Secret Service Asked for $60 Million Extra for Trump-Era Travel, Protection

Secret Service Asked for $60 Million Extra for Trump-Era Travel, Protection
Thu Mar 23, 2017 17:34:02

The U.S. Secret Service requested $60 million in additional funding for the next year, offering the most precise estimate yet of the escalating costs for travel and protection resulting from the unusually complicated lifestyle of the Trump family, according to internal agency documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

Nearly half of the additional money, $26.8 million, would pay to protect Trump’s family and private home in New York’s Trump Tower, the documents show, while $33 million would be spent on travel costs incurred by “the president, vice president and other visiting heads of state.”

The documents, part of the Secret Service’s request for the fiscal 2018 budget, reflect the costly surprise facing Secret Service agents tasked with guarding the president’s large and far-flung family, accommodating their ambitious travel schedules and fortifying the three-floor Manhattan penthouse where first lady Melania Trump and son Barron live.

Trump has spent most of his weekends since the inauguration at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and his sons have traveled the world to promote Trump properties with Secret Service agents in tow.

The documents reviewed by The Post did not show how the new budget requests compare with the funding needs for past presidents, and such figures are not public information. The Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, declined to provide cost breakdowns and have said in the past that such fig­ures are confidential, citing security concerns.

A person familiar with internal Secret Service budget discussions said the requests for additional funding, prepared in late February, were rejected by the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House. That means the agency will probably have to divert other spending to handle the additional burden. While best known for protecting the president, Secret Service agents also investigate cyber­crimes, counterfeit-money operations, and cases­ involving missing and exploited minors.

The Secret Service declined to respond to questions after The Post provided a summary of the documents. The service referred questions to DHS, which also declined to comment. The White House referred questions to the Secret Service and the Office of Management and Budget, which did not initially respond to requests for comment. After the article was posted online Wednesday, an OMB staffer issued a statement to The Post saying that the Secret Service is continuing to refine its budgetary estimates. The staffer also said that the claim that OMB denied the $26.8 million request for Trump Tower and family expenses was “outright untrue” and that OMB “supported its funding.”

The budget requests reflect a potentially awkward contrast between Trump’s efforts to cut federal spending in many areas and the escalating costs of his travel itinerary. Trump jetted to Mar-a-Lago on Friday for his fifth post-inauguration weekend trip, one day after the White House released a federal budget proposing deep cuts to many government programs.

Former agents said the requests indicate that the agency had to adapt to offer full protection for a president and first family who appear to have placed few limits on their personal travel and living arrangements.

“The Secret Service cannot dictate the lifestyle of the protectee. They have to work around it,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a 14-year Secret Service employee who is now executive director of the risk-mitigation company RANE. “I don’t think they expected him to go to Florida so often.

“This was an unanticipated reality,” he added, for which the Secret Service “had to quickly re­adjust operations,” Washington Post reported.

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