WASHINGTON — In June, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Israel to scout investments for his new company, then flew to Qatar for a conference. At the time, Mnuchin had been out of office for five months.
But, because of an order given by former President Donald Trump, he was still entitled to protection by Secret Service agents. As agents followed Mnuchin across the Middle East, the U.S. government paid up to $3,000 each for their plane tickets, and $11,000 for rooms at Qatar’s luxe St. Regis Doha, according to government spending records.
In all, the records show U.S. taxpayers spent more than $52,000 to guard a multimillionaire on a business trip.
These payments were among $1.7 million in additional government spending triggered by Trump’s highly unusual order — which awarded six extra months of Secret Service protection for his four adult children and three top administration officials — according to a Washington Post analysis of new spending documents.
That $1.7 million in extra spending is still tiny in comparison to the Secret Service’s $2.4 billion budget.
But, as the records show, Trump’s order required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to an unexpected set of people: wealthy adults, with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas, and business trips abroad.
“Who wouldn’t enjoy continuing their free limo service and easy access to restaurant tables?” said Jim Helminski, a former Secret Service executive, who said the decision appeared to show Trump giving a public service as a private benefit to his inner circle. “Even if there was a credible risk to family and associates of Trump these people are now private citizens who can afford to hire some very talented private security firms for their personal protection.”
The Secret Service declined to comment, beyond a statement that it “balances operational security requirements with judicious allocation of resources.”
Trump’s post-presidential office did not respond to questions. The Post sent messages to all seven of the people who received the additional protection. Five, including all of Trump’s adult children, did not respond. Another, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, declined to comment.
The seventh, Mnuchin, said through a spokesman that he had not asked Trump to provide the extra protection. After it was given, Mnuchin — like all the others — could have declined Secret Service protection.
But he did not, “because government officials advised him to maintain it,” said Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for Mnuchin. O’Malley declined to provide further details.
O’Malley also said that Mnuchin had told the Secret Service “that he intends to reimburse certain expenses” that resulted from his extra protection. But he declined to say when Mnuchin would do so, or how much of the expenses he would repay.
By law, the Secret Service is supposed to protect ex-presidents and their spouses for life, and their children until they turn 16. In recent years, former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and George W. Bush have also ordered agents to protect slightly older, college-aged children for a short time after leaving office.
Trump went far beyond that.
He extended six months of extra protection to his children Trump Jr., 43; Ivanka, 39; Eric, 37; Tiffany, 27; and their spouses — as well as to Mnuchin, Meadows and former national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien.
Trump did not publish any public order announcing the decision at the time, or explaining his rationale.
To estimate the cost of Trump’s decision, The Post requested Secret Service records detailing the cost of protecting all seven people. For five of them, The Post received records covering the full six months, showing the costs of buying airplane tickets, renting cars and booking hotel rooms for agents on protective duty. For the other two — Tiffany Trump and O’Brien — The Post examined records covering the first four months, which had previously been obtained by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The records began Jan. 20, in the first hours after Trump left office.
Among the first payments the Secret Service made was to Trump’s own company.
That day, the records showed, Ivanka Trump and her family left Washington for Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J. — where Ivanka Trump has a cottage on the grounds. Secret Service agents came along, and Trump’s club charged them for the rooms they used.
The bill was $708.30 for one night, the records showed. The rate appeared to be $141.66 per room, the same rate that the club charged the Secret Service while Trump was still president.
In the next six months, the Secret Service spent about $347,000 on airfare, hotels and rental cars while protecting Ivanka Trump and her husband, former White House adviser Jared Kushner, the records show. The receipts showed the pair visiting a series of resort destinations: Hawaii, Utah ski country, an upscale Wyoming ranch and Kiawah Island, S.C.
Agents also followed Kushner — now a private businessman — to the United Arab Emirates in May, paying $9,000 for hotel rooms, according to federal spending data posted online. The Secret Service did not say what the airfare costs were for this Kushner trip. The Daily Beast reported that the hotel was the Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi, citing a government spending document which said the hotel was Kushner’s choice.
Spokespeople for Ivanka Trump and Kushner did not respond to requests for comment this week.
Ivanka Trump’s adult siblings were, according to the records, less expensive to protect. Tiffany Trump, a recently married law school graduate, appeared to cost the least to guard. The partial records showed that, as of May, the Secret Service had spent $56,000 on airfare, rental cars and hotels while protecting her.
The costs of protecting Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were similar: $241,000 for Eric and $213,000 for Trump Jr.
The records showed that the brothers mainly shuttled between their homes in New York and South Florida, with an occasional side trip. Trump Jr. went fishing in Montana. Eric Trump — who has become the most visible leader of the Trump Organization — visited Trump hotels in Washington and Chicago.
When he did, just as when his sister visited the Bedminster club, the Trump Organization charged agents who stayed in the former president’s properties: $350 for rooms in Washington, $1,415 in Chicago.
Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said these charges — though small — represented a moral choice for the Trump family. If they wanted to reduce the burden of their extended protection on taxpayers, here was an easy chance to do it: Just don’t bill for rooms at Trump properties.
“The patriotic thing would obviously be, not charging the government to stay at your properties, and not profiting or profiteering off the government. It is just so easy for them to write off the rooms,” Libowitz said. “And we’re not seeing that.”
In that way, Trump’s children were following an example set by their father. Since he left office, he has lived full time at his own properties — and charged the Secret Service for rooms every night. The total bill is now more than $72,000. It is almost certain to grow: Trump, unlike his children, has protection for life.
Among the three White House officials who received an six extra months of protection, The Post could find little data on the cost of guarding O’Brien, the former national security adviser. The Secret Service spent $17,000 on rental cars while guarding him, but other expenses were not released.
Meadows, the former chief of staff, accounted for $342,000 in protection costs, the records showed. The Secret Service released few details, beyond a list of car rentals that showed visits to Washington, Florida and Meadows’ home state of North Carolina.
The most expensive of the seven to protect, it appears, was Mnuchin — an investment banker and Hollywood producer who served all four years of Trump’s term. In all, the Secret Service reported spending $479,000 while protecting him.
The receipts showed that agents spent $114,000 over the six months to rent rooms at a W Hotel in Los Angeles, where Mnuchin has a home.
They also followed Mnuchin on three trips to the Middle East, where Mnuchin is reportedly seeking to raise money from sovereign wealth funds for a new venture called Liberty Strategic Capital.
On one of those visits, Mnuchin told the Jerusalem Post that he was hoping to capitalize on the Trump administration’s efforts to build ties between Israel and some majority-Muslim neighbors — which culminated with the “Abraham Accords,” normalizing relations between Israel, the UAE and several other nations.
“Given our relationships here, the opportunity to bridge the economic transactions between different Abraham Accords member states is also a tremendous opportunity for us,” Mnuchin said in Tel Aviv in June. The Secret Service spent $23,000 on hotel rooms in Israel related to Mnuchin’s travel, records show.
Mnuchin’s travels with the Secret Service weren’t all business, however. Over the six months, the records show three separate trips to Cabo San Lucas — the Mexican resort, where Mnuchin had also vacationed during Trump’s presidency.
To guard Mnuchin during those three trips, the records show, the Secret Service paid $56,000 for hotel rooms, and $2,000 to rent golf carts.