Donald Trump appeared to hang onto his presidency until the very last second by touting claims of voter fraud and launching a myriad of lawsuits with help from some of his closest allies. NBC News counted more than 50 legal battles regarding the election results, most of which were tossed out. Alas, the day finally came when he had to ship out of the White House, and like most tired New Yorkers of a certain age, Trump took his wife and retired to Florida. Hello, Mar-a-Lago.
According to National Parks Traveler, Mar-a-Lago was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1980 but has been considered a historic site since at least the 1970s. At the time, it was intended to be used as a retreat for presidents and diplomats. Though congress delisted the property amidst concern that it’d be too costly to maintain and keep secure, it’s since gained notoriety as Trump’s winter White House.
The real estate mogul purchased Mar-a-Lago in 1985 and converted it into a private, members-only club, which has since lived out its intended purpose. According to The Washington Post, Trump spent more time there during his presidency than at any other Trump Organization property, totaling 142 days spanning 32 visits over the course of four years. It makes sense that it’d be the first place he goes after leaving office, but his life at the club is nothing like it was during his presidency. Here’s a look inside Trump’s life at Mar-a-Lago.
Screaming supporters lined up to welcome Donald Trump home
It’s no secret that Donald Trump is a local celebrity in the area that surrounds Mar-a-Lago. A supporter who spoke to The Guardian labeled the Sunshine State as “Trump Country.” As The New York Times points out, there’s even an intersection in Palm Beach Gardens that’s been unofficially dubbed “Trump Corner” because it tends to host large gatherings of his fans, who were awake and ready for the former president’s arrival when he left Washington for good.
According to the Miami Herald, Trump had arrived at Mar-a-Lago before Biden even took his presidential oath. Though he didn’t take questions from reporters when he touched down on Air Force One, the real estate mogul made sure to greet his fans, who lined the streets along his route waving American flags and wearing red MAGA hats. Trump leisurely cruised home in the motorcade, waving and giving his supporters a “double thumbs-up.”
“I’m happy for him to finally retire, to have some peace, to be away from the swamp, to golf, to be a grandfather to his grandchildren, to be a father to his children,” one local supporter, who donned a giant foam MAGA hat, told AP. This last-minute parade was a small consolation for the military-style send-off that was rejected by the Pentagon (per Bloomberg, the former president ultimately had a send-off for himself, anyway).
Donald Trump's hometown support is dwindling
Donald Trump may be back at his base at Mar-a-Lago, but the real question is, how many supporters are there actually left in that base? According to numerous reports, he may be on the brink of losing his status as a hometown hero, even if one of the state’s senators voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory.
According to CNN, many Palm Beach residents voted for the former reality star “in hopes of lower taxes and a booming stock market.” Instead, Trump’s 2017 tax plan largely slashed taxes for corporations and the wealthy, and business investments drastically slowed down in the wake of the novel coronavirus. Those voters are now questioning their support. “It’s just another measure of how his power has declined,” Laurence Leamer, author of Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace, told MSNBC, adding, “Even here people don’t like him.”
The New York Times reports that 1,488 “local Republicans have left the party since the insurrection at the Capitol,” and it looks like democrats are poised to take an increasingly stronger foothold in Palm Beach. “The good news: He’s no longer at the White House. The bad news is he’s going to be in our backyard,” Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of Palm Beach County’s Democratic Party, told The New York Times, adding, “I won’t have to do a lot of rallying because having him here will be a rallying cry for Democrats.”
Donald Trump transformed Mar-a-Lago into a fortress
Mar-a-Lago may have been Trump’s vacation home, but now it’s his fortress. Even before the former president permanently moved onto the property, the club was armed to the teeth whether or not he was actually there. According to Page Six, it took a minimum of 30 minutes to get through security, non-Americans needed a passport to enter, and the place was patrolled by 100 secret service cars. In their words, “Guantanamo is less rigid.”
The New York Times predicted that Trump’s permanent presence would lead to a headache of security-related road closures and inconveniences for Palm Beach residents. While that hasn’t completely played out yet, one thing is clear: the security is for good reason. According to CNBC, there was a breach in late January 2020 when a Connecticut woman bust past two security checkpoints in an SUV going 70 mph. Shots were fired, and she was ultimately arrested.
Despite the security risks, the Donald appears to be quite the homebody. It’s a far cry from Trump’s former image as an international playboy, but retirement will do that. Sources that spoke to The New York Times claimed that the real estate mogul “never leaves his house,” and mostly just goes to the golf club. He even set up the official Office of the Former President. Yes, he’s working from home, and you can bet he’ll claim the tax write-offs.
Where in the world is Melania Trump?
