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Democrats Want to Know More About Federal Payments to Trump Businesses

  • Associated Press

FILE- The Trump Tower logo in New York, May 23, 2016.

As President Donald Trump spends much of August at his New Jersey golf club, Democratic lawmakers are making a new push for information about how much money the federal government is spending at his for-profit properties.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday asked departments to hand over information about their Trump-related spending by August 25.

"The American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent, including the amount of federal funds that are being provided to private businesses owned by the president and the purposes of these expenditures," reads the lawmakers' letter to Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The lawmakers sent similar requests to all Cabinet secretaries.

Their request seeks documents about any payments the departments made to the Trump Organization or any business in which the Trump Organization has an ownership stake.

48 visits

Trump hasn't shied away from his homes away from the White House. He's visited his own properties 48 times since his inauguration, including a dozen overnight stays such as the one he's on now, according to an Associated Press tally.

He's planning an excursion to New York City next week, raising the possibility he'll stop by Trump Tower, where he lived for decades until moving into the White House.

Most presidents have maintained and visited their personal homes while in office. Think George W. Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch and Barack Obama's Chicago house.

FILE - A motorcade SUV transporting President Donald Trump leaves the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., May 7, 2017.
FILE - A motorcade SUV transporting President Donald Trump leaves the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., May 7, 2017.

The difference with Trump is that his residences are part of his business empire. That means when the Defense and Homeland Security departments spend money to move and protect the president around his own properties, some taxpayer money makes its way into Trump Organization coffers.

Trump turned over company leadership to his adult sons and a senior business executive, but he did not divest as previous presidents have done. The trust in which he placed his business assets includes a clause that he can draw down money at any time.

Trump Tower rentals

The Democrats' letter cites reports about the State Department booking rooms at a new Trump hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, where his adult sons were on site for the grand opening, and the Defense and Homeland Security departments renting space at Trump Tower, where first lady Melania Trump and the couple's 11-year-old son lived until the end of the school year.

"President Trump also makes frequent trips to properties he owns, and these trips may result in U.S. taxpayers' money flowing into President Trump's pockets," the letter to Duke reads.

The new effort is one of many to understand how much money the Trump-led government is spending on businesses that he still owns. The Government Accountability Office is undertaking the most comprehensive study.

The office agreed to a congressional request earlier this year to analyze all government spending involved in several weekend trips Trump made to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

A GAO spokesman said Tuesday that there was no estimate yet for when that report would be ready.

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