There are some 500 paying members of Trump’s exclusive Palm Beach Club, including dozens of real estate developers “and others whose businesses could be affected by Mr. Trump’s policies,” the New York Times reports.
Trump has visited his club three weekends in a row since inauguration, leading some to question whether club members are essentially paying for special access to the president. Eric Trump denied those accusations, telling the Times, “It assumes the worst of us and everyone, and that is unfair.”
But others disagree.
“Mar-a-Lago represents a commercialization of the presidency that has few if any precedents in American history,” Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and Andrew Jackson biographer, told the Times.
Still, members told the Times they aren’t mixing business with pleasure. However, a recent incident involving developer Richard LeFrak may suggest otherwise.
During a conversation at Mar-a-Lago, Trump told LeFrak that he was quoted a price of more than $20 billion for the border wall with Mexico. And then he asked LeFrak if he would be interested in building it.
“He said, would I consider doing it? And then he suggested that the price that was being quoted in the media seemed absurdly high to him,” LeFrak told the Times. “And I didn’t react to him one way or the other because I don’t know what the facts are.”
“I thought you were going to have homeland security deal with this,” LeFrak said, responding to Trump. “And he said, ‘Yes, maybe General Kelly will call you.’” [NYT] —Christopher Cameron