Are Ivanka, Don Jr eligible for Secret Service? Taxpayers paying fortune after Trump extended their protection
Under Federal law, only a former president, his spouse and children below 16 are entitled to receive protection once he leaves office. But Trump made an exception for his kids before which no fully grown adult children of any president had received protection
A new freedom of information (FoI) request found that Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr are costing taxpayers thousands of dollars for protection from the Secret Service. The two Trump children, along with Eric Trump, have been taking advantage of a deal the former president negotiated shortly before leaving office, enjoying protection unlike previous presidential families.
The shocking report highlights another controversial, if often forgotten, aspect of the Trump presidency. During his time in the White House, the Secret Service was stretched the most it has been, with the most number of full-time security details for any administration. According to officials, the Trump presidency had 42 full-time details, covering the vast Trump family.
Over the years, the family has cost American taxpayers millions, footing the bills for various trips of the Trump family with regards to security. Here's the shocking amount it cost to protect the Trump children, after Joe Biden took over as president.
How much did their protection cost America?
The FoI request was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). They filed the request in February and published the details on May 5. In the first month alone, protections for the family have cost in excess of $140,000. That cost is just the amount to protect Don Jr, Ivanka and Lara for their various travels. "That figure does not include charges at Trump properties in Bedminster, Palm Beach and Briarcliff, New York, which would likely bring the actual total much higher," CREW said. The figures are all just the costs for the security and do not count Secret Service's salaries either.
Breaking that cost down, CREW found that the Trumps spent $52,296.75 on transport, and at least $88,678.39 on hotel costs for the security. CREW also managed to break down the costs by each couple. Jared and Ivanka's Salt Lake City holiday cost $62,599.39 for security's hotel stays alone. Eric and Lara's trips to Miami, Palm Beach, and Queens also cost at least $12,742. Don Jr's brief stop at Palm Beach was estimated to be at around $13,337.
Trump has negotiated a deal that would see his children get protections for at least six months. If one month alone cost $140,000, they could rack up bills for at least $1 million by the end of the period, CREW estimated. "Unfortunately, the records appear to not even be a complete accounting of the costs, since the Secret Service did not provide records of spending at Trump businesses, which is the most controversial aspect of the extended protection," the report added. So even the $140,000 reported is not the full story, it is certain that their bills could be over $1 million.
We also don't have the costs for the protection extended to former treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former national security adviser Robert O'Brien. Apparently, Trump extended their Secret Service details for six months as well, which is another departure from tradition.
Are they eligible for protection?
Under Federal law, only a former president, his spouse, and any children below 16 are entitled to receive protection once he leaves office. The Secret Service is usually tasked with protecting only serving officials and former presidents, and vice-presidents. Malia and Sasha Obama, for example, lost their Secret Service details shortly after the Obamas left the White House.
However, in typical Trump style, the rules have been bent for him and his family. The Washington Post reported that "Trump wanted every family member who had been protected by the Secret Service during his administration to be covered for six additional months". The Post noted that former Presidents Clinton, George W Bush and Obama all asked for extensions when leaving the White House, but that was because their children were in college at the time. No fully grown adult children of any president has received Secret Service protection in the recent past.
Even during his time in the White House, the Trump family's frequent trips cost taxpayers millions of dollars. The family is estimated to have taken more than 4,500 trips between 2017 and 2019. A majority of those are either to Trump's resorts and hotels, or his many rallies he held, even at the height of the pandemic. Now, the family continues to rack up those costs, even though they aren't legally entitled to it. So far, we know the protections expire in six months' time, and there is no way Trump can extend that unless Biden chooses to do so. Nonetheless, the family is expected to continue racking up costs for taxpayers, as Trump is widely expected to run again in 2024.