June 8, 2020
Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial trophy hunting trip to Mongolia in late August, 2019 cost taxpayers nearly $60,000 more than the government previously disclosed, according to documents obtained by CREW after suing over a Freedom of Information Act request. CREW originally received Secret Service documents in March that showed that Secret Service protection for the trip cost at least $17,000, a fraction of the more than $75,000 it actually cost taxpayers.
Because the original figure appeared to be an undercount and did not include any mention of Don Jr.’s stop in Ulaanbaatar, where he met privately with the Mongolian president, or flight costs, CREW appealed the request. The new records show that the full cost of the trip was actually $76,859.36, including the first and second round of receipts provided to CREW.
The trip was already controversial for many reasons: Don Jr. was retroactively awarded a permit to hunt an endangered argali sheep after he already killed it, he had a private meeting with Mongolia’s president that we still don’t know much about, and hunted alongside a major Republican donor, as originally reported in ProPublica. These Secret Service payments show how much taxpayer money directly funded Don Jr.’s trip, and show that the cost was much steeper than the agency originally admitted.
As a son of the president, Donald Trump Jr. is entitled to Secret Service protection and should be protected, but taxpayers deserve to know how much they are paying to facilitate his trophy hunting and interactions with major political donors and foreign leaders.
CREW is still investigating other aspects of the trip, including whether the State Department was involved, and whether Don Jr. was granted a permit from the Interior Department to bring back the sheep carcass.
A Treasury Department budget document exposed by CREW shows that the Trump family is taking 12 times as many protected trips than the Obama family did, which translates to roughly one thousand more trips per year. While we know that many of those trips have been to promote or support Trump Organization business, there are thousands of trips that remain a mystery. With tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money spent protecting the Trump family, the Secret Service has run out of money and Congress has had to dramatically increase the agency’s budget
This trip is just one example of the expenses the Trump family is incurring with American taxpayers, and if just one of Don Jr’s trophy hunting trips cost more than $75,000, it’s staggering to think how high the total bill must be.