Not only is Trump costing American taxpayers a fortune with his weekend golf trips to his residence at Mar-a-Lago, he’s making himself, and the entire country, extremely vulnerable to domestic and foreign spies. And it only gets more dangerous with each visit.
Trump’s sprawling Florida resort residence was never intended to house a president, especially not one who spends every weekend there — no, Mar-a-Lago was meant to be a rich man’s playground. And, unlike the White House, it’s open daily to the public and not just for tours. Anyone with enough money to spend is welcome to visit and stay there whenever they like. They scariest part? All anyone needs in order to enter Mar-a-Lago is a single photo I.D. and be personally invited by a club member.
According to security experts, Trump’s frequent visits are becoming more predictable which provides ample opportunity for spies to create dossiers on his activity, eavesdrop on his daily briefings, memorize his routines, etc. And it’s not just Trump who is vulnerable, it’s his entire staff and family as well.
Former Obama-era assistant attorney general for national security, David Kris had this to say:
The president is the biggest, richest intelligence target in the world, and there is almost no limit to the energy and money an adversary will spend to get at him.”
To make matters worse, Mar-a-Lago isn’t just a club — it’s also a venue for ticketed events such as concerts and golf tournaments, as well as political and charity dinners.
Hosts for the slate of political and charity dinners booked at the president’s part-time home from now to the end of the club’s season in May told POLITICO the only request for information about attendees has come from the club itself. And all they’re asked to provide is a name, not additional information that can be used for Secret Service background checks in the event the president is in residence.
“One could send a source to attend and report on atmospherics, the buzz, attendees, rumors, etc.,” Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA and the National Security Agency, and former director of national intelligence, wrote in an email.
They also pointed out:
Spies don’t even need to physically go to Mar-a-Lago to do their work. Lists of the club’s nearly 500 exclusive dues-paying members have leaked in recent weeks to the news media, giving foreign intelligence the names of potential targets for surveillance, blackmail or bribes that can help them get closer to the president.
What’s more, a page on the Mar-a-Lago website — accessible to the public with just a little search engine sleuthing — reveals the names, work email addresses and phone numbers for more than a dozen critical club employees, including the managing director, who has special Secret Service clearance to get up close to Trump, the chief of security, the housekeeping director and the official in charge of food and beverage services. All would be obvious targets for operatives trying to get information on the president or others in his entourage.
“Hostile intelligence services would love to plant bugs in a place like this,” said John McLaughlin, a former acting CIA director.
Trump’s constant need for adoration and attention is becoming more and more dangerous as each day passes, not to mention putting local businesses in a financial bind as customers are staying away to avoid the hassle Trump is causing them. The worst part? He doesn’t even care.
Trump has already spent every weekend, except the one right after his inauguration, at Mar-a-Lago and we see no sign of this stopping as he’s planning another trip this weekend. It’s only a matter of time before this causes a major security breach if it hasn’t already.
Featured image via Getty/Joe Raedle