Trump ditches Florida and heads north for the summer

After establishing Mar-a-Lago, his lavish Palm Beach, Florida, resort, as his post-White House home and office for the last four months, Trump a week ago moved his base operation to his members’ only Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, where he will reside for the rest of the spring, summer and into early fall, a senior member of the former President’s team confirmed to CNN.
Several of Trump’s post-presidency staff have also made the move and are working from dedicated office space at Bedminster, but will make regular visits to Trump offices in Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to another person with knowledge of operations. Bedminster is 45 miles west of New York City, in a pastoral region of New Jersey, aesthetically removed from the metropolitan bustle of Trump’s Fifth Avenue headquarters.

The move from the Sunshine State means Trump’s many political contacts will for the foreseeable future visit him for various approvals and discussions mostly in the Garden State. Several, from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Reps. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Matt Gaetz of Florida and freshly minted New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani, had made the pilgrimage to South Florida since late January, mostly to visit with or seek endorsement from the former President, who still holds a powerful grip on the Republican Party. Fundraisers for Trump-backed PACs and potential candidates will also slide from Florida’s hot and humid summer climes to New Jersey’s hot and humid summer climes.

Trump is expected to make a personal appearance at a May 22 high-dollar fundraiser at Bedminster for the Make America Great Again Action super PAC, which is run by his longtime adviser Corey Lewandowski, a person familiar with the event confirms to CNN.

New Jersey will still be under a mandatory indoor mask rule for the next two weeks, according to remarks by the state’s Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday. Murphy said it was too soon to lift the indoor mask mandate, making New Jersey the only remaining state in the northeast to keep the rule in place following new CDC guidance released last week. However, the rule is not likely to affect guests paying well into the thousands of dollars for a ticket to attend. Trump has not followed masking protocols before, and neither have his namesake properties. In March, while facial coverings were required for businesses, establishments and public places in Palm Beach County, an outbreak of Covid-19 hit Mar-a-Lago staff, forcing the temporary closure of the dining room and beach club.

The Bedminster fundraiser will be Trump’s first official appearance at the club this season, but the former President has been spotted making unofficial rounds over the last several days, according to two members who spoke with CNN. He has, as he is wont to do, spent many hours already playing the club’s 36-hole golf course. Over the weekend, Trump finished well enough in a members’ tournament to nab a trophy, said one of the members.

Mar-a-Lago ‘sleeps’ for the season

When the wealthy snowbirds depart Palm Beach at the end of the East Coast’s chilly winter and return, like Trump, to their summer abodes, most of the popular haunts shut down, including Mar-a-Lago.

“It basically sleeps for the season, like a hibernation,” said one Mar-a-Lago member. “The island is devoid of seasonal visitors,” said another part-time Palm Beach resident.

Without the buzz and activities, and club members to stand and applaud as he and Melania Trump enter the ballroom or the dining patio, the appeal for Trump of living at the massive mansion dissipates. This year, members were informed the Mar-a-Lago beach club and pool would remain open through July 4, longer than normal, but the main house, including the spa, dining room and event spaces, will close in the coming weeks. The next time members will be able to hobnob won’t be until the end of October, when the winter season kicks off again with the club’s annual Halloween party.

Yet whether it’s his private club in Florida, or his private club in New Jersey — where, according to CNN, Trump spent more than 100 days of his presidency — the cushiness is pretty much the same.

The Trump’s private living quarters at Bedminster, while situated on the 500-acre property, are sequestered from the hoi polloi in a 5,000 square foot “cottage.” Near the pool area with a large balcony and expansive views of the golf course, Trump’s posh New Jersey home is one of a handful of stand-alone cottages at Bedminster, most reserved for close friends and family. Melania Trump and son Barron Trump are also slated to settle in to Bedminster for the season as soon as the younger Trump’s school year in Palm Beach has ended, per a person familiar.

One political ally of Trump’s said where the former President is geographically doesn’t really matter anyway these days. “Wherever he’s living, if someone wants to see him, and he wants to see them — they will come.”

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