President Donald Trump has made money off his presidency. In early 2017, Trump lawyer Sheri Dillon said that the then-president-elect “instructed” his legal team “to take all steps realistically possible to make it clear that he is not exploiting the office of the presidency for his personal benefit.” However, according to a new report in The Washington Post, “taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office,” and “[at] least $570,000 came as a result of the president’s travel, according to a Post analysis.” That’s almost a million bucks (at least) that have gone from taxpayers to the president’s business.
Breaking via WaPo: Federal spending records show that taxpayers have paid Trump's businesses more than $900,000 since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of the president's travel, according to a Post analysis. https://t.co/131HdYGjNF
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 27, 2020
Much of the money has come through means like charges that the Trump Organization imposed on the Secret Service while it was guarding the president (and Trump associates) at Trump-branded properties. For instance, as the Post report notes, “the Trump Organization charged rates as high as $650 per night for rooms at Mar-a-Lago and $17,000 per month for a cottage at President Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J.,” according to some previously reported records.
The Washington Post filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demanding many of the detailed government spending records that they outline in a new report. According to the records, the Trump Organization tacked on all sorts of odd charges for Secret Service personnel. During a one-night stay by Vice President Mike Pence at Trump’s Las Vegas property in 2017, the Secret Service rented 151 rooms, and each one of the rooms got a $29 a piece charge in so-called “resort fees,” which totaled an additional $4,379 in charges. As the Post summarizes, the website for the Vegas resort explains that resort fees cover costs like “coffee, shoe shines and shuttle service to the shopping mall at the Caesars Palace casino.” The president’s company “did not say why it had charged resort fees to working Secret Service agents,” the Post notes. It’s not as though the agents were on some kind of vacation.
Meanwhile, when Trump himself spent two nights at his resort in Turnberry, Scotland, in 2018, the president’s company charged the Secret Service $1,300 plus tax for “furniture removal” after the agency required the removal of certain pieces of furniture from rooms. Some of these charges may be comparatively small on their own, but they add up to almost a million bucks (at least) in taxpayer money that has gone directly to the president’s businesses.
That huge sum doesn’t even cover the huge sums of taxpayer money that have been used for travel costs that, although not charged by the president’s own company, have been incurred during his many travels. As of early Thursday, President Trump “has now visited his own properties 270 times as president,” according to the tally maintained by The Washington Post. Some of those visits have sparked financial benefits for his company through means other than taxpayer dollars — across “the 37 instances in which Trump headlined a political event at one of his properties,” the Trump Organization has taken in at least $3.8 million in charges, The Post explains.
In other words — the president quite literally appears to be making money off his role as president. He refused to financially divest himself from his businesses after taking office, although he reportedly ceded executive control to his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.