Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home is the focus of controversy — once again — after he said Monday that it was being “raided” by agents from the FBI.
Trump in a lengthy statement said his South Florida golf resort was “under siege” and “occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”
If the club’s name sounds familiar, that’s because it has been front and center of contentious happenings from allegations that the late sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein frequented the Palm Beach vacation spot to news that influential people used it to gain access to Trump.
Here are five instances Mar-a-Lago made headlines in recent years:
A Miami Herald investigation revealed that for 18 months a former spa magnate owner sold access to Trump and his family. Li “Cindy” Yang, who made a name for herself both in Florida Republican Party fundraising circles — and in her native China — helped promote galas at Mar-a-Lago, selling them online as opportunities for Chinese businessmen to gain face time with the Trump family.
“Safari Night,” as the gala was called, attracted American social and political elites and it became an important networking opportunity for businessmen from overseas. Seats were marked up from the original $600 to $1,000. The ads also offered VIP packages for overnight stays at Mar-a-Lago — $10,000 for two nights, with spa and golf course access, according to one post from a member of a local Asian-American political group.
Wanted Russian investor parties at Mar-a-Lago
A Russian real estate investor who had settled in South Florida after authorities in his home country accused him of taking part in a massive tax fraud partied at a “Safari Night” fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago for a favorite charity of one of Trump’s older sisters in 2018.
Partygoers had no idea they were rubbing shoulders with a wanted man. While the guests sipped cocktails and studied photos of African wildlife, Sergey Danilochkin filmed the bustling ballroom on a smartphone and posted the footage on YouTube.
Palm Beach residents try to ‘evict’ Trump from Mar-a-Lago
A Palm Beach rezoning agreement from the 1990s converted Trump’s iconic Mar-a-Lago home to a club, saving him $250,000 in annual taxes. It stipulated that club members be allowed to stay in guest rooms only for up to three weeks a year for periods of no more than seven days at a time. In signing, Trump agreed the property would never again be used as anything but a private club.
But when Trump said he would live at Mar-a-Lago after losing the 2020 presidential election and vacating the White House, some Palm Beach residents subsequently took it upon themselves to try to “evict” the second term presidential hopeful, contending that a private club can’t also be a private home. So far, their efforts have been unsuccessful.
SUV sprayed with bullets at Mar-a-Lago
In February 2020, law enforcement officers sprayed an SUV with bullets while it plowed through two security checkpoints near Mar-a-Lago before leading a police helicopter on a chase that ended in the driver’s arrest.
Hannah Roemhild, a trained opera soprano singer, later picked up her mother at Palm Beach International Airport in the bullet-riddled SUV and together they checked into a local motel, where authorities tracked her down and arrested her that afternoon.
Was Epstein a Mar-a-Lago club member?
Trump publicly disavowed Jeffrey Epstein a day after his arrest on July 11, 2019, saying in the Oval Office that the two hadn’t spoken in 15 years after a falling out. He has also claimed that the late sex trafficker was never a Mar-a-Lago member.
But a book published in 2021 titled “The Grifter’s Club” says Epstein was indeed a member and that the two stopped talking after the disgraced financier hit on the teenage daughter of another member. As a result, Epstein was banned from Mar-a-Lago. “The Trump Organization did not respond to our requests for comment on this or other matters,” said Sarah Blaskey, a Miami Herald investigative reporter who co-wrote the book with Miami Herald journalists Nicholas Nehamas and Jay Weaver and Caitlin Ostroff of the Wall Street Journal.