Pentagon to lease privately owned Trump
Tower apartment for nuclear 'football': letter
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[May 06, 2017]
By Mark Hosenball and Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense
Department is finalizing a lease on a privately owned apartment in New
York's Trump Tower for the White House Military Office to use for
supporting President Donald Trump without providing any benefit to Trump
or his organization, according to a Pentagon letter seen by Reuters.
The Military Office carries and safeguards the "football," the device
that contains the top secret launch codes the president needs to order a
nuclear attack, as well as providing him secure communications wherever
The White House, Secret Service, and Defense Department had no comment
on whether similar arrangements have been made at other properties Trump
frequents - Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida and the Trump National
Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump is spending this
In a letter to Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat on the House
Armed Services and intelligence committees, Defense Department official
James MacStravic, said the apartment is "privately owned and ... lease
negotiations have been with the owner's representatives only."
MacStravic, who wrote that he was "temporarily performing the duties of
the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and
Logistics," said any acquisition of leased space with "an annual rental
in excess of $1 million must first be approved by my office."
He "approved this action" after consulting with the White House Military
Office and other officials, he said.
Officials declined to reveal the cost of the lease or identify the
owners of the apartment.
MacStravic's letter, dated March 3, added: "We are not aware of any
means through which the President would personally benefit from a
Government lease of this space."
The letter explained that the White House Military Office, a Pentagon
unit, "requested approval to lease space in the Trump Tower for
personnel assigned to support the President when at his private
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The West facing entrance to Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York
City, U.S., is seen April 26, 2017. Picture Taken April 26, 2017.
The letter said such arrangements are "typical of support provided"
by the Military Office to previous U.S. presidents and vice
presidents at their private residences. It is not clear, however,
whether the office has ever paid to rent space to house the
classified equipment presidents need when they are staying at homes
they own outside Washington.
A White House spokeswoman said the White House had no information on
the leasing issue. The Defense Department and U.S. Secret Service
declined to comment.
The Trump Organization did not reply to an email requesting comment.
When the Pentagon in February first acknowledged that it was seeking
to lease space in Trump Tower, some Democrats questioned whether
such a move would produce a financial windfall for Trump.
"I am concerned by the appearance that the President of the United
States will financially benefit from this deal at the expense of the
Department of Defense - and ultimately, taxpayers," Speier wrote to
Defense Secretary James Mattis shortly after the Trump Tower issue
became public in February.
By negotiating only with representatives of the owners of a private
apartment, the Pentagon said it was seeking to avoid such concerns.
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball,; Phil Stewart, and Jonathan Landay.;
Editing by John Walcott and Grant McCool)
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