Secretary Mnuchin Will Hand Over Trump's Secret Service Expense Log Real Soon. Like In 2025, 'Kay?
For people who grift 24/7, these people are so, so bad at it. The Washington Post reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is desperately trying to bury info on the cost of Secret Service protection for Trump and his family. And if it absolutely has to come out, he insists America should only find out after the election what we paid for armed guards to squire Trump's large adult children across the planet as they murder defenseless animals and day-drink in Georgetown and hawk tacky condos.
This is an understandable impulse, since it would deprive Democrats of the ability to run attack ads this fall saying DONALD TRUMP CUT FOOD STAMPS WHILE SPENDING $97 MILLION OF YOUR MONEY ON GOLF TRIPS. But someone with decent political acumen would probably have managed this fiasco with a little more finesse. Someone like, say, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
"Secretary Mnuchin came to me last year with a proposal to move the Secret Service to the Treasury Department," Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Post. "As part of that effort, I proposed that the cost of presidential travel be included for greater transparency, accountability and oversight associated with protection during travel of presidents and their families." Which is how an IRL politician talks about the bare-knuckle brawl that is her profession -- the OR ELSE is implied.
In 2003, the Secret Service was transferred from the Treasury Department to the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. But now that DHS is busy with baby jails and deporting refugees to "safe third countries," Mnuchin wants to bring the Secret Service home to Treasury. Which gives Democrats an opening to demand more information from a White House that has done its damnedest to hide the bills.
As of now, the only statutory reporting requirement is that the Secret Service disclose to Congress the cost to protect one designated presidential residence outside the White House. But according to the Post, "The Secret Service has failed or been late in recent years to provide even those limited costs reports. The agency did not file such reports in 2016 or 2017, according to the [Government Accountability Office] GAO. They have been delayed in submitting subsequent reports, filing a recent report in November that was due in March." Which makes sense, because the GAO estimates that each weekend Trump spends at Mar-a-Lago costs the federal government $3.4 million, of which approximately $325,000 goes toward Secret Service costs.
Candidate Trump promised, "I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf." But since his inauguration, President Trump has spent 242 days at a golf club, almost always one where the cost for food and lodging goes directly into his own pocket. The Obama family's travel costs over eight years in the White House totaled $96 million, a number which Trump's motley crew pretty clearly blew by in mid-2018. We don't have a lot of details, but three months into Trump's term, the Secret Service asked Congress for an additional $60 million cash infusion, and one business trip for Eric Trump to Uruguay in 2017 cost the Secret Service $97,830 in hotel bills alone. So, yeah, we get why Munch wants disclosures to be annual, commencing in 2021, rather than bi-annual, with his first report due three months from signing the bill.
And a person with decent political instincts would have punted this until September. Or made some spurious claim about needing to classify this information to protect the president. Hell, run it by Bill Barr and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone -- they'll dummy up an opinion saying it's positively illegal to disclose that information because of some bullshit privilege they just pulled out of their asses yesterday. Blame the mullahs, that always works.
But Munch is crap at this game, which is why he got outfoxed by DiFi. Womp womp.
If there's one saving grace, though, it's that Steven Mnuchin is the least camera-ready guy in the world. He's never given an interesting soundbite in his life and is death for click-count. (Ask me how I know.) So maybe this story won't get any traction, with that sinkhole in the middle of it. Keep your fingers crossed, buddy!
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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.