Speed Reads

It is good to be Landlord

The Pentagon is looking to rent space in Trump Tower

On Tuesday night, the Defense Department said it is working to rent some space in Trump Tower, the Manhattan building that houses President Trump's penthouse and also the headquarters of the Trump Organization, which owns the tower. "In order to meet official mission requirements, the Department of Defense is working through appropriate channels and in accordance with all applicable legal requirements in order to acquire a limited amount of leased space in Trump Tower," said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. JB Brindle. "The space is necessary for the personnel and equipment who will support the POTUS at his residence in the building."

The U.S. military's space in Trump Tower would be separate from the area of Trump Tower used by the Secret Service. While the Secret Service protects the president and his family — wife Melania and son Barron live in the penthouse full-time for now — the military mission includes housing the "nuclear football" while Trump is visiting his home. The floors available for rent cost about $1.5 million a year, a Trump Tower leasing agent tells CNN.

The Pentagon has had to make analogous arrangements for previous presidents, including at former President Barack Obama's Chicago residence, Pentagon officials note. But those arrangements did not funnel rent toward the president's business interest. Richard Painter, a George W. Bush White House ethics lawyer who has strenuously argued that Trump should divest his business interests, tells The Washington Post he's "never heard of a president charging rent to the DOD or any other part of the government so they can be near him on his travels," but he also has a solution: "He should give them for free a very limited amount of space and they can rent nearby if needed."