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Trump hotels charged his Secret Service protectors 'exorbitant' rates

The House Oversight Committee has documentation that the Secret Service was charged excessive rates to stay at Trump properties, including the International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Trump Organization appears to have overcharged the Secret Service for stays at Trump-owned properties by agents protecting the then-president. The charges exceeded the government's approved rate, according to the House Oversight Committee, which says Secret Service records show payments totaling over $1.4 million.

"The exorbitant rates charged to the Secret Service and agents' frequent stays at Trump-owned properties raise significant concerns about the former President's self-dealing and may have resulted in a taxpayer-funded windfall for former President Trump's struggling businesses," Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney wrote in a letter to Kimberly Cheatle, the service's director.

According to the documents, the Secret Service was charged as much as $1,185 per room per night, nearly five times the government rate, which is set by the General Services Administration.

This is a far cry from what Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump claimed in 2020 — that rooms were provided "at cost" to the Secret Service.

"[We] could make far more money renting them to members or guests," Eric Trump said at the time.

According to Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington, cited in the letter, Trump visited his properties 547 times during his term, including 145 trips to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. When the Secret Service stayed at these properties to protect the president and his family, the taxpayer footed the bill.

For example, in March, 2017, the Trump Organization charged agents who were providing security for Eric Trump a nightly rate of $1,160 per room at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The letter cites other instances where Eric Trump or his wife, Lara, stayed at that hotel, including "five stays with rates at approximately triple the government rate."

Representatives for former President Trump could not immediately be reached for comment.

The documents show the Secret Service received at least 40 waivers to allow it to spend more than the government rate at Trump properties.

The figures in the report don't include Secret Service payments to Trump properties outside of the U.S., indicating that the full burden on the taxpayer was likely higher than $1.4 million.

The Oversight Committee has been seeking a full reporting of the Secret Service's spending at Trump-owned properties for over two years, but Maloney says she's still waiting for "complete information" on the "total amount the agency spent."

In her letter, Maloney asks the agency to identify all Secret Service stays at properties owned by the Trump Organization, along with their total costs and nightly rates by Oct. 31.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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