House Democrats Ask Secret Service for Details About Its Payments to Trump’s Company

(The Washington Post) -

The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday asked the Secret Service to provide a full accounting of its payments to President Donald 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 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 Palm Beach, Florida, and charged $17,000 a month for a cottage that agents used at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, club. Trump still owns his companies. These payments show that he has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government.

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 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 that the charge per room was “like 50 bucks.”

The actual charges revealed by The Post “raise serious questions 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, after the death of Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

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

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 likely 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 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 blank, the committee said. The letter asks the Secret Service to explain why.

The committee set a deadline of February 25.