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Why Trump’s boasts about Mar-a-Lago’s security don’t make sense

Donald Trump is trying to one-up Joe Biden by insisting that Mar-a-Lago is "a highly secured facility." That's not even close to being true.


Not surprisingly, Donald Trump appears to be following the story about President Joe Biden’s Obama-era classified documents with great interest. Given the fact that the former president is facing a criminal investigation into his willful mishandling of classified documents, it stands to reason he’d care about his successor’s plight.

It was against this backdrop that the Republican pushed a new line by way of his social media platform yesterday:

The White House just announced that there are no LOGS or information of any kind on visitors to the Wilmington house and flimsy, unlocked, and unsecured, but now very famous, garage. Maybe they are smarter than we think! This is one of seemingly many places where HIGHLY CLASSIFIED documents are stored (in a big pile on the damp floor). Mar-a-Lago is a highly secured facility, with Security Cameras all over the place, and watched over by staff & our great Secret Service. I have INFO on everyone!

At this point, we could spend a paragraph or two explaining why it’s not at all unusual that Biden didn’t keep a visitor log for his private residence, throwing in a sentence about the irony of Trump — who, unlike Biden, hid his White House visitor logs — focusing on this as a line of attack.

We could also spend some time marveling at the former president referencing haphazard storage of “HIGHLY CLASSIFIED documents,” as if he were blissfully unaware of his own scandal.

While we’re at it, we could once again emphasize the dramatic differences between the two controversies: Biden returned the materials he apparently inadvertently took years ago, while Trump apparently took materials, refused to give them back, failed to comply with a federal subpoena, and even allegedly obstructed the retrieval process.

But as relevant as all of those details are, what really stood out for me was the Republican’s insistence that Mar-a-Lago is “a highly secured facility.”

Um, no.

To be sure, even if it were, that wouldn’t negate his documents scandal. Mar-a-Lago could be Fort Knox, but Trump still couldn’t take and refuse to return classified documents that don’t belong to him.

Making matters worse, of course, is the fact that the Republican’s glorified country club plainly is not “a highly secured facility.” As recently as August, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Organized Crime Corruption and Reporting Project published a stunning report on a young woman named Inna Yashchyshyn, who presented herself as Anna de Rothschild, and who boasted about her wealth, roots to a European banking dynasty, and developing ambitions.

Yashchyshyn was able to gain access to the venue, where she reportedly mingled with Trump’s allies and even joined the former president and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham for a golf outing.

The young woman with “a fake identity and shadowy background” apparently bypassed the security at Mar-a-Lago with relative ease. The Post-Gazette added, “Her entry — multiple trips in and out of the club grounds — lays bare the vulnerabilities of a facility that serves as both the former president’s residence and a private club, and highlights the gaps in security that can take place.”

The report was hardly the first indication of trouble. Circling back to our earlier coverage, it was six years ago, just months into the Republican’s presidency, when Politico reported, “President Donald Trump relishes the comforts of his Mar-a-Lago estate for repeated weekends away from Washington, but former Secret Service and intelligence officials say the resort is a security nightmare vulnerable to both casual and professional spies.”

A few months later, ProPublica tested security measures at the private club and marveled at how vulnerable it was. The piece quoted one cybersecurity expert who said hackers could use Mar-a-Lago’s network to remotely turn on the microphones and cameras of devices connected to the network. “What you’re describing is typical hotel security,” he said, but “it’s pretty concerning” that an attacker could listen to sensitive national security conversations.

A year later, according to a Miami Herald report, a college kid visiting his grandparents in Palm Beach over Thanksgiving snuck through a tunnel that connects Mar-a-Lago’s beach club with the main property. “I wanted to see how far I could get,” he told a judge.

A year after that, a Chinese citizen was allowed to enter Mar-a-Lago because part of her name matched that of a member of the club. As Rachel noted on the show, the woman was carrying four cell phones, an external hard drive, a laptop, and a thumb drive that the Secret Service discovered was infected with some sort of malware — all while the sitting president was on the premises.

Just last month, a New York Times investigation found that Trump stored classified documents — the ones he refused to give back — “in high-traffic areas at Mar-a-Lago, where guests may have been within feet of the materials.”

And yet, despite all of this, Trump is trying to one-up Biden by insisting that Mar-a-Lago is “a highly secured facility”? Please.