Donald Trump has spent three of his five weekends as president at his Mar-A-Lago club in Palm Beach, and that travel costing millions of tax dollars every weekend — perhaps as much as $10 million just since he took office, according to an analysis by CBS News.
It’s something Trump attacked his predecessor for again and again.
Using a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that was commissioned about President Obama’s travel by Republican Sen. John Barrasso, Politico projected that Trump’s travel to and from Mar-A-Lago was comparable to a 2013 trip taken by then-President Obama to Chicago and Palm Beach, Fla.
During that trip, Obama flew from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Chicago on February 15, where he delivered a speech. He then flew from Chicago to Palm Beach, staying in Florida until returning to Washington on February 18. The Government Accountability Office found that the trip cost $3.6 million in total.
It’s not an exact comparison; that price tag includes both the trip to Chicago and Palm Beach. It also does not include additional costs the Department of Defense keeps classified.
Even discounting the trip to Chicago, trips to and from Mar-A-Lago (and related security costs at the club) cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Barack Obama incurred $97 million in travel costs over eight years; if Trump has spent $10 million in five weeks, he will spend more than Barack Obama did in eight years in his first year.
CNN reports that Sarah Sanders, a spokesperson for Trump, justifies the frequent visits to Mar-A-Lago by claiming they make Trump “accessible” to “regular Americans,” though by any economic measure the $200,000 annual membership fee is well out of range of any “regular” American’s income. His trips hit “regular Americans” in the pockets, though. For businesses in the Palm Beach County Park Airport (Latana), Trump’s visits mean closed airspace, and that means closing down entirely. Some vendors say it costs them $30,000 or more every weekend they close, according to CBS.
Regular Americans or not, Palm Beach locals should expect visits from the President to become a regular thing: CNN also reports that local businesses have been told to expect Trump in Palm Beach every weekend through May.