Donald Trump
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Smithsonian Institution officials scrambled to respond to numerous media requests — and alert Donald Trump's political action committee — when news broke last year that the Trump PAC was funding a portrait of the 45th president destined for the National Portrait Gallery, according to government records obtained by Raw Story through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The brouhaha followed news — first reported by Insider and matched by numerous other news organizations — that Trump's Save America PAC made a "charitable contribution" worth $650,000 to fund official portraits for Trump and former first lady Melania Trump.

The FOIA reports include a May 11 letter from National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet and Assistant Secretary for Advancement Robert J. Spiller to Save America PAC treasurer Bradley Crate that described the PAC's donation as "generous support", according to a letter included among the more than 100 documents Raw Story obtained.

The letter detailed that Save America, which has raised tens of millions of dollars to advance Trump's post-presidential agenda, and is reportedly under federal investigation over whether it defrauded donors by making claims about the 2020 election it knew to be false, would be publicly lauded for its contribution.

"To recognize this generous support, the Smithsonian will recognize Save America on the object labels that will be displayed alongside the portraits when they are on exhibition and alongside images of the portraits on the NPG website," Sajet and Spiller wrote. "In addition, Save America will be recognized in the commemorative program for, and remarks delivered at, the unveiling ceremony and provided with invitations and reserved seating for 10 guests to attend the event."

The letter further states that Save America will have the "opportunity to arrange a private viewing of the portraits for up to five guests." Save America PAC would also be honored in the text of the Smithsonian's annual report. The letter's authors said they were "grateful" for Save America PAC's contribution.

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The letter did note that Save America PAC would not be allowed to use the Smithsonian and National Portrait Gallery logos and other branding in the PAC's "products" or "product packaging," or in "advertising, promotion, publicity, or fund-raising" without Smithsonian approval.

Smithsonian officials, meanwhile, attempted to contain fallout from angry Americans aghast that Trump's image — to date, the Trump portraits have not been revealed — would soon hang in the National Portrait Gallery, which has traditionally displayed portraits of all former U.S. presidents.

Trump, however, is unlike any other president: He is now facing 34 felony counts in New York related to hush money payments paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels, and he faces three other criminal investigations — two at the federal level, and one in Fulton County, Georgia.

"Just an update that we're seeing tons of angry tweets about the Trump portrait, from small and huge accounts," Smithsonian social media official Erin Blasco wrote to several colleagues. "People do not seem to understand, of course, that we have portraits of all the presidents. They're upset that we're getting a Trump portrait but also there are plenty of people upset that this counts as a 'donation,' especially since their fundraising practices have been criticized."

Among the tweets Smithsonian officials shared with each other, per their emails:

"Nice to see that @smithsonian is in bed with a Nazi pedophile wanna-be tyrant. Donation or bribe ?"

"This is f*cking infuriating."

"This is not how museums are supposed to work."

"Why would the Smithsonian even hang anything with that treasonous pig? Unless the exhibit talks about the crimes, abuse of power, and a portrait of Narcissism!"

"It's disturbing to hear that the Smithsonian is accepting so much money from Trump's Save America PAC, which has been using what Business Insider calls 'aggressive and deceptive' solicitations to squeeze money from the faithful."

Meanwhile, the National Portrait Gallery decided to inform Trump's PAC that it would be releasing additional information about the financial arrangement to the press, according to the emails obtained through FOIA.

"NPG will reach out to Save America to inform them we are releasing details to media," wrote Concetta Duncan, who leads the National Portrait Gallery's communications and marketing department, to colleagues.

Officials for Save America PAC could not immediately be reached for comment.

Smithsonian officials also appeared to alert the Smithsonian Board of Regents to the Trump-related intrigue, per a partially redacted email with a subject line of "Informing regents."

Among the 17-member Board of Regents: Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, Vice President Kamala Harris, several members of Congress, and several businesspeople and philanthropists.

Several reporters inquired about the names of the artists tapped to paint portraits of the Trumps. Smithsonian officials decided against releasing the names of the artists.

"Two different artists. Again, we really don’t want to get into the names," Duncan advised colleagues in an Aug. 22 email.

"We are not sharing any information about the artists at this time," National Portrait Gallery Director of Advancement Usha Subramanian emphasized in another email the same day.