Though the president’s displays of ostentatious wealth didn’t hurt his electoral prospects last time around, the administration is reportedly worried about the public response if voters learn just how much taxpayers are putting up for Trump family vacations and travel. According to the Washington Post, the administration is attempting to delay House Democrats’ efforts to reveal the Secret Service budget until after the 2020 election, in part so that voters do not learn how much they are spending on Trump trips.
The attempt to delay the release involves a bill drafted in part by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin bringing the Secret Service under his department’s purview, where it was housed from its foundation in 1865 until 2003, when the agency was enveloped by the Department of Homeland Security. As part of the proposed bill, Democrats would require that the Secret Service release how much it costs to protect Trump family travel within 120 days of its passage. Mnuchin is reportedly onboard for the reporting of travel expenses, but only if the practice begins in 2021.
Though Trump promised during the campaign that he would “rarely leave the White House,” he has spent 114 days at his home in Mar-a-Lago and 75 days at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. Full records of Secret Service spending are unavailable, but individual costs detailed over the years offer a glimpse of how much the agency is spending to protect our leisurely president — and why the administration might not want the details publicized in an election year.
In his first four trips to Mar-a-Lago in 2017, the Secret Service alone spent about $1.3 million on each visit. Just renting enough golf carts to follow the president — without hampering his ability to cheat on the green — has cost $588,000 since 2017, according to federal spending data available online. The Secret Service has also had to put taxpayer money directly into Trump’s pocket, spending at least $250,000 at Trump properties in the first five months of his term. For just one month in 2017, Trump’s travel costs totaled $13.6 million, including expenditures by the Secret Service, the Department of Defense, and the cost of renting space and equipment. As the Post notes: “Trump has made 22 more trips to Mar-a-Lago since then … If the Secret Service’s costs remained constant, that would mean more than $28 million in further spending by the Secret Service alone, and $75 million from the government in all — and just on a fraction of Trump’s total travel.” In contrast, and flouting Trump’s impression of his predecessor, the government reportedly spent around $96 million on travel for Obama over eight years. Less than two months into Trump’s term, the Secret Service asked Congress for a budget boost of $60 million to manage presidential travel.
Trump’s family, too, has proven to be a serious expense for the agency. As the Post notes: “Since their father was elected, Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. have made business trips to overseas locales including Ireland, Scotland, Dubai, Uruguay, and India. In 2017, Eric Trump’s visit to a Trump building under construction in Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,000.” Last September, the Secret Service also put in a bid to buy Jet Skis, so that federal agents could protect the Trump family off the shore of Mar-a-Lago.