The Justice Department on Friday released the names of just 22 visitors to Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s Palm Beach resort, despite a court order to turn over a full list of those who visited the property in the first few months of Trump’s presidency.
“This was spitting in the eye of transparency. We will be fighting this in court,” the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said a statement. One of three plaintiffs in the lawsuit that resulted in the court order, CREW has also demanded records of Trump’s visitors at the White House and Trump Tower. In July, a federal judge in Manhattan ordered that the records for Mar-a-Lago be turned over.
Friday’s deadline to reveal those names came and went without any word from the Trump administration. Around 30 minutes after the deadline passed, the Justice Department handed over a list of 22 names, all of them staff members for Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited Mar-a-Lago in February. The Justice Department declined to release any other names.
“The remaining records that the Secret Service has processed in response to the Mar-a-Lago request contain, reflect, or otherwise relate to the President’s schedules,” the Justice Department said. “The government believes that Presidential schedule information is not subject to FOIA.”
CREW has pledged to continue pursuing the visitor logs for the club, which charges a $200,000 membership fee and is 99 percent owned by Trump’s revocable trust. The president can pull money out that trust whenever he pleases.
The government’s unwillingness to name Trump’s visitors to the club comes on the same day that the Washington Post has published a receipt showing that the government is paying for administration officials to stay at the ritzy resort.
Obtained by the group Property of the People through a Freedom of Information Act request, the receipt shows that the federal government paid $1,092 for an unnamed official to stay at Mar-a-Lago for two nights in March. The $546-per-night rate is well above rates at other hotels in the area and raises concerns about payments from the federal government enriching the president.
This $1,092 payment also represents only one two-night stay for one government official at Mar-a-Lago. Many members of Trump’s cabinet have stayed at the property during this short presidency, as has the Secret Service. It’s unclear how much Mar-a-Lago was paid for these stays, but what this single receipt proves is that of the millions of dollars in revenue the Trump Organization made at Mar-a-Lago since the inauguration, some of it came from the taxpayers.