The high cost for protecting jet-setting President-elect Trump

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When the soon-to-be first family sits down in Florida for their Thanksgiving feast, they will be watched over by the core part of their new extended family — a contingent of at least 150 Secret Service personnel.

And when Donald Trump gets sworn in as president on Jan. 20, that contingent will balloon to more than 920 Secret Service agents and support personnel in Washington and his hometown of New York City.

The price tag for all that security is already very big, or as the Manhattan mogul might put it, "Yuge," internal Homeland Security and Secret Service documents reviewed by NBC News show.

Right now the cost to taxpayers is more than $2 million daily, the documents show, a number that is sure to increase whenever the president or first lady travel — or when the threat level rises.

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Donald Trump's life leading up to the election
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Donald Trump's life leading up to the election

Bound for the rigors of business school in the future, Donald Trump received discipline at an early age by attending a military academy. There, he reportedly excelled in extracurricular activities such as being the Honor Cadet.

Donald Trump in the New York Military Academy's 1964 yearbook

Source: Classmates

Trump also enjoys tennis — he even played a round, wearing his traditional suit, against the legendary Serena Williams.

Developer Donald Trump talks with his former wife Ivana Trump during the men's final at the U.S. Open September 7, 1997. REUTERS/File Photo 

Being the entertaining host, Trump also spared no expense in providing a spectacular show for friends and family.

 Developer and multi-millionaire Donald Trump (R) watches as ex-wife Marla Maples gets a kiss from Earl Sinclair of TV's 'Dinosaurs' during lunch at the Trump Plaza Hotel November 2, 1992. REUTERS/Henry Ray Abrams

As a self-proclaimed family man, Trump attended many public events and television shows with his family, even before his current campaign.

 Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump attend U.S. Open Tennis Tournament on August 30, 1991 at Flushing Meadows Park in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Source: Oprah

Trump first started showing signs of interest for a possible bid for the US presidency with the formation of a presidential exploratory committee ahead of the 2000 election.

Billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump (R) talks with host Larry King after taping a segment of King's CNN talk show, in New York October 7. Reuters

Source: Reuters

In 2005, Donald Trump married fashion designer and model Melania Trump.

Real estate magnate Donald Trump (L) and Melania Trump leave Hollinger International's annual meeting at the Metropolitan Club in New York on May 22, 2003.

REUTERS/Peter Morgan PM/ME

Source: PolitiFact

As no stranger to the political process, Donald Trump was even acquainted with members of the judicial branch.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (L), serving as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500, speaks to Donald Trump  on the starting grid at the Daytona International Speedway February 14. JLS/ELD

Trump famously launched his presidential campaign in June 2015 by coming down an escalator in Trump Tower. Since then, he has weathered waves of controversy to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

 (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

Trump made his final appeal to voters in swing-states as the contentious campaign drew to a close.

 Donald Trump speaks at a rally at SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH, on Nov. 7, 2016, the night before election day. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

President-elect Trump at his election night party at the Hilton Hotel in New York City.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during his election night event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Meanwhile, the New York Police Department is already handling external security at Trump Tower, the Manhattan home base of the president-elect, at an estimated cost of $1 million per day.

"You put a price tag on anything around the president, then you're putting a price tag on his life and that is priceless," Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who has protected every living president, including President Barack Obama, told NBC News in an exclusive interview.

Protecting Trump's family presents unprecedented challenges. First off, it's a big family — 18 members in all — including Melania Trump and her 10-year-old son Barron, as well as four adult children, three of them married, with a combined eight grandchildren.

The Secret Service has not had to protect the adult children of "a president-elect in a long time," Wackrow said.

Also complicating security arrangements is Melania Trump's decision to stay in Manhattan until Barron is done with school in June. Trump has told his team that he intends to make regular weekend trips back home to Trump Tower until Melania moves into the White House.

So millions of dollars worth of infrastructure will have to be installed in Trump Tower to turn it into a White House North.

"You have to be able to conduct a global war from the front porch, that is just the reality of the situation," said Terry Sullivan of the White House Transition Project, a non-partisan organization that helps prepare the staffs of incoming presidents for the rigors of working in the White House.

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First Family: Meet Melania Trump
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First Family: Meet Melania Trump

Born Melanija Knavs

Originally Melanija Knavs, Melania Trump was born April 20, 1970 in Novo Mesto, Slovenia. Born to a car dealer and children's clothing designer, she grew up in a modest home in a community then part of communist Yugoslavia. Melania has a younger sister and older half brother, whom her father had from a previous relationship.

Pictured: Taken in 1977, this image shows Melania, 7, (second from the right) attending a fashion review at the textile company where her mother was employed.

Began modeling at age 16. 

In her early days of modeling, Trump worked in Milan and Paris, before moving to New York in 1996.

Pictured: Melania Knauss during Fred Trump's Funeral at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City.

The Clintons attended their wedding.

In 2005, Melania and Donald married in a Palm Beach, Florida ceremony. Shaquille O'Neal, Kelly Ripa, Barbara Walters, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and both President Bill Clinton and then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton were in attendance.

