The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

The Press Suddenly Realizes a President’s Life Is Opulent and Expensive

The Press Suddenly Realizes a President’s Life Is Opulent and Expensive

Wait, now there are complaints about the expenses surrounding the security bubble around the president-elect?

Protecting President-elect Donald Trump and his family is costing New York City more than $1 million a day, according to three city officials.

Adding to the expense is the cost of police assigned to Trump’s adult children and his grandchildren, who are also receiving Secret Service protection, John Miller, NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence & counterterrorism, told WCBS Monday. All of them live in the city, and all are entitled to receive Secret Service protection.

“The number one imperative here is safety and security. We owe that to the president elect, his family and his team,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on Friday. But he added the city will need help with those costs, particularly police overtime.

“This is a very substantial undertaking. It will take substantial resources,” he said. “We will begin the conversation with the federal government shortly on reimbursement for the NYPD for some of the costs that we are incurring.”

Yes, we did go through a variation of this when Obama was elected. Except the local papers had to file a FOIA request, and the complaints from the Chicago city government seemed pretty muted.

The Chicago Police Department has spent at least $2.2 million to secure President Barack Obama’s Kenwood residence since he was elected in November, according to documents released Monday by the city.

The department will be reimbursed by the federal government for more than $1.5 million of those costs. But the expense of protecting the president’s home since his January inauguration — nearly $650,000 through the end of April — is not currently scheduled to be paid back, according to the city’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Tribune.

“There is no reimbursement mechanism currently in place for this [post-inauguration] money,” the city’s Office of Legal Affairs said in the written response.

According to the city, the cost to secure Obama’s home between Nov. 5, 2008, and Jan. 18 was more than $1.5 million — most of which the city “expects” to be reimbursed because of his status as president-elect.

Everything’s more expensive in New York!

Meanwhile, Jack Shafer calls for abolishing the office and small budget allotted for the First Lady

Now is as good a time as any to eliminate the ceremonial office of the “first lady,” that abhorrent honorific we apply to the president’s wife, and encourage the first spouse to live like an ordinary citizen. All we need is for Melania to agree.

Yes, defund the ridiculously large staff that currently earns upward of $1.5 million a year serving Michelle Obama; abolish the federally funded bully pulpit from which the presidential spouses have historically advocated for healthy eating, literacy, child welfare, anti-drug programs, mental health issues and beautification of highways. The president’s spouse isn’t a specimen of American royalty. By giving her a federal budget and nonstop press coverage, we endorse a pernicious kind of neo-nepotism that says, pay special attention to the person not because she’s earned it or is inherently worthy of our notice but because of who she’s related to by marriage.

Shafer insists he would say the same for a Democrat, and Bill Clinton’s post-presidential pension and staff would make the First Husband’s office and budget even more unnecessary.

He concludes, “The office of the first spouse is a rancid barrel of presidential pork that has outlived its usefulness.” We can have that argument, but to resuscitate an old phrase from liberal blogs during the Bush years, I question the timing. 

Virginia’s Gubernatorial Candidates Are Awakening From Their Slumber

Yes, it’s far too early to think about another election. But a year from now, here in Virginia, the reign of Terry McAwful—er, McAuliffe—will come to an end, and voters will select a new governor. Ed Gillespie, the man who came within a percentage point or two of an epic upset in the 2014 Senate race, appears to be the GOP frontrunner and the early favorite in the general election. He made his bid official Monday.

One of Gillespie’s primary rivals, Corey Stewart, thinks he’ll gain traction by arguing that Gillespie wasn’t sufficiently supportive of Trump during this past general election: “Ed Gillespie treated Donald Trump like he had typhoid. He would not appear with him on stage. He would not mention his name unless he was condemning him.”

That’s not quite accurate; it is safe to say Gillespie’s support of Trump was minimal and pro forma.

•A May 4 article in The Washington Post that noted Gillespie issued a one-sentence, prepared statement of support for Trump. The statement said, “Republican voters have nominated Donald Trump for president, and I will vote for him against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in an election that will not only affect control of the White House but the U.S. Supreme Court for a generation or more.”

•A May podcast interview with Bearing Drift, a conservative blog. Gillespie said, “It’s very important that we help Donald Trump carry the commonwealth against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders because we play a critically important role in the Electoral College.”

•An Aug. 23 interview with the Loudoun Times that was recorded by Gillespie’s campaign. “I’m voting for Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton,” Gillespie said. “That is our choice in this election. It’s not just about the control of the executive branch for the next four years, but control of the judiciary for the next 30 years.”

Stewart was chairman of the Trump campaign’s efforts in Virginia, until he led a protest outside the Republican National Committee offices, contending that “establishment pukes” were not doing enough to help Trump win. The Trump campaign fired him, contending his actions were “not helpful.”

Back in 2014, Gillespie taped some short videos with me, discussing his agenda in that race and then a funnier chat about the personal knickknacks in his office, including his daughter’s letter to George W. Bush in 2000 and a windbreaker from his days as a parking lot attendant in the U.S. Senate in college.

Wait, Maybe We Won’t ‘Lock Her Up’ After All?

Maybe Mika Brzezinski’s sources are completely wrong. But considering how we seemed to be on the verge of finding quid pro quo arrangements between the Clintons, their foundation, and foreign governments, this isn’t a reassuring thing to hear from the young administration:

Morning Joe is reporting today that president-elect Donald Trump will not be pursuing any criminal investigations into his former political rival Hillary Clinton.

The report, first announced by Mika Brzezinski, comes just a week after a 60 Minutes interview where Trump indicated that he may not launch a full investigation into the Democratic nominee. “I’m gonna think about it,” he said at the time to Leslie Stahl. “I don’t wanna hurt them. They’re good people,” he continued of the Clintons.

Tuesday’s report from Brzezinski said that Trump feels as if Clinton has “been through enough.”

Brzezinski noted that Trump will refrain from seeking further action against Clinton for her use of a private email server, as well as any investigation into the controversial Clinton Foundation. The report comes from a source familiar with Trump’s plans, according to the MSNBC morning show.

Isn’t this the sort of thing that career law-enforcement professionals should decide?

ADDENDA: Coming later this week: Why you should just love your family and not even bring up politics this Thanksgiving. On the Wednesday Three Martini Lunch, Greg and I will say what we’re thankful for in this past year. On the Friday edition, we reveal our holiday gift shopping lists for the biggest names in politics. I’m thinking of getting the Clintons one-way tickets to a non-extradition country. 


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