Wherever President Donald Trump goes, the Secret Service is with him, fulfilling their solemn duty to protect some of our nation's most important political figures and their families.
That means the Secret Service goes with President Trump when he travels, including to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, as well the three of his owned golf clubs he frequents: Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Trump National Golf Club, Washington, D.C., in northern Virginia; and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
We already know Trump has spent more than 260 days of his presidency at his golf clubs, requiring the Secret Service to spend more than $550,000 of taxpayer money just to rent proper golf carts to protect the president. Now we are starting to learn just how much Donald Trump and the Trump Organization are charging the Secret Service to stay with Trump at his properties when he's away from The White House.
The Washington Post published an extensive report based on documents procured through Freedom of Information Act requests and other sources, detailing how much the Trump Organization has charged the Secret Service to stay at Trump-owned properties.
When Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, the Trump Organization charges the Secret Service a nightly rate per room -- despite public comments from Trump's son, Eric, that the Secret Service isn't charged. In the initial stages of Trump's presidency in 2017, the Secret Service was charged $650 per night per room on dozens of occasions. In 2018, after the Secret Service was made an honorary member of the Mar-a-Lago club, where only members can rent rooms, the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service $396.15 per night per room. We don't know what Trump charged the Secret Service in 2019 for these rooms.
The Trump Organization also charged the Secret Service $17,000 per month to use a three-bedroom condo at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., to protect him on-site during Trump's summer vacations. The Secret Service was charged the rental rate whether Trump was on property or not.
“If my father travels, [the Secret Service] stay at our properties for free — meaning, like, cost for housekeeping,” Trump’s son Eric said in a 2019 Yahoo Finance interview. He maintained in a statement to the Post that the charges were made "at cost."
...with receipts. pic.twitter.com/LNPSVAn554
— FOIA Nate📄 (@FOIANate) February 7, 2020
That’s the president’s golf club charging taxpayers $17,000 (plus tax) to rent a cottage for a month at Trump Bedminster. We paid even on days when @realdonaldtrump wasn’t there. https://t.co/tn5DAETKNN
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) February 7, 2020
The Secret Service is not required to stick to a government per diem when protecting the President, and the Trump Organization can charge the Secret Service what they would like. The President is exempt from federal conflict-of-interest laws. However, Secret Service protectees have traditionally offered space to agents for free or at low rent in their homes and other real estate.
The full extent of what Trump has charged the Secret Service is unknown, as the Secret Service hasn't listed the full breadth of charges in public, despite legal requirements for expenditures over $10,000. The Secret Service also hasn't filed two-thirds of legally required reports to Congress on its spending protecting Trump and his family. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin opposes efforts to compel reporting on Secret Service costs for the President's protection until December 2020, after the next Presidential election.
However, based on the sample of Trump travel analyzed by the Washington Post, it's not hard to imagine the Trump Organization making well over the $471,000 accounted for in the report -- a figure including stays at Trump-owned hotels in addition to Mar-a-Lago and his country clubs.