Pictured: Donald and Melania sit courtside before a 2001 Toronto Raptors game.

Melania and Donald have a son, Barron.

On March 20, 2006, Melania gave birth to her and Donald's son, Barron William Trump. He is often referred to as "The Little Donald."

Donald holds a replica of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as Melania holds their son Barron in Los Angeles in 2007.

She spoke at the Republican National Convention.

On July 18, Melania addressed delegates on the first day of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The soon-to-be first lady was quickly criticized, though, when it became clear parts of her speech were identical to that of First lady Michelle Obama in 2008.

She cares about bullying.

On November 3, Melania Trump gave her first solo campaign speech for her husband in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, saying she would work to combat bullying as first lady. "Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers," she said, noting that kids are often hurt when they are "made to feel less in looks or intelligence."

She said she wants to be "true to herself" as first lady.

On November 11, President-elect Trump and his family -- including Melania -- appeared on 60 Minutes in their first post-election television interview. In the interview, Melania opened up to Lesley Stahl about staying true to herself, meeting Michelle Obama at the White House and how she hopes to raise son, Barron, as they transition to life as the first family.

Melania and Barron will stay in New York for the time being.

On November 20, Trump transition team sources said that Melania and 10-year-old son, Barron, are expected to spend most of their time in New York at least through spring of 2017. The team offered keeping Barron in his Upper West Side private school as reasoning for their staying in New York.


When Trump heads home to the luxury 58-story high rise on Fifth Avenue, the feds will also need to find accommodations for staffers in a building where a modest one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment rents for $5,250-a-month, according to the StreetEasy real estate site.

"They would need at least a whole floor, and every apartment on that floor would need to be turned into an office," said Sullivan.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is so concerned about the city getting stuck with the bill for protecting Trump that he's already been in touch with outgoing Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson as well as the President-elect's transition team to ensure that the feds guarantee reimbursement.

"I made clear to (Johnson) how committed we are to the president-elect's security, but I've also made clear to him that there's extraordinary costs involved and that we want to start the process of understanding what kind of federal reimbursement we can get," the mayor said recently. "I will be speaking to the president-elect's team as early as next week on this topic."

Former Secret Service agent Evy Poumpouras, who was part of the security details that protected Obama and President George W. Bush, said she hopes Trump will reconsider at least his own weekend plans once he becomes president.

"This is one of those situations where they really should have an honest conversation with him and just really explain to him that this is not a good idea," she told NBC's Brian Williams. "To physically re-create the security that exists at the White House in New York City, it's not going to happen."

She added: "There's buses going by, there's trucks going by. When that detonates, that building is not going to withstand that blast."

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In a subsequent interview with NBC News, Poumpouras said flights out of LaGuardia Airport will have to be rerouted so they don't fly directly over Trump Tower, and the subways running below the building will have to be fortified and closely watched.

"Routes will need to change," she said. "All the security changes to make this happen will cost millions upon millions."

Then there's presidential gridlock. Any time the commander-in-chief ventures in and out of New York City, traffic grinds to a halt and commuter chaos ensues.

Three days after he was elected, Trump's motorcade forced the shutdown of the Lincoln Tunnel — a key artery connecting New York City to New Jersey — for 60 minutes at the height of the evening rush hour.

Back in 2009, there was gridlock across Manhattan when the Obamas flew in one Saturday for dinner and a Broadway show. And while the first couple has been back home to Chicago numerous times in the eight years they've been in the Washington, they've only spent 14 nights in their Hyde Park home, according to White House records.

For a taste of things to come, consider how Trump arrived Tuesday evening at Mar-a-Lago, his 126-room, 110,000-square-foot mansion in exclusive Palm Beach for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was in a 45-vehicle convoy that included limousines, vans — and an ambulance.

Trump's glamorous Florida getaway will also get a bit of a makeover.

"It is the case that the Secret Service regularly upgrades a president's off-campus residence," said Sullivan. "Typically, it includes security apparatus, and global communications."

Trump will have to get used to having lots of unfamiliar faces around him all of the time.

"Just think about you at your home tonight and four strangers just show up and they're standing in your kitchen," Wackrow, the former agent, told NBC News.

"Secret Service protection is the most intrusive thing that anyone could ever experience. We experience parts of your life, but we're also there in those private times when things aren't good — family arguments — family loss. We're there when staff goes away and the military goes away, the only ones left are the Secret Service agents. We're there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

That takes some getting used to.

For example, Obama was told early in his administration that his protective detail needed 4 hours notice to safely manage his pickup basketball games. That, at first, did not go over well.

"It takes a little bit of time and it takes a little bit of give and take on both sides," said Wackrow. He said that the Secret Service will "need to understand [what] is unique about protecting Donald Trump and the first lady."

"If the president-elect says, 'No,' there's going to be a conversation," Wackrow added. "We're not going to just say OK, we're going to actually push back, we may have to modify, but we'll understand what that pressure point is and then work around it."

The Trump trip to Florida wound up being a compromise on both sides, a Homeland Security official familiar with the operation told NBC News.

The cost to U.S. taxpayers? Seven million dollars, the official said.

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