Donald Trump’s lax attitude toward security has made his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida a “spy’s dream come true,” writes one foreign policy expert.
Salon writer Fred Kaplan detailed the lapses at the luxury resort that allowed a Chinese national to be caught trying to enter with four cell phones and a thumb drive loaded with malware. Kaplan said it is a “fair bet” that foreign spies are trying to exploit Mar-a-Lago and its lax security, which included Trump meeting with Chinese President Xi Jingping and ordering a missile strike in the midst of guests at the high-priced resort.
Trump has long been criticized for his near-weekly trips to Mar-a-Lago, which lacks the security provisions of other White House settings. This has led not only to vulnerabilities in national security, but also high costs as Secret Service has much work to bring the resort closer to presidential standards for security.
In the latest instance, Secret Service said they intercepted the Chinese national before she was able to enter the property, but made it clear that Trump’s team is in charge when it comes to who is allowed in the resort.
“The Secret Service does not determine who is invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago; this is the responsibility of the host entity,” the U.S. Secret Service said in an official statement. “The Mar-a-Lago club management determines which members and guests are granted access to the property.”
The incident has led Democrats in Congress to call for an FBI investigation into the security lapses and to determine what national security risks there might be in Donald Trump’s favorite weekend getaway.
U.S. Democrats question Mar-a-Lago security after Chinese intruder https://t.co/WbOP0DUWgb
— Jeffrey Levin (@jilevin) April 3, 2019
Kaplan wrote that that the incident at Mar-a-Lago is a symptom of a lax attitude toward security that stretches across the Trump administration. He also pointed to recent allegations that the White House decided to override the recommendations of security professionals, allowing more than two dozen members of the administration to receive security clearances despite red flags.
Among this group was Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser. Donald Trump reportedly overruled the recommendation of security experts to grant Kushner a top-secret clearance. As the president, Trump has the final say in who receives security clearances.
The lapses in security have led to widespread criticism for Donald Trump, with many pointing out that he regularly attacked Hillary Clinton for using a private email server because Trump claimed it posed a risk to national security. A New York Times report also noted that both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump communicate with the private messaging service WhatsApp, which security professionals say is vulnerable to hacking.