In his first 13 weeks as president, Donald Trump spent more than half of his weekends away from the White House.
Trump’s frequent visits to his Palm Beach, Fla., club inspired a liberal political nonprofit to create a website with a catchy URL: IsTrumpAtMarALago.org.
The website, built by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, allows users to compare the steep cost of Trump’s trips to the cost of providing various public services, like school lunches.
The fine print appears, at first blush, to back up the eye-popping amount.
“A trip to Mar-a-Lago costs taxpayers approximately $3.6 million, according to a Government Accountability Office report,” the website says.
We’ve seen similar estimates of Trump’s travel costs pop up on various news and media sites. Nearly every one can be traced back to a single GAO report from October 2016.
The GAO is an independent, reputable federal agency that researches how the government spends money.
But this report doesn’t exactly back up what the critics are saying, even if it’s the best available estimate of a presidential trip to Palm Beach.
The report did not estimate the specific costs of Trump’s weekend escapes to the so-called Southern White House, though a reader would get that impression.
Instead, the report, titled “Presidential Travel: Estimated Costs for a Specific Presidential Trip to Illinois and Florida,” found that a four-day trip President Barack Obama took to Chicago and Palm Beach in February 2013 cost approximately $3.6 million.
It’s not fair to assume that those costs are typical for presidential travel, the author of the…
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