive permit for his kill, according to Mongolian records, which ProPublica said is not typical. His was one of just three permits issued in the hunting region where he bagged his argali.
The president’s son reportedly also met with Mongolia’s President Khaltmaagiin Battulga during his trip, a local government official told the publication, though it is unclear what the two discussed.
“What are the chances the Mongolian government would’ve done any of that to someone who wasn’t the son of the United States’ president?” asked Kathleen Clark, a professor specializing in legal ethics at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.
Clark said Trump Jr. might not be a U.S. government official but noted that he still carries political sway, being the son of the president. She added that this could incentivize foreign officials “to treat him favorably out of a ‘desire on the part of a foreign government to curry favor with the president’s family.’”
Trump Jr.’s spokesperson told ProPublica that his trip to Mongolia was solely a personal expedition, adding that he “purchased the seven-day Mongolian hunting trip at a National Rifle Association charity auction before his father announced his candidacy for president in 2015, the spokesman said, and flew commercial in and out of the country.”