Turns out the joke is on U.S. taxpayers.
Documents recently released by the Secret Service to the watchdog group Public Citizen in response to a three-year-old public record request reveal that Mr. Trump’s company charged the Secret Service $157,000 more than had previously been known, billing the agency for rooms at Mar-a-Lago and other clubs at rates higher than his company had claimed. Previous reporting by Post reporters who had pieced together receipts from other public record requests identified $471,000 worth of payments, bringing the new known total to about $628,000. Most of the spending detailed so far in the publicly available records is from 2017 and 2018, so the full extent of what the Trump Organization is charging — in an unprecedented business relationship between a president and his own government — is still unknown.
“That is not how the process is supposed to work. Responding in 2020 with information from 2017 and 2018 is not okay,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. Indeed. Why has there been such secrecy? The Secret Service has failed to include payments in public databases, as has been past practice, and has not filed the required reports of its spending to Congress. The Trump Organization has refused to provide information, and its claims — “If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free — meaning, like, cost for housekeeping, ” said Eric Trump last year — have been proved false.
One of the more revealing — and disturbing — details to emerge from reporting on this matter by ProPublica centered on the difference in the room rate charged to Secret Service agents and to an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The non-Secret Service government employee — unlike the Secret Service — had to adhere to government limits on hotel rates and paid less than half of what was charged to the Secret Service. For the same night.
Previous presidents have not charged the Secret Service to use space on their properties, but then none of them similarly owned or benefited from commercial enterprises while in office. That puts Mr. Trump in a special category. The decent thing would be to accommodate — not to take advantage of — the officers who protect him, and the citizens who pay their way.