Sun-kissed sands, fine wines — and access to Donald Trump with a peek at classified documents. That’s what scads of money can buy Mar-a-Lago’s well-heeled guests, according to a slick spoof ad with a sarcastic twist on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Along with “luxurious poolside massages,” the mock TV commercial touts “breathtaking views of classified government documents” at Trump’s Palm Beach 20-acre golf resort, which the president repeatedly refers to as the “Winter White House.”
Then, “put on your best dinner attire,” a sultry-voiced woman urges in the ad. “And join our waitstaff in the dining room, where you’ll experience our world-renowned cuisine just a table away from a confidential national security meeting.” The ad flashes a photo of Trump dining with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in full view of resort guests earlier this month.
DeGeneres’ ad, which also has the nation’s nuclear codes offered alongside imported chocolates on a guest’s pillows, aired Wednesday.
It’s a lighter take on a situation that triggered national security concerns. During the visit by Abe, photos of Trump and his guests were snapped by curious club members on their cell phones. Documents were lying on the table in full view and easily photographed. The White House has insisted the two were not talking about classified information on the open-air terrace surrounded by club members and guests. But Trump, Abe and his aides did discuss a response to North Korea’s missile test Feb. 11 as they reviewed papers, and they held a news conference on the missile launch shortly afterward.
Security protocol requires that any issues relating to sensitive intelligence be discussed only in rooms designated as “secure compartmentalized information facilities” (SCIFs).
“HOLY MOLY !!! It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan,” Mar-a-Lago club member Richard DeAgazio wrote later on Facebook with photos of the scene.
The man apparently toting the “nuclear football” bag holding codes to launch a nuclear attack also posed for a photo with DeAgazio. (All of the posts have since been removed, and DeAgazio’s entire Facebook page has been deleted.)
After the photos appeared on social media, President Barack Obama’s former speechwriter Jon Favreau posted contrasting photos of how the two presidents dealt with security matters, showing Obama and his staff in a secure location, and Trump smiling blithely at a dinner table surrounded by milling aides.
Democrats have insisted on a full rundown of security procedures at Mar-a-Lago, including details on all members and guests who have access to the president, who can overhear conversations during a potential crisis and who may even have access to classified information.
“If it is just a high price of admission and anybody can come in, it’s important for us to know who those people are,” Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) told The Huffington Post. “They have unusual proximity to our president and apparently under this president are going to have close proximity to high security information and potentially classified information.”
The membership fee to join Mar-a-Lago is $200,000, which was doubled from $100,000 after Trump was elected president. Trump still owns the resort.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) also sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asking for details on security at Mar-a-Lago and the vetting of members, guests and workers.
“There’s no excuse for letting an international crisis play out in front of a bunch of country club members like dinner theater,” tweeted House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) scoffed, “You can’t make this stuff up.”
It was all fodder for DeGeneres’ spoof Mar-a-Lago ad. Her version of a commercial for Trump’s resort ends: “Mar-a-Lago, where luxury meets top-secret government information.”