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The White House Used Tax Dollars to Pay for Booze at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

It’s a comfort to know we could contribute to the president’s closed-door meeting

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Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food and Travel Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

Let’s just preface this by saying that of all the things American taxpayers have had to pay for in the name of the Trump administration, this is nowhere near the top. But apparently, we’re all on the hook for over $1,000 worth of top-shelf liquor that the president, his advisers, and members of the Chinese government drank through at a closed-door Mar-a-Lago meeting.

According to ProPublica, in April 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Trump’s Maison de Tack Mar-a-Lago resort, where Trump and his advisers (including Steve Bannon, who —like Trump — famously doesn’t drink alcohol) entertained Xi and the Chinese delegation over a surf-and-turf dinner. They then retreated to the Library Bar, where the bartender was asked to leave so the group could “speak confidentially” and pour themselves drinks without thinking about pesky inconveniences like a bar tab.

A bill was created six days later, amounting to 54 drinks costing $838, plus a 20 percent service charge and sales tax, which brings the bill to $1,076. Federal spending for meals and entertaining dignitaries is not new or scandalous, but what’s odd here is the bill was paid for by the White House, not the State Department. “The unusual cocktail hour underscores a unique push and pull in the current administration: Donald Trump’s White House pays a bill and Donald Trump’s club reaps the revenue,” writes ProPublica.

There’s a lot in the report about how the Trump Administration finds loopholes to get government officials to stay and dine at Mar-a-lago, and it’s the latest instance of the president profiting off his office, in possible violation of the domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. What’s more, individual government employees are not allowed to use their charge cards for “improper” purchases, like alcohol, which may be an outdated view of vice but still complicates this monster bill.

The “best” (lol) part of the bill is how Trump administration declined to pay the $70.40 sales tax on the bill, literally subtracting it on the receipt in pen. It’s inspiring, how committed they are to not investing money to the government while funding private enterprises. Paying taxes is the voting public’s job! Expect a thank-you note from the administration for their 16 shots of Patron any day now.