Trump Charged Secret Service Exorbitant Rates

Trump Charged Secret Service Exorbitant Rates, House Inquiry Finds

Records obtained by the House Oversight Committee show the former president’s properties charged more than $1.4 million to agents protecting him and his family.

By David A. Fahrenthold and Luke Broadwater Oct. 17, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Trump Organization charged the Secret Service up to $1,185 per night for hotel rooms used by agents protecting former President Donald J. Trump and his family, according to documents released on Monday by the House Oversight Committee, forcing a federal agency to pay well above government rates.

The committee released Secret Service records showing more than $1.4 million in payments by the department to Trump properties since Mr. Trump took office in 2017. The committee said that the accounting was incomplete, however, because it did not include payments to Mr. Trump’s foreign properties — where agents accompanied his family repeatedly — and because the records stopped in September 2021.

The records the panel managed to obtain 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 for their protectors to follow.

The records also make clear that Mr. Trump’s son Eric — who ran the family business while his father was in office — provided a misleading account of what his company was charging.

In 2019, Eric Trump said the Trump Organization charged the government only “like $50” for hotel rooms during presidential visits.

Instead, records obtained by the committee showed, the Trump International Hotel in Washington repeatedly charged the Secret Service rates more than $600 per night. In one case, the hotel charged the Secret Service $1,160 a night for a room used while protecting Eric Trump in 2017. That was more than four times higher than the government’s usual spending limit for Washington hotels — but Secret Service officials approved, the records show.

The same year, the records showed, Mr. Trump’s hotel in Washington charged the service $1,185 for a room used while guarding Donald Trump Jr.

“Per diem rates could not be obtained,” a Secret Service record said, referring to the government’s official maximum rate. By law, the department is allowed to exceed those maximum payments when its protective mission requires.

Previously, the highest rate that the Trump Organization was known to have charged the government for a hotel room was $650 per night, for rooms at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.

“What gets me is, over and over again, how they just lie about this stuff,” said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee. “Documents don’t lie.”

In an interview, Ms. Maloney said the documents made clear that Mr. Trump was taking advantage of taxpayers by effectively requiring Secret Service agents to stay at properties he owned, and then billing the government exorbitant charges.

“This raises concerns that the Trump Organization was profiting off the presidency,” Ms. Maloney said. “It’s excessive.”

She said the committee would continue to investigate how Mr. Trump’s businesses leveraged the presidency to his financial advantage, particularly regarding connections to foreign governments.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Ms. Maloney said.

On Monday, Eric Trump issued a statement saying that the Trump Organization “would have been substantially better off if hospitality services were sold to full-paying guests.” He did not address the discrepancy between the rates he claimed the company had charged and the rates shown in the record.

In the past, the company’s representatives have said that it billed the government “at cost” and could have made more money renting rooms to other guests. The company continued to charge the Secret Service since Mr. Trump left office and began living at his properties full-time.

In 2020, The Washington Post reported that the government had spent more than $2.5 million at Trump properties during his presidency. The payments came from multiple agencies and were largely prompted by Mr. Trump’s travel.

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