Donald Trump’s lavish lifestyle may be bankrupting the U.S. Secret Service, but it appears to be putting money in the president’s pocket in a way that may be unconstitutional.
According to a new report from CNN, tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars have gone to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club via the Secret Service in the span of just a few months.
More from the report:
The U.S. Secret Service paid tens of thousands of dollars to President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in the span of a few months, according to documents obtained by CNN.
The expense forms show that taxpayer dollars have flowed into Trump’s private club as a result of his repeated visits to the so-called Winter White House, which pulls in millions a year from members who pay a premium for its oceanside amenities and bedroom suites.
Most of the $63,700 in payments from the Secret Service to Mar-a-Lago were made between February and April, and were categorized as hotel costs on government expense forms. The payments are detailed in forms and more than a dozen invoices on Mar-a-Lago letterhead ranging from $1,300 to $11,050.
The purposes of the expenses were not spelled out in the documents, which were redacted before CNN reviewed them. The redactions make it unclear whether there were additional payments to Mar-a-Lago.
In other words, Trump’s private properties are profiting from his presidency, and as The Hill noted on Thursday, there are some who say the payments are a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause.
“The president risks violating the domestic emoluments clause if his company is making money off of the Secret Service,” said ex-White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter, who served under George W. Bush, according to The Hill report.
“To avoid that, Mar-a-Lago should either charge Secret Service a rate federal employees are authorized to pay for a hotel room under ordinary circumstances or not charge at all,” Painter added.
Don’t count on that happening, though. After all, using taxpayer dollars to live the high life appears to be commonplace for those working in the Trump administration.
Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price recently resigned in disgrace after it was reported that he ripped off taxpayers to the tune of over $1 million. Other Trump officials, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, have also used the federal government as their own personal piggy bank.
Heck, just over the weekend Vice President Mike Pence thought it would be an appropriate use of federal money to fly to an NFL game, just to leave and come home – all to take a shot at professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem. The vice president’s stunt cost taxpayers about $250,000.
Sure, sure, the new reporting that tax money is going toward Trump’s luxury resorts is, indeed, troubling and unacceptable, but it is business as usual for this administration.