Last week, the Washington Post reported on the Trump Organization’s consistent practice of charging the Secret Service exorbitant fees when the president was staying at one of his own hotels. The paper found that the Secret Service often pays $396 per room per night, with some stays costing as much as $650 a night. At Trump’s golf club in New Jersey, the Secret Service paid $17,000 a month for a three-bedroom suite, five times the going rate in the area.
The expenses contradict Eric Trump’s statement given to Yahoo Finance in October 2019, when the president attempted a more ambitious project in self-promotion by announcing that the G-7 would be hosted at his own resort. “If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free — meaning, like, cost for housekeeping,” the Trump Organization vice-president said. “If he stays at one of his places, the government actually … saves a fortune because, if they were to go to a hotel across the street, they’d be charging them $500 a night, whereas, you know, we charge them like 50 bucks.” According to a follow-up report by the Post, experts that spoke with the paper suggested that the president’s company is most likely profiting from Secret Service stays. One hospitality management professor said that it was “not possible” that the cost of housekeeping could range from $396 to $650, even at a luxury hotel. A more likely high estimate was around $80.
Perhaps that’s why the federal government, according to the report, is withholding records stating how much the agency is spending at Trump’s resorts and hotels — at least for now. On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee requested that the Secret Service hand over a full accounting of its payments to the Trump Organization by February 25. According to the letter, the Post’s reporting raises “serious concerns about the use of taxpayer dollars and raise questions about government spending at other Trump properties” and that the charges stand “in stark contrast” to the Trump Organization’s public statements that it is not profiting off the trips. Though the Secret Service is legally required to report its expenses to Congress every six months, the agency has missed half of its check-ins since Trump took office; even in the statements they provided, lines for spending at Trump’s Bedminster and Mar-a-Lago resorts were left blank.
The Trump administration has also reportedly attempted to hide Secret Service spending from the public until after the election, so that voters do not learn the high cost of protecting the Trump family on their many business and recreational trips.