WASHINGTON — The Trump Organization charged the U.S. Secret Service in 2017 for rooms at President Donald Trump's properties at rates as high as $650 a night, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The law enforcement agency tasked with protecting the president was billed the $650 rate several times during Donald Trump's first year in office when he traveled to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, the Post reported, citing federal records obtained by public record requests and people who viewed the receipts.
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization denied the report.
"The story published in the Washington Post is total nonsense and is intentionally misleading. We provide the rooms at cost and could make far more money renting them to members or guests," the spokesperson said. "To infer that we are profiting is not only inaccurate but an outright lie."
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that the White House is throwing its support behind a plan to transfer the U.S. Secret Service back to the Treasury Department from the Department of Homeland Security to better focus on the growing threat of online financial crimes.
According to the Washington Post, the Secret Service in 2018 paid a lower rate of $396.15 per night and booked more rooms at Mar-a-Lago.
Records also show that for three months in 2017, the Secret Service paid $17,000 a month for a three-bedroom cottage at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, including for days Trump wasn't at the New Jersey property, the Post reported.
A former senior administration official told the Post that the cottage was used to house five or six Secret Service agents and to store equipment. Sources told the Post that the agents have continued to use the cottage.
You have free articles remaining.
Between 103 payments made from January 2017 to April 2018, the Secret Service shelled out nearly half a million in taxpayer dollars to Trump's companies, the Post reported. The newspaper noted that the total could be higher since the federal records only account for a portion of Trump's travel as president.
For Trump's first trip to Mar-a-Lago in February 2017, the Secret Service rented at least three rooms at the Palm Beach club at that $650 rate, which was more than the $520 to $546 rate the State Department was charged, the Post reported. The Secret Service is free from spending limits for hotels, the Post noted.
Asked for comment about the report, a Secret Service spokesperson told CNN, "Due to the nature of the agency's protective mission, the operational needs of the Secret Service can differ from those in the Department of State and Department of Defense. In the daily execution of our protective mission, the Secret Service balances operational security with judicious allocation of resources. For operational security reasons, the Secret Service does not discuss its protective means and methods."
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization told the Post that Mar-a-Lago does not charge the Secret Service $650 per room and that the rental cottage at Bedminster contains "multiple rooms and (includes) numerous common spaces."
But the company did not answer the Post's questions of whether it had charged the rate of $650 in the past, nor did it answer questions about the rates it currently charges the Secret Service.
"We provide the rooms at cost and could make far more money renting them to members or guests," Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump, the president's son, told the Post in a statement.
He did not provide the newspaper with details about how the Trump Organization calculates the "at-cost" price.
Last year, Eric Trump told Yahoo Finance that the company, under law, had to charge the government for things like housekeeping.
"If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free .... 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 bucks a night, whereas, you know we charge them, like 50 bucks," Eric Trump said.
The president spent near one-third of his time in 2017 at one of the properties that either bear his name or that his family company owns, according to a CNN analysis.
Trump had transferred his business holdings to a trust run by his sons before taking office, but stopped short of selling off his holdings.
™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.