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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Democrats request visitor logs at Mar-a-Lago, but there aren't any

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 2:44 PM

  • Photo via aix5e/Instagram
Though Democrats filed a recent bill to force President Donald Trump to cough up a list of visitors to his private clubs, it seems this task may be impossible.

Politico reports that currently, Mar-a-Lago doesn't keep a list of guests who come and go on a routine basis.

Although it's a private club, members at the resort just have to call the front desk to give the names of anyone staying as their guests. This includes guests invited to parties held in the ballroom.

Members don’t have to submit details, like a middle initial, birth date or Social Security number — basically anything standard for visitor logs or background checks — because neither the club nor the Secret Service conduct them at the resort.

Last Friday, at the Palm Beach GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, all guests had to do to get into the building where the first lady and the president's youngest son were vacationing was buy a $300 ticket to the event, reports Politico.

Guests didn't have to undergo the rigorous background checks required if they’d been entering the White House in Washington, and they weren't screened for weapons, nor were their cars checked with bomb-sniffing dogs.

Democratic lawmakers are essentially asking, through a new bill, for a whole new system to be established at Trump's clubs in order to obtain his visitor logs.

It's something that former U.S. Secret Service officials told Politico that the agency isn't equipped financially or time-wise to do. The agency says it doesn't see the benefit of chasing down every guest at the resort.

“You can posture all day long, but the service can’t produce something that doesn’t exist,” says Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent, calling Democrats' endeavors a "misapplication of resources."

But, Democrats shared concerns about the security threats that could rise from using Mar-a-Lago as a "winter White House."

When Trump is at his Florida resort, club members and their guests must pass through multiple Secret Service checkpoints, including a vehicle inspection and a magnetometer screening for detecting weapons. But, when the president isn't there, these security measures are much more lax.

Some security experts have warned that continuing to use privately owned locations with access to the public could expose the president and his staff to foreign intelligence agents targeting Trump. A president who is constantly frequenting a club open to the public, for example, would be an easy target for eavesdropping and building files on their routines and habits.

click to enlarge mar-a-lago-deagazio.jpg

Incidents like the one that happened in February, where Trump and the Japanese prime minister were photographed going over their response to a North Korean missile test at one of the club's public restaurants, also raise concerns.

“If the Secret Service can’t keep track of who has access to the president outside the White House," said Democratic Sen. Tom Udall to Politico, "then that’s a national security concern.”

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