House Democrats ask Secret Service for details about its payments to Trump’s company

Feb 12, 2020
In The News

The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday asked the Secret Service to provide a full accounting of its payments to President Trump’s private company — after The Washington Post revealed that the Secret Service had been charged up to $650 per night for rooms at Trump clubs.

In a letter to the Secret Service, signed by chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the committee asks for any records of payments to Trump properties, and copies of any contracts between the Secret Service and Trump clubs.

Last week, The Post reported that the Secret Service had been charged up to $650 per night for rooms at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, and charged $17,000 a month for a cottage that agents used at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, N.J. President Trump still owns his companies. These payments show he has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government.

Read the House Democrats’ letter here

Secret Service pays rates as high as $650 a night for rooms at Trump’s properties, documents show

New documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the rates the Secret Service paid at President Trump's priorities. (Zach Purser Brown/The Washington Post)

The letter said those charges stand “in stark contrast” to the Trump Organization’s public statements. Trump’s son Eric, who runs the company day-to-day, had previously said that the company charged government employees at a steep discount.

“They stay at our properties for free — meaning, like, cost for housekeeping,” Eric Trump said last year in an interview with Yahoo Finance. Eric Trump estimated the charge per room was “like 50 bucks.”

The actual charges revealed by The Post “raise serious concerns about the use of taxpayer dollars and raise questions about government spending at other Trump properties,” the letter said. Maloney took over the committee in November, following the death of former chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).

The Secret Service did not respond to questions about the letter Wednesday morning.

Did the Trump Organization stop doing business internationally after Trump was elected?

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump said they would avoid international business during their father's presidency. The facts are not so straightforward. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

The Trump Organization has continued to say it charges the government “at cost,” but it has not responded to questions asking how it calculates those costs — or why the actual rates are so much higher than the $50 figure Eric Trump cited.

The Post identified $471,000 worth of payments from the Secret Service to Trump’s company, but — because so little data is available — the actual number is probably higher. The payments are not listed in a public spending database, as is usually required for payments above $10,000. Instead, The Post pieced them together using documents from public records requests — but most of the available documents date back to 2017 or 2018.

In its letter, the committee said that the “Secret Service has not disclosed the full scope of its payments to the President’s businesses or its expenses for presidential travel to [Trump’s] own properties.”

The Secret Service is legally required to send Congress a report every six months on its spending to protect presidential residences. But since the start of Trump’s term, the letter said, the Secret Service has provided only three of the required six reports.

And, even in those three, the lines for spending at Trump’s Bedminster and Mar-a-Lago clubs are both blank, the committee said. The letter asks the Secret Service to explain why.

The committee set a deadline of Feb. 25.