Secret Service budget asks for $25M to protect Trump Tower

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is asking for more money to protect President Donald Trump’s signature New York skyscraper, add hundreds of new Secret Service agents and strengthen security at the White House, according to new budget documents presented to Congress.

The request is for $25.7 million in security-related expenses at Trump Tower, including “personnel travel costs assigned to the protective details for the children and grandchildren of President Trump, as well as other functions supporting these details.” Those services, the request said, will be maintained “throughout the incumbent’s presidency.”

The budget numbers offer the first look into the administration’s request for a full year’s worth of extra protective resources under Trump, who frequently has stayed at his namesake properties outside of the White House since he took office Jan. 20. The figures also underscore the taxpayer costs that benefit Trump, with $6.3 million allocated toward “rent and utilities” at Trump Tower.

The biggest increase includes $1.3 billion in new staffing, including $75 million for 453 special agents and uniformed officers as part of a multiyear personnel plan. The administration said the money helps it “keep pace with mission requirements” by getting 7,150 positions filled by the end of the next budget year.

Also requested is nearly $86 million in “protective infrastructure and technology,” including more money for physical protection of the White House. Earlier this year, a man jumped the White House fence and spent 15 minutes roaming the grounds.

The Secret Service faces a more complicated job than it did under Trump’s immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, because Trump has family living beyond Washington and traveling extensively. They include First lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, who currently live in Trump Tower. Barron plans to attend school in suburban Washington this fall.

Trump’s jaunts beyond Washington have proved expensive, with a pair of his recent trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida costing more than $1.2 million. The documents, made public by the conservative group Judicial Watch, reflect only the costs associated with the president’s plane, Air Force One, and not expenses for Secret Service protection or support vehicles provided by the Department of Defense.

A Trump trip in early February cost about $670,000, and a second trip in March cost about $612,000, according to the Air Force, which operates and maintains Air Force One. He’s visited seven times as president.

Trump has used Mar-a-Lago, which not only is a vacation home but also a for-profit resort that charges $200,000 for memberships, to entertain foreign dignitaries and to meet with members of his Cabinet and senior leadership team. Based on other travel reports for other presidents, Defense Department costs far exceed all other expenses related to such trips.

Cuts to next year’s Secret Service budget include $12 million to the National Computer Forensics Institute, which trains state and local law enforcement, as well as $30 million related to an agency panel’s recommendations. The Secret Service reported a savings of about $140 million with the end of the 2016 presidential campaign.

All told, the budget request for the Secret Service is less than a percent increase from this year.

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