This White House tour brought to you by: Donald Trump
March 11th, 2013
11:11 AM ET
1 year ago

This White House tour brought to you by: Donald Trump

(CNN) – Real estate titan Donald Trump said he'll cover the costs to keep the White House tours open for rest of the fiscal year, an idea proposed online last week by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The White House announced Tuesday it was suspending the tours through September 30 as a consequence of the forced spending cuts-known in Washington as the sequester–that began taking effect March 1. The tours stopped running on Friday.

The move quickly sparked controversy, with some Republicans arguing the Obama administration was using the canceled tours as a political ploy to draw up negative reaction from the American public over the cuts.

Gingrich floated an alternative idea last week. On Twitter the former presidential candidate volunteered his fellow Republican to pick up the tab.

"Donald trump should offer to pay for the white house tours. He can afford it and it would show who cares more for American students," he wrote, referring to the hordes of kids who venture to Washington for spring break and summer vacation.

Asked Monday about the tweet on "Fox and Friends," Trump said in a phone interview that he hadn't heard anything about the suggestion.

"I think it's so nice of Newt to suggest that," the media mogul said, adding that Gingrich and his wife are members of his club in Washington. "But it sounds reasonable to me. Why not?"

After agreeing to the pitch, he asked how much it would cost.

The U.S. Secret Service told CNN Thursday that the plan will help the agency save $74,000 per week - or $2 million in the next seven months. That's how much it costs to pay 37 uniformed officers $50 an hour for 40 hours a week to secure the tour's route through the East Wing.

But that's just a fraction of the $84 million the Secret Service needs to cut from its $1.6 billion budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The officers normally assigned to the tours will be reassigned to other duties at the White House.

"The Secret Service, like other agencies of government is affected by the sequester," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during his Thursday press briefing. "And the Secret Service presented options that ranged from canceling tours to potential furloughs and cuts in overtime. And in order to allow the Secret Service to best fulfill its core mission, the White House made the decision that we would unfortunately have to temporarily suspend these tours."

READ MORE: Critics to Obama: Give up golf, not W.H. tours

Asked if the White House could accept private donations to fund the tours, White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday "I don't know if it's technically possible."

"My guess is that it's not," he said in the daily briefing. "The reason for that is that the sequester mandates across the board, non-strategic, indiscriminate, cuts to the budget. It allows very little, if any, flexibility."

While the White House has not commented on Trump's specific offer, it would also be highly unusual for the Obama administration to accept private contributions for a Secret Service activity.

Trump on Monday said the public White House tours of the East Wing have been a "simple" and "open" tradition for years.

"It's certainly not a lot of money. The big thing is that the country is going to lose a trillion dollars this year," he said. "Closing the White House tours is not exactly the biggest thing on the agenda."

– CNN's Adam Aigner-Treworgy and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Donald Trump • White House
soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. Obama = worst president ever

    Just accept it liberals, Obama is a mess....

    March 11, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. jaylee

    What a nice American thing to do Mr. Trump.

    Only in America can a billionaire businessman file for bankruptcy, FOUR TIMES, stick the taxpayers with his debt, walk away with his large bank account, FOUR TIMES, then offer to give the taxpayers back a portion of that money, as if he is making a gracious self sacrificing offer to our country.

    If Mr. Trump has extra money laying around that he does not need, he could reimburse the taxpayers for what we lost due to his FOUR bankruptcies.

    We don't need his charity. We just need him to pay his own bills and stop filing bankruptcy.

    March 11, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  3. Obama = worst president ever

    Obamaaaaaaaa where are you???? Stop playing golffffffff....Come do some workkkkkkk you drugy!!!

    March 11, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. The REAL Truth...

    @Moose muffin – CNN is very careful not to make the President look bad. He is bad. Everyone knows it. Any President that would hurt the people of the country he was sworn to protect, should be impeached. Closing the White House was probably Michele's idea so that she could romp privately through her house. Benghazi, fast and furious, the lack of transparency, all the lies from closing Gitmo to taxes, more golf than any President ever and during such a tumultuous time in our history, his illegal relatives, making Republicans look bad so that Democrats look good for the next election is so immature. Bush stopped playing golf after 911.
    ---------------------------
    What a completely juvenile, uneducated, red-state, mouth-open, knuckle-dragging RW comment. Everyone – per above – would be the losing side.. which coincidentally was way LESS than the winning side.. phut!

