The White House has thrown cold water on requests for Donald Trump to cut back on his weekend jaunts to Mar-a-Lago, which are estimated to cost taxpayers $3 million per trip.
“That is a vast reach to suggest,” responded Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
“I mean, Presidents always travel. And I think the President, wherever he goes, he carries the apparatus of the White House with us. That is just something that happens. The President will continue to go and travel around the country and have meetings to solve the nation’s problems.”
The President has come under fire for rounding off his tenth golfing trip last weekend – many more trips than his predecessor – and costing millions of dollars for travel and security. He has spent every weekend in Florida since he stepped into office. Over four years, these travel and security expenses are set to stack up to $600 million.
In his defence, Mr Spicer pointed to former President George W Bush, who used to travel to his ranch just outside Crawford, Texas.
When a reporter responded that Mr Bush did not go there as often, Mr Spicer retorted: “I get it, I get it. But at the same time, the President is – very clearly that he’s worked seven days a week. This is where he goes to see his family. He brings people down there. This is part of being the President.”
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Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, situated in the prosperous Florida neighbourhood of Palm Beach, was dubbed the Winter White House, and he has taken leaders there such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
But the resort has been criticised as not being set up to the same security standards as the real White House in Washington DC. The President has been accused of talking about North Korea’s ballistic missile test in an open-air dining area and simultaneously hosting foreign leaders and family when discussing government matters.
The House Oversight Committee said it would investigate possible security breaches at the estate after lawmakers spotted pictures online of a resort guest holding the “nuclear football”.
Critics said the government would not have to execute large-scale cuts to the arts, the poor or the elderly if Mr Trump does not travel to Florida so often.
Similar calculations have been made if his wife, Melania Trump, would quit her New York residence and move to Washington. New York City is paying $500,000 a day to guard Trump Tower, according to police officials’ estimates, an amount that could reach $183 million a year.
Ms Trump and her son, Barron Trump, plan to move south when Barron has finished his school year.
The President’s two daughters and three sons are also racking up public expense. As Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump travel around the world, opening businesses in Vancouver and Dubai, their secret service costs have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
When Eric Trump flew to Uruguay to check on the construction of Trump Tower in January, his security bill was almost $100,000.
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