Recently, the North Koreans provided the first real security test of Donald Trump’s administration when they launched a missile successfully. The event would have alarmed any administration, and the reaction of a young administration would be telling no matter who held the Oval Office.
During the attacks Trump was hosting Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, the resort Trump and aides tout as the winter White House. Setting aside how crass it is for the President of the United States to use his office to increase the prestige and brand recognition of his resort, there are some very concerning events that ensued.
A piece at the Washington Post outlined the events fairly well when they interviewed a member of the club who happened to be dining near the President at the time. Some of the highlights are that Trump’s aides overcame the dim lighting of the dining area by lighting memos with their cell phone’s flashlights, which is problematic itself given the relative ease of getting a virus into a cell phone. Another highlight is the detailed account that the diner provides.
All of this leaves the question; if the President intends to run his administration from Mar-a-Lago for a significant amount of time, what is being done to secure it? Are members vetted beyond the wallet check they are required to pass? That wallet check just moved to extreme vetting as the membership fees doubled shortly after President Trump won.
It’s one thing for the blatant pay for play that occurs when the mega rich can pay obscene amounts of money and reasonably expect to get some face time out of it. That fact may give you indigestion, it isn’t the major concern, and that says a lot.
The major concern is that the environment there can’t possibly be as controlled as it is at the White House, or even at the resort the government already has for weekends like Trump and Abe just had, Camp David. The Mar-a-Lago environment is one where people will come and go as they please.
Are the members undergoing extreme vetting to ensure that there are no foreign or domestic spies taking up residence?
Is Mar-a-Lago routinely swept for bugs?
If any federal employee with top-secret clearance had discussed a situation like this in the middle of a restaurant, they would be in big trouble, and rightly so. Why then does the Trump administration take a pass?
This glaring vulnerability in our security is alarming. That the administration would not have immediately thought to move this situation out of the dining room and into someplace that is secure should alarm everyone.
Humbly, we propose that business operations at Mar-a-Lago cease, just until we can figure out what the hell is going on. The security measures there, and the background of the members must be exposed to extreme vetting. If top-secret information is going to be flying around the dining room, shouldn’t the people in the room be subjected to the strict controls of vetting for top secret security clearance?
The answer is yes, but it won’t happen.