Judicial Watch Sues Secret Service Presidential Travel Expense Records
SEPTEMBER 21, 2018
Latest Travel Expense Details Total $3,024,036.50, bringing total for presidential travel expenses to $17,224,938.46
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Secret Service records about expense costs associated with President Trump’s travel between December 22, 2017, and April 28, 2018 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:18-cv-01851).
Judicial Watch filed suit after the Secret Service failed to comply with multiple FOIA requests seeking travel for the following trips:
- President Trump traveled to his Mar-a-Largo estate in Palm Beach, Florida between December 22, 2017-January 2, 2018 for the Christmas holiday
- President Trump traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, on January 8, 2018, for the NCAA National Championship game
- President Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago between January 12-15, 2018
- President Trump traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 18, 2018, where he attended a rally at H&K Equipment Co. to discuss tax cuts
- Eric Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago between Jan. 19-21
- President Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago on February 6 for meetings
- President Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago between February 17-19 for President’s Day weekend and visited the survivors of the Parkland school shooting
- President Trump traveled to Pennsylvania on March 10 to campaign for GOP House candidate Rick Saccone
- President Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago between March 23-25 and March 30-April 1
- Trump traveled to Mar-a-Lago between April 20-22, when he hosted a Republican National Committee roundtable.
- Trump traveled to Michigan on April 28 to hold a rally in lieu of attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington, D.C.
In a separate lawsuit, Judicial Watch received Secret Service expense records totaling $3,024,036.50, which brings the known total for presidential travel expenses to $17,224,938.46 and includes the operation of Air Force One.
Judicial Watch obtained the documents through a January 2018 Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after it failed to respond to several FOIA requests for VIP travel expense records of the Trump family between June and October 2017 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:18-cv-00161)).
The Secret Service records show:
- President Trump traveled to his Bedminster, NJ golf club from June 30-July 3. The Secret Service spent $219,251.03 on hotels, $119,543.03 on air/rail, and $27,871 on miscellaneous for a total of $398,727.24
- President Trump traveled to Bedminster from July 14-16 and $206,627.47 was spent on hotels, $55,986.50 on air/rail, $12,752.20 on car rentals and $9,254 on miscellaneous for a total $284,620.17
- President Trump made various trips for a vacation to Bedminster and New York from August 4-21.
- In Bedminster, the Secret Service spent $908,506.51 on hotels, $20,528.68 on rental cars, $14,371.11 on air/rail, and $2,300 on miscellaneous for a total of $945,706.30.
- In New York, they spent $486,365 on hotels, $12,345.62 on air/rail, and $2,726.42 on rental cars for a total of $501,457.04
- President Trump traveled to Phoenix for a campaign rally on August 22. The Secret Service spent $131,189.41 on hotels, $25,251.22 on air/rail, and $21,898 on rental cars for a total of $178,338.63
- President Trump traveled to Missouri to appear at a rally as a kickoff for tax reform at the Loren Cook Company on August 30. The Secret Service spent $26,159.34 on hotels, $13,921.17 on air/rail, and $2,740 on car rentals for a total of $42,820.51
- President Trump traveled to Huntsville, AL, on September 22 to campaign for Sen. Luther Strange, and $22,701.06 was spent on hotels: $2,000 on car rentals and $500 on miscellaneous for a total of $25,201.06
- President Trump then spent the weekend at Bedminster, returning to the White House on September 24. In Bedminster, the Secret Service spent $428,732 on hotels, $3,055.20 on air/rail, $65.70 on rental cars and $16,420 for miscellaneous for a total of $448,272.90
- President Trump traveled to Bedminster from September 29 to October 1. The Secret Service spent $171,391.68 on hotels, $8,611.30 on air/rail, $2,482.17 on car rentals, and $16,407.50 on miscellaneous for a total of $198,892.65
The Secret Service records provide costs for meals, hotels, air/rail, car rentals and other incidentals incurred during personal travel by the president and his family.
“The Secret Service is a mess when it comes to transparency on its basic operations,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Presidential travel is too expensive, and, in particular, taxpayers subsidize too much of the bill for presidential campaign travel. President Trump would do well to reform and demand a better, less expensive way to move him around the country.”
This is not the first time Judicial Watch has been forced to file suit against the Department of Homeland Security for failing to respond to FOIA requests for presidential travel-expense records. While monitoring travel for President Obama and his family, Judicial Watch has encountered continuous resistance to FOIA requests. Between July 21, 2014, and November 10, 2015, the Secret Service failed to respond to 19 separate FOIA requests seeking records of security-related expenses for travel by Barack Obama and other VIPs.
On November 10, 2015, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to enjoin the Secret Service from continuing to withhold responsive documents from Judicial Watch (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:15-cv-01983)). Judicial Watch appealed the District Court’s dismissal of its claim that the agency has a policy and practice of violating FOIA’s procedural requirements in connection with processing of Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the District Court’s judgment on Judicial Watch’s request for injunctive relief and remanded the policy and practices claim for further proceedings. The D.C. Circuit held that “[t]he Secret Service’s alleged practice of prolonged, repeated, and unexplained delay, if allowed to continue, would harm Judicial Watch’s mission to inform the public about the costs of VIP travel by unlawfully interfering with its statutory right to ‘promptly’ obtain non-exempt records upon request.”
Judicial Watch was forced to file a related suit on May 6, 2016, after the Secret Service failed to respond to five (5) additional travel-related FOIA requests (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:16-cv-00863)).
To date, Judicial Watch has uncovered total travel expenses of the Obamas amounting to $114,691,322.17.