The White House has warned The Washington Post that it’s collecting a “dossier” on one of its journalists after he reported that President Donald Trump’s private business, the Trump Organization, has charged taxpayers at least $900,000.
The chilling, Kremlin-esque threat was made in response to a story Thursday by Pulitzer Prize-winning Post reporter David Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey and Joshua Partlow that the Trump Organization has charged the Secret Service steep fees for agents guarding the president during his multiple trips to his own properties.
The Secret Service has had to pay for rooms at Trump’s properties even when he is not present, has been charged daily “resort fees,” and was once billed $1,300 for a mysterious “furniture removal charge” during a presidential trip to Trump’s golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, the Post reported, based on multiple interviews and newly obtained bills and emails.
Just two weeks after Trump became president, the Secret Service spent $10,666 at Mar-a-Lago for a single weekend while guarding Trump at his Florida resort, according to the Post. The Secret Service was charged $17,000 to rent a cottage for a month at Trump’s golf resort in Bedminister, New Jersey, the story said.
“The Washington Post is blatantly interfering with the business relationships of the Trump Organization, and it must stop,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a written statement to the newspaper. “Please be advised that we are building up a very large ‘dossier’ on the many false David Fahrenthold and others [sic] stories as they are a disgrace to journalism and the American people.”
Deere did not refute any of the figures in the new piece.
Breaking precedent with past presidents, Trump has continued to own and profit from his businesses while in the White House, triggering accusations of conflict of interest, as critics charge he is using his job to solicit profits for his businesses. He has blatantly touted his properties as president and frequently travels to them, not only racking up expenses the government pays but drawing national attention to them on the taxpayers’ dime.
Deere issued his threat to Fahrenthold when the reporter asked if Trump had broken his one-time promise to keep his business and political interests separate. The White House spokesman, whose salary is paid by taxpayers, notably used his position to defend Trump’s private business.
The president’s son Eric Trump said in a statement to the Post: “We have gone to tremendous lengths to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, not due to any legal requirement, but because of the respect we have towards the office of the presidency.”
He did not address the profits the Trump Organization collects from the president’s activities.
Taxpayers have paid millions of dollars to fund Trump’s frequent trips to his own properties, which highlight the businesses. But many of those costs — including airfare, and food and lodging for his entourage elsewhere — don’t go directly into the Trump Organization coffers. Trump has visited his own properties 271 times as president, according to a Washington Post tally.
The Trump reelection campaign and Republican National Committee have also paid an estimated $17 million to Trump businesses since 2016 for events, including for room and restaurant fees, and catering.
If Trump was trying to “completely isolate” himself from his businesses, as he once promised, he “wouldn’t talk about his business, he wouldn’t promote his business, he wouldn’t go to his businesses,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the Post.
Instead, he added, “his businesses have been a constant presence in his presidency.”
Read the entire Washington Post story here.