While Washington was aflame Wednesday with some of the most dramatic testimony of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, President Trump was in Austin, Texas, taking credit for the launch of a Mac factory that opened three years before his election.
Standing on the floor of Apple’s Mac Pro facility, Trump said, ‘‘We’re seeing the beginning of a very powerful and important plant.’’ He later tweeted that he himself opened ‘‘a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America.’’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump joined him on the tour.
But Apple has been assembling computers in Austin since 2013 at a plant that’s owned by Flex, one of its contractors. Trump made his remarks as the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook, stood by without setting the president straight.
On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that during his visit to Austin ‘‘for the start-up of the new Mac Pro . . . I asked Tim Cook to see if he could get Apple involved in building 5G in the US.’’ Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those discussions.
Apple does have plans for a new center in Austin, but that facility isn’t Trump’s handiwork, either. On Wednesday, the company announced it had broken ground on a $1 billion, 3 million-square-foot campus that is expected to open in 2022 and initially house 5,000 employees. Apple currently has about 7,000 employees in Austin.
Secret Service paid Trump firms $250,000 in 5 months
The US Secret Service paid more than $250,000 to President Trump’s private businesses in just the first five months of Trump’s presidency — paying the president’s company an average of nearly $2,000 per day, according to Secret Service records.
Those records, obtained by the group Property of the People after an open-records lawsuit, detail some of the revenue that Trump derives from the US taxpayer.
The president has set up an extraordinary arrangement: He kept ownership of his businesses — and then visited them repeatedly, bringing along aides and security officials and charging the government for what they bought.
Documents released previously had shown $84,000 in federal spending at Trump properties in the first months of Trump’s time in office. These new records, detailing spending on Secret Service credit cards, show another $254,000 by the Secret Service alone.
The documents do not give much detail about the spending: They list only the dates of the purchases, and the name of the Trump property that received the payments. Adding to the confusion: Trump has multiple properties called ‘‘Trump National Golf Club,’’ and this list does not distinguish among them.
The records do not show what the Secret Service payments are for.
But Secret Service agents often spend multiple days securing a property and planning on-site before a president’s arrival, even if it isn’t the president’s first time going there. It’s unclear how the Secret Service would do this at Trump properties where there are little or no overnight accommodations, including the Virginia golf course.
Some expenditures do not seem to correlate to Trump’s public schedule.
On March 17, Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. But on that day, the Secret Service recorded spending $40,000 at a Trump property thousands of miles away: the Trump hotel in Las Vegas.
That spending could relate to a visit by someone else: The Secret Service protects other top officials and Trump family members.
The White House declined to comment for this story. The Trump Organization and the Secret Service did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
Ryan Shapiro, the executive director of Property of the People, said the figures showed ‘‘Donald Trump views the American public as a bunch of marks waiting to be fleeced.’’
‘‘Due to his overt self-dealing and refusal to divest from his sprawling business empire, Donald Trump has turned the American presidency into a racket,’’ Shapiro said.
Ky. governor stayed at Trump hotel
When Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin came to Washington last January for two nights — one of many visits the Republican had made to the nation’s capital — he stayed at President Trump’s DC hotel. Kentucky taxpayers initially footed the $686 bill, records obtained by The Washington Post show.
Though Kentucky’s Republican Party reimbursed the state for Bevin’s stay two months later, the transaction may still run afoul of an anticorruption provision of the Constitution barring the president from receiving any ‘‘emoluments,’’ or payments, from the states, legal experts say.
In two cases winding their way through federal court, plaintiffs have alleged that President Trump — by retaining his financial interest in his companies and doing business with state governments — has violated the Constitution’s domestic emoluments clause. A central example cited by plaintiffs has been visits to the hotel by fervent Trump supporter and Republican Paul LePage, while he was governor of Maine.
Bevin’s previously unreported stay at the hotel is now likely to become another example for plaintiffs in one case as soon as three weeks from now. Attorneys general for DC and Maryland plan to argue in federal appeals court that the president must receive approval from Congress to accept payments from states or from foreign governments.
Attorneys defending Trump have argued in court that the emoluments clauses do not bar the president from accepting market-rate hotel room payments and that Trump has not violated either of the emoluments clauses.
As governor, Bevin has been a close ally of Trump, running a campaign spot saying Trump ‘‘is taking America to new heights’’ and that ‘‘together our changes are working.’’ He has been a regular White House visitor, attending events on workforce development and criminal justice. Earlier this month, Trump campaigned in Kentucky on behalf of Bevin’s reelection bid, which failed when he lost to Democrat Andy Beshear last week.