The ethics group Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (CREW) has come up with a new tally of how much American taxpayers have put directly into Donald Trump’s pockets through money spent by the Secret Service at Trump-owned properties.
After examining newly acquired records, CREW has calculated that the Secret Service has paid nearly $2 million for accommodations, golf cart rentals, room service, and other expenditures at Mar-a-Lago and other properties owned by the disgraced former president.
According to CREW:
“Newly acquired records show roughly $1.75 million being paid to Trump’s businesses; however, these records appear to be incomplete. Previously published records, by CREW and others, which do not appear to be included in the documents, account for thousands more in Secret Service spending at Trump properties, bringing the likely grand total closer to $2 million.”
The number is so astronomical that it exceeds the amount of the presidential salary that Trump ostentatiously decided to forgo as a flamboyantly magnanimous gesture from a supposed billionaire businessman entering the White House as a supposed public servant.
One of the reasons that the number reached such an unprecedented level is the fact that Trump spent so much of his presidency at Mar-A-Lago and jetting off to golf at one of his multiple resorts. CREW documents “an astounding 146 visits to the Palm Beach club, which makes sense in the context of his inability to bill the government when he was staying at the actual White House,” the ethics organization archly noted.
What’s even more difficult to swallow for many people, is the fact that — as a former president — Trump continues to be protected by a Secret Service detail and continues to personally profit from the arrangement.
CREW sums up its analysis of the money spent by the Secret Service at Trump properties with a devastating condemnation of the twice-impeached former president’s continuing grift.
“This is not to question the legitimacy of these expenses–of course presidents and their families need to be protected. But Trump is ostensibly a billionaire (although he’s the first president in generations not to release his tax returns, so it’s hard to be sure), and these were not personal residences. Trump was making promotional appearances at businesses he continued to own and profit from. It would be bad enough that he visited his properties nearly 550 times while in office, but it is much worse that he was using the trips to line his pockets with taxpayer money via his Secret Service protection. As Trump is still protected by Secret Service agents, the spending–which began before his oath of office–at his properties continues.”
“These properties were resorts and hotels, he did not need to charge the Secret Service to stay there. In fact, Eric Trump, who along with his brother Don Jr. was nominally in charge of his businesses at the time, lied that they were only charging the Secret Service the cost of housekeeping. Trump made a choice that he was going to actively grift the Secret Service since it was required to protect him. He appears to have made millions, but the cost to the integrity of the presidency was much higher.”
“Trump” and “integrity” are two words that should never be used in the same sentence together.
CREW’s update to the financial calculations of the exorbitant cost of the Trump presidency is a reminder that our taxpayer dollars would be better spent protecting Donald Trump within the confines of a maximum-security federal prison after he is finally held accountable for his many misdeeds.
Original reporting by Jordan Libowitz and Caitlin Moniz at CREW.