Melania Trump was the one who first fueled rumors of the former first couple’s move to Florida, but her actual whereabouts have long served as tabloid lore. Remember way back in 2018 when she allegedly went missing for 24 days and the American public basically lobbied for a presidential grade milk carton? What about the long-standing rumors that she didn’t even live in the White House? This kind of gossip did not end with Melania’s move to Mar-a-Lago.
According to The New York Times, the former model was spotted looking at homes in Florida, but she wasn’t solely looking in Palm Beach. Melania also checked out Jupiter, which is about 30 minutes from Trump’s private club. This makes little sense for someone who’s planning to set up camp in her husband’s resort, which begs the question: is the former first lady even living in Mar-a-Lago?
The answer is a solid maybe. She may have just been looking for options after her renovations went colossally wrong. Multiple sources alleged to CNN that Melania attempted to renovate Trump’s private quarters in Mar-a-Lago to make the “space feel larger and updated,” but Donald hated his wife’s aesthetic choices. He reportedly had “several loud, one-sided conversations with club management” and asked them to remove “pieces of the décor” that contained “white marble and an abundance of dark wood.” It’s not unreasonable to think that Melania dreamed of a life she could fully design, if only for a moment.
Trump's name is being erased from Palm Beach
As Donald Trump gets settled in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach has slowly been erasing him from the city. According to Newsweek, the Trump Plaza board “voted to unanimously remove” the real estate mogul’s name from the complex following the violent riots at the United States Capitol. Though the towers haven’t been owned by the former president in about 30 years, the name endured because it was viewed as “a branding asset.” At the time of this writing, they have yet to choose a new name, but the towers are located directly across the water from Mar-a-Lago, about a 10-minute drive away. In other words, the former president gets to watch his real estate kingdom fall right under his nose.
“It’s been a long time in coming,” a condo owner told The Palm Beach Post. “Most of us are relieved that the name will finally be off the buildings.”
This appeared to be the final straw in a series of motions residents took to distance themselves from the former president. The street-level signs were taken down during the George Floyd protests for “safety.” Prior to that, residents “voted to not replace” a Trump Plaza sign that was removed during a renovation.
Trump's neighbors are trying to evict him from Mar-a-Lago
At the time of this writing, Donald Trump has only been at Mar-a-Lago for about two weeks, but he’s already having problems with the neighbors, who are trying to have the former president evicted. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Trump’s residence at the private club may violate a 1993 agreement he made with the Town of Palm Beach when he converted the property from a private residence to a club. Per the agreement, no guest — including the former president — is allowed to stay at Mar-a-Lago more than a week at a time and no more than 21 non-consecutive days out of the year.
The town didn’t enforce the clause throughout Trump’s presidency. As we know, the club was dubbed his winter White House and he spent a heck of a lot of time there. Now, an anonymous neighbor is fighting back with a legal letter demanding enforcement under the premise that Trump’s permanent residence would “decrease property values.”
According to CNN, Palm Beach is looking into the matter. As of this writing, Trump’s residence is on the docket for a town council meeting and they’re conducting a legal review. By now, they’re used to fighting the former president. The Guardian reports that Trump has battled Palm Beach over the construction of a helipad and sued the city for $25 million over an 80-foot flagpole he erected without a permit that violated city ordinances.
Members are ditching Mar-a-Lago in droves
Mar-a-Lago has long been a refuge for Donald Trump, a place where he could mingle with his most elite supporters and dine on a signature Trump Wedge Salad or (more realistically for a man who may or may not have a Diet Coke button) a slice of Trump Chocolate Cake. Post-presidency, the vibes have totally changed. In an interview with MSNBC, author Laurence Leamer claimed the once-booming club has become a “very dispirited place” as loyal members jump ship because they want to sever their ties with Trump.
“It’s a sad place … it’s not what it was,” Leamer admitted, claiming members are “not concerned about politics and they said the food is no good.” In his book, Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace (via Esquire), Leamer alleged that “the service is terrible,” “servers aren’t well-trained,” and loud construction makes it impossible to play tennis. Though People reports that the health department uncovered 13 kitchen violations in 2017, including “dangerous raw fish,” Mar-a-Lago did meet “the minimum standards.”
All in all, Leamer does not believe the club’s members will continue to pay for the costly membership. “The key point is the insurrection. That’s what’s changed everything,” he told CBS12 News. “A number of people told me they’re leaving, they’re quitting…after the insurrection.” So, while Trump may have his castle, but he might rule it all alone.
Donald Trump was harassed by an airplane
Donald Trump’s permanent Twitter ban built a veritable wall between the former president and the American public. Anyone who’s ever read his Twitter replies knows there’s a wealth of citizens who enjoyed the instant stress release of firing off an angry reply. It gave a small sense of power to the powerless. Now that that’s gone, people are finding more creative methods to send the former reality star some hate.
