After he left the White House, residents tried to get Trump evicted by citing a 1993 agreement between him and the city that said Trump would limit his stays at Mar-a-Lago in exchange for turning his residence into a private club.
The agreement specified that no guest, Trump included, would be allowed to stay at the club for more than “three non-consecutive seven-day periods.”
Randolph said the 1993 agreement did not specifically restrict Trump from living at the club because he is a “bona fide employee.” Randolph told the Palm Beach Daily News that the town’s zoning codes allow private clubs to provide living arrangements for some employees.
Trump’s attorney John B. Marion said the former president is responsible for overseeing the property and its financial records, strategizing ways to improve the club, and evaluating employee performance, the Daily News reported.
“This guy, he wanders the property like the mayor of the town of Mar-a-Lago,” Marion said of Trump. “He’s ever-present, and he loves it there, and he loves the people that he sees there.”
Randolph’s remarks come months after a town council session in which officials heard the residents argue that Trump should not legally be allowed to live there because it would violate the 1993 agreement.
Palm Beach Town Manager Kirk Blouin said since then, council members have discussed Trump’s residency with Randolph and “did not object” to his decision.
“There is no action for the town of Palm Beach to take at this time,” Blouin told the Daily News.
Mar-a-Lago normally closes after Memorial Day. Trump is expected to temporarily relocate to Bedminster, New Jersey, this summer, likely to strategize for a potential 2024 presidential run, Insider’s Tom LoBianco reported.
Over the course of his presidency, Trump decamped to Mar-a-Lago often, dubbing it his “winter White House.” Prior to his presidency, he’s visited the resort most summers for years.
Since the end of his presidency, Trump has used the resort to host Republican politicians like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. Most recently, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted about dining with Trump at the resort.
Tuesday night could be a sleepless night for former President Donald Trump as he awaits a crucial decision from Facebook over whether he can be replatformed – a move that he and his inner circle see as vital to a possible 2024 presidential campaign, according to a new Axios report.
Confidants close to the former president told Axios that Trump’s access to Facebook would be key to his fundraising and online political strategy, should he decide to run for president again in 2024, a move that looks increasingly possible.
“Getting this account back is not only essential for his future political viability,” an anonymous Trump source told the outlet, “It would also be an undoing of an unjust act by a social media company that made an ad hoc ruling to de-platform a sitting president.”
Trump’s allies acknowledged to Axios that circumstances could change before 2024 and he may ultimately decide not to run. But they also said the former president has missed being at the center of politics and “may not be able to resist running again.”
Though Trump fled Washington, DC, for his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, he has publicly entertained the idea of another presidential campaign, and according to Axios, has encouraged his supporters to donate to his own outside groups in order to guarantee Republican victories.
According to Axios, Trump’s team spent nearly $160 million on Facebook ads in 2020 and his network voraciously used the platform to energize supporters in both 2016 and 2020.
Though he has publicly minimized the ramifications of his social media exile, Trump and his team are especially eager for a Facebook reinstatement come Wednesday as they plot the former president’s potential political return.
On Tuesday, Trump announced the launch of his new blog, From the Desk of Donald J. Trump, which appears to offer the former president a Twitter-like platform to spout off short missives.
A video has emerged of former President Donald Trump bidding farewell to Mar-a-Lago members on Wednesday night.
In the clip, shared by TikTok user @45covfefe, Trump tells a crowd that he is vacating his Florida resort for the summer.
Speaking at an event to endorse Rep. Billy Long, the former president, says: “So I just want to thank everybody, this is sort of a closeout. Now we go through the summer… we’ll be back in October, maybe a little bit sooner.”
The move, which now appears to be imminent, is said to be driven by Florida’s climate and Trump’s political ambitions.
Mar-a-Lago closes just after Memorial Day on May 31 when South Florida weather becomes hot and muggy. It’s also so that Trump can gain easy access to New York donors as he builds his post-presidency political operation, Insider’s Tom LoBlanco reported.
