Washington — Properties owned by the Trump Organization charged the U.S. Secret Service rates that far exceeded the government rates during former President Donald Trump's presidency, Secret Service documents obtained by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee show.
In a letter to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Oversight panel, revealed the rates charged to the agency tasked with protecting the president and his family members were as high as $1,185 per room per night in at least one instance, which Maloney said is more than five times the government rate.
The Washington Post was the first to report the spending.
"The exorbitant rates charged to the Secret Service and agents' frequent stays at Trump-owned properties raise significant concerns about the former president's self-dealing and may have resulted in a taxpayer-funded windfall for former President Trump's struggling businesses," Maloney, a New York Democrat, told Cheatle.
Records obtained by the committee from the Secret Service show the agency was charged higher than the government rate at least 40 times in the U.S. between Inauguration Day 2017 and Sept. 15, 2021. The Secret Service spent more than $1.4 million at Trump-owned properties throughout the U.S., according to records the committee obtained, although Maloney said those records could be incomplete. Those locations include Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia, Trump Hotel Las Vegas, Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and Mar-a-Lago in Florida, among other Trump properties.
In a statement, Trump Organization executive vice president Eric Trump said "any services rendered to the United States Secret Service or other government agencies at Trump owned properties, were at their request and were either provided at cost, heavily discounted or for free."
"The company would have been substantially better off if hospitality services were sold to full-paying guests, however, the company did whatever it took to accommodate the agencies to ensure they were able to do their jobs at the highest levels – they are amazing men and women," Eric Trump said.
During his four years in office, Trump visited his properties nearly 550 times, including 145 visits to his South Florida property, Mar-a-Lago, according to a report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. After he won the presidency in November 2016, Trump gave control of his company to his two adult sons but did not divest from his business interests while in office.
Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel was the subject of legal scrutiny, as a group of congressional Democrats and the attorney generals of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed separate lawsuits arguing the then-president violated the Constitution's emoluments clause through his continued financial interest in his company. The emoluments clause prohibits the president from accepting any gift, title or emolument from a foreign state or domestic officials without congressional approval. But the Supreme Court tossed out the cases from the state officials in late January 2021 as moot since Trump was no longer in office.
The Trump Organization put its Washington, D.C., hotel up for sale in October 2019, and the company announced in May it closed on a $375 million sale of the property.
Maloney contrasted the spending by the Secret Service at Trump-owned properties with a 2019 claim from Eric Trump that government workers traveling with the then-president "stay at our properties for free."
"If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free," Eric Trump said during a Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in 2019. "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."
Sometimes, the Secret Service was charged above the government rate for Secret Service protecting visiting prime ministers, according to the records. Sometimes, the Secret Service was charged above the government rate to protect Eric Trump and other Trump family members, records show. Sometimes, the protectee or reason for a stay at a Trump property is redacted, although it is not clear who redacted the documents.
During one visit from March 8, 2017, to March 8, 2017, for which Eric Trump is identified as the protectee, a Secret Service special agent requested a lodging rate of $1,160 per night at the Trump International Hotel, higher than the rate of $242 set by the General Services Administration (GSA). The government's rate is based on the average daily rate of hotel properties by location and the time of year. As justification, the unidentified agent wrote that "hotel rooms in the area are limited and per diem rates are difficult to obtain due to low availability."
In another request to the GSA for a lodging variance for Eric Trump and his wife, Lara, in early August 2017, the Secret Service sought approval to spend $650 per night at Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel. According to the documents obtained by Congress, the justification, part of which was redacted, read, "requested to be located at the Trump International Hotel throughout the duration of the visit. During the dates of the visit, per diem rates could not be obtained."
Months later, in November 2017, when Donald Trump Jr. stayed at the Trump International Hotel, Secret Service records obtained by House Democrats indicate the hotel charged a rate of $1,185 per room per night. The government rate at that time was $201, according to the documents.
Other requests, meanwhile, cited a lack of available hotel rooms because of conferences taking place in the Washington, D.C., area as the justification for seeking approval for the Secret Service to pay rates above the per diem maximum.
One instance related to an overnight stay by Trump in mid-July 2017, in which the special agent was requesting approval to pay $225 per night rather than the government's lodging rate of $172, the justification read: "The entire National Capital Region is sold out in to Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland during the week of July 9-13 due to the Microsoft Convention purchasing 20,000+ rooms."