The Government Accounting Office may be putting a wrench in Trump’s weekend trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Several Democrats announced on Tuesday that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will be examining the taxpayer costs associated with Trump’s weekend jaunts to his Mar-a-Lago resort, security procedures surrounding those trips, and whether or not Trump is making good on his promise to donate all profits his hotels receive from foreign governments.
Reuters reports that: “In a Feb. 16 letter, Cummings and Democratic Senators Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse asked the GAO to assess whether Trump and his staff had violated security protocol when hosting foreign dignitaries and handling classified information at the Florida resort. “
NBC News elaborated on that letter, reporting that “In a letter sent to GAO last month seeking the review, the lawmakers said Trump reportedly communicated with staff about North Korea’s launch by cellphone while sitting with Abe in the middle of a public dining room. Trump, his staff and Abe also may have reviewed potentially sensitive national material in apparent violation of protocols, according to the Democrats.”
“In addition to making sensitive phone calls in the dining room, aides reportedly used the camera lights on their cellphones to help President Trump and Prime Minister Abe view the documents — all while surrounded by Mar-a-Lago club members and wait staff,” the Democrats wrote in their letter to GAO, adding: “By conducting discussions in this manner, the president enabled private citizens without security clearances to potentially overhear sensitive or classified national security information.”
Last Friday, the GAO sent a letter to Democrats confirming that they have agreed to review the way in which classified information is being kept secure at Trump’s resort according to the report by Reuters and NBC News.
Reuters reports that the GAO’s “review will examine whether Secret Service agents subject Mar-a-Lago guests to any security screening, and evaluate the expenses incurred by government employees who travel with Trump to Mar-a-Lago,”
NBC News adds that the “GAO also will examine what measures, if any, the Secret Service and Defense Department have to ensure that charges for travel-related expenses incurred with providing protecting for trips to Mar-a-Lago are fair and reasonable.”
The Democrats, citing press reports, said each of Trump’s weekend trips to his Florida estate costs about $3 million. Noting that Trump is accompanied by members of his staff, military aides and Secret Service agents, the lawmakers said it’s not clear “how many of these individuals incur travel and room expenses using taxpayer dollars and if they are being charged fair and appropriate rates.”
The Hill reports that “The agency will also examine whether Trump kept the pledge he made before taking office to donate to the Treasury any profits Trump hotels make from foreign agents or governments.”
The Hill adds that Sen. Udall “also introduced legislation on Friday that would require the Trump administration to make public the logs of people who met with Trump at his Florida resort and other locations.”
He said Monday at a press conference that American citizens should know whom their president is meeting with, saying they “deserved to know who has access to the president, how much it’s costing to protect him and whether the Trump Organization is benefiting from that protection.”