Trump obsessively asks aides about the GOP-led audit of Arizona’s 2020 election results, Insider reported on Saturday.
“Watch Arizona. Some very interesting things are happening in Arizona,” he says in the clip posted on TikTok.
In another video, shared on YouTube, Trump touts the Arizona audit as a sign of future audits in other states.
“Let’s see what they find. I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes,” he says. “We’re going to watch that very quickly and, after that, we’ll Pennsylvania, we’ll watch Georgia, and you’re going to watch Michigan, and Wisconsin, and New Hampshire.”
He then proceeds to again claim baselessly that the 2020 election was stolen. “This was a rigged election, everybody knows it, and we’re going to be watching it very closely.”
Unlike her husband, Melania Trump has stayed out of politics since she left the White House in January.
The former first lady has not made any public appearances, and is even laying low at the couple’s residence, the Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Florida, according to a CNN report on Wednesday.
“She’s not a presence at Mar-a-Lago at all,” a source close to the former first family told CNN. “She’s not mingling with people and rarely interacts with her husband’s staff.”
Instead, Trump fills her days with regular visits to the on-site spa, occasionally getting treatments twice a day, a source told CNN. She also spends her time with the couple’s 15-year-old son, Barron, as well as with her parents, who sometimes spend weeks at the resort in their own personal suite.
Sources close to the family told CNN that Melania seems “happy and relaxed” when they do see her at dinner, and smiles and waves to guests as she arrives at the dining area with Trump.
The change of pace for the former first lady has been a long time coming. As CNN reported in December, Melania had grown eager to leave the White House and was privately planning her future. “She just wants to go home,” a source familiar with her thinking told CNN at the time.
The outlet also reported in January that Melania was looking for office space in Florida to continue the “Be Best” initiative she launched in 2018, a campaign focused on children’s wellbeing and cyberbullying.
Melania has set up her own office at the club, but little has come out of it so far, besides an embellished logo that resembles a presidential seal, CNN reported. She also has not yet announced plans for a memoir, a typical move for first ladies once they exit the White House.
City officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are still chasing down a $211,175.94 bill incurred by former president Donald Trump’s campaign nearly two years ago.
After a campaign event in the city in 2019, the Trump campaign was billed for increased police services and the use of a municipal building.
“The President’s campaign stop in the Albuquerque area cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, including over 1500 hours of police overtime that was required by the campaign,” Tim Keller, Albuquerque’s mayor, said in a statement to The Hill at the time.
But the debt has yet to paid, prompting city officials to try new tactics. The bill, which was initially sent to Donald J. Trump for President Inc. in New York, has since been resent to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort, a city spokesperson told the Albuquerque Journal.
Keller said when Trump’s rally occurred, the campaign made the city shut down the downtown area and close city hall, resulting in “tremendous” costs to the city.
A representative for Trump did not respond to Insider’s request for comment but the campaign has said in the past that it is not responsible for cities’ police bills.
At least 15 cities have struggled to get the Trump campaign to pay bills for policing and public safety during rallies, Insider’s Dave Levinthal reported in December. At the time, the Trump campaign had nearly $2 million in unpaid bills from cities for Trump’s rallies.
Brittney Reed needed to get in front of Donald Trump and it had to happen fast.
It was the eve of two special elections in Louisiana, and Reed–the head of the Louisiana GOP–knew an endorsement from Trump could make the difference. So, she had secured a last-minute ticket for a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and flew to Palm Beach to make her case in person.
It was mid-March, and Mar-a-Lago had partially closed a section of the club after several workers tested positive for COVID-19. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who became a national figure for loosening coronavirus restrictions, had booked the club for the evening and his event went on as planned.
When DeSantis and Trump finished their remarks, Reed made a beeline for the former president to discuss the two Republicans she wanted in Congress: Julia Letlow, the widow of congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who had died from COVID complications, and Claston Bernard, a former LSU track star.
Trump turned to DeSantis and others around him.
“Ron, what do you think of this race here?” Trump said, according to sources with knowledge of the event. (Representatives for Trump, DeSantis, and Bernard did not respond to Insider’s questions about the encounter.) “Is it possible, what do you think?”
The crowd agreed that Letlow was a good bet, while DeSantis said Bernard’s seat “wasn’t winnable” because the district was heavily Democratic. Trump had praised Letlow before, but it wasn’t widely known his removal from social media platforms had silenced the former president’s preferred megaphone. “How am I going to do this endorsement if I do it?” Trump asked.
“Put a press release out. We’ll get it everywhere,” Reed said.
The following day, Trump released a statement promoting Letlow’s candidacy. She won easily.
South Florida has long been a haven for those fleeing frigid winters and high taxes. Once the pandemic began, a jet set of monied Manhattanites, tech entrepreneurs, and untethered influencers restless from Blue State lockdowns flocked to Miami en masse — helping turn Greater Miami into a conservative power base.
Once Mar-a-Lago went from being Trump’s “Winter White House” to full-time residence, the Republican Party’s social calendar has increasingly orbited his beachfront Xanadu.
“Republicans used to go to the Upper East Side to raise money but most of those people aren’t even in New York anymore. They’re in their second home in South Florida,” said Adam Weiss, a Miami-based public relations executive. “Now that New York completely shut down, that drove a whole new group of people to come down here.”
So far this year, Trump’s members-only resort has hosted high-dollar soirees for DeSantis, Utah Senator Mike Lee, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Alabama Senate candidate Lynda Blanchard.
“I have to say, I’m getting calls from senators, they all want our endorsement and I’m being very selective,” Trump said at the Noem gathering, which donors paid $4,000 to attend.
Party honchos even relocated their confabs to South Florida to ensure a Trump appearance.
The American Conservative Union switched its annual CPAC event from suburban Maryland to Orlando in February to avoid limits on large indoor gatherings. It was there that Trump made his first public remarks since leaving office.
The Republican National Committee picked Palm Beach for its spring donor retreat in April and set a portion of the weekend at Mar-a-Lago to appease Trump after officials angered the former president by using his image in its fundraisers.
When Air Force One touched down in West Palm Beach on Jan. 20, hundreds of MAGA-hatted faithful lined Southern Boulevard gripping blue “Trump 2020” flags and hand painted “Trump Won” signs as the former president’s motorcade whizzed by.
It was a far friendlier atmosphere than he had lately experienced in Manhattan, where raucous protesters would pack Fifth Avenue, at the foot of Trump Tower, whenever Trump returned from Washington.
“It’s a wealthy place and there’s not many places where there are so many heavy hitters who are Republican,” Weiss said.
“Isn’t it so nice that Miami is open?”
Power lunches in Palm Beach still reign among Trump’s inner circle. Rudy Giuliani is known to hold court at The Breakers and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been seen dining at La Bilboquet, a Worth Avenue outpost of a high-end Manhattan eatery that opened in February. The afterparty crowd for Mar-a-Lago events often hits Cucina Palm Beach where Kimberly Guilfoyle, who purchased a $9.7 million mansion with her boyfriend Don Jr. in nearby Jupiter, has been spotted dancing on the tables.
The love for Trump spreads 70 miles south of Mar-a-Lago to Miami, a city that never sleeps thanks to many coronavirus restrictions lifting months ago.
They pack into Carbone, one of the restaurants dotting Collins Avenue in South Beach. Or Socialista, a swanky lounge attached to Cipriani Restaurant, where transplants from San Francisco start-ups rub shoulders with maskless models and the occasional conservative influencer, before moving on to an all-night party at a South Beach penthouse or at the Star Island mansion of plastic surgeon Leonard Hochstein and “Real Housewives of Miami” star Lisa Hochstein.
