According to The New York Post, President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Robert Lighthizer is spending nearly $1 million on furnishing the two trade offices near the White House -- and he’s blaming the Obama administration.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spent more than $917,000 to furnish the two trade offices near the White House, according to contracts reviewed by The Post.
That’s a significant increase compared to the last two trade reps.
Ron Kirk, President Barack Obama’s first trade ambassador, spent $237,000 on office furniture during the first 15 months of his term.
His successor, Ambassador Michael Froman, spent $151,000 during a comparable time span, records show.
When asked about the expense, Lighthizer’s office responded that it’s simply following a plan devised under President Obama:
“The furniture purchases are the culmination of a longtime, planned project that began under the Obama Administration to replace two-decade-old furniture,” Lighthizer’s office said in a statement.
But Obama-era reps say they didn’t sign off on any major remodeling plans.
One former aide said it’s “laughable” the Trump administration would try to pin this on Obama, seeing that it managed to pull out of the major Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact on week 1 of his presidency.
“We told 11 other countries that we were going to do a trade deal with them, and the Trump administration found the power to unwind that,” the Obama trade official told The Post. “So furniture purchases cannot be as binding as a trade agreement that the president of the United States signed.”
Lighthizer is hardly the first Trump administration official to come under scrutiny for expenditures.
And Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt continues to battle the impression that he plays loose with taxpayer funds when it comes to travel.
Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, said the purchases raise “concerns,” especially since Trump campaigned on running Washington differently.
“Just because you can spend $31,000 on a (dining) table or close to a million dollars on a remodel, there should be some people asking the question: Is this the best way to utilize taxpayer dollars?” Amey told The Post.