Trump routinely attacked President Barack Obama for taking too much time off, mocking his “work ethic” and suggesting that his golfing habit made him “worse than Carter.” But in his first year as president, Trump has had considerably more leisure time than his predecessor had: By the end of August, he had already taken three times as many vacation days as Obama did during the same period in his first term.
But the scandal here isn’t about the amount of Trump’s vacation time; even presidents need a break. The scandal is where he’s taken those vacations. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Trump has spent a third of his first year in office at properties he owns, including 40 days at his golf course in Bedminister, New Jersey, and 40 days at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. On the rare occasion he’s in Washington, D.C., for the weekend, he decamps to the Trump golf course in Potomac Falls, Virginia.
These vacations have cost taxpayers millions. Trump’s flights to Mar-a-Lago alone have cost at least $6 million, the Journal reported. And that number doesn’t include the high security costs these visits incur. CNN reported in October that the Secret Service was paying Trump tens of thousands of dollars in “hotel costs” over the course of the year to cover expenses at Mar-a-Lago.
Aside from the cost to taxpayers, these visits also create serious conflicts of interest. Mar-a-Lago, a private club, has doubled its initiation fee for new members to $200,000. Members of the club can expect to meet—and lobby—Trump on various issues, which makes that “initiation fee” look an awful lot like self-dealing.