When President Trump’s son, Eric, visited Uruguay for a Trump Organisation business trip in January, the US taxpayer paid almost $100,000 (£80,000) to cover his security costs, a new report claims.
Eric Trump visited the Trump Tower in Punta del Este for as little as two nights, according to local press. The bill for the Secret Service agents’ hotel rooms for the duration of his stay was $88,320.
The US Embassy also paid $9,510 for diplomatic staff to “support” the Secret Service, bringing the total costs of the trip to $97,470.
Government agencies have not disclosed key details of the trip, including the duration of the stay, the name of the hotel or the number of booked rooms, according to the Washington Post. A spokesman from the Secret Service, citing security concerns, declined to comment.
The money for the hotel rooms was paid through the State Department, but a spokesman there declined to comment on the trip.
The purpose of the trip was a visit to a new Trump Organisation development, Trump Tower at Punta del Este. The most expensive rooms in the luxury residential development, which is due to be finished in 2017, are on the market for $8 million.
During his visit, Eric Trump met with local business owners and property investors, and attended a party put on at Trump Tower to honour the “VIP visit”. One of the highlights of the evening was the performance of a song that Argentinian pop singer, Maxi Trusso, had written in President Trump’s honour.
The President’s immediate family members are guaranteed state-funded security details, particularly on trips to foreign countries.
However, President Trump has previously questioned whether the American taxpayer should fund extensive security on visits for non-official purposes. During the Obama administration, he took to Twitter multiple times to complain about “taxpayer funded vacations” which cost the American people “millions of dollars”.
“This is an example of the blurring of the line between the personal interest in the family business and the government,” Kathleen Clark, an expert on government ethics, told The Washington Post.
“There is a public benefit to providing Secret Service protection,” Ms Clark said.
“But what was the public benefit from State Department personnel participating in this private business trip to the coastal town? It raises the specter of the use of public resources for private gain.”
The revelations about the cost of Eric Trump’s trip come as a number of civil servants and political ethics experts have expressed serious concern about the ‘separation’ of President Trump’s business empire from his political career.
The President stated that he would hand over total control of his multi-billion dollar portfolio to his sons, placing his business into a trust overseen by Eric and Donald Trump Jr.
However, President Trump, who will receive reports on any profit, or loss, on his company as a whole, still has ultimate control of the trust, and can revoke their authority at any time.
The purpose of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is to hold assets for the “exclusive benefit” of the president, and is registered under his social security number.
“Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective. The presidency is a full-time job and he would’ve had to step back anyway”, said Walter Shaub Jr, US Government Director of Ethics.
““The same is true of his other holdings. The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies