PALM BEACH — The Mar-a-Lago resort of President Donald Trump may serve functionally as a “Winter White House” during the colder months, but in terms of security and record-keeping, the White House it ain’t!
The identities of Trump’s guests at the Palm Beach manor has largely remained unknown, which prompted a coalition made up of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and The National Security Archive to file a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding a list of the visitors.
In response, the Secret Service informed a federal judge on Wednesday what had long been suspected: The records simply don’t exist.
“The Secret Service maintains no record and has no access to any record directly responsive to Plaintiffs’ request,” read an agent’s declaration. This is not the first time it’s been intimated that the club has no visitor logs, but the confirmation from the Secret Service carries a special weight.
“The…search and review of records confirmed that there is no system for keeping track of Presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago, as there is at the White House Complex,” affirmed Kim E. Campbell, the head of the Secret Service’s Liaison Division. “Specifically, it was determined that there is no grouping, listing or set of records that would reflect Presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago.”
Trump famously holed up at Mar-a-Lago nearly every weekend through the winter months and into April, and even held meetings with heads of state at the resort.
While some information about the president’s visitors can be cobbled together from schedules and other sources, the confirmation of just how spotty (to the point of out-and-out non-existence) records on Trump’s activities are on his Florida visits is troubling, particularly for a president whose administration has come under attack over accusations of collusion with foreign powers.
Of course, Trump is unlikely to change course and do anything differently when winter rolls around again. National security is all well and good, but how else is the man supposed to play golf?