Donald Trump's company initially claimed that it was allowing Secret Service agents to stay at its properties "for free" and that they paid nothing but the cost of housekeeping at $50 per night, but newly obtained documents showed that the company was actually charging taxpayers eight times that amount -- $400 per night.
As Salon reported, Trump's son, Eric, claimed that the Trump Organization was not charging the agents who accompanied the president to his properties for weekend stays and golf trips. Eric Trump claimed that the company was absorbing the cost as a way to save money for the American taxpayer.
"If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free," Eric Trump said in an October, 2019, interview with Yahoo News, via The Hill. "So everywhere that he goes, if he stays at one of his places, the government actually spends, meaning it saves a fortune because 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."
When the government watchdog group Public Citizen actually obtained the receipts, it found that the Secret Service agency was charged $396 per night for 177 rentals at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
A report from The Washington Post found that some of Trump's properties charged American taxpayers up to $650 per room, and that the president's golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, charged the Secret Service $17,000 per month for agents to stay at a cottage on the property. As Salon noted, the Secret Service continued to pay even after Trump had left.
As The Hill reported, the Trump Org billed Secret Service a total of $628,000 in lodging and fees since Donald Trump took office in 2017. In total, that was $157,000 more than previously reported. The report noted that the bulk of the costs came from the president's visits to Bedminster and Mar-a-Lago.
Trump and close family members visit Mar-a-Lago on a nearly weekly basis while the resort is in season, included some extended stays around the holiday season and long weekends. He has also spent long summer vacations at the New Jersey resort.Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, said that the documents show how Donald Trump is personally profiting from his time in the White House.
"Trump treats the presidency as a self-enrichment scheme," he said. "Slowly, we're beginning to learn the size of the bill to taxpayers. It should be crystal clear that this particular ploy is by no means 'saving a fortune' as Eric Trump preposterously claimed."