Fahrenthold: Trump continues to ‘charge the taxpayers money every night’
Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold has tracked how former President Donald Trump used other people’s money to help himself while he was in office. Now out of office, it appears he’s using some of the same strategies to support his own businesses.
“When he was president, one thing we tracked was sort of the way that Trump used other people’s money that he had control of because he was president to help himself, … and made that money, his money,” Fahrenthold explained. “That happened because he was president, he could direct taxpayer money into his own businesses by going there and having the Secret Service follow him and then charging the Secret Service to be there.”
“And then also he used the power that he had over his party and his political campaign to funnel millions of dollars to himself. So we’re interested in seeing [if] has he continued those habits after he left office — the answer, in both cases, is yes,” he added.
Fahrenthold says Trump has continued to charge the Secret Service — since they still protect him even though he’s not the current president — when he’s in Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster, and has made $86,000 so far this year by charging them rent.
“Then we also wanted to see, he’s got this PAC now, it’s got $100 million in it. Was he using it to basically subsidize his businesses like he did when he had a campaign? And the answer also is yes,” Fahrenthold said. “He’s paying $40,000 a month to himself for office space at Trump Tower, paid to rent ballrooms at Bedminster, and things like that.”
While this may sound illegal, Fahrenthold clarified that it’s not.
“It sounds like something that might be illegal, but it’s not in this case. Because he runs the kind of PAC that he has, there’s almost no limits on what he could do with the money,” he explained. “People give the money. And he asked for money under the auspices of, ‘help me fight for election recounts, help me fight to defeat the Democrats,’ whatever. But really he could do whatever he wants to with it.”
That includes giving it to himself, or spending it at his businesses.
“There’s very little limits. It would be hard to spend this money in a way that was illegal,” Fahrenthold said.
As far as how much taxpayer money has gone to Trump properties via the Secret Service?
“We know of, since he left office, at least $86,000,” Fahrenthold said. “Every night he’s at Mar-a-Lago it’s $396.15. Every night he’s at Bedminster, where he is now, it’s $567. So it seems like that could accumulate for as long as he wants to, as long as he’s an ex-president.”
And that’s just a fraction of the overall cost it takes to protect Trump, as Fahrenthold says there are other agents saying at a hotel down the street.
“The thing that I wanted to compare is not the overall cost of protecting Trump versus Obama versus Clinton versus Bush. But how much is Trump, what part of it does Trump have control over? Because Obama, Clinton, Bush, they don’t charge the Secret Service anything. Whatever the Secret Service uses on their properties, they use for free. So Trump has one little piece of it that he can control. He can make it a high expense. He can make it a low expense. He can make it zero. … What he’s chosen to do with that control is charge the taxpayers money every night.”
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