President Trump made good Monday on his promise not to accept his $400,000 presidential salary, handing over his first three months of pay to the National Park Service — but the generous gesture couldn’t escape the scoffing of critics.
Mr. Trump gave the $78,333 check, the amount cut by the Treasury for the pay period that began with the Jan. 20 inauguration, to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
“We’re going to dedicate it and put against the infrastructure on our nation’s battlefields,” said Mr. Zinke. “We’re excited about that opportunity.”
He noted that the 25 national battlefield were more than $100 million behind in maintenance.
At the daily press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer praised the Park Service for its 100 years of service and said Mr. Trump was “personally proud” to help its mission.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said the paycheck was a drop in the ocean when Mr. Trump proposed slashing 12 percent of the budget for the Department of Interior.
“If Donald Trump is actually interested in helping our parks, he should stop trying to slash their budgets to historically low levels,” Mr. Brune said in a statement.
“This publicity stunt is a sad consolation prize as Trump tries to stifle America’s best idea. It’s a distraction that falls far short of the $12 billion needed to address the current backlog of park maintenance and does nothing to offset the almost $2 billion Trump asked Congress to cut from the Department of the Interior in his budget,” he said.
Mr. Trump also came under fire at the press briefing for the expense of frequent trips to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he has spent most weekends since taking office and where he will host Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.
The trips to the club, which Mr. Trump has dubbed the “Southern White House,” have cost taxpayers an estimated $10 million to date for security and travel aboard Air Force One.
Mr. Spicer told reporters that is was “ironic” that the expense of going to Mar-a-Lago was brought up on a day when Mr. Trump put more than $78,000 back into the government coffers.
“The president just donated a significant amount of money of his salary back to the federal government. And so, you know, respectfully, at what point does he do enough? He just gave a very sizable donation,” he said.
Mr. Spicer bristled at a reporter saying the donation was a “small amount.”
“I think to be able to say that — I mean, he isn’t taking a salary. I think he’s stepped down from his business. He’s walked away from a lot,” said Mr. Spicer. “I think at some point, you know, he’s done quite a lot, quite a bit in terms of making a donation to government.”