American taxpayers are paying as much as $650 per room per night for Secret Service accommodations at Trump properties while protecting the president a new report from the Washington Post has revealed.
This directly contradicts President Donald Trump’s claims that his company only charges the government minimal fees or “at cost.” In an interview with Yahoo Finance in 2019, the president’s son Eric, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said, “If [the president] stays at one of his places, the government actually… saves a fortune because, if they were to go to a hotel across the street, they’d be charging them $500 a night, whereas, you know we charge them, like 50 bucks.”
But that is simply not true. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property charged the government $650 per night for a room in 2017 “dozens” of times. And in 2018 they charged $396.15 per night “dozens” more times. At Trump’s New Jersey property, Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 per month (around $565 per night) for a three-bedroom cottage — double the rate for comparable properties in the area. Normally, the federal government limits spending on accommodations to $182 per night.
We don’t even know the full extent of the charges because the Secret Service has not listed them in publically-available databases of federal spending, even though that is typically mandatory for charges in excess of $10,000. Nor has the Secret Service filed the required twice-yearly reports on its spending to Congress. Since 2016, the agency has only filed two of the six required reports, and the reports that they did file were incomplete, leaving blank lines where charges at Bedminster and Mar-a-Lago should have been.
Despite this, media and watchdog investigations have been able to piece together some of the payments from Trump’s time in office. So far, the Post has found $471,000 in payments made to the Trump Organization.
“It is more than a little disconcerting, knowing this is going on, and not knowing what the actual numbers are,” Jordan Libowitz of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told the Post. “That’s kind of crazy that we know the president is benefiting from the presidency, and we do not know how. We do not know how many taxpayer dollars are in his pocket.”
In response to the Post’s inquiries about the charges, Eric Trump, said in a statement: “We provide the rooms at cost and could make far more money renting them to members or guests.” He did not elaborate, however, on how the “at cost” rate is calculated.
So we can add this new reporting to the long list of ways Trump is raking in taxpayer dollars while in office, like when Trump staffers got drunk at Mar-a-Lago on the taxpayer dime. Or how Trump started requiring Air Force pilots to stay overnight at his golf course in Scotland. Or the time that the Secret Service paid for tent rentals for Mar-a-Lago’s New Years Eve party.
Don’t expect Trump’s grifts of the taxpayers to stop anytime soon, even after he leaves office. Former presidents retain Secret Service protection for the rest of their lives, and there’s little doubt Trump will continue his robust golf schedule at his own properties once he’s out of office.