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Cost To Protect Trump Family Could Soar Past The Obamas

During former President Barack Obama's eight years in office, travel and security expenses for himself and his family reached nearly $100 million. Based on President Donald Trump's first month in office, those expenses are expected to surge past that marker in half the time.

Based a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on Obama's travel expenses filed in October 2016, Trump's three consecutive weekend trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida has already cost taxpayers up to $10 million, The Washington Post reports.

Dubbed the Winter White House by White House officials, Mar-a-Lago has doubled its entry fee to $200,000 since Trump assumed office. The president's weekend getaways to the resort have also hampered neighboring Palm Beach businesses.

Secret Service closes down the nearby Lantana Airport whenever the president stays in Mar-a-Lago. The closures have resulted in the Lantana maintenance companies losing an estimated $40,000 in contracts, CBS News reports.

Meanwhile, First Lady Melania Trump's decision to reside with her son in the Manhattan-based Trump Tower costs New York City $500,000 a day, with local police estimating that the security costs could total $183 million a year.

The Pentagon has considered purchasing rental space in the tower for whenever the president returns to Manhattan, which could cost up to $1.5 million annually.

Taxpayers are also paying a share of the business trips taken by Trump's children. When Eric Trump visited Uruguay earlier this month to promote a family-branded tower, the Secret Service and U.S. Embassy staffers footed the $100,000 bill for his hotel accommodations.

These costs could result in the Trump family's security and travel costs to far exceed the Obamas by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton believes that Trump should look for ways to cut down on costs, such as stopping the trips to Mar-a-Lago.

"This is an expensive way to conduct business, and the president should recognize that," Fitton said, suggesting that Trump should take his weekend getaways to the official presidential retreat of Camp David.

Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida agrees, noting that Mar-a-Lago is ill-suited to host a president and his security team.

"Mar-a-Lago is no Camp David," Frankel said. "It's not set up with the intention or the forethought of keeping the president safe."

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham defended Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago, asserting that they are for business and not pleasure.

"He is not vacationing when he goes to Mar-a-Lago," Grisham said. "The president works nonstop every day of the week, no matter where he is."

The logistics of protecting the Trump family has not only placed a cost on taxpayers but on the Secret Service.

"There was an anticipation of how stressful it was going to be on the agency, but the harsh reality is that the stress is just overwhelming," said retired Secret Service employee Jonathan Wackrow, who added that the task of securing perimeters in Florida, New York and Washington, D.C., had stretched the agency thin.

"It's a logistical nightmare," Wackrow concluded.

On Feb. 14, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy announced that he would retire in March. He had served since February 2015, according to Reuters.

Sources: CBS News, Reuters via Business InsiderThe Washington Post / Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television/Flickr

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