Donald Trump's Arrangement With The Secret Service Is Raising Eyebrows

There are some things you never lose after you become president of the United States, and in the case of former President Donald Trump, there is at least one more perk that goes with lifelong Secret Service protection: the income he gets from renting the government agency a room to keep him safe. 

Since January 20, records obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act show that Mar-a-Lago, where Trump moved into after leaving the White House, has been charging the Secret Service $396.15 a night, for a total of $40,001.15 through April 30 (so far). The amount appears to be the going rate for a single room at Mar-a-Lago, which was used as a workspace. 

The practice isn't received well by presidential historians like Jeffrey A. Engle, director of the Southern Methodist University Center for Presidential History, who said, "It's tacky. Just because you can make a buck doesn't mean you should make a buck. And especially when you have a situation where you're an ex-president. You're not going to starve."

The Trump Organization charged the U.S. government $2.5 million

To be fair, this isn't the first time Donald Trump has asked the public to pick up the tab for using a Trump property, or Trump services. Up until October 2020, The Washington Post also reported that visits to Mar-a-Lago and the Trump golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, racked up at least $2.5 million in expenses that the taxpayer had to shoulder. The Trump club in Bedminster charged $17,000 for a cottage on the grounds of the golf club, whether or not Trump was there; $612 for rooms at the Trump hotel in Vancouver and $242 for hotels in Washington.

The bills also covered $1,584 per night when then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a summit at Mar-a-Lago, and $6,000 for two days' worth of flowers which arose from that summit. Mar-a-Lago even charged the U.S. government $3 for a bottle of water. 

And when Chinese President Xi Jinping was at Mar-a-Lago, the government got charged $1,000 for 54 tequilas, vodka, and bourbon plus service charge — because a group of White House staffers decided to take over a bar; during that same visit, a formal dinner with Xi cost the taxpayers $7,000.

There are other Trump transition expenses that the taxpayer will pick up

Secret Service rent is not the only tab the U.S. taxpayer is expected to pick up. Insider, which also gained access to spending records through the Freedom of Information Act, says Trump's post-presidential transition office is expected to eat up $1.3 million in federal salary and benefits for Trump advisers like Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino. They join at least 15 other transition aides — 10 based in Palm Beach and 7 based in Arlington, Virginia.

From January 20 to July 21 — which is when the transition clause expires, Miller will earn about $107,704.11. Dan Scavino is expected to pick up $172,500. 

Intelligencer reports that the team is also billing the U.S. government for regular office supplies, like a plastic floor mat meant to go under Trump's desk chair, toner cartridges, as well as stationery with "DJT" (Donald J. Trump) and "MT" (Melania Trump). During his time in office, Trump reportedly made good on his promise to donate his salary to different government agencies; he has collected $65,600 since he left office at the beginning of the year.