Donald Trump Gifting ‘Key’ to White House Raises Eyebrows

Former President Donald Trump is receiving flak from critics for presenting a high-ranking Japanese official with what seemed like a key to the White House, even though Trump doesn’t currently occupy the residence on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Trump hosted former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday evening at Trump Tower, hours after the ex-president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee exited the courtroom as part of his ongoing hush-money criminal trial in Manhattan.

Trump Aso
Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso is pictured in Baden-Baden, Germany, on March 18, 2017. Aso on Tuesday met with ex-U.S. President Donald Trump at Trump Tower and the talk included exchange of what is…


The meeting included the pair posing with a key, memorialized with an image posted by Trump on his Truth Social platform, smiling alongside the ex-prime minister who left his position in 2009 but remains influential in Japan as vice president of the nation’s Liberal Democratic Party. The significance of the key is unknown.

The Trump campaign shared a readout of the pair’s discussion with Newsweek but did not comment on the key presented to Aso.

“[Aso’s] a highly respected man in Japan and beyond,” Trump told reporters when the two met in the Trump Tower lobby, according to reports. “It’s a great honor to have him.”

Trump also brought up former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a friend and ally of both Trump and Aso who was credited with the forging of their friendship. Abe was assassinated in 2022.

The image of the pair posing with the key has garnered attention online.

“Not sure what gives him the right to do this,” wrote former NBC Universal executive Mike Sington on X. “Probably Citizen Trump once again pretending to be President.”

“Trump and former Japanese prime minister Taro Aso pose with a ceremonial “key to the White House” on Tuesday. That’s yesterday Tuesday, not Tuesday from 1/20/17-1/20/21. If he thinks he has the right to do that, what else is he giving away?” wrote X user @DoctorHenryCT.

“Trump is insane. He lives in an alternate yesterday. This is a photo of him yesterday gifting …….. A KEY TO WHITE HOUSE … to the Japanese PM. He is delusional,” wrote user @ALT-uscis.

Jared Kushner, the ex-president’s son-in-law and a former White House adviser, wrote in his 2022 memoir Breaking History that his father-in-law designed keys for special guests. They were etched with the presidential seal and the words “Key to the White House.”

One of the recipients of the key during Trump’s first term was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the U.S. in 2020 during the signing of the Abraham Accords. Netanyahu wasn’t the first recipient of the key, Kushner said.

“When Trump met with [Netanyahu], he whipped out his signature gift—an oversize bronze ‘key to the White House’ in a wooden box carved with the presidential seal,” Kushner writes in the memoir. “Trump had designed the key himself to give to special guests.

“‘This is the first key I’m giving to anyone,’ [Trump] said. “‘Even when I’m not president anymore, you can walk up to the front gate of the White House and present it, and they will let you in.'”

Kushner admits that he and fellow White House adviser Avi Berkowitz “tried to keep from laughing” at the key offering.

According to an X post by the Trump campaign, Trump and Aso discussed the enduring importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance to both countries’ physical and economic security and to stability in the Indo-Pacific.

They also discussed challenges posed by China and North Korea, with Trump praising Japan’s increased defense spending.

The Trump-Aso meeting came about two weeks after President Joe Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House, in an effort to boost both nations’ military alliance in response to rising geopolitical tensions.