President Donald Trump’s staffers reportedly racked up a $1,000 liquor bill at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last year and then sent the bill to the White House to cover, but only after the State Department refused to pay it.
A newly released receipt and emails published by ProPublica on Wednesday show the West Palm Beach resort billed the cost of 54 drinks, at roughly $18.62 each, to the federal government on April 13, 2017. It included a 20% tip.
This bill was tallied nearly a week after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the estate for a two-day summit that was hosted by Trump and a dozen of his closest advisers.
After dining at the property on April 7, a group went to the resort’s Library Bar and asked the bartender to leave the room so they could speak confidentially, according to an email written by Mar-a-Lago’s catering director, Brooke Watson, and published by ProPublica.
The news outlet obtained the email and drinks receipt from the Washington-based transparency group Property of the People, which has been monitoring such payments involving Trump-owned businesses.
According to Watson’s email, the group served themselves top-shelf liquor in the absence of the bartender and Mar-a-Lago created a bill for the drinks six days later. Watson said she was told that the party included Joe Hagin, who at the time served as White House deputy chief of staff, and Steve Bannon, who served as White House chief strategist.
Bannon, like Trump, has said that he stopped drinking alcohol years ago. When contacted by ProPublica about the event in the Library Bar, Bannon said he didn’t drink at the resort and doesn’t remember the event taking place.
Trump has long faced concerns and complaints about tying his many businesses to his presidency, particularly when it comes to dealings with foreign diplomats, leaders and state-controlled companies.
Earlier this year it was reported that just four of Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago cost taxpayers $13 million. This includes $60,000 that has been paid directly to the resort owned by Trump, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found.
Property of the People has also tallied more than $140,000 in payments to Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties by the federal government.
For his New Year’s Eve party last year ― one he ultimately did not attend amid the partial government shutdown ― taxpayers shelled out $54,000 for tents.
A federal judge on Tuesday allowed a lawsuit filed by congressional Democrats against Trump over such spending to proceed in court after objections from the president’s legal team, The Washington Post reported.
The lawsuit focuses on the Constitution’s anti-corruption foreign emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments. A second constitutional clause forbids the president from receiving any gifts or payments from federal or state governments beyond his presidential salary.
Trump’s attorneys, in responding to the lawsuit, have argued that not all private business transactions with foreign governments should be automatically prohibited, according to the Post.