The US Department of Defence is seeking to rent space in Donald Trump’s New York skyscraper Trump Tower, a media report has said, highlighting that the move could directly funnel government money into the President’s business interests. The US military agency is “working through appropriate channels…to acquire a limited amount of leased space in Trump Tower,” Lt Col J B Brindle, a Pentagon spokesman, told The Washington Post in a statement. “The space is necessary for the personnel and equipment who will support the POTUS at his residence in the building,” Brindle said.
The space will be separate from the Secret Service detail that is routinely based in Trump’s signature midtown tower, where his private company, the Trump Organisation, is headquartered and where he owns a lavish triplex penthouse. Although Trump now officially lives in the White House, the Trump Tower residence still houses his family, including first lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron. Defence officials made similar arrangements for past presidents, including at the Chicago home of Barack Obama, to offer support for day-to-day operations of the president and his staff, the report said.
“But the prospect of a government agency paying rent to a company owned by the President again raises additional questions about the mingling of Trump’s financial interests with his presidency. Trump led the development of the Fifth Avenue skyscraper in the 1980s and still owns it,” it said. Defence officials would not say what they expected to spend on the space.
The military interest in Trump Tower could reinvigorate questions over how much Trump properties are benefiting from his public office, the report said. Trump has resisted calls to divest his financial stake in business interests, although he has resigned from his official management roles and left the companies’ operations to his adult sons and a longtime executive in his company.