How much did Trump spend from taxpayers' pockets for his children's security? Watchdog group seeks records
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit and nonpartisan US government ethics and accountability watchdog organization has requested, in a Freedom of Information Act petition, to uncover the cost of former President Donald Trump family’s extended Secret Service protection.
In January, the Washington Post reported that during his final days in office, Trump instructed that his family get the protection of the US Secret Service for the next six months, at no cost. Trump issued a directive to extend post-presidency Secret Service protection to his four adult children and two of their spouses, who were not automatically entitled to receive it.
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Trump also reportedly directed that three key officials leaving the government continued to receive the protection for six months: former treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, and former national security adviser Robert C O’Brien. Under federal law, Trump, his wife, Melania Trump, and their 14-year-old son Barron Trump are the only members of his immediate family entitled to Secret Service protection after they leave the office. The couple will receive it for their lifetimes, and Barron is entitled to protection until he turns 16.
As per the Freedom of Information Act request filed, CREW has asked for all records reflecting the use and amount of government funds expended on “security and any other services for former President Donald J Trump’s 13 children and grandchildren, dating from January 21, 2021, to February 21, 2021,” while also requesting for “all records reflecting the use and amount of government funds expended on security and any other services for former president Donald J Trump’s 13 children and grandchildren at Trump businesses such as Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster, and Doral dating from January 21, 2021, to February 21, 2021.”
The FOIA request mentions that while there is “nothing wrong with the family of a president receiving protection from the Secret Service, it is fair for taxpayers to have questions about why the protection was extended beyond Trump’s time in the White House, and how much of the spending associated with the extension is occurring at Trump family businesses.”
The request further said that “Donald Trump’s family has a history of undertaking travel and recreation that ends up costing the American people hundreds of thousands of dollars — from the security costs for President Trump’s family to go on international business trips, to the cost of golf cart rentals for the Secret Service to protect the president when he is golfing.”
CREW has, in the past, made note of Trump’s excesses and alleged corruption. A January report on the watchdog’s website suggested that as president, Trump flouted many norms, starting with his decision not to divest from his business interests while in office. “That set the stage for an administration marked by self-interest, profiteering at the highest levels, and more than 3,700 conflicts of interest,” the watchdog noted.
The Post noted earlier that added Secret Service security for the Trump family is expected to cost taxpayers millions of dollars and even add further stress to the elite federal security force. The report noted that the Trump family’s protection has already been a costly affair for the Secret Service’s budget — the Trump children traveled widely across the country and around the world for personal vacations and travel related to the Trump Organization, the family company. From 2017 to 2019, government records showed that the Trump family members took more than 4,500 trips that required the Secret Service to travel alongside them, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.