Donald Trump disliked and actively rejected many aspects of being president of the United States—the expectation he would be in the office before noon and wouldn‘t watch eight hours of TV a day, the whole bit about actually paying attention to intelligence briefings, etc.—but one part of the job he loved was the opportunity it afforded him to line his and his family members’ pockets. Sometimes he did this in indirect ways—like operating a hotel less than a mile away from the White House where where Republican lawmakers, corporate executives with business before the Department of Justice, foreign officials, and anyone looking to kiss the ring knew it was wise to splash out cash. Other times, it was straightforward—like when he not only made the Secret Service pay to protect him at his for-profit properties, but reportedly quintupled the cost of their stay.
The Washington Post reports that the Trump Organization, which Trump did not divest himself from while serving as POTUS, charged the Secret Service as much as five times the government rate for agents to stay the night at Trump hotels while protecting him and his family, according to records recently obtained by Congress. As the Post notes, the government-approved rate for a hotel in DC was typically between $195 and $240, but the Secret Service frequently had to obtain a waiver to pay many multiples of that while staying at Trump-owned properties. For example, in April 2017, when Eric Trump and his wife, Lara, were staying at the Trump International Hotel in DC, the Trump Organization charged the agents $1,160. That November, when Donald Trump Jr. stayed at the same establishment, the bill was $1,185 a night for his security detail, i.e. almost six times the government rate. The documents show that the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service at least $1.4 million to stay at Trump-owned properties. That figure, of course, was paid for by taxpayers and flowed directly into the Trump family’s coffers.
“The exorbitant rates charged to the Secret Service and agents’ frequent stays at Trump-owned properties raise significant concerns about the former president’s self-dealing and may have resulted in a taxpayer-funded windfall for former President Trump’s struggling businesses,” Representative Carolyn Maloney said in a letter addressed to Secret Service director Kimberly Cheatle.
In 2019—right around the time the then president tried to convince people it was not at all corrupt to hold the G7 conference at Trump Doral—Eric Trump, who was running the family business with Don Jr. in his father’s absence, told reporters: “If my father travels, [members of his government entourage] stay at our properties for free—meaning, like, cost for housekeeping.” The younger Trump repeated this claim on Monday, insisting in a statement to the Post: “Any services rendered to the United States Secret Service or other government agencies at Trump owned properties, were at their request and were either provided at cost, heavily discounted or for free. The company would have been substantially better off if hospitality services were sold to full-paying guests, however, the company did whatever it took to accommodate the agencies to ensure they were able to do their jobs at the highest levels.”
As the Post notes, the newly revealed documents “do not cover all Secret Service expenses at Trump properties during his presidency and reflect only a fraction of those expenses since he left office.” They also do not include the overall amount taxpayers were on the hook for, outside of Secret Service costs, given that Trump frequently chose to conduct official state business at places where he could rake in cash. For example, when Trump hosted the Japanese prime minister at Mar-a-Lago in 2018, the club reportedly billed the government $16,500 for food and wine, $13,700 for guest rooms, $6,000 for floral arrangements, and $3 a pop for water. Yes, water.
Maloney, who noted in her letter that the records her committee received did not include Secret Service bills for a series of visits to Mar-a-Lago, a number of visits to his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, and stays at Trump-owned properties outside the United States, told the agency director: “Given the long-standing concerns surrounding the former president’s conflicts of interest and efforts to profit off the presidency, the committee has a strong interest in obtaining a complete accounting of federal government spending at Trump properties.”
In May, The Daily Beast reported that the Secret Service had spent at least $1.3 million protecting him since he left office.
Two antisemites walk into a bar
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