President McGrifterson Making Bank Off Of Uncle Sam
Donald Trump, whose minions spent the last two years trying to prove that Joe Biden's family profited off his government service, charged the US government $3 for a glass of tap water. Water which he, himself, actually drank.
That's a joke, of course. We all know President Babyhands can't lift a glass by himself. But the part about Trump's hotel charging Uncle Sam $6 for two glasses of water is totally for real. As usual, the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold brings the receipts.
The bill was from April 2018, when Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his delegation at "the winter White House," aka his private club Mar-a-Lago. Although we should probably be grateful that they managed to confer in a private room, rather than discussing Pyongang's nuclear capability on the lanai during dinner service as they did the year before.
"People like my product, what can I tell you, can't help it," Trump told reporters who asked why government and GOP business was suddenly being conducted at Trump properties.
In fact, he could "help it." And it appears he helped it quite a lot, steering millions of dollars of business to his own hotels in the past four years.
Despite the administration's best efforts to hide Trump's blatant profiteering, the Post was able to document $2.5 million in payments from the government, and another $5.6 million from Trump's campaign and fundraising committee since he was sworn in. The real numbers are likely several times higher.
LOL, remember that hilarious time in 2016 when Trump said, "If I win, I may never see my property — I may never see these places again. Because I'm going to be working for you, I'm not going to have time to go play golf. Believe me."
Did you believe him? And did you believe Eric Trump when he said, "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."
No, you didn't, because you're not a goddamn idiot. As the Post documents, the White House routinely authorized payments significantly above the maximum $182 room rental allowed for government employees. Here's an example from February of 2017 down at Mar-a-Lago.
"[There's] a five bedroom house that three of the senior staff are staying in at $2,600 per night," State Department employee Michael Dobbs wrote his colleagues, in an email later released to the public. "The two other Senior staffers (Bannon and Walsh) are expected to be charged $546 for their rooms."
Within the State Department, emails show, officials did not seem inclined to fight. Federal rules allowed them to pay up to three times the normal limit — $546, in this case — with authorization. And the White House had authorized it. (Months later, Mar-a-Lago lowered the rate it charged the State Department to $396.15 per night, and provided partial refunds for some of the earlier charges above that.)
So President Trump personally greenlighted giving taxpayer dollars to himself far in excess of standard rates. Cool, cool.
By April of 2017 when Trump forced China's Xi Jinping and his entourage to schlep down to Florida, the president's business had figured out how to wring even more cash out of the deal. Not only did they charge $7,600 for a formal dinner for 30, but White House employees booted the bartender out of a private room and helped themselves to "26 servings of Patron and Don Julio tequila, 22 Chopin vodkas, and 6 glasses of Woodford Reserve bourbon." Total cost: $1,005.60.
And that doesn't include the $50 charge for each potted palm the staff lugged out to provide ambient greenery for the occasion. Yes, for real.
But wait, there's more! How'd you like to write Trump a check for $6,000 worth of floral arrangements?
Oh, you wouldn't? Too bad! You already did. That's what Mar-a-Lago charged the government to glam up the joint in April 2018 when Trump dragged poor Shinzo Abe back to his garbage palace.
The list of preparations filled a full page: There were three kinds of candles (votive, floating, candelabra), centerpieces, vases — and a floral plan for even the smallest of meetings. Even "National Security Council pre-briefs" got their own centerpieces, the bill showed.
Taxpayers were billed for all of it, records show.
And it wasn't just the president making it rain on the president's personal businesses. The Post reports that the US government forked over $260,000 to feed and house the Trump kids' Secret Service detail when they visit Trump properties. And sometimes even when they're nowhere near Trump properties.
In Bedminster, N.J., for instance, Trump's club has charged the Secret Service $17,000 per month to rent a cottage from May to November — even on days when the family is absent. That's an unusually high rate for the area, but a former Trump administration official said they had to pay it — to be ready, if Trump suddenly decided to visit.
Defense Department records recently obtained by The Post show a similar pattern of $17,000 payments to Trump's club in Bedminster in recent years. Pentagon officials declined to answer questions about whether they have a cottage there, too.
For those of you counting on your fingers, that would be substantially north of the State Department's maximum room rental rate. Good thing Donald Trump completely recused himself from his businesses so he can sign their permission slips with a clear conscience, huh?
And if Trump is making bank off the government, you know damn well he's cleaning up from the campaign, too.
RNC and campaign officials have said Trump has never ordered them to visit his clubs — but it was understood that he is more likely to attend if an event is at one of his properties.
In those two months, Trump held five campaign events at his properties — including two in the same day. On Sept. 25, he held a "Latinos for Trump" event at his Doral resort in the morning and a fundraiser at his D.C. hotel in the evening.
Meanwhile the Trump campaign is broke as a joke and pulling ads off the air in Florida. But they've still got $40,000 a month to rent space in the Trump Tower in Manhattan. The entire campaign is working out of offices in Arlington, Virginia. But they need that space in New York for, you know, reasons.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.