Defense Dept paid Trump properties $300,000 since start of presidency: report

Defense personnel have charged more than $300,000 to department credit cards at various properties owned by the president since he took office in 2017.

Internal agency documents reviewed by CNN found that agency employees have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel expenses, parking fees, and restaurant visits at various Trump Organization properties, which President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE continues to own in a trust established prior to his presidency.

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Critics have questioned for months whether Trump's ownership of businesses that profit from business with government personnel and others while he remains in office constitutes a conflict of interest.

The Defense Department declined to comment on the spending, according to CNN, while the Trump Organization maintained in a statement to the network that services provided to government personnel were performed at profit-neutral rates.

"The Trump Organization does not profit whatsoever from any government officials staying at our properties. The rates we charge for government personnel are on an 'at cost' basis. There is no profit made by the Trump Organization," a spokesperson told CNN.

CNN reported that the expenses tracked between October of 2017 and November of last year coincided with the president's own visits to his various golf properties and resorts. He has made multiple such trips since taking office in 2017. 

Former Office of Government Ethics (OGE) chief Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubPence lands in controversy with stay at Trump hotel Ex-ethics chief rips Trump July 4 event as 'taxpayer-funded campaign ad' Here are the top paid White House staffers MORE, a frequent critic of the president's business arrangements, criticized the Defense Department's spending at Trump Organization properties in a statement to CNN.

"You see charges like this and wonder, is part of his motivation to travel to his own properties that the government will spend money that will be funneled back to him?" Shaub said to CNN. "He has not separated his business life from his government responsibilities but actually seems to seek opportunities to merge the two."