U.S. government watchdog to review Mar-a-Lago trips, Trump hotel profits
By Julia Harte
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. government watchdog has agreed to review how classified information is kept secure at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the agency said on Monday, after Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about the issue last month.
The Government Accountability Office's review will examine whether Secret Service agents subject Mar-a-Lago guests to any security screening, and evaluate the expenses incurred by government employees who travel with Trump to Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter the agency sent the lawmakers on Friday.
The GAO will also check whether Trump has made any payments to the U.S. Treasury from profits at his hotels, the letter said. Trump's lawyer pledged at a Jan. 11 news conference to donate Trump Hotel profits from foreign governments to the Treasury.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump's handling of U.S. security information at Mar-a-Lago came under congressional scrutiny in February after photos taken by private guests in the club's public dining area showed Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviewing documents following a North Korean missile launch.
The White House denied afterward that any classified material was present in the dining room.
Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said on Monday the GAO would be able to conduct an "independent review" of how Trump spends his weekends at the resort, which the Republican president has dubbed his "Winter White House."
In a Feb. 16 letter, Cummings and Democratic Senators Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse asked the GAO to assess whether Trump and his staff had violated security protocol when hosting foreign dignitaries and handling classified information at the Florida resort.
Udall said on Monday the American people "deserved to know who has access to the president, how much it's costing to protect him and whether the Trump Organization is benefiting from that protection."
He introduced a bill on Friday that would require the White House to publish logs of people who meet with Trump there and at other locations.
The GAO is expected to begin the review in a few months.
(Reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Peter Cooney)