Melania’s huge six-figure hotel bill wasted
A hefty six-figure bill racked up by Melania Trump for two hotels that went largely unused during a one-day trip to Canada has raised serious questions.
Government spending documents released overnight reveal the First Lady's visit to Toronto in September last year to attend the Invictus Games cost a whopping AU$237,000 (USD$174,000) in hotel charges.
Ms Trump billed taxpayers for two hotels - the Ritz Carlton and Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel - where she held a handful of meetings and did not stay.
Mrs Trump's trip to Toronto, where she met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain's Prince Harry, lasted just 12 hours. She also attended the Invictus Games.
Stephanie Grisham, Mrs Trump's spokeswoman, argued that the bill was standard and included a number of essential expenses.
"What I can tell you is that when the President or First Lady travels, there are people who travel ahead on the advance team to ensure safety measures, medical care, communications, motorcade needs and logistics are all in place," Ms Grisham told Quartz.
"Ms Trump travels with a much smaller contingent of staff than that of her predecessors, but the entities I mentioned above are legally required for all official travel."
However, that explanation has been disputed. Quartz reported that the six-figure bill was for just Ms Trump's hotels and that her staff's expenses and other travel costs were in addition.
There was another AU$24,000 (US$18,000) spent on hotel rooms for her advance team.
Mrs Trump's hotel costs were incurred despite her not requiring rooms for the brief trip and Quartz raised questions over why her total trip bill was so high.
It published a schedule of her engagements that day, which included meetings at both hotels for durations of 20 minutes or less.
The hotel expenses were separated into a number of line items on the government spending reports, including "miscellaneous foreign awardees".
It's not the first time Ms Trump's spending on foreign trips has been questioned, with a AU$129,000 (US$95,000) hotel bill covered by taxpayers during a day in Cairo, Egypt earlier this year.
Also on that occasion, Ms Trump did not use the hotel rooms in the end.
Meanwhile, Hollywood actress Bette Midler has come under fire after sharing a photo of Mrs Trump alongside a crude caption.
The Beaches star tweeted an old modelling photo of the First Lady posing in a see-through dress inside a plane cockpit.
The photo was from a shoot the former model did with British GQ magazine back in 2000.
Midler, who frequently critiques Donald Trump on Twitter, captioned the shot: "The dry cleaning bill for the upholstery on Air Force One must be insane. #FLOTITS."