When the Secret Service began guarding Donald Trump in November 2015, it wasn’t the Republican presidential candidate's first time dealing with the agency.
Government contracts reveal that the Secret Service has paid a total of $152,578.92 over five years to Trump Palace Condominiums, a Trump-owned tower on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The latest contract, worth $26,296.80, was signed in February of this year. The contracts refer to "lease or rental of equipment," as well as “communication, detection, and coherent radiation equipment,” suggesting the rental of some kind of antenna.
The Trump Organization did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and the Secret Service declined to disclose the contracts' purpose, citing a policy not to discuss “specific capabilities or means and methods.”
The Trump Palace — a 55-story residential skyscraper built in 1991 — bills itself as the “tallest building on the Upper East Side” and the “definitive standard of uptown luxury."
In a symbolic protest against Trump, the political commentator Keith Olbermann recently moved out of his 40th-story apartment in the tower, which is located on 69th Street and Third Avenue. He listed the apartment for sale this month.
The contracts with Trump Palace — which are publicly available — follow the template for all products or services bought by any federal agency. While they vary from year to year, all contain some reference to the “lease” or “rent” of “communication equipment” and “antennas.” The earliest contract from 2011 lists the product description as “11-IRM-RAD-Site 314-1111.” Another refers to “communication, detection, and coherent radiation equipment.”
It is unclear what purpose the equipment serves, and why Trump Palace was chosen as its location.
While the Secret Service protects presidents and major presidential candidates, the agency also investigates financial and cybercrimes related to the nation’s financial integrity.
Talal Ansari is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 4FEE 894C 8088 7E08 E170 A515 2801 7CC6 95D3 11C2
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