Tax Bearers Have to Pay for Donald Trump Staff Who Got Drunk At Mar-a-Lago

A pro-transparency group obtained State Department emails that showed US President’s staff downed premium liquor worth $1000 at Trump’s resort and had the White House pay the bill.
New documents released as part of a lawsuit reveal the White House aides' consumed top-shelf liquor worth $1,000 at Trump's resort Mar-a-Lago, and walked away without paying the bill. It was eventually settled by the White House using taxpayers money.

The incident occurred during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit for a two-day summit in April 2017. The US President hosted his Chinese counterpart at the Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s waterfront resort. After Xi Jinping’s delegation moved to another hotel, Trump’s staff stayed back at the Mar-a-Lago and consumed luxury drinks worth $1,000. Emails obtained by a pro-transparency group, Property of the People, confirmed that after the State Department refused to foot the bill, it was paid for by the White House. The emails were released under the Freedom of Information Act, as part a lawsuit between the Federal government and the transparency group. The emails were published as part of an investigation by Pro Publica.
Tax Bearers Have to Pay for Donald Trump Staff Who Got Drunk At Mar-a-Lago

The US President has been repeatedly criticized for using his position to further the business ventures with the resort Mar-a-Lago featuring prominently in controversies. Since Donald Trump was elected President, Mar-a-Lago doubled its membership fee and was rumored to be a way to get direct access to the President. The Guardian reported that rich clientele queued up to have a word in the ear of the President in the hope of effecting policy change that suited their respective interests. The ‘Pay-for-Access’ deal raised many ethical concerns and highlighted a clear conflict of interest.
Tax Bearers Have to Pay for Donald Trump Staff Who Got Drunk At Mar-a-Lago

Another instance of capitalizing on Trump's position was when Mar-a-Lago chose to charge government employees 300 percent of the government’s per diem rate, which is the maximum it is allowed to under the Federal rules rejecting the State Department’s proposal to pay $200,000 for all room costs for government employees staying at the resort.

The new emails released by the State Department reveal the misuse of taxpayer money that is being diverted to the coffers of the President’s business ventures every time the President visits. While it is not clear as to which of Trump’s staff were part of the group that splurged on expensive drinks, it has been confirmed that the President’s former think-tank Steve Bannon and then-deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin were present at the event. Describing the events, Mar-a-Lago’s catering director, Brooke Watson, confirmed that the President’s staff asked the bartender to leave the room so they could discuss confidential matters. Trump’s staff then helped themselves to expensive liquor while Secret Service kept guard at the door. The bartender was also not allowed back into the room.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) arrives at a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee February 15, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Bannon showed up to meet with the committee after the meeting was pushed back three times recently.
Tax Bearers Have to Pay for Donald Trump Staff Who Got Drunk At Mar-a-Lago

The resort billed 54 drinks including premium liquor, Chopin vodka, Patron and Don Julio Blanco tequilas, and Woodford Reserve bourbon at an average of $18.62 per drink, revealed the Business Insider. After Trump’s staff left without paying the bill, it was presented to the State Department on April 13, 2017, and also included a 20 percent service charge. The State Department is in charge of Presidential diplomatic travel. The White house settled the payment after the State Department refused to pay the liquor bill. Steve Bannon responded to the emails saying that he did not drink at the resort while Joe Hagin refused to comment on the issue.

With White House money going straight into Donald Trump’s business, it could prove to be another controversy that provides ammunition for the Democrats to target the President in the run-up to the 2020 elections. With over 1,800 pages of State Department records set to be released, it could just be a tip of the government spending that is being directed towards the Mar-a-Lago and the Trump coffers.