President Donald Trump’s choice to stay at his own Las Vegas hotel each night during the western states swing that wraps up Friday likely cost taxpayers a million extra dollars as well as diverted thousands of them into his own cash registers.
Previous presidents on extended trips away from the White House typically stayed in the city of each day’s final event, or traveled to the city of the following day’s first event. Trump, instead, traveled back to Las Vegas each night from California, Arizona and Colorado to overnight at his Trump International Hotel ― requiring several extra hours’ flying time on Air Force One, a plane that costs taxpayers about a quarter-million dollars per hour in the air.
“At this point in his presidency, there’s no way to look at it other than Donald Trump is using his position and taxpayer dollars to make money for his businesses,” said Jordan Libowitz with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “This is beyond a conflict of interest. This is corruption, plain and simple.”
When Trump was asked about his decision to return to Las Vegas each night just before he left for California, he claimed he had nothing to do with it.
“Largely, the schedule is set by the Secret Service. We do what they want us to,” he told reporters at Joint Base Andrews just before the plane’s departure. “I don’t set the schedule. I have nothing to do with it.”
A Secret Service spokesperson told HuffPost: “The U.S. Secret Service works in conjunction with the administration on all presidential and First Family visits as our primary concern is the safety and security of those that we protect.”
Trump’s White House did not try to defend the accuracy of Trump’s claim, and instead argued that the decision to use Trump International Hotel Las Vegas as a base actually saved taxpayers’ money.