Barely a month into the Trump presidency, the elaborate lifestyle of America’s new first family is costing U.S. taxpayers far beyond what’s been typical for past presidents — a price tag that’s ballooning. It includes travel on Air Force One trips to his and his family’s various properties, Secret Service detail for the entire family, and travel and accommodation for the Secret Service and White House staff.
Trump gets two additional perks:
(1) Since he still owns these properties and has refused to divest his ownership, the money paid by the federal government for accommodations at Trump Tower, his Mar-a-Lago resort, and the other Trump resorts and golf clubs he stays at flows directly into his pockets; and
(2) Trump’s travel to his signature properties, while trailed by a press corps beaming images to the world, allows the official business of the presidency to double as a marketing opportunity for his brand.
Consider this weekend alone:
1. Today, Trump and his entourage will jet for the third straight weekend to a working getaway at his oceanfront Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida – a club whose membership fee has doubled to $200,000 since Trump’s election, plus $14,000 a year to belong. All of which goes into Trump’s pockets. Trump’s three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have already cost taxpayers about $10 million.
2. Tomorrow, Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr., with their Secret Service details in tow, will be nearly 8,000 miles away in the United Arab Emirates, attending the grand opening of a Trump-brand golf resort in the “Beverly Hills of Dubai.” This month Eric Trump and his security detail flew to the Dominican Republic so Eric could meet with developers proposing a Trump-brand luxury resort. And then to Uruguay, to promote a Trump-brand condo tower there. The Uruguay trip alone cost taxpayers nearly $100,000.
3. New York police will keep watch outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, the chosen home of first lady Melania Trump and son Barron. The Defense Department and Secret Service have sought to rent space in Trump Tower, where leasing a floor can cost $1.5 million a year. In addition to the federal costs, New York City is paying $500,000 a day to guard Trump Tower, an amount that could reach $183 million a year.
4. Meanwhile, Bedminster, N.J., is preparing for the daunting prospect that the local Trump golf course will serve as a northern White House for as many as 10 weekends a year.
Why doesn’t Trump use Camp David for his working retreats — which other presidents have done? Why doesn’t the Trump organization reimburse the government for expenses in connection with Trump family business? Why doesn’t Trump divest his ownership in all these places so he doesn’t profit from these taxpayer expenditures? Why isn’t Congress enacting a law requiring Trump and all future presidents to do all of the above?