Donald Trump Is Turning His Mar-a-Lago Estate Into a National Security Nightmare

The “Winter White House” is suddenly the place to be.


President Donald Trump was reportedly alerted to the news of North Korea’s missile firing on Saturday, while dining with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, the exclusive club owned by Trump that the administration has dubbed the “Winter White House.”

As the two leaders learned of the unfolding international crisis, so, too, did the private citizens and resort members who happened to be dining alongside them. Quick to realize he was witnessing something unusual and highly shareable, club member Richard DeAgazio swiftly took out his camera phone to capture the incident and post the resulting photos to Facebook:

Hours before, DeAgazio also posted photos of himself posing with a man he described as carrying the “nuclear football” that enables the president to launch a nuclear attack from afar. He has since deactivated his Facebook account.

But DeAgazio isn’t alone in turning Mar-a-Lago’s social-media tag into a bizarre window into the American presidency. Here are some other snapshots from this past weekend alone, including one of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn jogging with some Secret Service agents.

The social-media postings have sparked widespread alarm over the extraordinary security risks Trump poses by governing from his Palm Beach estate, where hundreds of members and staff who lack proper security clearances are free to roam while high-level meetings and even international crises take place.

“There’s no excuse for letting an international crisis play out in front of a bunch of country club members like dinner theater,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fired off in a tweet on Monday.

With Trump scheduled to ditch the White House for Florida for the third time since his inauguration this coming weekend, there are likely to be future photos offering regular Americans, who can’t shell out the recently doubled $200,000 membership fee, more glimpses of the luxe and occasionally top-secret life at Mar-a-Lago.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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