The Secret Service paid President Trump’s company rates as high as $650 a night for rooms used by agents protecting the president, The Washington Post reports based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Those charges, compiled here for the first time, show that Trump has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government,” the Post’s David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O'Connell, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey write. “The records show more than $471,000 in payments from taxpayers to Trump’s companies. But — because these records cover only a fraction of Trump’s travel during a fraction of his term — the actual total is likely to be higher.”
The Post notes that since taking office Trump has spent more than 342 days, or a third of his presidency, at his private clubs and hotels.
The Secret Service reportedly has failed to file some required reports detailing its spending to protect Trump at his properties, and the administration has stonewalled efforts by Democrats to get a full accounting of the costs of Trump’s travel. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has sought to delay Secret Service disclosures until after the 2020 elections.
In a statement to the Post, the Secret Service said that its spending “balances operational security with judicious allocation of resources.”
Why it matters: The records suggest that the president and his company are making significant money off taxpayers, despite assurances from the Trump Organization and the president’s family members that the government is only being charged minimal fees at Trump properties. “So everywhere that he goes, if he stays at one of his places, the government actually spends, meaning it 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,” Eric Trump, the president’s son, said last year. That appears to be untrue.
The Post says other recent presidents have allowed the Secret Service to use their properties for free, though former Vice President Joe Biden did charge $2,200 a month in rent for a cottage on his property. Biden was paid a total of $171,600 over six years. Trump topped that total in less than three months.