Back in September, Politico reported that then candidate Donald Trump was pocketing taxpayer dollars in “an unprecedented amount of self-dealing in federal politics.” At that time, he had already taken 1.6 million dollars through his company TAG Air. He was taking that money to “reimburse his campaign” for the airfare of Secret Service agents who fly with him. According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings a scant two months later, the total Trump’s campaign billed the Secret Service was 6 million dollars.
It is normal for campaigns to be reimbursed for these expenses because they have to use private air travel (like Hillary Clinton did). However, that money is usually going to a third party, not the candidate’s coffers as it did in Trump’s case.
Now that Trump is president, he will fly on Air Force One, but that leaves his big old airplane sitting there for the rest of his family to use. Ivanka, Eric, Donald Trump Jr., and the rest of the new First Family will be able to continue flying in luxury. That wouldn’t be a big deal, in and of itself, but now that their father has been elected president, they qualify for Secret Service protection. And this is where it gets really shady: If any of those agents ever fly on Trump’s jet (and they almost certainly will on a regular basis), the agency will have to reimburse TAG Airlines for the flight, funneling millions of dollars into Trump’s personal bank account over the next four years.
Even more horrifying than the president personally profiting off of the Secret Service, is that we will not know how much money he has received. Once Trump is sworn in, neither the Secret Service nor the Trumps will be required to report how much those flights cost because it is then considered a “normal operating cost” and essentially becomes invisible looting.
With Trump using Air Force One, there may be less usage of his plane for his family members, but this is going to add up over the next 4 years. That is, unless he decides to ground his jet for the next four years and tells his family to fly commercial. Let’s be honest though, what’s the likelihood of that happening?
For a man promising to end corruption in Washington, Trump is off to an appallingly bad start.