“Isn’t it so nice that Miami is open?” one tech founder, who called himself a COVID refugee, said. “I’m so over COVID.”
But the hottest reservation in Biscayne Bay is Joia Beach, a Mykonos-inspired beach club with views of megayachts and the Miami skyline.
There’s currently a three-month wait on Open Table but VIPs like Akon, Maluma, Adriana Lima, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb, and Tiffany Trump have snagged tables to nibble on Tasmanian trout crudo ($20), Turkish octopus ($30), and winter fennel and crab salad ($28).
It helps to be on a texting basis with one of the restaurant’s partners. Others have tried more unusual measures.
“People have swam in,” Marko Gojanovic, a Joia Beach partner and real estate agent, said. “There are people who have tried to pull jet skis in areas we can’t see. People have paddled up to us. Thank God we have security.”
Coronavirus is still raging in Florida a year after the pandemic began. The state has had more than 2 million cases and 33,000 deaths, with a quarter of the state’s total occurring in Miami-Dade County alone. But South Floridians–old timers and new arrivals alike–have largely shed their coronavirus concerns like a chunky sweater at the beach.
No one shames people for forgoing masks at hotels and restaurants or packing house parties. Mar-a-Lago remains a mask-free zone.
Contrast that to what happened in the northeast last winter, when a video of a Queens Republican club’s Christmas party, featuring a maskless conga line, gained 3.7 million views online and drew torrents of condemnation. Manhattan Young Republicans were so spooked by the media they held their winter gala at a secret location in New Jersey.
Washington has become less hospitable to Trump-friendly conservatives too. American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp said he’s had several hostile encounters with progressives in public. He and his wife, former White House communications aide Mercedes Schlapp, are eyeing a move south.
“I was eating a salad last weekend at a restaurant in Old Town Alexandria and was berated by a woman who called me an ‘a–hole,'” Schlapp said. “Usually you have to cut someone off in traffic to earn that kind of title but here you just have to be someone recognized for being a Republican.”
The Great Republican Migration
South Florida has been beckoning conservatives for years, but locals say the influx has accelerated since Trump took office in 2017.
Fox News is still headquartered in Manhattan but other right-wing outlets have proliferated along the Gold Coast. Newsmax, the Boca Raton-based cable channel, is adding a news bureau in Miami later this year. Conservative radio host and Palm City resident Dan Bongino is one of several commentators trying out for the slot that Rush Limbaugh anchored from Palm Beach until his death earlier this year. Far-right podcaster Bill Mitchell has been broadcasting his YourVoice America program from Miami since 2019. And MAGA influencer Maggie Vandenberghe fled California for Palm Beach this winter.
The party’s donor class soon followed. Billionaires fleeing Blue State progressivism decamped to Miami’s most exclusive islands. Palantir co-founder and Republican megadonor Peter Thiel plunked down $18 million in September for a Venetian Islands chateau where MTV’s “The Real World: Miami” was filmed. Founders Fund partner Keith Rabois chided San Francisco for being “massively improperly run and managed” before dropping $29 million on an estate near Thiel in December, while Blumberg Capital’s David Blumberg blamed “poor governance” in California before making his cross-country journey.
“Miami should be the easiest and cheapest city in the country for somebody to start a business,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “I want to make sure everyone around the country knows that Miami is here to help you grow, not keep you from growing.”
A political shift is underway
Florida’s transformation from swingy purple to deeper red would have been unthinkable two decades ago when George W. Bush won the state and the presidency by a minuscule 537 votes. Southeast Florida swelled more than a million people since 2000 but it is far less of a Democratic stronghold than it used to be.
President Barack Obama won Palm Beach County by 24 points and Miami-Dade by 16 points in 2008 en route to statewide victories during both presidential campaigns. But Trump won twice by making up ground in Democratic counties.
Florida Republicans knocked doors for months boosting turnout while the Biden curtailed canvassing during the health crisis. The Trump campaign also accused Democrats of supporting socialist policies — a message that resonated among Cuban and Venezuelan immigrants who fled brutal left-wing regimes.
