Where Things Stand: We’re Still Footing The Bill

This is your TPM early-afternoon briefing.
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on May 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Allentown, Pen... WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on May 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump is traveling to Allentown, Pennsylvania to visit Owens & Minor, a medical equipment distributor. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Just a reminder: President Trump is still profiting off the presidency.

The Washington Post obtained and reviewed federal documents related to Trump’s use of his own facilities for official business and travel. Since Trump took office, taxpayers have paid at least $970,000 to Trump’s company, specifically tied to payments for stays at Trump hotels and clubs.

Just since March, the Post said it’s tracked $340,000 of government funds being spent at Trump facilities, mostly related to Trump, his family and administration officials’ trips. As the Post notes, it’s unclear whether taxpayers footed the bill for rooms for Trump and his family, but we have paid for his staffers and security detail to stay at Trump resorts as they travel with the President.

This bit from the Post is sobering:

“The records show that taxpayers have now paid for the equivalent of more than four years’ worth of nightly rentals at Trump properties, including 950 nights at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J. and 530 nights at the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.”

I know I’m preaching to the choir, beating a dead horse, sounding like a broken record. I just think it’s worth remembering and reminding readers of this ongoing, unacceptable and highly unusual relationship between the President’s personal pocket — yes, Eric Trump is technically running the show right now — and taxpayers’ piggy banks. Even, and especially, during a pandemic.

Here’s more on other stories we’re following today:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Kate Riga is working on an update about Liberty University’s attempts to pursue trespassing charges against two journalists who wrote a story, interviewed students and took photos on campus as the school was criticized for reopening amid COVID-19. Local prosecutors say they will not pursue charges against the journalists.

Josh Kovensky just published an update to his earlier coverage of Sam Patten, the American political consultant who pleaded guilty to helping a Ukrainian politician — with ties to Paul Manafort — get tickets to Trump’s inauguration. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to violating the Foreign Registration Act. Read the piece here. 

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

Former vice president and presumed 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden told voters last night that he has no intention of giving Trump the “Nixon treatment” that former President Gerald Ford gave the disgraced ex-president. “Absolutely yes, I commit,” Biden said during a town hall Thursday evening in response to a question on whether or not he would pardon Trump. We’ll look out for any Trump reactions to this remark.

McConnell eats his words: After accusing former President Barack Obama of not leaving a plan in place for his predecessor to respond to a pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted his mistake on Thursday evening. “I was wrong,” McConnell told Fox News host Bret Baier. “They did leave behind a plan. … So I clearly made a mistake in that regard.” We’ll keep an eye on whether other Republicans distance themselves from this narrative.

If You Read Anything On COVID-19 Today, Read This

Matt Shuham reported on Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony before a House subcommittee on Thursday, in which the whistleblower testified there is still “no master, coordinated plan” coming from the administration on how to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier coverage of the Trump administration’s botched response to the pandemic:

Coming Up

12:00 p.m ET: Trump gave remarks on vaccine development.

12:30 p.m. ET: Trump will sign an Armed Forces Day proclamation in the Oval Office and watch the unveiling of the U.S. Space Force flag.

2:00 p.m. ET: The White House press secretary will hold a briefing.

4:00 p.m. ET: Trump will deliver remarks in the Rose Garden about “Hard Work Heroism, and Hope.” Afterwards he will depart the White House for Camp David.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Trump Demands Graham Make Obama Testify. Graham Says No Thanks. — Cristina Cabrera

What We Are Reading

Arizona Attorney gGeneral “Actively Pursuing” Right-Wing Troll Jacob Wohl — Roger Sollenberger

Welcome To Our Very Safe Restaurant! — Alan Sytsma

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