PALM BEACH — Much has been made of President Donald Trump designating his Mar-a-Lago resort his “Winter White House,” with many questioning whether the club is a tight enough ship for such affairs of state.
Trump has been accused—among other dubious practices—of letting guests pay for access to him at his Palm Beach club.
And who could forget the time he turned an open-air dinner full of club members into a spontaneous “situation room” to discuss an ongoing North Korean missile launch with the Japanese prime minister?
Trump, of course, maintains that Mar-a-Lago is just fine for his presidential purposes. It’s a position borne out by Trump’s apparent insistence on holding court at the Palm Beach mansion damn near every weekend.
Unfortunately, though, it’s also a position severely undercut by the resort’s latest security mishap.
“Snuck by secret service to catch this selfie. They might have told us not to go in there,” read the provocative Saturday-night Instagram post of club guest Joseph Young, which was accompanied by a photo of Young smiling in the Donald’s study. A creepy portrait of Trump in the full flower of his youth loomed in the background, with the someday-president posing like the sporty-yet-foppish scion of country club royalty.
The Secret Service disputes the account.
“Those reports are all false,” said Secret Service spokeswoman Catherine Milhoan. “No one got past the Secret Service.”
Additionally, another Secret Service source said that club guests were permitted access to the study anyway.
As with much of what comes from the Trump camp, the takeaway is unclear. Another guest, Frank Vigilante, posted a photo of himself and his mother in front of the same portrait, which could be seen to support Secret Service’s claims about the openness of the room, but could just as easily be cited as further evidence of a hole in security.
“If a goober like this can sneak in, I think it’s safe to say Russia & China have full audio/video access 24/7,” posted Twitter-user @BrianBruce7 of Young’s intrusion. The tweet was fairly typical of social media’s response to the original selfie, which drew criticism of both Trump and the Secret Service.
Young deleted his post, but the internet being what it is, the damage was already done.
It wasn’t the first selfie-related problem Secret Service experienced this week. On Thursday, two agents “freaked out” Trump’s grandson—8-year-old Donald III—by taking selfies with him while he slept in a car from Manhattan to Westchester. No less than a day later, another agent had a laptop with sensitive information on it stolen while under her care. All-in-all, not a good week for the president’s security detail.
The latest Mar-a-Lago incidents—if true—are surely the most serious of the bunch.
It’s almost as if there’s a potent argument for the Trump brood simply residing in the White House like every other First Family has been content to do.