Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s travel around the world paled in comparison to the funds needed for current First Lady Melania Trump. The newly released expenditures add to an already growing total of travel costs by an administration that is only a year old.
According to a new Wall Street Journal report, Mrs. Trump has spent $675,000 on flights during her first three months her husband was in office. During that period, Trump lived in New York City while her newly elected spouse was living in the White House. Mrs. Trump maintained that she wanted their son to finish out his school year before moving to Washington, D.C.
The well-intentioned act cost the taxpayers a pretty penny, however. The flights cost 29.3 percent of Obama’s total expenditure over eight years. Obama spent a total of $2.3 million over her husband’s two terms.
The flights weren’t simply flights back and forth between New York City and Washington, because the president sought to spend the winter in Florida, it meant the official Air Force jets were forced to shuttle the family to his location. This cost was on top of the expenditures to secure Trump Tower for the First Lady, which totaled $1 million daily.
The Journal cited military records that show at least 19 trips to New York’s LaGuardia Airport and nine trips to Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport to drop her off. The fleet of Air Force One and Air Force Two jets are always stationed at Andrews Air Force Base or a secure Air Force facility nationally and internationally. So, the planes had to leave Andrews, fly to New York, pick up Mrs. Trump and take her to Florida.
The records were requested as part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed at the beginning of May 2017, prior to the family’s full move to Washington.
White House reporter @PeterWSJ heard Melania Trump was running up military flight costs. So I FOIA'd her travel records and found before her move to Washington she spent more than $675,000 in 3 months. https://t.co/OOFqLOaJHk pic.twitter.com/xoUWq0Pn2g
— JamesVGrimaldi (@JamesVGrimaldi) January 29, 2018
Trump’s cabinet has come under fire for private jet flights or the use of military flights when commercial flights were acceptable. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign after just eight months after spending over $1 million in private travel.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is on track to surpass that, with flights throughout the Caribbean, a military helicopter that got him back to go horseback riding with the vice president and a series of openly political trips. Staffers for Zinke have also expressed frustration that they’ve been forced to use their tax payer-funded time to coordinate travel for Zinke’s wife. Zinke is now refusing to release any information about his travel expenditures.
Meanwhile, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have cost taxpayers nearly $400,000 in ski vacations. Similarly, Eric Trump cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills for one corporate jaunt in Uruguay for the Trump Organization. The president also came under fire when he flew back to Washington to attend a concert and fly back to his golf club in New Jersey to spend the night. The price tag was $400,000 in tax payer dollars for the evening.
“Unfortunately, the budget we’re essentially inheriting is a mess. The finances of our country are a mess,” President Trump told reporters at the start of a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney last March. “We must do a lot more with less.”
Trump repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, for their travel. Mr. Trump also tweeted about Mrs. Obama’s 2010 trip to Spain with one of her daughters, writing of Mr. and Mrs. Obama: “They love to spend money.”
The Obama's Spain vacation cost taxpayers over $476K //t.co/W6kIpd5x They love to spend money.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2012