It's still not clear why former President Donald Trump was hoarding top-secret government documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort, but even longtime members of the club were uneasy about the clientele in recent years.
The former president hosts nightly disco parties at the Palm Beach resort, where guests unwittingly danced and drank just footsteps away from thousands of government documents, including nuclear secrets and other highly sensitive material, and former intelligence officials said members, guests, and employees could all have been targets for foreign spies, reported The Guardian.
Security has been a problem at the private club since Trump became president and began treating the property as the "winter White House," with a teenager slipping past guards in 2018, two Chinese women caught trespassing with suspicious electronic devices, and a Ukrainian-born woman meeting the former president himself last year while posing as a member of the Rothschild family.
“The club used to be serious money, serious players in business, some really big players through the years have been members,” said one longtime member. “The new members of the club are a little bit MAGA. It’s very eclectic, a lot of foreigners, people that have made money in cryptocurrency, Oklahoma, fracking money. It looks more like the menagerie at the Trump Hotel in Washington.”
The foreigners stood out, in particular, to this member, who didn't recall seeing many before Trump became president.
"A lot of different people there that they didn’t really have before," that member said. "You’ll have Chinese people, you’ll have maybe some additional Arab people.”
The club hires 80 to 90 foreign workers each year, and while they're vetted, they still pose a potential security risk.
“The fact that four years ago, the Secret Service vetted the guy who serves Trump Diet Coke 12 times a day, doesn’t mean that that guy is invulnerable to a $200,000 payment from a foreign intelligence agency,” said Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence.
However, Figliuzzi was more concerned about the security threat posed by club members and their guests.
“Who are these members? Who’s vetting them?” Figliuzzi said. “If you have the requisite money and you plunk it down, it appears you’re a member. And now here come your family members and guests and their cousins and their in-laws, and is it really possible for the Secret Service to even begin to think that they could vet the guest side of the house?”