According to TMZ, Trump was met with an angry sky-writing plane during his first week at Mar-a-Lago as a private citizen. The banner flying behind it read “Trump you pathetic loser go back to Moscow,” a nod to the Trump-Russia investigation led by Robert Mueller. A second banner read “Trump worst president ever,” which isn’t a far cry from something Trump might’ve read in his Twitter replies.
It’s unclear if the former president actually received the messages, but there’s a fair amount of evidence that he does enjoy staring at the sky when it’s dangerously bright, like during a solar eclipse for example. With that track record, we can only assume he probably glanced up.
Palm Beach Country is trying to cancel Trump's lease
Before permanently moving to Palm Beach, Trump was a born and raised New Yorker. The real estate mogul had numerous contracts with the city, including Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, the Central Park Carousel, and the Wollman and Lasker ice skating rinks. In January, right before Trump’s move to Mar-a-Lago, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city was canceling its contracts with the Trump Organization. According to The New York Times, they were worth about $17 million per year.
As it turns out, Trump’s new hometown is poised to do the same thing. According to The Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach County is exploring the idea of “severing business ties to Trump” and was looking to cancel their lease with Trump International Golf Club. Trump pays the county $88,338 per month to rent the land, but legally, breaking the lease may not be a realistic possibility. Howard Falcon, chief assistant county attorney, told The Post that “it would be a stretch,” but it does signal that the county is trying to distance itself from the real estate mogul, as futile as that effort may be.
Donald Trump is already playing golf
As Donald Trump’s second impeachment looms over his head and his squabbles with Palm Beach escalate, it seems like the former president is rather unbothered. He wasted absolutely no time after leaving the White House to get to his true passion: golf. In this sense, he’s not much different from most seniors who retire to Florida, except for the fact that he owns the whole golf course.
According to USA Today, Trump became the first president in 150 years to skip the inauguration. He spent his last moments as the leader of the free world at Mar-a-Lago and his first weekend away from office hitting the links at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. Retirement had officially begun — and he was, dare we say, cheerful.
According to Daily Mail, Trump sported his “signature red MAGA cap” on the course and was greeted by a group of supporters when he retired back to Mar-a-Lago after a couple of rounds. Some of them carried signs reading “Still My President!” and “Trump Won!” As the tabloid points out, Trump smiled and “cheerfully” waved. This seems like a stark contrast to his demeanor during his final days in the White House, where Reuters reported he was “angry,” “isolated,” and “increasingly fretful.” A break from social media does wonders for your mental health.
The rest of the family is moving to Florida, too
Even though members are ditching Mar-a-Lago, Trump won’t be alone in Florida. It looks like his children are planning to follow him to the Sunshine State. As we know, Barron is likely holed up at Mar-a-Lago with Melania (if Melania is, in fact, at Mar-a-Lago), but the rest of the kids are on their way, too.
According to Page Six, Ivanka and Jared Kushner planned to build a home in Miami’s Indian Creek Village, a gated private island that houses several billionaires and celebrities. They reportedly purchased a lot for an estimated $32 million, and according to Forbes, the island overwhelmingly voted for Trump, so his daughter will probably be right at home.
Next up is Donald Trump Jr. New York Post reports that he’s chosen Jupiter and has taken his girlfriend Kimberley Guilfoyle along for the ride. The town is about a half-hour away from Mar-a-Lago, and his home to his ex-wife Vanessa lives and their five children. Plus, it’s got a Trump-branded golf course, so the family could presumably play as much golf as they wanted.
Finally, Page Six claims Tiffany Trump, the oft-forgotten Trump child, was looking for property in Miami’s South Beach. As of this writing, she’s reportedly already living there with her boyfriend Michael Boulos at the Setai Hotel but plans to purchase a home for herself. At this time, it doesn’t look like Eric will be joining his siblings, but four out of five isn’t bad.
Despite the hate, Mar-a-Lago is making bank
Mar-a-Lago has gotten a lot of criticism over the last four years, particularly from Palm Beach residents and taxpayers. Whatever their complaints may be, the private club actually remains one of Donald Trump’s most profitable endeavors — even through the coronavirus pandemic when leisure and hospitality businesses historically lost revenue.
According to Fox Business, Mar-a-Lago’s revenue rose by about 13% from $21.4 million to $24.2 million in 2020. Though the property has brought in $30 million during some of its more profitable years, it was the only Trump property that saw increased revenues during the pandemic. Overall, the Trump Organization saw a 38% drop in revenue.
Beyond that, The Palm Beach Post claimed Mar-a-Lago was a “money machine” for fundraising in 2020. Events held at the property brought in “tens of millions of dollars” for both the Republican National Committee and Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign. Though Trump’s campaign is over for now, some reports claim he may be planning a 2024 run, in which case, Mar-a-Lago will likely be an asset.
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