The National Park Service and Donald Trump were off to a rocky start from the very first weekend of his administration, when the agency ticked off the new president by tweeting photos of his underwhelming inauguration crowd. The White House served up bad news for the Park Service in March when it put forth its proposed budget, which would slash the Interior Department’s budget by 12 percent—nearly $2 billion. That cut would likely be felt heavily by NPS.
So when Sean Spicer opened Monday’s press briefing by presenting a novelty check from Trump to the agency, donating his earnings from his first quarter salary to the NPS, the president seemed to be sending mixed messages. It might appear at first glance to have been a magnanimous act—an act of symbolic recognition. But some people were quick to point out that, when weighed against either the funding Trump would strip from the agency or the staggering amount the feds spend on Trump’s travel and security, the $78,000 he was donating is a rather piddly amount.
However, it would take 1,531 more Trump paychecks to make up for proposed budget cut to Interior. https://t.co/si6yfdGPbP— Julie Bykowicz (@bykowicz) April 3, 2017
The check was for $78k, which could cover about one half-day of security at Trump Tower (when he's not there) https://t.co/sswqyPp5mk— Mark Berman (@markberman) April 3, 2017
Trump promised in November to donate his salary to charity (and later invited the White House press corps to pick the charity). The National Park Service is not a charity—although it does have an official charitable partner—but most people didn’t appear to find this an issue worth splitting hairs over.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who vowed early on to fight the proposed budget’s steep cuts for the Interior Department but seems to have instead witnessed those prospective cuts deepen, told PBS NewsHour that he was “thrilled” with Trump’s donation and that he would use it for maintenance projects for the country’s battlefields. Given the White House budget’s generous love for the military, that might be a use of his money that Trump would approve of.