President Trump doesn’t want to spend federal dollars on after-school programs, meals for poor people, or heating assistance that helps keep folks alive.
But he has no problem wasting more than $3 million a pop to spend weekends at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. Trump has already made four trips there since becoming president on January 20, and on Friday he confirmed he’s headed there this weekend for the fifth time.
Trump: "Major meeting" tonight at Mar-a-Lago to "talk all about the VA"
*turns to VA Sec.*
Will you be there?
*awkwardly shakes head no* pic.twitter.com/Up2tPEIxbO
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) March 17, 2017
Despite vowing during his campaign that he “would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done” and “would not be a president who took vacations” because “you don’t have time to take time off,” Trump has visited Trump-branded properties each of the past six weekends. That streak will hit seven when Trump lands at Mar-a-Lago later Friday.
In fact, Trump has spent time at Trump-branded property every weekend of his presidency other than the very first, when he created chaos throughout the country by signing a Muslim ban executive order that was later stayed by a federal court.
Let’s run through them.
February 4–5: Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago for the first time as president. There, he and Melania attend a “Vienna to Versailles” black tie Red Cross Ball that was closed to the media (Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was in attendance, however).
President Trump’s inaugural appearance at Mar-a-Lago comes just days after the Trump Organization announces the club’s initiation fees are doubling to $200,000 (taxes and $14,000 annual dues not included).
February 11–12: Trump travels to Mar-a-Lago for the second consecutive weekend. His guest is Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe. On Saturday night, Trump and Abe deal with a North Korea missile crisis in full view of diners on one of the club’s terraces, with national security documents illuminated by aides’ cell phones.
February 18–19: The president heads to Mar-a-Lago yet again. While there, Trump, who repeatedly criticized Obama for playing golf while president, enjoys his sixth golf outing during his first month in office. In a sign that he might feel a bit guilty, the White House is later forced to admit that officials initially misled reporters about the amount of golf Trump played during his 18-hole excursion with pro golfer Rory McIlroy.
The roughly $10 million Trump has already spent on unnecessary travel approaches the $12 million President Obama spent each year.
February 25–26: Trump doesn’t travel to Florida, but he does stop by his swanky hotel in downtown DC for dinner on Saturday night. The president’s outing to the Trump International is documented by Benny Johnson of IJR, a conservative media outlet founded by Republican operatives.
Johnson, who writes a fawning first-person account about dining next to Trump’s table, says that he “received a tip from a well informed source that Trump would be dining at the BLT Steakhouse inside his Trump hotel at approximately 6 PM that evening.” Lo and behold, the tipster was correct.
Also hanging out at the Trump International that night were Brexit leader Nigel Farage, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
March 4–5: Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago. The Palm Beach Post publishes pictures of Attorney General Jeff Sessions mingling with members.
Politico reports that in response to the negative publicity resulting from photos of Trump and Abe dealing with the missile crisis in the dining area, Trump’s “private club issued new rules prohibiting pictures or videos of the president when he’s on the premises so that the world can’t follow along on Twitter if it ever happens again.” Meanwhile, a helipad is under construction on site to make it easier for Marine One to land right outside the club.
March 11–12: On Saturday, Trump visits the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia in suburban DC.
Trump’s repeated trips to Trump-branded properties aren’t just problematic because they embody how he’s profiting off the presidency and breaking campaign promises. They also represent Trump’s selective austerity when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars.
Trump is on track to spend $1 billion in 4 years housing his wife in NYC and vacationing in Mar-a-Lago virtually every week.
— Bruce Bartlett (@BruceBartlett) March 17, 2017
As Quartz reported on Friday, after this weekend, Trump will have already spent about $16.5 million on trips to Mar-a-Lago. For that amount, Meals on Wheels could feed 5,967 seniors for a year and after school programs could feed 114,583 children for a year.
On Thursday, Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney defended the draconian cuts included in the Trump administration’s proposed budget by arguing that the federal government can’t ask “a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for” programs like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But one wonders whether those struggling Americans would rather have public radio or dole out their share of the $3.3 million a self-proclaimed billionaire is spending each weekend to mingle with his ludicrously wealthy club members down in Florida.