Trump has billed his own Secret Service agents $40k for Mar-a-Lago room since leaving office

Former presidents receive $219,000-per-year pension and initially get $150,000 per year to hire staff

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 21 May 2021 19:38 BST
epa09148184 Members of US Secret Service carry riot shields on a driveway at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 20 April 2021. EPA/Yuri Gripas / POOL
epa09148184 Members of US Secret Service carry riot shields on a driveway at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 20 April 2021. EPA/Yuri Gripas / POOL (EPA)
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Former President Donald Trump charged the Secret Service more than $40,000 for the use of a room at his private club Mar-A-Lago this spring.

Federal spending records show that Mr Trump charged the Secret Service $396.15 every night since leaving office on 20 January. The charge is the same as when he was serving as president.

The charges, in the end paid by taxpayers, carried on until at least 30 April, The Washington Post reported. The billing was for the use of a single room used as a workspace by agents.

The records released by the Secret Service show the payments made until 30 April. For more than a week beyond that date, Mr Trump was still staying at the Palm Beach club, before relocating to his club in Bedminster, New Jersey for the summer period.

It was not clear whether Mr Trump continued charging the Secret Service into the month of May.

The records were released following a public-records request from The Post. Mr Trump charged the US Government at least $2.5m during his time in office.

It appears that he’s continuing the practice of billing his own guards who need accommodation close to the former president in order to protect him.

While Mr Trump was in office, the Secret Service rented four or five rooms at Mar-a-Lago for every night the then-president stayed there, compared to the single room they have occupied during his post-presidency.

But as Mr Trump has been spending every night at Mar-a-Lago since leaving the White House instead of just during weekends and vacations, the costs for the Secret Service has been building up.

The agency ultimately paid as much in 2021 as during comparable periods in 2018 and 2019.

While former presidents receive protection for the rest of their lives, historians have been unable to find an example of a president charging rent on a level similar to Mr Trump.

While President Joe Biden served as Barack Obama’s vice president, he charged the Secret Service $2,200 a month for the use of a cottage on his property in Delaware, totalling $171,000 between 2011 and 2017.

The White House told The Post that Mr Biden has not been charging rent from the Secret Service since starting his term.

As a former president, Mr Trump receives a pension of $219,000 a year. During the first 30 months since leaving office, former presidents get $150,000 a year to hire staff, a sum that decreases to $96,000 after that initial period.

Mr Trump claims to be a billionaire. Of the Secret Service charges, the director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, Jeffrey Engel, told The Post: “It’s tacky,” adding: “Just because you can make a buck doesn’t mean you should make a buck. And especially when you have a situation where you’re an ex-president. You’re not going to starve.”

While Mr Trump is entitled to taxpayer funding for office space, the General Services Administration told the paper: “There is no agreement to pay rent at Mar-a-Lago for any space the former president is using at the club.”

While most Secret Service agents who protect Mr Trump don’t stay at Mar-a-Lago, the agents need a space close to the former president for supervisors, meetings, breaks, and communications equipment.

Mar-a-Lago wrote on its invoices to the Secret Service that the space was “billed at cost”. The rent of $396.15 per night is far beyond the limit of $205 per night for a majority of government employees looking for accommodation in the surrounding area. The Secret Service can spend more than that limit if its mission requires it.

The cottage rented by the Secret Service in Bedminster cost $567 per night while Mr Trump was in office. It has not yet been established if those charges still apply now that Mr Trump is there as a former president.

The Independent has reached out to the office of former President Trump, the Trump Organization, and the Secret Service for comment.

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