There are plans for the US Defense Department to finish the lease on a privately owned apartment in Trump Tower in New York City that will used only by the White House Military Office.
The office is responsible for protecting the “nuclear football” in which are the launch codes and can be used when President Donald Trump is flying abroad or not nearby a situation room.
Reuters saw a letter from the Pentagon to Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who is also a member of the House Armed and Services Committee, and it read that the lease will not benefit Trump financially.
But some Democrats don’t like the idea. After the Trump Tower problem was publicized few months ago, Defense Secretary James Mattis was told by Spicer,
But some Democrats disagree. “I am concerned by the appearance that the President of the United States will financially benefit from this deal at the expense of the Department of Defense – and ultimately, taxpayers.”
The device that has the confidential launch codes is guarded and carried by the Military Office. The president needs this when he needs to command a nuclear attack and they provide with safe communications wherever he is.
For now, neither of the White House, Secret Service and Defense Department commented on whether similar positionings have been made at other properties where Trump goes, like Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
The letter that Rep. Speir received from James MacStravic read that the apartment is “privately owned and … lease negotiations have been with the owner’s representatives only.”
MacStravic, who wrote that he was “temporarily performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics,” said any purchase of leased space with “an annual rental in excess of $1 million must first be approved by my office.” He “approved this action” after discussing with the White House Military Office and other officials. For now, it is not revealed the cost of the lease or the names of the owners of the apartment.
On March 3, MacStraic added in the letter, “We are not aware of any means through which the President would personally benefit from a Government lease of this space.” The letter detailed that the White House Military Office, a Pentagon unit, “requested approval to lease space in the Trump Tower for personnel assigned to support the President when at his private residence.”
According to the letter, such arrangements are “typical of support provided” by the Military Office to previous U.S. presidents and vice presidents at their private residences.
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