“Democrats were flat-footed in dealing with accusations of socialism in commercials where people had lived under the boot of socialism,” Dan Gelber, Democratic mayor of South Beach, said. “I don’t think we responded aggressively enough.”
Latino voters in Miami-Dade also feared economic damage from school and business closures more than getting sick, according to voter data Equis analyzed.
“As bad as the coronavirus pandemic was in terms of caseloads and deaths, apparently a lot more Floridians were concerned with the economy and that certainly helped Trump,” Aubrey Jewett, University of Central Florida political science professor, said.
Trump’s presence in Florida has benefited the state’s ambitious officeholders. Ron DeSantis has become a 2024 frontrunner in severalpolls after being one of the first governors to reopen his state. Marco Rubio has a clear shot at re-election and is again seen as a likely presidential candidate.
While the coronavirus has sped up the conservative influx, it’s not clear what will happen once the pandemic recedes. New arrivals could stay in South Florida now that remote work has become more prevalent and there’s less of a need for face-to-face meetings.
There’s always been a stigma about Miami but people told me in their New York circles that stigma has been lifted,” said Reid Heidenry, a Sotheby’s agent who sold over $100 million in real estate in the past year, said. “In the business world, it’s now socially acceptable to live in a place like Miami Beach.”
Whether a COVID refugee or long-time fixture of Miami Beach, there’s one thing that’s indisputable across party lines.
“Freedom tastes pretty good,” Zangrillo said at a house party.
Several large parties were held at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where attendees didn’t wear masks or properly socially distance in the days before the resort was partially closed because of a COVID-19 outbreak, The Daily Beast reported.
Now, a 500-person fundraiser for the charity Place of Hope scheduled for Sunday – a $375-a-head, invite-only party – will still take place at the Trump resort.
A Trump organization spokesman confirmed to Insider on Friday that the facility was partially closed following a coronavirus outbreak. Service at the Beach Club and à la carte Dining Room were closed after some staff reportedly tested positive for the virus.
Members received an email that said the club had taken “all appropriate response measures,” and sanitized affected areas,” according to a report by The Associated Press. Banquet and event services however remained open.
Palm Beach realtor Valentina Aved, who helped organize the Sunday event, told the Daily Beast it will feature vintage cars, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and “everybody playing by the pool.”
“It will be a very exciting event,” she told The Daily Beast. “The most beautiful cars, people, good friends.”
The event will be held outside following the outbreak.
Insider has reached out to Aved and the Trump Organization for comment.
Aved also told The Daily Beast that she attended two large events over the last week to raise funds for Big Dog Ranch Rescue, for which Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump serves as a chair. The two events were hosted in the Grand Ballroom, and images from the events show few attendees wearing masks or socially distancing.
Images and videos from the event show women screaming as a male model walked down the runway and in others Trump himself can be seen hugging people and maskless.
Miami philanthropist Angela Bird, who is a board member for the Big Dog Ranch Rescue, told the Beast that no one who attended the events tested positive for COVID-19.
Former President Donald Trump on Friday gave a short speech during an apparently impromptu appearance at a dog rescue at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach Florida, local news outlet WPTV reported.
The fundraiser was led by Lauree Simmons, the president and founder of Big Dog Ranch Rescue, who told WPTV she held the fundraiser in hopes of raising $500,000 to use a plane to extract dogs from dog meat farms in China.
“[What you’re] doing is so important and so great, and so important and I’m with you 100%, and you had many meetings in the White House and the Oval Office having to do with saving and helping dogs,” Trump said Friday.
Lara Trump, the wife of Trump’s son Eric Trump, was listed as a chairwoman for the organization’s charity events beginning in 2018, according to the report. Simmons in 2019 visited the White House when Trump signed a bill focused on animal cruelty, according to HuffPost.
While on stage, Trump referenced the rumors that his daughter-in-law was eyeing a run for Senate.
