He reportedly used a rifle with a laser sight to an argali: the largest living species of sheep that are known for its giant curving horns and can run over 6 feet in length.
There is no shortage of reasons why President Donald Trump and his family have been the target of severe criticism from day one of his presidency. Everything from the orange tinge of his skin to his atrocious hairstyle, the 45th President of the United States has become a laughing stock across the world; a fact driven home by the recent NATO fiasco. However, jokes apart, there's a lot about the Trump administration that's undeniably fishy, two of which are the prominent roles his children play in his presidency and the many unconventional privileges they enjoy.
On Wednesday, ProPublica published a report about one such controversial privilege the President's eldest son Donald Trump Jr. allegedly enjoyed earlier this year. The 41-year-old is said to have shot and killed an endangered species of sheep during a hunting trip in Mongolia this August. According to the publication, Trump Jr. used a rifle with a laser sight to an argali: the largest living species of sheep that's known for its giant curving horns and can run over 6 feet in length. The father-of-five's adventure was supported by both American and Mongolian government resources who arranged security services to accompany the President's son and grandson on their trip.
Now here's why Trump Jr.'s hunt was problematic for a number of reasons. While the big-horned argalis are considered a national treasure in Mongolia, they are also the target of a highly controversial trophy hunting practice that is controlled by an opaque permitting system which experts claim hinges on money, connections, and politics. The coveted and rare permit to slay the animal is few and far between. But the permit Trump Jr. acquired was one-of-a-kind. Records obtained by ProPublica combined with the accounts of people involved in the hunt revealed that the Mongolian government granted his permit retroactively on September 2, after he'd left the region.
It is highly unusual for permits to be issued after a hunter’s stay and local records indicate that Trump Jr.'s permit was one of only three permits to be issued in that hunting region. Before he returned to the US, he also had a private meeting with the country’s president, Khaltmaagiin Battulga. Although Khuantai Khafezyn, a local government official in the region where Trump Jr. hunted the argali, was able to confirm that such a meeting took place, details of what was discussed could not be obtained.
The special treatment Trump Jr. enjoyed during his trip is glaringly obvious. "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. Despite not being a government employee, Trump Jr. wields political influence and incentivizes foreign officials of the likes of the Mongolian President to treat him favorably out of a "desire on the part of a foreign government to curry favor with the president’s family," she added.
According to The Washington Post, Andy Surabian, a spokesman for Trump Jr., refused to answer questions of what the American President's son discussed with Battulga. In a statement, Surabian said that Trump Jr. purchased the seven-day trip to Mongolia at a National Rifle Association auction in 2015 before his father even announced his candidacy for President. Using his own money to pay for the trip, he flew commercially in and out of the country and got the required permits through a third-party outfitter, Surabian added.
Trump Jr.'s Mongolia trip is well-documented in his personal Instagram profile, showing off pictures of himself standing in front of a traditional Mongolian yurt, posing on a horse, and handling a live eagle. His hunting trip was reportedly sponsored by a Mongolian tourism company and arranged by a member of the Mongolian president’s political party, Jandos Kontorbai Ahat, whose company Marmara International LLC, is on the board of the Mongolian hunting association and has been recognized by the Mongolian Environmental Ministry for its work on argali wildlife preservation.
Calling the trophy hunting permitting system in Mongolia "very political," Ahat praised Trump Jr. despite refusing to acknowledge that the hunt took place. "Don Jr. was an upstanding person, he never did anything that was unpleasant. He treated people with respect," he told ProPublica. Although local guides were able to describe the hunt in detail, even praising the President's son's hunting abilities and his willingness to handle the animal’s dead body, they were reportedly stopped from posing in photographs with Trump Jr. and the argali carcass.