By Jamie Ross, Daily Beast
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, just five blocks from the White House, charged the Secret Service more than $200,000 in taxpayer money during the first year of Trump’s presidency. Expense documents obtained by NBC News show that a total of $215,254 was spent by the agency at the property from September 2016 to February 2018. One bill came in at $33,638 for just two days of use. The bills don’t explain what the money was used for, but the hotel has become a routine venue for Trump events that typically require Security Service detail. The Secret Service told NBC that it couldn’t discuss costs incurred to carry out its work.
The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request covering Secret Service expenditures, detail money the agency spent at the property from September 2016 to February 2018, which came to a total of $215,254.
While the nature of the charges were not disclosed in the documents, the hotel has become a go-to venue for Trump and his supporters for various events, including a fundraiser the president attended Tuesday for his re-election campaign.
These type of events inevitably require Secret Service detail and heavy use of the property and food services to accommodate and feed personnel.
The agency paid $33,638 for unspecified charges over two days in June, which coincided with Trump’s first re-election campaign fundraiser.
Guests paid $35,000 a plate, according to The Washington Post.
Other charges paid out by the Secret Service include a bill for $14,900 for two days in June 2017 and another for $11,475 for two days the next month, according to the documents obtained by NBC News.
Trump’s decision to patronize his own property while holding office has raised red flags not just around an ethical conflict of interest, but also what some say is a violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.
Trump’s lawyers deny that the president has violated the emoluments clause, contending that the constitutional provision only bars compensation made in connection with services provided in his official capacity with a foreign or domestic government.
Although Trump put his business holdings into a trust for the duration of his tenure in office, he still stands to gain from profits brought in by his various enterprises, including his hotel in Washington. According to Trump’s financial disclosure forms, the hotel generated revenue of over $40.8 million in 2018, up from $40.4 million in 2017.
The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment by NBC News.
In addition to the Secret Service, several other federal agencies have incurred considerable expenses at Trump International Hotel.
After sending FOIA requests to more than 70 government agencies, NBC News reported last August that almost $56,000 in taxpayer dollars was spent at the hotel between 2016 and 2017, more than $29,000 of which was spent by the Department of Defense. Almost $12,000 was spent by the Department of Agriculture, more than $9,000 by the Internal Revenue Service, and more than $1,700 by the General Services Administration, which oversees the lease with the Trump Organization.
The Trump Organization, including the Washington property, also appears to have taken in a significant amount from at least 22 foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Cyprus. Trump promised to donate any profits from foreign governments, and the Trump Organization has sent $343,000 to the U.S. Treasury for 2017 and 2018.
However, the organization did not release underlying numbers to support that figure.
The questionable patronage by these outside governments is the subject of two pending federal lawsuits against the president for allegedly gaining from illegal foreign payments.
On Tuesday, a federal judge greenlighted a lawsuit filed by 200 congressional Democrats that alleges Trump’s financial interests in his properties violates an anti-corruption provision of the Constitution.
Another pending lawsuit, filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, argues that patrons’ desire to use Trump International Hotel to curry favor with the president gives it an unfair advantage over competing businesses in Washington and Maryland.