American taxpayers foot the bill to protect the president's family, because it's important that the commander in chief and any loved ones who could be kidnapped for leverage be kept safe, no matter the cost. President Trump is presenting some unique logistical challenges, The Washington Post notes, and is racking up an unprecedented tab, though many of the costs are hidden or classified for security reasons.
Judicial Watch, a conservative group most famous for hounding the Clintons, was critical of the costs of former President Obama's family vacations on Martha's Vineyard and in Hawaii — as was Trump — estimating the Obamas cost taxpayers $97 million in travel expenses over eight years. That's a lot, "but based on the first four weeks, Trump's presidency appears on track to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more," The Washington Post notes. Trump is heading to Mar-a-Lago for his third consecutive weekend at his Florida club, and those trips alone have probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million, The Post estimates, based on the cost of past presidential trips.
Then there are the costs of protecting first lady Melania Trump, who has chosen to live in New York City with son Barron, and Trump's four grown children — New York City is spending an estimated $500,000 a day guarding Trump Tower, not counting Secret Service expenses, and Trump's sons have been traveling to Brazil, the Dominican Republican, and, this weekend, Dubai on company business, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands more. Assuming the Trump family lifestyle and travel expenses have hit $15 million, Trump's costs in four weeks are already about one-sixth of what taxpayers spent on Obama in eight years.
"This is an expensive way to conduct business, and the president should recognize that," Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president, tells The Washington Post. "The unique thing about President Trump is that he knows what it costs to run a plane" — in the case of Air Force One, about $200,000 an hour. Trump might consider Camp David, or his Northern Virginia golf course, not Mar-a-Lago, if he needs to escape Washington, Fitton added. "Going down there ain't free." You can find more numbers at The Washington Post. Peter Weber