What President Trump’s company charges the Secret Service

President Trump’s company charges the Secret Service for the rooms it uses while protecting Trump at his properties. The charges have been as high as $650 per night for a Mar-a-Lago Club hotel room, or $17,000 a month for a cottage at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

Who pays these bills? U.S. taxpayers. That means Trump has a business arrangement with his own government. But the details of that relationship remain largely hidden.

The only glimpses of this spending have come out via Secret Service records, released after public records requests. But these documents are often cryptic, giving few details.

This is how The Washington Post sought to unravel the mysteries in these documents, and to report the true extent of what Trump’s company has charged taxpayers.

Since Trump took office, he has visited his own properties on 342 days. Secret Service agents come with him. And Trump’s company charges them. Last November, in response to a public records request from the group Property of the People, the Secret Service released a list of 56 payments it had made to Trump’s companies. All were from 2017. But the list was cryptic. It didn’t say what the Secret Service had been charged for. In some cases, it didn’t even say which Trump property had been paid.

The Post tried to decode this list. One surprise: at least 20 of the payments to "Trump National Golf Club" — worth $63,700 — weren’t to a golf club at all. Other documents, already released, showed they were payments to Mar-a-Lago. The Post learned that many of them were hotel bills for $650 per night — a rate far higher than the usual limits on federal hotel spending. There is no legal limit on what the Secret Service may spend on hotel rooms while its agents are protecting the president.

In four other cases, the dollar amount was a giveaway: All included a tax of 6.875 percent, which was the sales tax in New Jersey in 2017. That pointed to Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, which is the only Trump property in New Jersey that he has visited as president.

But many of the payments on this list remain mysterious.  If you have information about these charges — or any other instances where taxpayer funds were used to pay the president’s company — contact Post reporter David Fahrenthold at fahrenthold@washpost.com.

Documents

These receipts have been redacted by the Secret Service, and they contain notations giving the reason for the redactions. The most common notation is "(b)(7)(e)," which refers to a section of the U.S. Code that allows the government to redact information about the "techniques and procedures" of law enforcement agencies.

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July 31, 2017 | Bedminster, N.J.

A receipt from the files of the Secret Service showing the rental of a cottage at Trump’s Bedminster golf club for the month of July. The rate is $17,000 for the month, plus New Jersey’s 6.875 percent sales tax. Trump only spent seven days at the club that month, but the Secret Service still paid for days he wasn’t there. The handwriting in this document is original, written by the Secret Service. The Trump Organization says this rate is below what it could get on the open market, given that the the cottage has three bedrooms.

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Sept. 4, 2017 | Bedminster, N.J.

A receipt from the files of the Secret Service showing the rental of a cottage at Trump’s Bedminster golf club for the month of August, plus four days of September. The rate is $17,000 per month, plus New Jersey’s 6.875 percent sales tax. The handwriting in this document is original, written by the Secret Service. The Trump Organization says this rate is below what it could get on the open market, given that the the cottage has three bedrooms.

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Oct. 1, 2017 | Bedminster, N.J.

A receipt from the files of the Secret Service showing the rental of a cottage at Trump’s Bedminster golf club for the month of September, minus four days that had been paid for in a previous bill. The rate is $17,000 per month, plus New Jersey’s 6.875 percent sales tax. Trump spent 10 days at the club that month, but the Secret Service still paid for days he wasn’t there. The handwriting in this document is original, written by the Secret Service. The Trump Organization says this rate is below what it could get on the open market, given that the the cottage has three bedrooms.

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February 2017 | Palm Beach, Fla.

Receipts released by the Secret Service showing charges paid to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in February — his first trip to Mar-a-Lago as president. Three of the receipts are in increments of $650, the amount that Trump’s company charged the Secret Service for each night in a Mar-a-Lago guest room. The other receipt is for $3,510; it is unclear what this charge is for. The Trump Organization has said that the current rate being charged for these rooms is "substantially lower," but did not say what it was.

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February 2018 | Palm Beach, Fla.

Receipts released by the Secret Service showing charges paid to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in February. The receipts show Trump’s club charged $396.15 per night for guest rooms, less than the year before. One possible explanation: The 2018 receipts list the Secret Service as an "honorary member" of Mar-a-Lago, which may come with a discount.

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September 2016 to January 2018 | Washington, D.C.

This document, released by the Department of Homeland Security, shows expenditures by the Secret Service’s Washington Field Office ("WFO") and Dignitary Protection Division ("DPD") at Trump’s hotel. The document does not give reasons for these expenditures. Some of them occur on days when Trump visited the hotel, but most do not.

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January to June 2017 | Various

This document, released by the Secret Service after a public records request from the group Property of the People, contains listings of Secret Service credit card purchases at Trump properties. The documents give a sense of the scale of this spending: more than $250,000 in just Trump’s first five months in office. But it provides little clarity about why the money was spent and what rates were charged. This document was the spark for The Post’s reporting on this topic — showing how little was known about this business relationship between Trump and his own government.

David A. Fahrenthold

David A. Fahrenthold is a reporter covering the Trump family and its business interests. He has been at The Washington Post since 2000, and previously covered Congress, the federal bureaucracy, the environment and the D.C. police.

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