The Drama Surrounding The Trump Family's Secret Service Detail

The Trump family is known for bringing drama, and their relationship with the Secret Service involved plenty of it. Par for the course, considering the immense level of protection they were given around the clock.

When Donald Trump does something, he does it big league — and his Secret Service detail paycheck was no exception. Former Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles told USA Today that a record-breaking 42 people were provided with protection during the Trump family's time in the White House, compared to 33 under President Joe Biden. And the Trumps kept their bodyguards busy, ferrying them between their multiple properties and jetting them worldwide on vacations and business trips. In fact, protection officers were kept so busy that they were forced to clock overtime regularly. This resulted in Congress increasing the maximum compensation personnel could earn annually from $160,000 to nearly $190,000.

Not surprisingly, Donald was thrilled with the free service he was being given. "Secret Service is fantastic," he told reporters, per USA Today, in April 2019. "These are fantastic people. ... I would say I could not be happier with Secret Service. Secret Service has done a fantastic job from day one. Very happy with them." Still, just days later, Donald ousted Alles and replaced him with James M. Murray. "The president deserves people in positions who will carry out his agenda," a White House official told CNBC. The staffing shake-up was just a sliver of the drama surrounding the Trump family's Secret Service protection.

Trump's Secret Service hotel bill was huge

The Trump family's statements about Secret Service expenses have raised questions, with some pointing out discrepancies that suggest the information might not align with established facts. In October 2019, Eric Trump insisted to Yahoo! Finance that hosting the G-7 Summit at the Trump National Doral Miami in Florida would save taxpayers a fortune. He claimed the security bill alone would result in drastically reduced costs.

"If my father travels, [security staff] stay at our properties for free," Eric said. "So everywhere that he goes, if he stays at one of his places, the government actually spends, meaning it saves a fortune because if they were to go to a hotel across the street, they'd be charging them $500 a night, whereas, you know we charge them, like $50," he added.

Hold that thought, Eric. According to official expense records obtained by Congress and shared by The Washington Post, the Trump family made serious bank on security staff hotel fees, charging as much as five times more for accommodation than government-approved rates. The records show that agents were sometimes billed $1,185 per night for their Washington DC hotel rooms, compared to the typical rate of around $195 to $240. US taxpayers doled out in the region of $1.4 million for government staff to stay at Trump properties while protecting Donald and his family.

The cost of Trump's extended family

It wasn't just Donald Trump's exorbitant DC hotel fees that cost taxpayers a fortune. Among the 44 people afforded security protection, 18 were Donald's family members. When you add up Donald, his wife, Melania Trump, and his five kids, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, and Barron Trump, the shortfall is 11.

The gravy train kept rolling even after it left the White House. The Washington Post reported that Donald gifted his four grown-up kids and three former officials six months of protection after leaving office — costing $1.7 million. The agents protected the four on their ski trips, Mexican vacays, weekend getaways, and overseas business trips. According to USA Today, it cost $100,000 in hotel fees alone for the Secret Service to accompany Eric on a Uruguay jaunt. This, in fairness, was still a money saver compared to what they would have been charged to stay in their Washington DC hotel. Meanwhile, taxpayers also footed the bill when Eric and Donald Jr. jetted off to open a new Trump hotel in Vancouver and a golf club in Dubai.

DC watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington found that "the Trump family took more trips that required Secret Service protection than the Obama family took in seven" years. It calculated that the Obamas took an average of "133.3 protected trips per year," compared to the Trumps' 1,625 trips, many of which had "been to promote Trump Organization businesses."