House Democrats are demanding the Secret Service turn over information about how much money it spent at properties owned by President Trump amid concerns the president is lining his pockets with taxpayer dollars.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Congresswoman Jackie Speier requested documents and contracts from the Secret Service after the Washington Post reported the agency tasked with protecting the president paid Trump-owned companies more than $471,000 for stays on dates between January 2017 and and April 2018.
The Post found the Secret Service was charged a $650 rate numerous times in 2017 and a $396.15 rate numerous times in 2018 to stay at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s South Florida property that the has dubbed the “Southern White House.” U.S. taxpayers were also charged $17,000 per month for the Secret Service to use a three-bedroom cottage at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.
“The payment of rates far above government rates and the Trump administration’s lack of transparency raise serious concerns about the use of taxpayer dollars and raise questions about government spending at other Trump properties,” Maloney, a Democrat from New York, and Speier, a Democrat from California, wrote in a letter Wednesday to Secret Service Director James Murray. “These concerns are heightened since President Trump has spent a third of his presidency at his private clubs and hotels, and his Treasury Secretary has attempted to shield Secret Service expenses from public scrutiny.”
In addition to the report from the Washington Post, the Government Accountability Office found federal agencies spent roughly $13.6 million on four trips Mr. Trump took to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 through March 5, 2017. The costs include $10.6 million for operating government aircraft and boats, and $3 million for “temporary duty costs of government personnel supporting the president’s travel.”
In their letter to Murray, Maloney and Speier wrote the “steep spending of taxpayer funds stands in stark contrast to statements made by Trump Organization officials regarding how the president’s business charges the government.”
The two House Democrats pointed to comments from Eric Trump, the president’s son and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in which he claimed to Yahoo Finance that when Mr. Trump stays at a property he owns, the government “saves a fortune.”
They also knocked the Secret Service for failing to disclose the “full scope of its payments to the president’s businesses or its expenses for presidential travel to his own properties.”
After he was elected president in 2016, Mr. Trump chose not to divest from his holdings and instead passed off day-to-day management of the Trump Organization to his sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
The move raised questions about whether Mr. Trump is profiting off the presidency. Several lawsuits claiming the president violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting gifts from foreign and state interests are making their way through the federal courts.