The U.S. military has signed a $2.39 million lease to install an office in Trump Tower, Manhattan. The military office is designed to provide close support to a commander in chief, but President Donald Trump has not stayed at his building since assuming office.
On Feb. 7, Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. JB Brindle indicated the military would lease space in Trump Tower to provide resources to the president in a time of crisis.
"In order to meet official mission requirements, the Department of Defense is working through appropriate channels and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements in order to acquire a limited amount of leased space in Trump Tower," Brindle told CNN. "The space is necessary for the personnel and equipment who will support the POUTS at his residence in the building."
The military has historically installed offices in the private residences of former presidents. Trump, on the other hand, had a private residence in Trump Tower, a skyscraper with expensive rent.
On July 18, The Wall Street Journal obtained the lease documents detailing the military's rental agreement with the owner of the space in the skyscraper.
The Defense Department agreed to pay $130,000 a month to operate a White House Military Office within Trump Tower from April 2017 through September 2018. The military paid $180,000 for the month of April, The Hill reports.
The arrangement is among the most expensive lease agreements in Manhattan, a city renowned for expensive real estate.
The White House Military Office provides resources for the president, such as communications and a briefcase that the contains nuclear launch codes, also known as the nuclear "football." The office must be in close proximity to the commander in chief to be effective, but Trump has not stayed in Trump Tower since his inauguration in January.
Shortly after the Defense Department announced its decision to lease rental space in the tower, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier voiced ethics concerns about using taxpayer dollars for an expensive lease in a property owned by Trump, Reuters reports.
"I am concerned by the appearance that the President of the United States will financially benefit from this deal at the expense of the Department of Defense -- and ultimately, taxpayers," Speier wrote to Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
The Defense Department asserted that the lease would not directly benefit the president's company, the Trump Organization. Defense Department official James MacStravic assured Speier that the rental space was "privately owned and... lease negotiations have been with the owner's representatives only."
When Trump assumed office, he did not divest from his businesses but instead transferred their control to his eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. The president still owns 77 percent of the Trump Organization, according to Bloomberg.