    March 11, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Solomon Walker

    Has to be brought as a referendum emergency measure to the people.

    Though it is a noble gesture, privatization of a government function isn't possible under our set of laws without unequivocal approval as a temporary emergency measure by the people of the United States. There are variety of legal hurdles to overcome.

    Ask Congress, Donald.

    March 11, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Solomon Walker

    Has to be brought as a referendum for emergency fund to the people.

    Though it is a noble gesture, privatization of a government function isn't possible under our set of laws without unequivocal approval as a temporary emergency measure by the people of the United States. There are variety of legal hurdles to overcome.

    Ask Congress, Donald.

    March 11, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Pete

    Hey Donald put your money where your big arrogent mouth is ..And don't balk on this deal like yah did after Pres.Obama showed you his birth certificate,remember Trumps making a donation of about 5 million if he did and he welched again didn't he!!Yah can't use bankruptcy court on bets like you've done all your life in business Trump like well about 5 times or so and you care less about your investors you screw as well...Someone some time will sit your butt at the bottom of hour fathers Hudson river courtesy of your NY mob you keep running away from them yah big blowhard.. About your lawsuit with Bill Maher and how's that's going about your familys lineage related to red headed gorillas and your lawyers being bottom feeders at some of this countries worse rivers,Hudson for sure,not doing well because Maher is still throwing bananas at your cage isn't he Heddy!!!

    March 11, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  8. Randy

    So a uniformed Secret Service officer makes $2000 a week! Ok, I think I can tell you how to save money, start with an across the board salary reduction of all bloated federal wages. That number is insane!

    March 11, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. trumpisgodly

    once again The Don comes to the rescue...he is true American...he love freedom...he love tours...he love himself very much...I love The Don...he rule....he should be president of the world....

    March 11, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. The NRA is a T e r r o r i st organisation....and do you know why Rush Limbaugh doesn't have guest in his show? Because he's a Blowhard who can't debate the issue

    If you want to visit the WH then pay for it OUT OF YOUR OWN POCKET...no more free loading on the tax payers dime!!

    The GOP-TeaParty is fond of saying we are creating debts for our kids; well then Cut is CUT, NO MORE FREE LOADING KIDS VISITING the WH so we dont rack up more debts on their name!!!

    Next will be CUTTING congress pay & free estacodes....LET THE CUTS BEGIN. NO WHINING TEA PARTY!!!!

    Better yet, you can VISIT Donald Trump Plaza instead let him school you on how to divorce your wife and file bankruptcy multiple times........

    March 11, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This is my third attempt to respond to Wake up People! (I don't understand why CNN will allow someone to use someone else's "name" to post but will not allow a response to a regular contributor to this site):

    Wake up People!
    I can sympathize with your reasons for wanting to stop posting on this site. It is true that it would appear as of recently that the inmates have taken over the asylum. Yet you and everyone else you mentioned cannot allow the RWNJ mental midgets to run-amok, nor more importantly to become the representative voice of our nation to someone visiting this site for the first time or the infrequent visitor from abroad.
    This thread needs you. It needs us for balance; it needs us to elucidate and to erase the misconceptions, misinterpretations and outright lies that are allowed to be posted here in regards to our President, our democracy, and who we are as Americans.
    I refuse, and so should you, to throw in the towel just because their hate is so insidious that it starts to gnaw at the fabric of your heart, that it starts to taint the relationships you have outside of this site. If we walk away and let them spread their hate unchecked they will taint others.
    The nutjobs that live through and spew hate on this site are not America. They are a very small segment of our intelligent, well-rounded populace.
    The steady voice of the well-informed, the voice of reason, the voice of a true democracy must be heard to counter-balance the shrill and loudness of the bottom-feeders. You are one of those voices.

