(UPI) — The Government Accountability Office watchdog has agreed to review the costs and security precautions related to President Donald Trump’s travel and visits to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
The GAO’s announcement comes after a request for an investigation from leading congressional Democrats. Since the inauguration, Trump has spent 17 days of his 67 days in office either at Mar-a-Lago or flying up to Washington, D.C, and down to Florida five separate times on Air Force One, The Washington Post reported.
Trump’s travel requires protection from the Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, though the government has not disclosed the cost.
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Tom Udall of New Mexico, as well as Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. D-Md., wrote a letter to GAO chief Gene L. Dodaro in which they said they were “deeply concerned” about the potential costs.
The Democrats also questioned whether the Trump Organization, which owns the Mar-a-Lago property, was charging the government “fair and appropriate” rates for the use of the property at the service of the president.
Though Trump owns the Trump Organization, he resigned from his positions and gave those responsibilities to his two adult sons, Eric and Don Jr., who now run the company. The Trump Organization, to avoid conflicts of interest, said it would donate profits from foreign companies to the U.S. Treasury Department at the end of each of Trump’s years as president.
The GAO’s investigation will look into what measures have been put in place to protect classified information and to provide secure communications for Trump while he is away from the White House, especially at Mar-a-Lago; what type of security screening the Secret Service carries out for guests and visitors at Mar-a-Lago; what measures the Secret Service and the U.S. Defense Department have taken to ensure fees they charge for Mar-a-Lago trips are “fair and reasonable; and whether the Treasury Department has received payments resulting from profits at hotels owned or operated by Trump.
POLITICO reported that Mar-a-Lago does not keep track of the identity of guests who visit the estate on a routine basis, even when Trump is present. Members of the club call the front desk to give the names of their guests, including for ballroom parties, but they do not have to submit details such as the guests’ middle initial, birth date or Social Security number, which would be needed to conduct background checks. Neither the Secret Service nor Mar-a-Lago conduct background checks at the estate.
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