It is a given that we pay the salaries and, when necessary, the expenses of the men and women who guard the president of the United States. What's not a given — or shouldn't be, anyway — is that we also line the president's pockets at the same time.
Donald Trump unfortunately still is our president, and when he isn't in the White House — which is actually often as he jets around among his own resorts and golf clubs — Trump's company bills U.S. taxpayers for Secret Service room and board at rates as high as $650 a night, according to federal records and what people who've seen the receipts tell reporters with The Washington Post.
"Those charges show Trump has "an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government," The Post writes. This happens when Trump visits his clubs in Palm Beach, Florida, and Bedminster, New Jersey, because the Secret Service needs space to post guards and store equipment.
For instance, according to receipts from 2017 at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 a month to use a three-bedroom cottage on the property, an unusually high rent for homes in that area, according to The Post. Trump's company billed the government even for days when Trump wasn't there.
The payments don't match what the Trump Organization has said: "If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free — meaning, like, cost for housekeeping," Trump's son Eric told Yahoo Finance last year.
And surely we all remember last year when President Trump claimed that his Trump National Doral had emerged as a top contender for the Group of Seven summit after Secret Service and other officials visited various locations. After lots of pushback, Trump backed down from the idea.
The news media and a government watchdog group did not. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued for and obtained an internal Secret Service email that showed agents were told to add Trump's Doral resort after — after — it had a list of four finalists.
So much for this Trump comment about the would-be Doral windfall: "They went to places all over the country and they came back and they said, 'This is where we'd like to be.' It's not about me. It's about getting the right location."
Sure. It turns out Camp David is the right location — just as it was in 2012.
Of the more recent dust-up, The Post writes: "The full extent of the Secret Service's payments to Trump's company is not known. The Secret Service has not listed them in public databases of federal spending, as is usually required for payments over $10,000."
The Post also notes that the documentation it has substantiated of what we're paying Trump to take care of Trump has "come out piecemeal, through public records requests from new organizations and watchdog groups." The Post compiled those available records and found 103 payments from the Secret Service to Trump's company dated between January 2017 and April 2018. Those incomplete records show more than $471,000 in payments from taxpayers to Trump's companies.
There is one figure we do know for sure: Since taking office, Trump, as of Friday, had spent more than 342 days — a third of his entire presidency — at his private clubs and hotels.
These are our tax dollars at work — lining our self-claimed billionaire president's pockets.
The Post story, published Friday, notes that the White House did not respond to questions about Trump's knowledge of these payments.