    March 11, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. jay

    What is the side show and carnival barker up to now?

    March 11, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Robin Jones

    Let's get our priorities straight here. We all need to make sacrifices so the President can continue playing celebrity golf.

    March 11, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. Dan

    It is a stunt to close the White House. I would have respected the President if he indicated that he and his family would avoid taking vacations (and spending MILLIONS of tax payer dollars) until the budget is in line. Perhaps modifying the pay schedule of those in a position to make the changes needed (looking at you congress).

    If I ran my businesses as poorly as the elected leaders of this country, I would be in jail for fraud and bankrupt.

    Fundamentally there will always be a problem when those that spend the money are not responsible for the bottom line and lack accountability of sharing in the risk. Perhaps a pay for performance with bonuses and penalties would be more appropriate. I am sure that the same people that can determine what they make, what their raises are and what they work for a schedule would be willing to sign up for that – you know, because it is in the best interest of the country.

    March 11, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. Steve

    Trump never has been one to shy away from the camera. He's a regular Jesse Jackson. If made a monetary offer you can be sure he wants something in return, perhaps a office in the White House.

    March 11, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. Pete

    Secret service guarding WH get $52,000 a year and secret service guarding government personnel start at $34,000,way lower than what this story has quoted ..So to all you ignorent,racist republicans who couldn't guard an outhouse door for your wife at your trailer just some more facts to chew on!!

    March 11, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. bergus

    they think this is all a "political ploy to draw up negative reaction from the American public over the cuts." DUH!!! why do you think they're cutting VA benefits before cutting welfare and unemployment? there are a THOUSAND lazy programs that could be cut if we needed cuts. it's all a game that has nothing to do with taking care of americans. it's just the white house taking care of it's own job-security. LOWER TERM LIMITS FOR ALL!!!

    March 11, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  18. freedom

    @the REAL truth..

    Totally agree – Nixon was impeached for much less. There are definitely grounds to impeach here – on multiple levels.

    March 11, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. bergus

    they think this is all a "political ploy to draw up negative reaction from the American public over the cuts." DUH!!! why do you think they're cutting VA benefits before cutting welfare and unemployment? there are a THOUSAND programs that could be cut if we needed cuts. it's all a game that has nothing to do with taking care of americans. it's just the white house taking care of it's own job-security. LOWER TERM LIMITS FOR ALL!!!

    March 11, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  20. Asher

    You know better to get in the way of Obama making a political point. Children touring the White House is the first thing he would cut. Obama take take $500K for his political endeavors but money from Trump for kids to take a tour doesn't seem feasible.

    March 11, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  21. Terri

    The Donald should spend some of his money to fix the Jersey shore area that his casino killed. All he has to do is step out of that tacky place to see dozens of homeless people who used to live and work in Atlantic City before Trump and his cohorts destroyed the place. It's been many, many years and he's still done NOTHING.

    March 11, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ask Congress, Donald
    -------------------------------------------------
    THAT will NEVER happen.
    Why would you this a "noble gesture" when there was absolutely no intention of following through? The Dump doesn't pay for his much publicized public bets. Do you any of you really and truly think that he has ANY intention whatsoever of going through with this stunt?
    That's ALL this is folks. A STUNT.

    March 11, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Pete

    And remember republicans your idol in Bush never I mean never balanced a federal budget at least legally considering how he didn't include the wars,Medicare Part D ,tax breaks and over 800,000 unemployed,all unfunded at least in his delushional mind..Can you say everything about that Texan Bush stinks even his ignorent minions meaning you all!!

    March 11, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. llatpoh

    No money for White House tours, but plenty of money for Michelle's 50th Birthday bash where Adele and Beyonce will be performing... why am I not surprised...

    March 11, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. nothing new here

    I almost hope that Trump goes through with this idea.
    I would like to see Mr. Trump do some real good with his $$$$ and time, besides be a media-hound.
    Maybe Mr. Trump will also consider donating funds to feed the homeless and elderly as well.

    March 11, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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