Leaked audio obtained by Politico has shed some light on a recent incident at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, where the president and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe openly discussed a North Korean missile launch in front of fellow diners.
In the tape, recorded on Nov. 18 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., slightly more than a week after the election, Trump clearly felt at ease with the members of his club.
"So, this is my real group," Trump said in the tape. "These are the people that came here in the beginning, when nobody knew what this monster was gonna turn out to be, right?"
"We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators. We have everything," the president-elect continued.
"I see all of you," he added. "I recognize, like 100% of you, just about."
Trump called on Bob Greifeld, the CEO of Nasdaq, and alluded to asking him for recommendations on senior government jobs, including the FCC, and launched into a lengthy anecdote on golf.
"You are the special people," Trump told the crowd. "You were here before anyone knew it was going to be a success."
"Tomorrow we're here and Sunday we're here," Trump continued. "We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing secretary of state. We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable …. so you might want to come along.”
"You'll see the press in their glory," he joked.
The president-elect concluded, "We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government."
According to Politico, "on the Saturday after the cocktail party, Trump met with Mitt Romney, Michelle Rhee, Betsy DeVos, Todd Ricketts, Bob Woodson, Lew Eisenberg and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. On Sunday, John Gray, Kris Kobach, Wilbur Ross, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Robert Johnson and David McCormick all schlepped out to Bedminster for meetings."
While the Bedminster location is ritzy, Trump spends significantly more time at his palatial resort in Palm Beach, Fla., Mar-a-Lago.
Trump has referred to Mar-a-Lago as both his "winter White House" and, more recently, the "Southern White House." The $200,000 initiation fee for membership — reportedly double what it was before the election — serves as both a source of personal income for the president and, for its members, a way to gain private access to the big man himself and his staff during his frequent visits there.
"Mar-a-Lago represents a commercialization of the presidency that has few if any precedents in American history," historian and Andrew Jackson biographer Jon Meacham told the New York Times. "Presidents have always spent time with the affluent. But a club where people pay you as president to spend time in his company is new. It is kind of amazing."
According to the Times, on one occasion, Trump asked club member and real-estate developer Richard LeFrak if he was interested in building his proposed border wall with Mexico.