It sure is nice when you can use the Presidency to enrich yourself. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold shares their latest data on how the Trump Organization is using the Secret Service to pad their own bottom line.
Trump’s businesses charged Secret Service more than $1.1 million, including for rooms in club shuttered for pandemic
President Trump’s luxury properties have charged the U.S. government more than $1.1 million in private transactions since Trump took office — including for room rentals at his Bedminster, N.J., club this spring while it was closed for the coronavirus pandemic, new documents show.
The documents, including receipts and invoices from Trump’s businesses, were released by the Secret Service after The Washington Post filed a public-records lawsuit. They added $188,000 in previously unknown charges to The Post’s running total of payments to Trump’s properties related to the presence of Secret Service agents.
In Bedminster this spring, the records show, Trump’s club charged the Secret Service more than $21,800 to rent a cottage and other rooms while the club was closed and otherwise off-limits to guests. The documents don’t give a reason for these rentals. Trump didn’t visit the club while it was closed, but his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her family reportedly visited at least once.
In case you’re new to this entire story. And, note, it doesn’t need to be this way. The Trump Organization could easily provide rooms to the Secret Service at no-cost or a truly nominal cost. But they don’t. And that’s a deliberate decision to siphon money from the taxpayers to Donald Trump’s own pockets.
When Trump and his family members visit Trump properties, aides and Secret Service agents follow. When those federal employees rent rooms, Trump’s businesses get the revenue. Taxpayers foot the bill.
The bills are usually paid in private, with no public disclosure. The government has not disclosed how much it has paid the Trump Organization in total. Instead, The Post has tried to create an accounting of these payments, one receipt at a time, using public-records requests and lawsuits.
“The waste inherent in this is appalling,” Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president at the watchdog group Public Citizen, said of the Trump Organization’s charges. Gilbert said the costs were especially galling during a pandemic that has brought economic ruin and stretched federal budgets. “They’re nickel-and-diming the American people. At a moment when every penny counts.”
The White House and the Secret Service both declined to comment for this story. The Trump Organization did not respond to emailed questions.
Before he took office, Trump said he would be “completely isolating” himself from his business interests. He didn’t. Instead, Trump has visited his properties 274 times, according to a Post tally, in addition to promoting those properties on Twitter, encouraging his vice president visit them and briefly choosing one of them to host a summit of world leaders.