On Friday, President Trump and his entourage headed for the third straight weekend to his oceanfront Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.
On Saturday, Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr., with their Secret Service details in tow, will be nearly 8,000 miles away in the United Arab Emirates, attending the grand opening of a Trump-brand golf resort in the “Beverly Hills of Dubai.”
Meanwhile, New York police will keep watch outside Trump Tower in Manhattan, the chosen home of first lady Melania Trump and son Barron. And the tiny township of Bedminster, N.J., is preparing for the daunting prospect that the local Trump golf course will serve as a sort of northern White House for as many as 10 weekends a year.
Barely a month into the Trump presidency, the unusually elaborate lifestyle of America’s new first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for past presidents — a price tag that, based on past assessments of presidential travel and security costs, could balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term.
Adding to the costs and complications is Trump’s inclination to conduct business surrounded by crowds of people, such as last weekend while Mar-a-Lago members dined nearby.
Trump’s three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million.
This month, The Post reported that Secret Service and U.S. Embassy staffers paid nearly $100,000 in hotel-room bills to support Eric Trump’s trip to promote a Trump-brand condo tower in Uruguay.
For Trump, the costs come with an additional perk: Some of the money flows into his own pocket. While Trump has removed himself from managing his company, he has refused to divest his ownership, meaning that he benefits from corporate successes such as government contracts.
The Defense Department and Secret Service, for instance, have sought to rent space in Trump Tower, where leasing a floor can cost $1.5 million a year — though neither agency has disclosed any details. In addition, Trump’s travel to his signature properties while trailed by a press corps beaming images to the world allows the official business of the presidency to double as marketing opportunities for his brand.
Trump’s frequent travel belies his repeated criticism of Obama as a “habitual vacationer” enjoying taxpayer-funded golf getaways. It also comes after his own promises: He told the Hill newspaper in 2015, “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.”
Judicial Watch estimated that Obama-related travel expenses totaled nearly $97 million over eight years.
But based on the first four weeks, Trump’s presidency appears on track to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more.