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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Trump charges his Secret Service protectors $650 per night per room

New details about taxpayer costs at Trump properties show the shamelessness of his “corruption” talk
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AP Photo/Alex Brandon
New reporting about taxpayer expenditures at Trump properties suggests Donald Trump and his family are making a ton of money off the presidency — and it makes their allegations of “corruption” about the Bidens ring hollow.

The Washington Post reported on February 7 that Secret Service records obtained from a variety of sources show nearly $500,000 in payments to the president’s companies since he took office, including $650 per night charges for rooms at Mar-a-Lago and $17,000 a month above-market-rate charges for a three-bedroom cottage at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, New Jersey.

And it’s likely there have been additional payments to Trump’s companies that aren’t public knowledge, as the Secret Service has stonewalled efforts from Democrats to get a full accounting.
From the Post’s David Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell, Carol Leonnig, and Josh Dawsey:
Trump’s company says it charges only minimal fees. But Secret Service records do not show that. At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, the Secret Service was charged the $650 rate dozens of times in 2017, and a different rate, $396.15, dozens more times in 2018, according to documents from Trump’s visits.
An elected official using his office to financially benefit his family is basically the textbook definition of corruption, and the Post’s new reporting is simply the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the Trump family normalizing self-dealing in a manner unprecedented in American history.

But in an especially shameless display, Donald Trump and his eldest son repeatedly attacked the Bidens for their purported corruption on February 6, just hours before the Post’s report dropped.

During his bonkers post-impeachment acquittal victory lap speech at the White House,  Trump justified his efforts to strongarm the Ukrainian government into announcing investigations of the Bidens by saying, “I probably have a legal obligation to report corruption.” He unfavorably contrasted Hunter Biden’s lucrative role on the board of a Ukrainian gas company with what his own kids are up to, claiming “my kids could make a fortune” if they did the same.

The irony is that the Trump children have made a fortune from foreign dealings, and not just before their dad took office.

In October, Forbes reported that Eric and Donald Jr. have sold more than $100 million of the family’s real estate since the January 2017 inauguration — including a $3.2 million deal in the Dominican Republic in 2018 that is “the clearest violation of their father’s pledge to do no new foreign deals while in office.”

Foreign money has also poured into the Trump International Hotel, located just blocks from the White House, which the president’s most recent financial disclosure indicated made him $41 million in 2018 alone.

Shamelessness, however, appears to be a trait Trump shares with his children. On Thursday evening, Donald Trump Jr. went on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show and attacked Hunter Biden, saying, “Hunter Biden can make millions from the Ukraine, but I’m pretty sure they’d have a problem with Donald Trump Jr doing it.”

Many Democrats do indeed object to the Trump family’s corruption. But with regard to Secret Service expenditures at the president’s properties, they’ve been unable to get to the bottom of it because Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has refused to disclose the pertinent records until after the 2020 election.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) told the Post that Trump has been “trying to hide the details from the public, because he knows how bad it looks. That’s the truth of it. He’s a billionaire, but we’re spending millions of dollars to support his for-profit clubs and for-profit businesses.”

Not only are Republicans unbothered by the Trump administration’s lack of transparency about taxpayer expenditures at their properties, but in an especially ironic twist, they’re helping the Trump’s family efforts to gin up a scandal about the Bidens.

Republicans Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA) and Ron Johnson (WI) recently requested the Secret Service turn over records of expenditures related to Hunter Biden’s protection when his father was vice president.

And while the Treasury Department has stonewalled Democratic efforts to get to the bottom of what it’s costing taxpayers to protect the Trump family at properties they still own and profit from, the Treasury Department immediately turned over the Hunter Biden records.