CNN reports during the first eight months of 2017, employees of the Department of Defense have spent at least $138,000 at properties branded with the Trump name. And a large chunk of that amount went to Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago.
Charges on the department-issued Visa cards, which span from Honolulu to Washington, DC, are the most recent evidence that taxpayer money flows to Trump’s company, once again emboldening critics who say these payments violate ethical norms and possibly the US Constitution.
The CNN analysis found military personnel spent more than a third of the total amount, or $58,875.69, on lodging and food at what appears to be Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Most of the expenses generally align with the 25 days the President spent at his Florida club from February to April.
When the president goes places, for example to putter around a golf club that he himself owns and charges other Americans membership fees to enter, military aides must travel with him. This particular president claims to be both fabulously wealthy and a patriot, but that doesn’t appear to mean the military team forced to tag along with him can get a break on Mar-a-Lago prices.
Some of the costs coincide with an April 6, 2017, visit Trump made to the exclusive club. That evening, the President met with military leaders and ordered a missile strike on Syria, an attack Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross later joked was “in lieu of after-dinner entertainment.” Two identical food charges for $89.88 appear on Defense Department cards the day after the strikes. The records also show a total of $12,339.60 billed for lodging on the same day the President ended his four-day visit.
Trump is making money off this. He’s staying in his own branded properties, forcing the entire retinue that accompanies a modern president to tag along, and charging those aides to stay and to eat at those properties. The money goes to the companies. The profit from those companies goes to him.
This is so beyond the bounds of what would be tolerated by any other president that it’s impossible to overstate. The old “imagine what Republicans would have said if Obama did such a thing” is now worn-out from use, and elected Republicans do nothing. This walking, talking garbage fire is making a mockery of every so-called ethical standard they insisted the nation follow up until the very day of his victory, and now you can’t get Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell to string together ten words on the subject.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.