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Image: Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida
Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 3, 2019.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Mar-a-Lago becomes the center of the Republican Party's world

Mar-a-Lago used to be an example of Trump's corruption. Now it's a pilgrimage destination for those who want an audience with a failed former president.


Three weeks ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) flew to south Florida in order to visit with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. There wasn't any substantive reason for the chat, but the House GOP leader had heard that Trump wasn't happy with him, so McCarthy made the sojourn and effectively kissed the ring of the disgraced former president he'd infuriated with a mild rebuke.

This week, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also made the trip to Mar-a-Lago to visit with Trump. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was ready to visit Mar-a-Lago for a chat with the former president, but Trump reportedly turned her down.

CNN reported this morning on yet another prominent Republican who'll be flying into Palm Beach.

Sen. Lindsey Graham is heading to Mar-a-Lago this weekend to meet with Donald Trump in hopes of bridging a growing rift in the top echelon of the Republican Party, CNN has learned. According to a person familiar with his plans, Graham plans to spend his time on the golf course with Trump -- ideally convincing the former president that regaining congressional majorities for Republicans will help bolster his own presidential legacy. This person said Graham wants to be "constructive," urging Trump to use his influence for the party's good.

For the South Carolina senator, the trip appears to be a lobbying campaign of sorts: Graham is desperate to see Republicans win and gain power, and he apparently believes Trump's retaliatory efforts against targeted GOP officials will interfere with the party's 2022 plans.

In other words, Graham is headed to south Florida to effectively tell his former president, "Please stop going after other Republicans."

Whether Trump will take the pleas seriously is an open question. By all accounts, he's desperate to settle scores against Republicans he's deemed insufficiently loyal, and it's difficult to imagine Graham persuading him that the GOP's interests are more important than the former president's ego.

But it's the larger pattern that's worth pausing to appreciate: for four years, Mar-a-Lago served as an example of Trump's casual corruption, profiting from a business he exploited while in office. But it's now becoming more of a pilgrimage destination for Republicans seeking an audience with the semiretired failed former president who's leading the GOP despite losing and leaving his party with no power or agenda.