President Donald Trump, son Barron and wife Melania stepped off Air Force One in Palm Beach on March 17, 2017.
By Mandel Ngan/Getty Images.
When Donald Trump won the election in November, there was an expectation that the 70-year-old billionaire would undergo a transformation. Gone would be the harsh campaign rhetoric and the unspecific policy plans. Gone, too, would be the comforts of his gaudy, flamboyant lifestyle. He would stop tweeting, stop self-promoting, and relinquish his businesses. The magnitude of his powerful new role and the sheer awe of being behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office would change him.
But septuagenarians worth nine figures (or at least those who say they are) are, generally, loath to change. You may move Donald Trump out of Trump Tower and into the White House, but you can’t take the Trump Tower out of the president. That is particularly true when the president’s wife, Melania, opts to stay in Manhattan with their son Barron instead of moving to Washington, and the president decides to travel to his private Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, six times in his first 11 weeks in office.
Of the 82 days of Trump’s presidency, 21 of them have been spent at Mar-a-Lago. Seventeen of them have been spent on the golf course. As CNN reported, these trips have cost roughly $21.6 million. (That number does not include the substantial sums the Secret Service spends to protect the president’s children when they travel overseas for business trips, as Eric Trump did in January when he flew to Uruguay to promote the Trump Organization. Nor does it include the unknown cost to taxpayers when nearly 100 Secret Service agents escorted the president’s extended family on a spring break trip to Aspen last month.)
In all eight years of President Barack Obama’s presidency, his travel, both personal and professional, amounted to a total of $97 million, according to Judicial Watch. That puts Trump on track to surpass Obama’s travel spending over the course of two terms in about one year. At that rate, Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago alone would cost over $800 million in public funds if he remains in office for two terms.
Shuttling the president back and forth to Palm Beach isn’t the only expense weighing on the Secret Service—not to mention the Palm Beach police department, which is reportedly spending $60,000 a day in overtime when Trump is in town. According to The New York Times, the agency is shelling out money to rent space in Trump Tower and pay for hotel rooms, transportation, and living expenses in order to accommodate the First Family’s lifestyle. Agents from across the country are being diverted from their normal work on criminal-investigation duties in order to protect the Trump family. The agency is tasked with protecting Trump’s wife, five children, three of their spouses, and a handful of his top aides like Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus, at the president’s request. In fact, the Secret Service reportedly had to request $60 million in additional funding for next year in order to keep up with the Trump lifestyle.
“They are flat-out worn out,” Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told the Times of the Secret Service. While morale among employees is now the lowest of any federal agency, a spokesperson for the Secret Service said they remained resolute. “Regardless of the number of protectees or where the assignment takes us, the Secret Service remains an expeditionary law enforcement agency that continues to adapt and evolve based on the mission at hand.”