First Look

Who should pay for security at Trump Tower?

Mayor Bill de Blasio is reportedly sending a $35 million invoice to the White House for the cost of securing Trump Tower up through inauguration day.

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    President-elect Donald Trump speaks to members of the media in the lobby at Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has requested $35 million from The White House to cover the costs of amped-up security for President-elect Donald Trump and his family.

While Mr. Trump is slated to move to The White House himself following inauguration on Jan. 20, the president-elect has already noted that he intends to spend as much time in New York as possible, and will likely go back to his $100 million penthouse in Trump Tower on free weekends. His wife, Melania, plans to continue to live in the city full time at least until their son Barron’s school year comes to a close next spring.

That plan raises concerns for the New York City Police Department, which is currently aiding the Secret Service to ensure the Trump family’s safety – and racking up costs of some $400,000 daily in doing so. While New York City’s police force is the nation’s largest, it’s also tasked with protecting 8.5 million residents and more tourists in a 300 square-mile area, and maintaining additional security forces for Trump presents another challenge to the department.

"We will be continuing very aggressively in the next few days – calls and meetings with members of the Obama administration and Congress – to nail down the reimbursements for the time between Nov. 8 and Jan 20," Mr. de Blasio said Monday. "That will be the responsibility of the current administration."

In a two-and-a-half page letter addressed to President Obama and posted on Twitter, de Blasio outlined the security concerns related to protecting Trump in the densely populated New York midtown neighborhood where Trump Tower stands.

“Locating a residence within New York City that requires ongoing Presidential-level security presents unprecedented law enforcement concerns,” the letter says. “It is a high-density neighborhood and street traffic easily obstructs pathways to and from the building, making it profoundly challenging for the NYPD to establish a secure perimeter.... The cost of providing the President-elect with the appropriate level of security throughout the transition period is substantial and, as of now, borne exclusively by New Yorkers.”

Trump won’t be the first president seeking to preserve some semblance of his old life after moving into The White House. Former President George W. Bush took 879 vacation days during his two terms, returning to his Texas ranch 77 times, and John F. Kennedy spent nearly every weekend of his short presidency at one of the Kennedy family properties. Mr. Obama had only taken about 150 days off as of late 2014.

Because the president remains responsible for certain duties while on vacation and must bring the Secret Service along with him, the trips can become pricey for taxpayers. Operating Air Force One costs about $180,000 an hour, and presidential vacations often cost taxpayers around $1 million, even though the president must foot the bills related to lodging or food for the first family.

It’s unclear how much Trump and his affinity for his namesake New York tower will cost taxpayers over the long haul, but it currently costs the city millions each week.

“Protecting the President-elect and his family through the inauguration and beyond is a responsibility that New York City takes seriously,” de Blasio’s letter says. “However, the expense associated with protecting him in the midst of a dense city that is home to 8.55 million residents is logistically complex and requires a significant commitment of resources.”

 
 
 

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