They could also have gone the pricier and more direct route, shelling out $200,000 in initiation fees for membership at the club and speaking to the president directly. The Post reports that Trump spent some time this weekend gauging public opinion on gun measures, where “public” means “various members of Mar-a-Lago.”
“The president also surveyed Mar-a-Lago Club members about whether he ought to champion gun control measures in the wake of last week’s school massacre in nearby Parkland,” our Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker wrote, “telling them that he was closely monitoring the media appearances by some of the surviving students, according to people who spoke with him there.”
Were the students to have paid the initiation fee and then the necessary $14,000 in annual dues, they could have offered Trump their opinions on any number of things beyond just gun control. For example, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, Trump also took some time last weekend to ask his paying customers “whether he should fire his chief of staff,” John Kelly. Apparently the poll results were favorable enough for Kelly that he didn’t immediately face an uncomfortable encounter in whatever now passes for Trump’s board room.
In December, The Post described the wide range of things that Mar-a-Lago members (and presumably some guests) had been given the chance to weigh in on. The Paris climate accord. North Korea. How then chief of staff Reince Priebus and then press secretary Sean Spicer were doing. How he was doing. How his rallies were going. How the media was covering him.
He’s always done this, Newsmax’s Chris Ruddy told Post reporters.
“He used to ask guests about ‘The Apprentice,’ or Obamacare, or the Clintons or whatever the topic was. He’s a feedback junkie,” Ruddy explained. “If you ever said, ‘I went to your hotel. I went to this golf course,’ he’d say, ‘How was the service? How was the food?’ He is very approachable.”
To the Times, Ruddy explained that Trump will “ask everyone their opinion, from the guys parking the car to the sommelier.” So that’s another option: Get a job at Mar-a-Lago. The season is winding down, which may make that trickier. It’s also a bit complicated since many of the seasonal staff at the resort are foreign workers hired through H-2B visa applications.
Membership, though, comes with other perks that have been made obvious since Trump became president. A year ago, Trump and senior aides held an impromptu national security discussion in the Mar-a-Lago dining room in the presence of those dining nearby, certainly a perk. One Mar-a-Lago member — a founding member, in fact — was appointed as ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
Speaking of perks, Guo Wengui is a Mar-a-Lago member who is also an outspoken critic of the Chinese government. At one point, Chinese officials passed Trump a letter advocating for Guo’s deportation. The prospect seemed viable — at first.
“Some aides tried to shut the topic of conversation down, including by noting Mr. Guo is a member of the president’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., according to the people familiar with the meeting,” the Wall Street Journal reported in October.
(The conduit for that letter, incidentally, was now-disgraced casino magnate Steve Wynn, whose interests in the Chinese autonomous region of Macau may have bolstered his willingness to aid the Chinese government.)
Those students could have gone another route with the same effect. Trump has a habit of dropping by events at his properties while he’s there. He’s stopped by weddings and walked through other private events.
Hold an event at Mar-a-Lago, and you and your guests might get to bend his ear. During the event above, Trump spoke with “quite a few” of the attendees, according to the White House.
Trump stopped by a Mar-a-Lago event on Friday night, in fact, shortly after having visited victims of the Parkland shooting at a nearby hospital. The event was a “Studio 54″ themed disco party.
Trump “and the First Lady were there for a short time but neither was dancing around as one should have expected,” one attendee wrote on Instagram, according to HuffPost. “Their mood was somber and they were there for a very short time.”