This Week in Conflicts: The Cost of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Trips, No Loan from Deutsche Bank and Inauguration Investigation Heats Up


President Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

This week, thanks to a report from a federal oversight agency, taxpayers are able to see how much President Donald Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago are costing taxpayers, the New York Times learns Deutsche Bank turned down a loan request from President Trump during his presidential campaign and the latest on investigations into President Trump’s inauguration committee.

President Trump’s 2017 Inauguration.

Trump Inauguration Investigation

President Trump’s inaugural committee has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors.

According to Vox,  the potential crimes they are investigating include false statements and money laundering. Prosecutors are interested in the inaugural committee’s spending, its donations and the possibility of favors in exchange for donations.

By raising $106.7 million, Trump’s inaugural committee set a new record for the most money raised by an inaugural committee, surpassing the amount raised by President Barack Obama’s 2009 committee.

According to Trump, Inc., a podcast from ProPublica and WNYC, Tom Barrack, the chairman of President Trump’s inaugural committee, “developed a plan to profit of its connections to the incoming administration and foreign dignitaries.” 

The news organizations obtained a confidential memo where Barrack’s company, Colony, discusses how they will “strategically cultivate domestic and international relations while avoiding any appearance of lobbying.”

The federal subpoena issued to the committee also sought documents related to foreign donations, which are not allowed under the law.

In addition, ProPublica and WNYC, have identified possible evidence of tax law violations by the committee.

According to the latest episode of Trump, Inc., “the nonprofit 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee paid the Trump International Hotel a rate of $175,000 per day for event space — in spite of internal objections at the time that the rate was far too high. If the committee is deemed by auditors or prosecutors to have paid an above-market rate, that could violate tax laws prohibiting self-dealing, according to experts.”

Mar-a-Lago Resort (Image credit: Christine Davis)

Travel to Mar-a-Lago Costs Taxpayers

How much are President Trump’s trips to his resort properties costing taxpayers?

Thanks to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) there is now a clearer picture of that cost. Previously there were estimates, but the GAO gathered information to provide a total cost for the first four trips President Trump took to Mar-a-Lago as president.

The total came to just under $14 million with an average cost of $3.4 million per trip. The trips detailed took place in 2017 on February 3-6, February 10-12, February 17-20 and March 3-5.

According to the report, the Defense Department spent about $8.5 million on those trips, the Department of Homeland Security spent $5 million and around $60,000 was paid directly to Mar-a-Lago for lodging and use of operation space.

In a recent article, the Washington Post made an attempt to use those figures to find out how much money all of President Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago cost taxpayers.

“We know, from having tracked his trips over time, that Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago on 19 occasions as president, spanning 51 nights…If we, therefore, assume a blanket average of $3.4 million per trip, regardless of duration, the total the government has spent on Trump’s trips to the resort tops $64 million.”

Also, this week, being a member of his club could also pay off for individuals. A USA Today report found “at least eight people who identified themselves as current or former members of his club” have been appointed to senior posts in his administration.

Donald Trump wearing a Make America Great Again cap during his 2016 campaign. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Gage Skidmore)

Deutsche Bank Loan

The New York Times is reporting President Trump was declined a loan from Deutsche Bank during his 2016 campaign.

“It was early 2016, and he was lending tens of millions of dollars to his presidential campaign and had been spending large sums to expand the Trump Organization’s roster of high-end properties,” according to the newspaper article.

President Trump had turned to Deutsche Bank before for money but this request was “too risky” due to Trump’s “divisive candidacy,” several senior bank officials told the New York Times.

According to the article, another reason the bank decided to say no, was that if the loan was granted and he was elected, the bank “would have to choose between not collecting on the debt or seizing the assets of the president of the United States.”

A spokesperson with the Trump Organization did not address whether or not the Trump Organization sought a loan from Deutsche Bank but did clarify that the loan was not for the development of President Trump’s golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland as the New York Times reported.

Trump Tower located at 725 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of East 56th Street in Midtown Manhattan. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Jorge Láscar)

Trump Organization Investigation

CNN is reporting federal prosecutors in New York are looking to interview Trump Organization executives.

According to CNN, “Trump and his legal team have long harbored concerns that investigations by New York federal prosecutors — which could last throughout his presidency — may ultimately pose more danger to him, his family and his allies than the inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to people close to Trump.”

CNN reported it did not know the specific topics of interest or topics prosecutors were interested in speaking to the executives about and a spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project provides a free, searchable database detailing President Donald J. Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as President of the United States. The project also documents news coverage of these potential conflicts. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, explore our database, and learn more about the project. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, the database will be updated. To help with those updates, get involved by contacting us here. You can also contact us if you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking.

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.