As a rule, it’s best to approach questions about the cost of Secret Service protections with some caution. Elected leaders and their families often receive very serious threats, and it’s important for the U.S. government to ensure their safety with highly trained personnel.
There is, however, something qualitatively different about Donald Trump — because he’s been in a position to profit from the circumstances.
The public has been assured that this should not be an area of concern. In fact, Eric Trump — one of the former president’s sons and an executive at the Trump Organization — has claimed that the company provided hotel rooms for Secret Service agents “at cost,” or in some cases, for free.
There’s fresh evidence to the contrary. NBC News reported:
During Donald Trump’s presidency, Trump hotels charged the Secret Service as much as $1,185 per night, more than five times the recommended government rate, and the high rates continued after he left office, according to an investigation released Monday by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
A New York Times report added, “The records the panel obtained provided new details about an arrangement in which Mr. Trump and his family effectively turned the Secret Service into a captive customer of their business — by visiting their properties hundreds of times, and then charging the government rates far above its usual spending limits.”
These details came to light yesterday by way of House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, who presented the findings in writing to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle. Maloney emphasized that Donald Trump, while in office, said federal employees traveling with him would be able to stay in his company’s properties for free or at cost — something that would save the federal government money.
“The exorbitant rates charged to the Secret Service and agents’ frequent stays at Trump-owned properties raise significant concerns about the former President’s self-dealing and may have resulted in a taxpayer-funded windfall for former President Trump’s struggling businesses,” the Democratic congresswoman wrote.
The findings are not entirely retrospective: Maloney added that the Oversight panel still hopes to complete a full accounting of Secret Service spending at Trump Organization properties, and yesterday’s letter requested that Cheatle provide additional details by Oct. 31.
Of course, if voters reward Republicans with a House majority in the midterm elections, as now appears likely, scrutiny of the matter will come to an immediate halt.
In the meantime, however, it’s worth appreciating the fact that while Trump was in the White House, he faced an avalanche of controversies, scandals worthy of impeachment, and credible allegations of trying to profit off the presidency. Now that he’s a private citizen, related revelations continue to come to the fore.