Since 2017, Donald Trump’s company has charged taxpayers at least $2.5 million for hotel rooms, ballrooms, cottages, rental houses, golf carts, votive candles, floating candles, candelabras, furniture moving, resort fees, decorative palm trees, strip steak, chocolate cake, breakfast buffets, $88 bottles of wine and $1,000 worth of liquor for White House aides, according to an investigation by The Washington Post.
In addition to what the U.S. government has been forced to pay, Trump’s campaign and fundraising committee have forked over $5.6 million to his companies since his inauguration in January 2017, bringing his total cash haul as president to $8.1 million.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) October 27, 2020
Trump has made a big show of producing poster size checks to demonstrate that he’s publicly donating his $400,000 presidential salary, but that sum is dwarfed by the amount he has used his office to direct to his companies.
Legally, Trump’s company is not prohibited from accepting the payments. But the payments did break a key promise from 2016 when he pledged that he would “completely isolate” himself from his business once in office. “If I win, I may never see my property — I may never see these places again,” Trump said on the campaign trail then. “Because I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf. Believe me.”
Quite the opposite has happened. According to Citizens for Ethics, Trump has golfed and stayed at one of his properties for one third of the time he’s been in office. The visits are never cheap.
For example, in April 2018 Trump decided to hold a bilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago property instead of at the White House. For two days the two leaders discussed trade and North Korea. At the end of the visit, Trump’s club billed U.S. taxpayers $13,700 for guest rooms, $16,500 for food and wine and $6,000 for floral arrangements for a total of $36,200.
Staff writer David Fahrenthold and his investigative team has been attempting to chronicle government spending at Trump properties since he took office in 2017. It hasn’t been easy because the administration refuses every request to provide receipts and spending recaps voluntarily. Most of what they have been able to piece together has come as a result of lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Incredibly White House spokesperson, in response to the article, Judd Deere said in a statement, “Any suggestion that the President has used his own official travel or the federal government as a way to profit off of taxpayers is an absolute disgrace and lie.”