President Trump is now at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he arrived Thursday night after a news conference celebrating the House GOP’s health-care bill and a dinner gala with the Australian prime minister.
Aides said Trump was not expected to be in the public eye much on Friday, a blustery, rainy day in Bedminster that made golf unlikely.
Trump, who has come under fire for his frequent weekend travels to his properties outside Washington, fired off a tweet Friday morning seeking to justify his time in Bedminster.
“Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend,” he wrote. “Also saves country money!”
This move likely signals a shift in President Trump’s travel habits.
So far, he has spent seven weekends at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, which Trump’s staff — and some taxpayer-paid folks at the State Department — have dubbed the “Winter White House.”
But now winter is over, and so is Mar-a-Lago. As Palm Beach’s tanned, tightened snowbirds depart, the club is about to close for the summer. Trump is likely, instead, to come to Bedminster for getaways.
So there is a new weekend White House. Like the last one, it is accepting applications — but this time, the entrance fee is lower.
1.) Where is Trump’s club?
It’s in New Jersey’s fox-hunt-and-horse country, about 45 miles west of New York City. The club abuts Interstate 78, where passing cars can see the course’s large American flag. The club has two golf courses, tennis courts, a pool, and a clubhouse that was once the estate of eccentric auto designer John DeLorean.
Trump bought the land in 2002. He and several members of his family also own houses on the property. The site is surrounded by large homes and horse farms, in a township with about 8,200 people and a median household income of $96,600.
2.) Can I join?
Do you have $75,000?
In recent weeks, The Washington Post spoke to people who had inquired about membership in the club. They were quoted initiation fees between $75,000 and $100,000, in addition to $22,100 annual dues, according to written correspondence between the club and prospective members.
That’s less than the entrance fee at Mar-a-Lago, which recently doubled to $200,000, according to media reports. But it still makes Bedminster one of the most expensive clubs in Trump’s chain of golf courses. In many cases, the price of initiation seems correlated to the frequency with which the president makes personal visits.
One club with a higher initiation fee, according to interviews with those who have inquired recently, is Trump International in West Palm Beach, Fla. At that club, near Mar-a-Lago, officials have quoted a price of $150,000, according to correspondence with a prospective member. Trump has already visited that club on seven weekends as president, according to The Washington Post’s Philip Bump.
Trump’s club in Loudoun County, Va. — where the president has visited on four weekends — has a price of $60,000, correspondence with potential members shows. Other clubs where the president has not visited have much lower fees: His club in North Carolina has quoted a price of $25,000, and the club in Colts Neck, N.J., has said it is waiving all entrance fees.
Staff members from the clubs have not responded to requests for comment.
3.) Who belongs to the Bedminster club?
The club’s roughly 425 members seem to be drawn largely from the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, and to include a number of people from the financial-services sector.
Media reports have indicated that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s brother Todd, a financial executive, is a member. A recent club brochure listed former New York Jets football player Nick Mangold as a member. In 2010, the New York Post said that Mark Sanchez — another former Jet — was actually living in a home on the property.
4.) Does it really save the country money for Trump to stay there, as opposed to Trump Tower?
We don’t have enough information to say.
The New York Police Department already protects Trump Tower, where first lady Melania Trump and the president’s son Barron live. That costs taxpayers between $127,000 and $145,000 per day, according to figures released by the NYPD. But, if the president himself were to visit Trump Tower, that cost would go up to about $308,000 per day, the department has said.
So, if Trump stays in New Jersey instead, he avoids that additional $180,000 or so in costs to the NYPD. But he adds costs for police protection in New Jersey. The tiny Bedminster Police Department, with just 16 total officers, has estimated it will spend at least $12,000 extra per day. But other costs will be borne by the New Jersey State Police and the U.S. Secret Service.
The logistics of getting the president to rural New Jersey also create additional complications. On Thursday night, for instance, Trump traveled by motorcade to the Wall Street helicopter dock, boarded the Marine One helicopter, then flew to George Walker Field in Bedminster, N.J., then got into a new motorcade to the club.
The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for data that would back up the president’s claim that staying in Bedminster was cheaper.
5.) Doesn’t the president want to be buried at Bedminster?
Yes — maybe.
The president has sought official permission to build both a personal tomb and two different cemeteries there, on or adjacent to the golf course.
While trying to persuade local officials to say yes to these various ideas, both Trump and his representatives said that Trump had selected this club as his final resting place.
“It’s never something you like to think about, but it makes sense,” Trump told the New York Post in 2007. “This is such beautiful land, and Bedminster is one of the richest places in the country.”
But more recently, Trump’s representative, Ed Russo, told the town that Trump had changed his mind and might want to be buried somewhere in Florida, instead. Now that Trump is president, he could also be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, or on the grounds of a future Trump presidential library.
So far, Trump has not built any cemeteries in Bedminster. But he still could. The Trump Organization has now obtained local approvals for both a large graveyard, selling plots to the public, and a small family plot near one of the course’s tee boxes.
Which Trumps might be buried there, exactly?
“Only the good Trumps,” Russo said once during a town hearing. According to the video of that meeting, he did not elaborate.
John Wagner in Bedminster, N.J., and Amy Brittain and Drew Harwell in Washington contributed to this report.