Melania Trump (AP/Evan Vucci)

Melania Trump: Jet-setter on the taxpayer dime

In three months, the first lady spent more on flying than Michelle Obama did in a year


Charlie May
January 30, 2018 3:51PM (UTC)

Before moving into the White House, first lady Melania Trump took 21 flights on Air Force jets over a three-month span that totaled more than $675,000, according to newly revealed military records.

Trump was flown to and from New York City, Florida and Washington, D.C. in the early months of her husband's presidency, while she held off on moving to the nation's capital in order for the couple's son, Barron Trump, to finish the school year. The records, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, cover the inauguration through April of last year, in which "Air Force jets made at least 19 trips to LaGuardia Airport in New York and nine trips to Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport to drop off or pick up Mrs. Trump."

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A spokesperson for the first lady defended Trump's travels and said that it exemplifies her ability to juggle "dual roles."

"It is no secret that Mrs. Trump lived in New York City the first few months of the administration so that her son could finish school. The trips mentioned in this story are examples of Mrs. Trump juggling dual roles — putting her son first while also fulfilling some of her duties as First Lady," Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, the WSJ reported.

In the past, President Donald Trump repeatedly blasted both former President Barack Obama and his wife former first lady Michelle Obama for racking up travel costs. Of course, there are tweets for it.

The Trump administration has come under fire about flight travel costs in prior months as well. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned amid reports that he abused taxpayer funds to travel, for business and personal reasons, on private jets.

But the reality is that Obama spent about $2.8 million on travel costs over her eight-year span as first lady, which is roughly $350,000 per year — only slightly more than half of what the current first lady totaled in three months, the WSJ reported. However, no other first lady has had living arrangements like Trump did, so the costs and frequency of travel are naturally much higher.

WSJ elaborated:

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Mrs. Trump’s trips to and from New York and Palm Beach were particularly costly because the Air Force jets she flew were based at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington and in some instances needed to fly without passengers to pick her up or to return to the base.

To accommodate Mrs. Trump, 27 flights were made without passengers while jets flew back and forth to Trump family residences in New York and Palm Beach, and then back to Joint Base Andrews, the records released to the Journal show.

The first lady has kept a low public profile as of late, however, amid the recent reports that a Trump lawyer paid $130,000 to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged extramarital affair shortly after the first lady and Trump married and had their son. Despite new reports that suggest she was blindsided and furious over the news of the alleged affair, the first lady is expected to attend the president's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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