What Is “The Southern White House”? Donald Trump Escapes To His Members-Only Resort, Again
After a busy week of lengthy press conferences and meetings with foreign leaders, the president notified America he'd be working remotely for the weekend, so to speak. In a tweet published Saturday, President Trump said he planned to work from "the Southern White House" over the weekend. But while everyone is familiar with the White House, none had heard of "the Southern White House." So, just what is "the Southern White House" Trump was referring to?
"Will be having many meetings this weekend at The Southern White House," Trump said in a tweet posted to his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account Saturday.
There's no sense beating around the bush about this: officially speaking, there is no such thing as "the Southern White House." What Trump has chosen to dub "the Southern White House" is, in fact, Mar-a-Lago, the members-only resort he owns (and his company profits from) in Palm Beach, Florida.
Much like its decor, the story behind Mar-a-Lago is rich and steeped in history. Upon her death in 1973, heiress Marjourie Merriweather Post donated Mar-a-Largo, her 128-room mansion, to the U.S. government for use as a "winter White House." However, the annual cost of maintaining the residence (reported to have been $1 million) spurred the government to hand the house back to the Post family in 1980. In 1985, Trump reportedly bought the property for $5 million, plus another $3 million to keep the antiques and furniture. A decade later Trump turned the estate into a private, members-only club with a hefty entry fee and annual dues. The club's entry fee doubled to $200,000 following Trump's presidential election victory.
This will be the third straight weekend the president has spent at Mar-a-Lago since he was sworn into office in January. And Trump's trips to his Palm Beach resort haven't gone unnoticed. Trump, who was a vocal critic of President Obama's travel, is beginning to get a taste of his own criticism as reports estimate that each of his weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago could be costing taxpayers roughly $3 million. According to Politico, Air Force One alone costs more than $200,000 per flying hour.
Critics have also raised concerns the Trump family is attempting to leverage the president's trips to Mar-a-Lago into a profit-making venture by offering members access to the president in exchange for hefty membership fees. In an interview with the New York Times, Eric Trump denied those allegations, saying "it assumes the worst of us and everyone and that is unfair."
White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks also rejected the notion Mar-a-Lago members would be privy to policy discussions with Trump. "He has not and will not be discussing policy with club members," she said in a statement to the Times. "[Mar-a-Lago is] one of the most successful private clubs in the world... [it] was intended to be the Southern White House, and the president looks forward to hosting many world leaders at this remarkable property."
While there is no official Southern White House, it seems Trump may be intent on bestowing that title on his private Palm Beach, Florida, club.