The Secret Service has purchased two jet skis that will help keep the Trump family safe while swimming, according to new U.S. government procurement data reviewed by The Daily Beast.
Taxpayers will be picking up the $25,338 tab for the pair of personal watercraft, along with a trailer to transport them, which the agency bought from a Kawasaki dealership in Augusta, Georgia.
“USSS: TWO RESCUE WATERCRAFT (JET SKI'S) [sic] AND DUAL TRAILER FOR THE RESCUE SWIMMER PROGRAM,” the delivery order says.
The funds are coming from the budget of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Procurement Operations.
An initial solicitation by the Secret Service for two new jet skis and a trailer was issued last year, and was first spotted by reporter Scott McFarlane. It noted, “President Trump and his family spend several weeks throughout the year in Mara Largo [sic] FL and Hamptons NY,” it said. “The First Family is very active in water sports.”
No cost estimate was provided by the Secret Service at the time. The Secret Service did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
“Several family members along with their guest [sic] participate in open water activities for which USSS Special Agent Rescue Swimmers are responsible,” the solicitation explained. “[Special agents] have rented watercraft with their own personal funds to allow them to be near our protectees in various water environments to fulfill the USSS Rescue Swimmer mission.”
The new jet skis won’t be used exclusively to protect the Trumps. In the solicitation, the agency said they would be used primarily to train its rescue swimmers at a facility in Beltsville, Maryland. Those swimmers will now be protecting the president’s family—and other protectees, such as former presidents as well as certain other members of the Trump administration—in the water, for as long as Trump remains in office. An employee at the dealership that sold the jet skis to the Secret Service declined to provide any further details.
“Even if it wasn’t the government, we don't share customer information,” the employee told The Daily Beast.
By law, the president’s immediate family is entitled to Secret Service protection. But Trump’s family is large and more active compared to other modern presidents, with four adult children who travel more than any of his recent predecessors.
Over the last two years, the Trumps have taken 3,249 trips requiring Secret Service protection—12 times the number of protected trips taken by the Obama family in seven years, according to a recent analysis by D.C. watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) in Washington. The Trump family’s travel has squeezed the Secret Service’s finances, CREW explained, forcing the agency “to justify the spike in protective travel costs in its congressional budget requests for the past two years.”
When Trump’s youngest daughter Tiffany visited Serbia with her boyfriend in 2019, lodging for her protective detail cost taxpayers at least $23,000. Hotel rooms for Secret Service agents during her jaunt to the Cannes Film Festival a few months later ran nearly $20,000. And when Tiffany’s sister, and White House adviser, Ivanka jetted down to the Dominican Republic for a luxurious weekend getaway with husband and fellow White House adviser Jared Kushner the year before, their security detail’s hotel charges came to almost $60,000.
Trump’s adult sons often travel for Trump Organization business, which results in taxpayer money being spent to protect them while they complete deals that will ultimately enrich the president. A 2017 business trip to a Trump property in Ireland by Eric Trump cost $4,029.85 in limousines and $11,261 in hotel fees for the Secret Service detail accompanying him. A business trip Eric took with his brother Don Jr. to the United Arab Emirates cost taxpayers $230,000.
One of the biggest spenders, however, has been first lady Melania Trump, whose spokesperson once boasted about her being “mindful and responsible when it comes to taxpayer money.” In 2017, the president’s wife and her entourage, which included a Secret Service protective detail, managed to rack up a $174,000 hotel bill on a day trip to Toronto, and $95,000 in lodging charges during a six-hour stop in Cairo the following year without the first lady even staying the night.
Protecting Trump himself during his extracurricular outings also costs big money. Golf cart rentals for the Secret Service agents who follow Trump on the links have now cost more than half a million dollars. The modified carts can reach speeds of at least 19 miles per hour, roughly 5 mph faster than a regular cart.
Trump has long criticized his predecessor for spending taxpayer money on personal trips, although his claims ring somewhat hollow in light of his own family’s expenditures.
“The Obama's [sic] Spain vacation cost taxpayers over $476K...They love to spend money,” Trump tweeted in 2012.
“Let's not mince words,” Craig Holman, an ethics expert at D.C. nonprofit Public Citizen, told The Daily Beast. “Trump is costing our country a fortune.”