Donald Trump’s private company is making big bucks off American taxpayers when the president stays at his own properties, which he has visited on 342 days since he took office.
According to a new analysis from the Washington Post‘s David Farenthold, Trump’s company is charging $650 per night for Secret Service agents to stay at Mar-a-Lago, and $17,000 per month for a cottage at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.
WaPo reports: The only glimpses of this spending have come out via Secret Service records, released after public records requests. But these documents are often cryptic, giving few details. Last November, in response to a public records request from the group Property of the People, the Secret Service released a list of 56 payments it had made to Trump’s companies. All were from 2017. But the list was cryptic. It didn’t say what the Secret Service had been charged for. In some cases, it didn’t even say which Trump property had been paid. The Post tried to decode this list. One surprise: at least 20 of the payments to “Trump National Golf Club” — worth $63,700 — weren’t to a golf club at all. Other documents, already released, showed they were payments to Mar-a-Lago. The Post learned that many of them were hotel bills for $650 per night — a rate far higher than the usual limits on federal hotel spending. There is no legal limit on what the Secret Service may spend on hotel rooms while its agents are protecting the president.
Farenthold noted on Twitter (above) that the analysis directly contradicts something Trump’s son, Eric, said last year.
“If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free,” Eric Trump said. “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,” he added.
Several commenters noted that the arrangement appears to violate the Constitution’s domestic emoluments clause, which provides: “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”