Private meetings at Trump's Mar-a-Lago raise questions about access

WASHINGTON -- President Trump has been in office for 91 days. He has spent 25 of them at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, often mingling with members and guests.

Since the election, the cost of membership has doubled to $200,000.

Mr. Trump often railed against pay-to-play politics on the campaign trail, repeatedly slamming a “broken system.”

mar-a-lago-palm-beach.jpg

Yet the access at Mar-a-Lago is unparalleled. Last weekend, two former presidents of Colombia were guests and quietly met with Mr. Trump.

Former Colombian President Andres Pastrana later tweeted about the meeting, thanking Mr. Trump for “the cordial and very frank conversation about the problems and prospects in Colombia and the region.”

The two men are opponents of current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who has not yet met with Mr. Trump. The encounter was not on Mr. Trump’s public schedule. 

Five days later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer seemed surprised to hear about it.

“I’m just saying I’m unaware of the circumstances,” Spicer told reporters. 

The White House later said the men “briefly said hello when the president walked past them.” 

Club members have posted photos with military officers and even with the president himself.

16729357-10154937290709840-1235386434621316893-n.jpg

Richard DeAgazio

Democrats in Congress have called on the White House to release names of visitors to all Trump properties, saying the American people have a right to know who has access to the president.  

The images of an open-air meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused a controversy in February. The leaders were formulating a response to a North Korean missile test in full view of club members and guests. They condemned the missile launch soon after.

The Government Accountability Office is also probing security at the resort and if classified information and secure communications are adequately protected. As we head into the summer, the president is expected to spend more of his time at another club in New Jersey. 

  • Margaret Brennan

    Margaret Brennan is moderator of CBS News' "Face The Nation" and CBS News' senior foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington, D.C.