As Republican senators in the nation’s capital prepare to let Donald Trump get away with trying to overturn an election, his new hometown is getting a legal analysis that could let the former president get away with breaking a promise he made three decades ago not to use his private social club as a residence.
Trump in 1993 told the Palm Beach Town Council that he would abide by the rules applying to any other Mar-a-Lago member, meaning that he would not stay there any longer than seven consecutive days and have no more than three such stays per year.
Despite this, the council on Tuesday will hear Town Attorney John Randolph’s analysis finding that Trump can, as a “bona fide employee” of the club, live on site, notwithstanding his vow from 28 years ago.
“lf he is a bona fide employee of the club, absent a specific restriction prohibiting former President Trump from residing at the club, it appears the zoning code permits him to reside at the club,” Randolph wrote in a Jan. 29 memo to the town.
His report came a day after John Marion, a West Palm Beach lawyer representing Trump, wrote him to argue that the 1993 agreement’s limits on use of the guest suites by members did not apply to Trump. “President Trump does not use a guest suite when at MAL, he uses the ‘owner’s suite,’ which is not a guest suite. It was never intended that conversion of MAL to a private club would change the nature of or the owner’s right to use the owner’s suite,” Marion wrote. “Importantly, while the town could have specifically provided in the agreement that the owner could not reside on the property, it did not.”
Marion also pointed out that the town’s zoning laws permit employees of businesses to legally live on the premises, an argument Randolph cited in his memo the next day.
Both documents were first reported by The Washington Post.
Randolph recommended in his memo that the council “hear presentations in regard to this matter from all interested parties including, but not limited to, the neighbors to Mar-a-Lago, their representatives, representatives of former President Trump, the Mar-a-Lago Club and other interested parties” before deciding what to do next.
When that might happen, if it happens at all, is not clear. The council lists the issue only as a “presentation” by Randolph on its agenda, not as an item up for a formal vote. Trump, in the meantime, has been living at Mar-a-Lago full time since Jan. 20, the day of successor Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The legal review by Randolph was sparked by complaints by some residents and lawyer Reginald Stambaugh, who cited Trump’s promise at the time of the 1993 agreement. Stambaugh did not respond to HuffPost queries on Monday but wrote in a Dec. 15 letter to the town council that there were a number of homes on the market in Palm Beach that Trump could choose from to live in if he wanted.
Even that, however, would not be necessary, as Trump already owns three houses adjacent to Mar-a-Lago or its beach club across the street: a 10,000-square-foot oceanfront home at 1125 S. Ocean Blvd., just north of Mar-a-Lago’s beach club, which he bought from his sister Maryanne Trump Barry in 2018 for $18.5 million; a 6,000-square-foot house across the street at 1094 S. Ocean Blvd., estimated at $10.4 million; and a 3,000-square-foot house just to its west at 124 Woodbridge Road, estimated at $3.3 million.
Laurence Leamer, a Palm Beach author who wrote a book about Mar-a-Lago and Trump’s presidency, said Trump would not be happy living in any of those places because it would require a walk or a golf cart ride to visit his club, where he is certain to find admirers who have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to join and remain as members and who will praise and compliment him when they see him.
“He needs to have people telling him he’s great all the time,” Leamer said, adding that he doubts the town council will have much interest in creating a controversy over Trump’s choice to live at Mar-a-Lago, regardless of what he promised three decades ago. “They’re not going to pick a fight with him.”
Palm Beach Town Council members are scheduled to hear Randolph’s presentation Tuesday morning, just hours before the U.S. Senate is to begin its second impeachment trial against Trump, this time for inciting a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn the election he lost two months earlier.