March 10, 2017

Democratic Senators Seek Information on Terror Threats and Federal Security Costs at Trump Organization Properties

Ask secretaries of Defense, State & Homeland Security: are federal resources being directed to help Trump Organization secure its properties? President Trump's net worth is directly linked to the success of Trump Organization properties

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to the secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security seeking information about the use of federal funds and resources to protect Trump Organization properties from potential terrorist attacks and other security threats. With the president retaining ownership of the Trump Organization and with his net worth directly impacted by the organization's success, the senators asked whether federal resources are being used to assist the company in securing its properties, and if so, what the legal justification is for doing so.

As the senators wrote, the Trump Organization's real estate portfolio includes many high profile buildings around the U.S. and the world prominently displaying the name of the President of the United States - potentially making them "prime targets" for terrorist attacks and other threats. But because these are privately owned properties, they are not officially secured by the federal government like other high-profile facilities, such as federal buildings within the U.S. or embassies overseas. Therefore, the senators requested information about whether unprecedented measures are being taken by the federal government to assist the president's private organization in securing its properties. The senators asked a series of specific questions of the secretaries, seeking transparency about the use of federal funds for the Trump Organization's security purposes, and about what agreements are in place for the Trump Organization to reimburse taxpayers for any security costs. As the senators noted, the president's personal financial interests are directly tied to what happens at Trump Organization properties.

President Trump "has retained his ownership of the Trump Organization and merely placed his vast business holdings in a trust in which he is the sole beneficiary and maintains the control to revoke the trust or change the management at any time. Consequently, the success or failure of a Trump Organization property directly impacts the President's net worth and an act of terrorism on one of these properties could potentially lead him to take actions in his official capacity that he would not take if the property were not owned by his organization," the senators wrote.

"Do DHS, DOD, or DOS have any legal or other obligation to protect or secure properties owned by the Trump Organization? If so, what is the expected cost of this security? What factors does the agency use to determine when and where protection of a Trump Organization property is warranted?" the senators asked. "What properties owned by or in a lease agreement with the Trump Organization are currently receiving protection and what is the cost of the protection? Is there any agreement in place for the Trump Organization to reimburse the federal government for those costs?"


Dear Secretaries:

The Trump Organization owns or leases its name to a vast portfolio of real estate throughout the world. This includes many large, high profile buildings that prominently display the name of the President of the United States and are directly associated with him, making them prime targets for a terrorist attack that would guarantee international media coverage. An attack on a Trump Organization property could also cause significant loss of life and lead the country into new conflicts around the globe. However, as privately owned properties, they are not secured by the federal government like other high profile targets, such as the White House, embassies, military bases, and other federal buildings. We write to determine if federal resources are being used to assist the Trump Organization in securing its properties and, if so, what the justification is for doing so.

Over the last four decades, every President of the United States has acted in accordance with conflict of interest laws and the guidance of the Office of Government Ethics. Even though Presidents are exempt from many of those laws, they have held themselves to the same standards as other federal officials and have often sold assets and investments to avoid even the appearance that they were using the nation's highest public office for personal gain.

President Trump has not maintained this tradition of transparency and accountability. Instead, he has retained his ownership of the Trump Organization and merely placed his vast business holdings in a trust in which he is the sole beneficiary and maintains the control to revoke the trust or change the management at any time. Consequently, the success or failure of a Trump Organization property directly impacts the President's net worth and an act of terrorism on one of these properties could potentially lead him to take actions in his official capacity that he would not take if the property were not owned by his organization.

We respectfully ask that each or your agencies respond to the following inquiries:
Properties around the world are prominently branded with the Trump name, including in Istanbul, Dubai, Mumbai, Panama City, and the Philippines. Several buildings in New York City, as well as a hotel blocks from the White House, all display the President's name. Have the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Defense (DOD), or Department of State (DOS) undertaken any assessment of the risks of attack to the Trump Organization's privately owned or leased properties? If so, what is the justification for the federal government to assess the risks to privately owned properties?
Do DHS, DOD, or DOS have any legal or other obligation to protect or secure properties owned by the Trump Organization? If so, what is the expected cost of this security? What factors does the agency use to determine when and where protection of a Trump Organization property is warranted?
What properties owned by or in a lease agreement with the Trump Organization are currently receiving protection and what is the cost of the protection? Is there any agreement in place for the Trump Organization to reimburse the federal government for those costs?
Has the Trump Organization or anyone in the Trump administration requested assistance from DHS, DOD, or DOS to secure a Trump Organization property?
Media reports state that the logistical demands of protecting all of the members of President Trump's family are straining the resources of your agencies. Do your agencies have sufficient resources to fulfill their missions related to protecting the President and his family and providing him with logistical support when he travels? If not, what are the plans to address the shortfalls? Do any of your agencies anticipate requesting a supplemental appropriation to fund your missions related to protection services for the First Family or any Trump Organization property or providing logistical support when he stays at his properties?
Many of the properties owned by the Trump Organization have a private residence for the First Family within a for-profit business, such as Trump Tower in New York and Mar-a-Lago in Florida. In order to protect the First Family at these locations and to provide the President with necessary logistical support for things like secure communications, do any of your agencies currently, or do they plan to, rent property or purchase goods or services from the Trump Organization to facilitate their missions? What are the costs of these property rentals, goods, and services? Please include any long term leases, as well as room rentals at Trump Organization hotels and clubs. Is there any agreement in place for the Trump Organization to reimburse the federal government for those costs?

Please respond no later than March 29, 2017. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,