On Tuesday, in an interview with Vox, "Grifters Club" author Sarah Blaskey walked through how President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago country club has become a tool for overseas billionaires to sway the president.
"You document in the book how by 2018 Mar-a-Lago’s revenue had more than doubled compared to the year before Trump launched his presidential campaign in 2015," said reporter Sean Illing. "Is the explanation for that as simple as you had a bunch of people wanting to get closer to power?"
"I think that’s right," said Blaskey. "I mean, it’s anyone’s guess. The Trump Organization’s a private business, so we don’t have a look at the books. We just have the annual revenue. But I will say, with the increase in new memberships, you’re talking about maybe $5 million that first year in new membership fees alone. And you’re also talking about people who are now packing the dining room in a way that we’ve never seen before, that are hosting more and more events at Mar-a-Lago in an effort to be closer to the president. I think all of that has had a positive impact on his bottom line."
"What sort of people have joined the club since Trump took office?" asked Illing. "What do they think they’re getting out of it, and what are they actually getting out of it?"
"The membership list is private, and we don’t know everyone who has joined," said Blaskey. "But a lot of it is people looking to build brands off of being near the president. And you have billionaires from China and Dubai, people that are business partners of Trump, who are trying to boost their profile and leverage their proximity to the president."
"But how close they are to the president is really unclear," added Blaskey. "Trump may breeze past your table if you’re a new member and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” but he’s not necessarily paying attention to your opinions in the same way he would some of his older members. The older members, like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, have been friends with Trump for a long time and have been members since the club started. These are the sorts of people whispering into the president’s ears."
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