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U.S. military rents space in Trump Tower, despite Trump's absence

Trump's conflicts of interest?

Even though President Trump hasn't spent the night in Trump Tower since moving into the White House, the federal government pays $130,000 a month leasing space in Mr. Trump's namesake skyscraper.

The $2.39 million lease for the White House Military Office rents out 3,475 sq. ft. in Mr. Trump's building and spans nearly 18 months from April 11, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018, according to the lease documents obtained via a freedom of information request submitted by the Wall Street Journal. The contract also indicates that the government may cancel the lease anytime after this period so long as it provides a minimum 180 days notice to the owner.

The government paid $180,000 for the space in the last 20 days of April 2017, and $130,000 monthly thereafter, according to the General Services Administration (GSA) contract. The GSA is responsible for negotiating government office space agreements.

The lease is well above market price for similarly sized luxury residential properties in Manhattan, making it one of the most expensive rentals in the area. According to a listing from spring 2016, a 3,725 sq. ft. three-bedroom apartment in Trump Tower was listed at $50,000 a month unfurnished or $60,000 a month furnished, the WSJ reports.

The rental figure only represents the Defense Department and does not include other related but technically separate agencies, such as the U.S. Secret Service, which requests their own additional funds relating to the protection of Mr. Trump.

The documents released by the GSA have several redactions, including the name of who owns the government-rented space in Trump Tower. However, the GSA lease inventory records show that Joel R. Anderson, Mr. Trump's neighbor, is the owner, according to the Journal. Anderson is chairman of Anderson Media Corp., a DVD, CD and book distributor, and is a member of the board of directors at Trump Tower.

A press secretary for the GSA confirmed to the Journal that the space is privately owned by someone not affiliated with the Trump Organization.

A Pentagon official wrote in a letter seen by the WSJ that the department does not see how the president could benefit from the rental as the space is privately owned by someone outside of his organization.

"To alleviate your principal concern (i.e. that the president of the United States might financially benefit from the lease effort), please know that this residential space is privately owned and that lease negotiations have been with the owner's representatives only," James A. MacStravic, the acting undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics wrote to Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, in a letter dated March 3. "We are not aware of any means through which the president would personally benefit from a government lease of this space."

The White House Military Office oversees the"nuclear football," which is the briefcase that constantly accompanies the president and would allow Mr. Trump to authorize a nuclear strike. The office is also required to be near the president at all times in order to provide support services relating to medical needs, transportation, communications and food.

Mr. Trump has both residential space and office space in the building. His wife First Lady Melania and their son Barron Trump only recently left their home in Trump Tower on June 11 to move into the White House. The cost of protection for the first family during their time in the New York building fell to the Secret Service.

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