If Trump Org Can Charge Secret Service $4,000 For 'Resort Fees,' Yeah. It's Gonna Do That.
Donald Trump cares so much about America that he just can't help charging taxpayers top dollar when he and his Secret Service detail go to visit his trash palaces around the world. Golf may save our economy! Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold is out with another of his periodic articles filling in more details of how Donald Trump's businesses are making bank off his time in office.
This latest report is based in part on a public records lawsuit that yielded "265 pages of receipts and emails" from the Secret Service, providing more insight into how Trump's businesses have benefited from his "presidency." Those documents and other sources bring Fahrenthold's running total of how much government money has gone to Trump Inc to over $900,000 since his first day in office. He's not exactly making Jeff Bezos money off the presidency, but that's a hell of a lot more than any of us has made in the last three and a half years. (If you have that much, legally, please give some to Wonkette, we won't ask any questions.)
Fahrenthold sometimes has fun pegging his Trump money pieces to some incredible bullshit from Trump or his large idiot sons. In his big February story on the huge amounts Trump properties charged the Secret Service for rooms, Fahrenthold reminded us that Eric Trump had bragged about how the Secret Service "saves a fortune" at Trump hotels, because "we charge them, like $50." In reality, the agency paid room rates of up to $650 a night at Mar-a-Lago.
For this story, Fahrenthold reminds us that before taking office, Trump had pledged to "completely isolate" himself from his businesses, to make clear he wouldn't profit from being "president." Or at least one of his lawyers said he'd ordered them to make it so:
"President-elect Trump wants there to be no doubt in the minds of the American public that he is completely isolating himself from his business interests," Sheri Dillon, a Trump attorney, said at a news conference Trump called in January 2017. "He instructed us to take all steps realistically possible to make it clear that he is not exploiting the office of the presidency for his personal benefit." (Dillon did not respond to requests for comment for this report.)
On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump had offered one simple way to underline his separation from his properties: He just wouldn't visit.
"I may never see these places again," Trump said during a rally in August 2016. "Because I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf. Believe me."
Aw, and people believed that! (Hollow mordant laughter.) But that hasn't turned out to be the case, as Fahrenthold keeps documenting. The Post has tallied up 271 visits by Trump to his own properties since he was sworn in, including one yesterday, when he went to his DC hotel to meet with Republican donors. And the more than $900,000 in government payments to Trump properties only represents the stuff Fahrenthold has been able to document through government spending reports he's pried loose, plus information from insiders at Trump hotels and resorts. Of that amount, Fahrenthold says, "At least $570,000 came as a result of the president's travel," so that's fun too.
On top of all that, campaign finance records show another $3.8 million in fees generated for the Trump Organization by various GOP groups holding events at Trump properties where Trump put in an appearance — 37 times, so far. It's a living.
The new stuff from the public records lawsuit includes some weirdass fees, like when Secret Service agents guarding Mike Pence for a one-night trip to Nevada were charged "resort fees" at Trump's Las Vegas trash palace. That was a $29 per room fee, for 151 rooms, although the agency did get a bargain rate of just $102 per room per night, which was "the maximum rate for Las Vegas at the time under normal federal per-diem rules."
What the hell is a "resort fee?"
The hotel's website said the fee covered services such as coffee, shoe shines and shuttle service to the shopping mall at the Caesars Palace casino. The Trump Organization did not say why it had charged resort fees to working Secret Service agents.
Silly David Fahrenthold, because it could. The fees tacked on an extra $4,379 to the total bill, which may be a pittance when it comes to government spending, but it illustrates the Trump Organization's habit of wringing every dollar possible out of Trump's maladministration. Along similar lines,
When President Trump spent two nights at his Turnberry resort in Scotland in 2018, the Secret Service needed furniture removed from rooms. Records show that Trump's club levied a "furniture removal charge" of $1,300 plus tax.
For one trip to Mar-a-Lago, all the rooms near Trump were already rented, so the Secret Service had to settle for a cottage across the street from the resort. Hardly the close proximity the agency prefers, so since that visit, the Secret Service will book a block of rooms for two weeks at a time, just to keep regular guests from snapping them up. Fahrenthold notes,
The agency was paying for rooms on nights when Trump wasn't even visiting — to be ready just in case Trump decided to go, one former Trump administration official said.
The really fun part of this story, for my money (not enough for the minibar, even) has to be the White House response, courtesy of spokesungulate Judd Deere, who sent the Post a statement that didn't comment at all on Trump's promise that he wouldn't ever use his office to help the Trump Organization. In addition to the usual boilerplate about how Donald Trump had turned over operations of his business to his idiot sons, Deere pawed the ground, snorted dismissively, and wrote this vague threat:
The Washington Post is blatantly interfering with the business relationships of the Trump Organization, and it must stop. [...] Please be advised that we are building up a very large "dossier" on the many false David Fahrenthold and others stories as they are a disgrace to journalism and the American people.
Isn't it nice to see the administration sounding yet again like the propaganda ministry of a third-rate dictator? Just think what these assholes will start doing if Trump gets another four years of grifting.
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