Democratic congressmen announced Tuesday that a government watchdog has agreed to review President Donald Trump’s weekend trips to Florida due to questions about costs to taxpayers and information security at the Mar-a-Lago resort.
The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, was asked by Democrats to probe the trips after reports surfaced that Trump and White House staffers openly discussed North Korea’s ballistic missile launch in front of guests at the resort. GAO is also evaluating how much taxpayers are footing for the trips, which Democrats say cost $3 million per stay, the Associated Press reported.
The request comes from four Democratic members of Congress–Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Tom Udall, and Rep. Elijah Cummings–who say the North Korea incident raises serious concerns about the president’s willingness and ability to protect classified information while staying at Mar-a-Lago. The lawmakers say they are also skeptical about the level of security screening for members and guests at the club.
“Anybody can get a membership at the club for $200,000,” Cummings told NPR. “We want to know what privileges do they have? And what privileges do they have with regard to bringing their guests?”
The White House has pushed back against accusations that Trump’s weekend trips cost too much or are inadequately secured. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this month that excursions to Mar-a-Lago are “part of being president.”
“The president is very clear that he works seven days a week,” Spicer said. “This is where he goes to see his family. He brings people down there.”
As a part of its inquiry, the GAO will also determine if White House, Defense Department, and Secret Service employees are being charged “fair and reasonable” rates for travel and hotel expenses when they accompany the president to Florida.
The Secret Service has requested an extra $60 million for Trump family-related protection costs, the Washington Post reported, about half of that for security at Trump Tower, where first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump live.
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