The documents made public Thursday by Judicial Watch are some of the first to put even part of a price tag on Trump’s frequent visits to his Palm Beach, Florida, club. The numbers reflect only the costs associated with the president’s plane, Air Force One. Not included are expenses for Secret Service protection or support vehicles provided by the Department of Defense, which must be airlifted into place.
A Trump trip in early February cost about $670,000, and a second trip in March cost about $612,000, according to the U.S. Air Force, which operates and maintains Air Force One. He’s visited seven times as president.
Judicial Watch obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The group has spent years studying the cost of presidential travel and has argued that taxpayers are bearing far too much of the costs. Tom Fitton, president of the group, previously told The Associated Press that Trump should be transparent about the expense of his trips and should make the case to the American public that it is important for him to be at his resort.
Trump has used Mar-a-Lago — which not only is a vacation home but also a for-profit resort that charges $200,000 for memberships — to entertain foreign dignitaries and to meet with members of his Cabinet and senior leadership team.
Based on other travel reports for other presidents, Defense Department costs far exceed all other expenses related to such trips. Judicial Watch did not request that information, although its request for Secret Service expenses is pending, Judicial Watch said.
The Government Accountability Office agreed to a Democratic request to price out a few of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips, and its forthcoming report promises a more accurate estimate.