Former United States First Lady Melania Trump reportedly played a key factor in the high-security costs incurred by the taxpayers during her husband Donald Trump's time in the White House.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig writes in her new book "Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service" that the Trump family, which continues to receive federally-funded protection even today, cost security services approximately $600 million during Donald's four-year term. Leonnig adds that the first lady's additional demands also made a huge dent in the already high security costs, reports The Mercury News.

Even the initial weeks of Donald Trump's presidency required a lot of security expenses, as he made frequent golf trips to Mar-a-Lago, his permanent home in Florida. His sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump made a number of international business trips with security provided by the taxpayers. As much as $20 million was estimated to have been spent in the first two months.

Apart from these trips, it was Melania's decision to not immediately move to the White House in Washington D.C. that caused the most trouble. The then-FLOTUS spent five months in New York even after her husband was inaugurated as the President, because she wanted their son, Barron Trump, to be able to finish the academic year at his private Preparatory School located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

However, Melania reportedly hid her intention that she wanted to use the delay as leverage for personal financial gain, as claimed in a biography on the former first lady released last year. Mary Jordan writes in the biography titled "The Art of Her Deal" that the former model wanted to renegotiate her prenuptial agreement with Donald to increase the settlement she would receive in case of a divorce, and to secure a future role for her son in Trump's company.

Another major contribution the then-FLOTUS made to the security costs was in January 2018, when she decided to spend a spa weekend at their Mar-a-Logo resort while her husband was travelling to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Her two-day impromptu trip, which possibly cost American taxpayers at least $64,000, was reportedly influenced by reports about Trump's alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels that left her "blindsided" and "furious."

In addition, providing security at the couple's penthouse in Trump Tower created an unprecedented challenge for the secret service. According to the law governing presidential protection, the Presidents are allowed to choose one personal residence other than the White House, where they can get constant protection from the Secret Service even when they are not present at the property, and Trump chose his three-story penthouse.

Protecting the Trump family at the penthouse, located at the 58-story skyscraper on Fifth Avenue, one of the busiest shopping districts in the world, "caused a protection price tag unlike any other the Service had encountered." An emergency infusion of $28.3 million had to be made to the Secret Service in just a few months of Trump's presidency to cover the costs of securing this property.

While the Democrats opposed the move on the grounds that the President no longer lived there and the first lady was also leaving shortly, the secret service said they would still have to protect the penthouse because first sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump still worked there as vice presidents of the Trump Organization.

As compared to Trump's penthouse, his predecessor Barack Obama had selected his personal home in Chicago to be protected by the secret service, which required much lower security costs, but he had still garnered criticism for the $97 million he spent over eight years on his golf trips, Hawaii vacations, and other security costs. However, the Trump family which was used to enjoying a luxurious life caused a crisis not previously imagined by the security service and agents immediately began running "full throttle" with them.

The secret service also had to provide protection to 18 members of the Trump family, which meant agents were regularly dispatched to "Dubai, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, and Aspen" whenever his children made personal visits or professional ones to promote the Trump organisation.

While exiting the White House, Trump ensured that Secret Service protection will be extended for 13 of his family members for another six months, which will end later this year. In addition, Donald and Melania are forever entitled to the protection as the former first couple, while their son Barron will be provided security until he turns 16 next year.

Melania Trump
Melania Trump, seen here on January 20, 2021 which was the last day of her husband's presidency, cut a fashionable but distant figure Photo: AFP / ALEX EDELMAN