“I want to thank Lara, who has been so incredible. I don’t know, you’re running for the Senate,” he said in a video recorded Friday and posted to Twitter, wearing his signature “Make America Great Again” red hat. “I hear she’s going to run for the Senate.”
Trump has made few public appearances since he left office in January, plagued by scandal following his monthslong refusal to concede his loss to President Joe Biden and his inciting the January 6 riot at the US Capitol that left five people dead.
The Republican National Committee is now holding part of its spring retreat at Mar-a-Lago after former President Donald Trump sent the organization a cease-and-desist letter, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
Trump regularly held fundraisers and invited prominent politicians to visit and golf at Mar-a-Lago, his club and now post-presidential residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
The Post reported that the RNC will pay Trump a fee for the usage of the club for part of its retreat for big donors in early April, with Trump set to address the crowd at a Saturday night dinner.
The move comes amid tensions between Trump and some of the top Republicans in the party establishment as the 2022 midterm elections near.
The Post reported, citing a source familiar with the matter, that holding part of the GOP’s retreat at Trump’s club and paying him for Mar-a-Lago’s usage could help the RNC get firmly in Trump’s good graces.
And recently, Trump took steps to restrict how campaign committees can fundraise off of his name after reported rifts between him and leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
On Monday, Politico reported that the RNC’s chief counsel sent a letter to Trump’s lawyers pushing back on the cease-and-desist notice, arguing that the organization “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech” and claiming that Trump continued to approve of the committee’s use of his name in a recent conversation with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
In recent weeks, Trump has also publicly castigated top members of the GOP, including McConnell, in statements issued through his Save America PAC.
On February 16, for example, Trump blamed McConnell for Republicans’ loss of the dual January 5 Senate runoffs in Georgia and called him a “dour, sullen unsmiling political hack.”
And in a lengthy March 4 statement, Trump blasted longtime GOP political strategist and Fox News analyst Karl Rove as “a RINO of the highest order” and a “pompous fool with bad advice.”
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz gave a fiery speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, shouting about freedom, mask-wearing, and late-night comedians.
He also proclaimed the Republican Party is the party of working-class Americans and not just country clubs – but the conference itself seemed to be fixated on former President Donald Trump, a man who literally lives at one.
“The Republican Party is not just the party of country clubs, the Republican Party is the party of steel workers, construction workers, pipeline workers, police officers, firefighters, waiters and waitresses,” Cruz said in his speech.
Cruz also emphasized his support of Trump in his speech, indicating that Trumpism is the future of the GOP.
“There are a whole lot of voices in Washington that want to just erase the last four years,” Cruz said. “Let me tell you this right now, Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere.”
CPAC itself has largely been centered on the former president. The annual conference is taking place in Orlando, Florida this weekend and usually brings together conservative organizations, activists, and public figures.
Speakers this year included mostly pro-Trump conservatives, while establishment Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were largely absent, Insider’s Tom LoBianco reported.
Videos and photos of the event showed Trump had a dominant presence, including a large golden statue depicting the former president wearing American flag shorts (Politico reported the statue was made in Mexico).
The event was also full of Trump-themed merchandise being sold at stands, with “Trump 2024” and “Make America Great Again” slogans appearing on hats, shirts, and stuffed animals.
Many attendees also sported MAGA masks and hats.
Trump himself will speak on the last day of the conference and reportedly plans to use the speech, his first since leaving office, to demonstrate his influence over the Republican Party, Axios reported.
Trump has owned the estate since 1985, paying $8 million for it, and lived there for years before converting it into a private club. The Trump family maintains private residences there and it was often referred to as “the winter White House” during Trump’s four years in office.
The club is not open to the public and membership costs reportedly soared to $200,000 plus a $14,000 annual fee after Trump was elected. That’s nearly four times the average annual salary for a Florida police officer or a steel worker, both professions Cruz called out in his speech.