Ali Soufan, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, has written an editorial for the Washington Post in which he explains that President Donald Trump’s regular trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort are a “nightmare” from a national security perspective.
Reacting to the news that an alleged Chinese spy named Yujing Zhang was recently caught with surveillance equipment in Trump’s club, Soufan argues that the resort’s openness to its members and their guests makes it nearly impossible to keep secure.
“Unfortunately, Mar-a-Lago appears wide open to such operations,” he argues. “Zhang’s arrest is only the latest in a string of indications that the club is far from secure. Mar-a-Lago may present the worst counterintelligence nightmare the country has faced since the Cold War.”
He goes on to document how security concerns surrounding Mar-a-Lago have been present since the very start of Trump’s presidency, particularly when guests used their phones to snap photos of the president receiving a national security briefing on North Korea’s missile program with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“That could not have happened at the White House, not even during a state banquet, because visitors are not allowed to take in their devices,” he writes. “At Mar-a-Lago and other Trump resorts, there is no such restriction; indeed, according to federal prosecutors, Zhang’s interesting taste for electronics included carrying four cellphones on her person.”
Where is all this leading? According to Soufan, it may only be a matter of time before the security flaws in Mar-a-Lago blow up in the president’s face.
“For the safety of the United States’ secrets, and of the president himself, a comprehensive review of Trump’s unique way of working, and its counterintelligence implications, is urgently needed,” he concludes.