For someone who said he would “rarely leave the White House” if he won the election, President Donald Trump certainly spends a lot of time at his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago, aka the “winter White House.”
In fact, the commander-in-chief is expected to head there this weekend to wine and dine with rich socialites while his equally incompetent administration tries to deal with everything else. The upcoming trip would mark POTUS’s third consecutive weekend getaway, which, by the way, costs taxpayers approximately $3 million each time.
To put it simply, Trump loves that place.
He loves it so much that he seems to have turned it into his personal situation room.
After all, what could be better than discussing matters of national security against the backdrop of candlelight and soft piano music while sitting in a luxurious dining area within the earshot of ultra-wealthy folks, right?
For a president who has told his aides to render hefty intelligence information into bullet points, graphics and page-long summaries, it actually seems like an ideal setting. However, for experts (and everyone with an iota of common sense) this particular situation screams of a huge security flaw.
Case in point: This weekend, when North Korea test-fired its ballistic fire in to the Sea of Japan to show off its military prowess to one of the strongest U.S. allies, the Trump administration and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe handled the crisis at a terrace in Mar-a-Lago, in front of several other diners and hotel staff.
In his defense, Abe was already at the resort to spend a weekend with the business baron. But don’t they have a conference room or a private hall in that huge club where people could discuss important matters without making strangers privy to their information?
It is irresponsible, unprecedented and ridiculous — and those who believe otherwise, should check out the photos posted on Facebook by a resort member who had a front-row seat to Trump and Abe conferring their reaction to Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threat.
Yes, Massachusetts business mogul and Trump supporter Richard DeAgazio, who apparently bought Mar-a-Lago membership after the election, snapped a number of photos capturing the flurry of movement around the president’s table as his team decided on the course of action.
The presence of classified documents in what The Washington Post dubbed the “open air situation room” is extremely alarming. What if a diner or a server takes a picture of the papers — would anyone even notice a camera flash when the aides themselves seem to be reading the information under their phone flashlights?
To make things even more unsettling, DeAgazio also publicly shared a selfie he took with the military aide who carries the nuclear “football” for the president.
People were understandably worried.
“It’s unheard of. These people operate behind the scenes,” Julianne Smith, deputy national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, told The Guardian. “I don’t think this team has any appreciation about the vulnerabilities they are creating for themselves and how dangerous this is.”
However, even in all the chaos, the POTUS still managed to pose for a picture that gets more sinister the longer you look at it.
Unsurprisingly, it has already turned into a depressing meme.
is anyone else reminded of this pic.twitter.com/tlHt1HBncu— libby watson (@libbycwatson) February 13, 2017
This is a perfect photo. So of course the original is on the iPhone of a random Mar-a-Lago person with access to the president. pic.twitter.com/bA1miZvyN4— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) February 13, 2017
Former President Barack Obama’s first-term speechwriter, Jon Favreau, had the perfect response to the madness.
In addition to conducting all the national security business, Trump and Abe also crashed a wedding at the resort.
“I saw them out on the lawn today,” Trump reportedly said of the bride and groom. “I said to the Prime Minister of Japan, I said, ‘C'mon Shinzo, let's go over and say hello.’ They've been members of this club for a long time, they've paid me a fortune.”
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer unsuccessfully tried to ease the nation’s valid concerns about what happened at Mar-a-Lago patio by claiming the leader of the free world was only discussing “logistics” when the pictures were taken.
“The president was briefed in a SCIFF prior to dinner,” he told reporters. “They were reviewing the logistics for the press conference ... President was subsequently briefed in a classified setting.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters