The White House is desperately trying to keep President Donald Trump‘s exceptionally hefty Secret Service bill from being released in full to the public–at least not before the 2020 presidential election.
According to the Washington Post, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is attempting to negotiate an embargo on that information. Congressional Democrats, however, are insisting that the total amount of money spent by the public on Trump’s travels be released.
Those fierce discussions are reportedly being held in the context of a draft bill that would return the Secret Service to the purview of the Treasury Department–the traditional umbrella agency for the aptly-named law enforcement and computer crimes organization tasked with guarding the president and his family as well as other high-profile members of the U.S. government.
Founded by infamously violent union-buster Allan Pinkerton in 1865, the Secret Service initially served to combat the counterfeiting of U.S. currency. In 2003, control over the agency was gifted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as part of the fallout from the September 11, 2001 attacks and the so-called “War on Terror.”
Mnuchin has been itching to return the Secret Service to its original home for some time and Democrats have been more than happy to oblige that request.
But congressional Democrats have one major condition: the Secret Service would have to disclose the full amount of taxpayer dollars spent on protecting Trump and his family–including his adult children Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr.–during their frequent travels within 120 days of the bill’s passage.
Mnuchin has reportedly attempted to meet the Democrats in the middle and agreed to such disclosures on a relaxed timeline. The Mnuchin-supplied timeline, perhaps not entirely so curiously, would have the cost disclosure occur only after the 2020 election. The timing dust-up has been a point of serious contention.
Per the Post‘s report:
In a statement, the Treasury Department confirmed that Mnuchin has been working with Secret Service Director James Murray and congressional committees on a bill to transfer the Secret Service from the Department of Homeland Security to Treasury, but did not address the dispute about the reporting requirement.
“Conversations about the return of the Secret Service to the Treasury Department are ongoing, and we decline to comment on individual aspects of those conversations,”an anonymous Treasury official told the outlet.
But Democrats are said to be adamant and insist that the public has a right to know how much they’re paying for the Trump family’s repeat travels to their personally-owned hotels and golf resorts in Florida and New Jersey.
Why all the concern? Democrats likely view the information as an effective and useful political prize; the White House an onerous liability and embarrassment.
As Law&Crime previously reported, President Trump’s extensive golf habit has already cost the public far in excess what former president Barack Obama’s did—and Trump accomplished that feat in a stunning three years compared to Obama’s eight.
As of 2020, Trump’s golf habit alone has cost taxpayers in the ballpark of some $115 million. During Obama’s presidency, the former first family spent roughly $114 million in public funds on travel total.
As noted, Obama golfed quite a bit as well—and was often taken to task for indulgence in the country club sport.
But the Secret Service travel tab for Trump is seen as particularly problematic because he was one of Obama’s biggest critics on the golf front—using it as an attack line during the 2016 presidential election—and insisted he’d largely abandon the game if elected.
“I love golf,” then-candidate Trump told a Florida crowd in 2016, “but if I were in the White House, I don’t think I’d ever see Turnberry again. I don’t ever think I’d see Doral again. I own Doral in Miami. I don’t think I’d ever see many of the places that I have. I don’t really ever think I’d see anything–I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off and make great deals.”
Now one of those would-be deals is an effort to keep his publicly-subsidized golf games on the down low.
[image via Leon Neal/Getty Images]