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Trump charged Secret Service nearly $10,200 in May for agents’ rooms

Former president Donald Trump speaks about filing a class-action lawsuits targeting Facebook, Google and Twitter in an event at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on July 7, 2021.
Former president Donald Trump speaks about filing a class-action lawsuits targeting Facebook, Google and Twitter in an event at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on July 7, 2021. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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Former president Donald Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., charged the Secret Service nearly $10,200 for guest rooms used by his protective detail during Trump’s first month at the club this summer, newly released spending records show.

The records — released by the Secret Service in response to a public-records request — show that the ex-president has continued a habit he began in the first days of his presidency: charging rent to the agency that protects his life.

Since Trump left office in January, U.S. taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $50,000 for rooms used by Secret Service agents, records show.

The Washington Post reported previously that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club — where he lived from January, when he left the White House, to early May — charged the Secret Service more than $40,000 so that agents could use a room near Trump.

These newly released records provide the first proof that, when Trump moved north to Bedminster, the invoices kept coming.

The Secret Service released a bill it paid to Trump Bedminster in May, totaling $10,199.52. The agency redacted the nightly rate, but the dollar amount itself offered a clue: The bill was an exact multiple of what Trump Bedminster charged the Secret Service while Trump was still in office: $566.64 per night for a four-bedroom “cottage” on the property.

At that rate, the bill from May 2021 would have paid for 18 nights in the cottage. Trump arrived in Bedminster on May 9.

The bill from May is the only one that the Secret Service has released from Trump’s time at Bedminster this year. But the agency released another document showing that charges probably continued after that: It released an internal document called a “hotel request” form, covering the period from May 28 to July 1. The form showed that agents planned to rent rooms at Bedminster through at least the start of July.

Separately, the Secret Service also released other bills showing $3,400 in charges from Trump Bedminster before Trump himself arrived. Those receipts — from January, February and early May — did not say why the Secret Service was at the club.

Neither Trump’s family business — the Trump Organization — nor Trump’s political operation responded to a request for comment.

A Secret Service spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the agency does not talk about protective operations.

Legal experts have said there are no laws to prohibit Trump’s company from charging the Secret Service rent at his properties, either during or after his presidency. The rate is effectively up to him: By law, the Secret Service can pay whatever it must to rent rooms near its protectees for use as command posts and meeting rooms.

“The service is more focused on the protective necessity, as opposed to, ‘How much is it going to cost after the fact?’ There’s nothing they can do” if rates are high, said Jonathan Wackrow, a longtime Secret Service agent who now works for the consulting firm Teneo. “It’s a question of not, ‘Can they do it?’ but ‘Should they be charging that much?’ ”

The scale of Trump’s charges appears to be unusual among recent presidents and vice presidents.

In recent history, The Post could find only one other protected person who had charged the Secret Service rent: Joe Biden. As vice president, Biden charged the Secret Service $2,200 per month to use a cottage on his property in Delaware. In total, Biden received $171,600 between 2011 and 2017.

Biden has not charged the Secret Service rent since becoming president in January, a White House spokesman said.

The charges from Trump’s company exceeded Biden’s lifetime total by March 2017, Trump’s third month in office, according to records obtained by The Post. Trump’s company charged the State Department to host summits with foreign leaders, the Secret Service for rooms while protecting Trump and his children, and the Defense Department for aides accompanying the president to Mar-a-Lago and to his Irish golf club.

In all, Trump’s company charged the government more than $2.5 million during his presidency, according to a Post analysis of federal spending records.

It is unclear how the Trump Organization set the rates that it charges the Secret Service at Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster. Before The Post revealed the extent of the charges, Trump’s son Eric said in 2019 that the rate was “like 50 bucks” per night.

The Post has now examined charges for more than 3,600 nights at Trump properties and found no rates that low. Instead, at Mar-a-Lago, rates ranged from $396.15 to $650 per room. At Bedminster, the rate for the four-room “Sarazen Cottage” was $566.64.

As former president, Trump is entitled to a government pension of $219,000 per year; the General Services Administration said he had received $99,323 of it as of this week.

Jordan Libowitz, of the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that — in light of Trump’s other assets and income — he should consider allowing the Secret Service to stay at his properties free.

“He obviously should have Secret Service protection,” Libowitz said. However, Libowitz said, “there’s no reason that his company should not do the patriotic thing, and just comp the government for the security it is providing him.”