Donald Trump Jr.’s trip last summer to Mongolia to kill an endangered sheep cost American taxpayers nearly $77,000 in Secret Service costs alone, watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reported Monday.
The Secret Service provided documents in March revealing that the agency’s cost for Trump’s trip to bag a rare argali sheep was more than $17,000. But after additional Freedom of Information Act requests, officials turned over other documents that disclosed an additional $60,000 in spending.
Trump Jr.’s eight-day trip was highly controversial, not only for the killing of the sheep, but because of his secretive meeting with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga. Trump appeared to have hunted with a major Republican donor, ProPublica reported.
The trip was arranged through a tourism company owned by a politically connected member of the Mongolian president’s party, according to the watchdog group. The company helped Trump obtain a special permit to hunt the argali after he killed the animal.
The hunt came just weeks after high-level government discussions in the U.S. between American and Mongolian officials, and a meeting between President Donald Trump and Battulga at the White House.
The Trump family is taking 12 times as many Secret-Service protected trips as the Obama family did ― an average of about 1,000 more trips per year ― according to Treasury Department documents. The president and senior White House advisers Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner all remain invested in their private companies but travel at taxpayer expense.
The trips raise concerns about conflicts of interest as taxpayer-funded travels intermingle Trump business promotion, White House power and foreign political leaders seeking American favors and special treatment.
“Because of the overlap between the Trump Organization, the Trump White House and the Trump campaign, taxpayer money all too often ends up facilitating President Trump’s conflicts of interest,” CREW said in a statement earlier this year.
Donald Trump Jr. could not immediately be reached for comment by HuffPost. A spokesperson told ProPublica for a story late last year that no government officials from either country organized the hunting trip, and the necessary permits were appropriately obtained via a third-party outfitter.