Trump is taking taxpayer dollars and pocketing them, deliberately, openly, and in larger quantities than most people even realize. Of all the crimes Donald Trump has committed while in office, the violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution may be the most obvious and consistent. It was clearly an issue before Trump ever stepped through the door of the White House. And ever since then, the failure to do a thing about it has been just as blatant.
Trump may not have built a wall that can stand up to a breeze, but he has built a reliable pipeline that funnels money from both foreign governments and the U.S. government straight into his bank accounts. And the latest numbers show that, far from being concerned about how fast the money may be flowing through that pipe, Trump has cranked the valve open wide—overcharging taxpayers and supercharging the flow into his own pocket.
That includes booking Secret Service agents into rooms at Trump’s own hotels, for the low, low price of $650 a night.
Since taking office, Trump has made an astounding 114 visits to his own golf resorts, racking up a $127,000,000 bill to taxpayers in the process. Each one of those visits requires that the Secret Service and other White House staff come along. But they don’t come along for free. Trump charges each of those he drags off to Doral or Mar-a-Lago as if they were visitors on a holiday—on a holiday at special opposite-of-discount rates.
By August of 2019, the Secret Service had given Donald Trump over half a million dollars for the privilege of driving golf carts around his courses. Check that again. Trump plays golf, then charges the Secret Service rental on the carts they drive while protecting him—a rate of $2,000 dollars a day.
But, as The Washington Post reports, that’s far from the only place where Trump is charging the country a premium rate to remain in his presence. Federal records show that Trump has been billing rooms for Secret Service agents at rates up to $650 per night. Trump has previously stated that he charges minimal fees … but the records don’t support those claims.
That $650 rate wasn’t just a one-off fee that landed on agents squeezing into Mar-a-Lago at some kind of peak season. That was the rate Trump charged dozens of times in 2017 alone, the Post said. But then, not every Secret Service agent had a plain old room. When visiting his Bedminster club, Trump rented the service a so-called cottage for the bargain rate of $17,000 a month. That includes billing for days when neither Trump nor the agents were present.
None of this squares with claims from Eric Trump that when Trump travels, agents “stay at our properties for free—meaning, like, cost for housekeeping.” But then, that was Eric.
To make things more fun, an appeals court ruled on Friday that individual Americans, even if they are members of Congress, have no standing to sue Trump for violating the emoluments clause. Which is just what this week needed: even more evidence that Trump is beyond the law.