Properties owned by President Trump have billed the U.S. Secret Service at least $1.1 million in rental stays and other charges since he took office more than three years ago, according to The Washington Post.
The Post obtained documentation outlining the expenditures from the Secret Service to Trump Organization properties after it filed a public-records lawsuit with the agency.
The Secret Service is tasked with following and protecting Trump wherever he goes, but it also provides security detail to his family members. If he or they stay at one of his properties, agents are tasked with staying there as well. Trump’s properties charge the agency for their stay, which is then paid off with taxpayer funds.
Although Trump relinquished control of his company when he assumed the presidency, he remains the sole beneficiary of all of his properties, meaning he directly benefits from the Secret Service payments to them.
In one example, during the Passover holiday earlier this year, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump stayed at his Bedminster property in New Jersey, even though traveling there was in defiance of coronavirus stay-at-home directives from both that state and Washington, D.C., at the time (the order in New Jersey, however, did exempt federal employees). Charges to the Secret Service to rent out a cottage near where Ivanka Trump and her family were at exceeded $20,000 for that stay alone.
The new documents also demonstrate that the Trump Organization may have overcharged the Secret Service for their stays. The Bedminster property, for instance, charged $567 per night for the three-bedroom cottage that agents rented, while other rentals in the area typically charge a much lower rate, according to the Post.
The Secret Service frequently rents out spaces at Trump Organization properties in order to prepare ahead for the president’s arrival. But because Trump doesn’t make travel plans too far in advance, it’s hard for the agency to know when he will be at one place or another, resulting in the Secret Service renting out places for several months at a time. This practice has meant that the agency is often paying Trump Organization properties often without Trump or any of his family members actually staying there.
“We always had space reserved at Bedminster weeks before the president arrived, just in case,” a former Trump official said. “If he came in the Oval [Office] on, let’s say, on a Wednesday and said, ‘I want to go this weekend,’ you have to be ready.”
At one point, the Secret Service rented out space at his Bedminster property for 200 nights, yet no member of the Trump family actually ended up staying there at any point during that time.
The Secret Service, however, isn’t the only government agency to have utilized Trump’s properties, nor to use taxpayer dollars to pay for staying at them. According to reporting from CNN in March, a number of federal agencies had spent at least $1.2 million of government funds that went directly to the Trump Organization.
Eric Trump has defended his father’s use of his own properties, arguing in October 2019 that the federal government was actually getting a good deal for doing so.
“If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free,” Eric Trump said last year. “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.”
That statement was determined to be a lie, as several reports have concluded the Trump Organization was not providing discounts to federal agencies like the Secret Service.
Trump benefits from his properties in other ways. Even though he failed in his push to have his Doral Resort host the next G7 summit, it was estimated that he received more than $1 million in free advertising. Trump properties have also received tens of millions of dollars in campaign expenditures by the Republican National Committee and his own reelection campaign.