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Trump's Enrichment

Last Updated:2020-Mar-20
Principal Writer:Rob Dennis and Barry Shatzman

Issue Sections

Understanding The Issue

Reported News

Gov: Executive Branch
President: Donald Trump

Related Bills


2017 (HR-1711)


2017 (HR-1452)

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Donald Trump is profiting by being president

Using the office of the presidency to profit - from from receiving gifts to attracting business - exposes the nation's chief executive to conflicts of interest.

Profiting from domestic sources could influence national policies. Profiting from foreign sources could threaten national security.

As president, Donald Trump has continued to profit from both domestic and foreign interests.

Is Donald Trump profiting by being kept safe?

As president, Donald Trump presents unique logistical challenges. He spends much time on his own properties and his immediate family - who all receive Secret Service protection - can be at diverse places on the globe at any one time.

So it's no secret that President Trump has been more expensive to protect than any previous president. The cost itself poses no legal issue. Whether the money is being used to enrich Trump and his family, however, does.

2016 Campaign: The more he flew, the more his wallet grew

The Secret Service paid $6 million to cover the cost of agents traveling with the Trump campaign. That's routine for the agency - reimbursing presidential campaigns for the costs of traveling with them.

When Trump flew, it was with TAG Air, Inc. The Trump campaign paid almost $9 million to fly on the charter airline - $6 million of which was reimbursed by the Secret Service.

Since TAG Air is one of Trump's companies - the $9 million (including the $6 million of public money), went to Donald Trump.

Trump still reaps profits from his businesses

The flow of money from taxpayers to Trump businesses has continued after he took office.  

Trump has refused to divest himself of his assets. He instead moved them into a trust controlled by Allen Weisselberg - his chief financial officer - and two of Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.

The trust's purpose, it states, "is to hold assets for the benefit of Donald J. Trump." Trump can withdraw money at any time.  

"They're not going to discuss it with me," Trump said in January 2017 about his sons and the new arrangement. But Eric Trump later admitted that he continues to update his father about the business.

Trump's travel on track for hundreds of millions

All presidents travel, and the costs can add up quickly. Air Force One alone costs more than $200,000 an hour to operate. The Secret Service - required to protect the president at all times - must pay for the space they use in private residences and other facilities.  

As president, Trump hit the ground moving

Two months into his presidency it was reported that Trump visited his properties 1 out of every 3 days he had been in office - setting a pace to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in his four-year term.

For four trips to Trump's Mar-a-Lago luxury resort in Florida, protecting him cost more than $13.5 million, according to the the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Of that, approximately $60,000 was spent at Mar-a-Lago for lodging and renting operational space, according to a GAO audit.

And that continues to be the case

During his first 3 years in office Trump spent more than 340 days - virtually a full year - at his properties, the Washington Post reported. The Secret Service has been charged as much as $650 a night for rooms. And $17,000 a month at his National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey - twice the highest comparable rate.

Trump's company has billed the government for days he wasn't there, according to the Post report.

The full amounts that the Secret Service paid to Trump's clubs are not known, because they are not listed on public databases of federal spending, such as

Comparing to previous administrations

Former president Barack Obama, whom Trump criticized as a habitual vacationer spent an average of about $12 million a year in travel.

The money did not go to any business owned by Obama.

Public money enriches Trump through his companies

Because Trump spends so much time at his own properties, and because he continues to benefit from his businesses, taxpayer money is going to the president through his company. Just how much money, though, is unclear.

We can examine certain situations, though...

After he was elected, he doubled the membership fee at Mar-a-Lago.

The Secret Service sought $33 million in extra funding for 2018 to pay for travel costs incurred by the president, vice president and visiting heads of state, the Washington Post reported.

The Republican National Committee pays rent to a Trump property for Trump's re-election campaign.

Foreign leaders stay at Trump properties

Foreign leaders such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have visited Mar-a-Lago. Leaders from the Caribbean have met with Trump there.

The month after Trump's election, the Saudi Arabian government rented the equivalent of 500 rooms at his hotel in Washington, D.C. for more than a quarter-million dollars.

At least one visitor to Trump's Washington, D.C. hotel had been barred from the United States.

None of this is disputed. Trump himself acknowledges that foreign leaders rent out his properties.

Trump's own administration patronizes his properties.

While Vice President Mike Pence was in Ireland for meetings, he stayed at a Trump property 180 miles away - costing taxpayers $600,000.

Attorney General William Barr booked Trump's Washington, D.C. hotel for a 2019 party.

The Air Force has made hundreds of stops at a private airport in Scotland accompanied by stays at a nearby Trump resort.

Family presents uncharted costs

Trump's children receive round-the-clock Secret Service protection as well, and their frequent business travel abroad provides another source of taxpayer expense - as well as publicity and possibly income for Trump.

In January and February 2017, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump's travels included..

o Uruguay to promote the Trump Tower Punta del Este, a condominium project.

o The Dominican Republic to try to revive a Trump luxury resort there.

o The United Arab Emirates for the grand opening of the Trump International Golf Course.

o Vancouver, B.C. to open a new Trump hotel and condominium tower.

During the first several months of Trump's term, the Secret Service spent millions more than usual protecting Trump's wife Melania, who opted to live with their son Barron at Trump Tower in New York. The agency asked for $26.8 million extra for 2018 to pay for this unexpected expense, which "would probably include costs for command centers, agents' room and board, communications ex­penses and rental space."

The requests for additional funding were rejected by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), forcing the Secret Service to pull agents from criminal investigations to keep up with protecting Trump and his family.

Trump promised mitigation. What has he delivered?

Shortly before his inauguration, Trump said he would donate profits earned from foreign governments at his hotels to the U.S. Treasury.

No details were provided, nor did he say anything about profits from his condos, golf course memberships, or other businesses. It also would apply only to representatives of foreign governments.

What's been done may be a drop in the bucket

The Trump Organization says it donated $150,000 to the U.S. Treasury for 2017, and $191,000 for 2018. It provided no details on how it calculates foreign profits.

Through June 2019, representatives of 22 foreign governments have spent money at Trump properties. This has included hosting events and purchasing buildings from Trump businesses. These include meetings where foreign policy related to these countries was discussed.

Trump has returned a small portion by donating his salary

Donald Trump said during his 2016 presidential campaign that he would not take a salary as president.

As president, Trump's annual salary is $400,000. Each quarter he has given $100,000 to various federal agencies.

National Park Service
Department of Education
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Transportation

Department of Veterans Affairs
Small Business Administration
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Department of Homeland Security

Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Surgeon General's office
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Health and Human Services

That said...
Because the administration has not been forthcoming with information, it cannot be known if Trump's profits from his businesses exceed the contributions of his salary.

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