The Washington Post reports on the receipts from a 2018 meeting at the Mar-a-Lago resort club between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump, who also owns and runs Mar-a-Lago.
In the next two days, as Trump and Abe talked about trade and North Korea, Trump's Palm Beach, Fla., club billed the U.S. government $13,700 for guest rooms, $16,500 for food and wine and $6,000 for the roses and other floral arrangements.
Trump's club even charged for the smallest of services. When Trump and Abe met alone, with no food served, the government still got a bill for what they drank.
"Bilateral meeting," the bill said. "Water." $3 each.
Using publicly-available records, the Post was able to determine that the Trump Organization has earned at least $8.1 million dollars over the last 4 years, just from official policy and campaign events hosted at Trump properties. This includes at least $2.5 million straight from the US government, and $5.6 million from his campaign and fundraising committees.
The Post also notes that federal policy caps the cost of board for work-related travel at $182 per night. But as soon as Trump entered office:
Mar-a-Lago was not charging $182.
"[There's] a five bedroom house that three of the senior staff are staying in at $2,600 per night," State Department employee Michael Dobbs wrote his colleagues, in an email later released to the public. "The two other Senior staffers (Bannon and Walsh) are expected to be charged $546 for their rooms."
Within the State Department, emails show, officials did not seem inclined to fight. Federal rules allowed them to pay up to three times the normal limit — $546, in this case — with authorization. And the White House had authorized it. (Months later, Mar-a-Lago lowered the rate it charged the State Department to $396.15 per night, and provided partial refunds for some of the earlier charges above that.)
White House spokesperson Judd Deere told the Post that, ""Any suggestion that the President has used his own official travel or the federal government as a way to profit off of taxpayers is an absolute disgrace and lie." But while Trump has reportedly donated his $400,000 Presidential salary back to the government each year, that $1.6 million cumulative return is not enough to offset the the profits. Using FACTS and LOGIC, one can easily determine that Deere's statement is untrue, if he is specifically referring to gross profits. If he is referring to net profits, then it is still false in the absence of any other evidence.
Ballrooms, candles and luxury cottages: During Trump's term, millions of government and GOP dollars have flowed to his properties [David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O'Connell and Anu Narayanswamy / The Washington Post]
Image: Alan Santos/PR via Flickr