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MAR-A-LAGO

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Laurence Leamer

Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace


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MAR-A-LAGO
Inside the Gates of
Power at Donald Trump’s
Presidential Palace


Author’s Note

My wife and I purchased our home in Palm Beach in 1994, the same year that
Donald Trump turned his Mar-a-Lago estate into a club. I am not a member but
have several friends who are. A number of times each season they invite me for
lunch or dinner or to play tennis on the red clay courts. For most of those years,
on the weekends Trump was omnipresent, dining with family and friends,
strutting around the mansion greeting members, and until he gave up the sport,
an exuberant presence on the tennis courts.
When I was researching my 2009 book about Palm Beach, titled Madness
Under the Royal Palms, I intended to make Trump a major character. But my
editor put the kibosh on that.

He said that Trump was overexposed, a tedious bore whom no one wanted to
hear about any longer. Soon afterward, I attended an event at Mar-a-Lago and
told him the exchange I’d had with my editor. “Overexposed?” he replied.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding. I’m Donald Trump.”
Palm Beach is a very closed and private world. Residents think that if they are
written about at all it should be in celebratory tones, and my book was definitely
not written that way. It was greeted with outrage. People didn’t dare to read it in
public in Palm Beach. At an editorial meeting of the Palm Beach Daily News,
the editor said my name was never again to be mentioned in its pages, a ban that
continues to this day. When I was driving around town with a French television
crew filming a documentary, the car was driven off the road by an SUV. A few
days later, at a charity event, police chief Michael Reiter suggested I should hire
security, as my life might be in danger. When local NBC Channel 5 was filming
a segment about the book, a passerby ran into the camera shot and started
screaming at me.

I have the same friends I have always had and I like where I live. I asked
myself long and hard, Did I want to risk going through that all over again? My
answer is this book. I am convinced that Donald Trump’s life in Palm Beach is
an absolutely essential way to understand his character. All that he learned there
contributed greatly to his successful run for president and to his becoming the
kind of leader he is.

My research began by going back to the interviews about Trump I recorded
for my earlier book but for the most part didn’t use. At that time, many people I
talked to spoke about Trump with an openness that would be rare today in Palm Beach.

When I started doing new interviews for this book, few members of Mar-a-
Lago were willing to have their names attached to whatever they said. Several of
them told the story of the member who came into the buffet one day, where, set
among the platters of food, was a silver bowl of caviar with a tiny spoon next to
it. The man grabbed a soup spoon and dished out enough to make the caviar his
main course. When Trump learned this, he threw the man out of the club. I could
not verify the story, but people at the club believe it. If Trump would heave a
member out for eating too much caviar, what would he do to members who
spoke to me if he didn’t like my book?

It was amazing how nervous people were. One member had been my friend
since I arrived in Palm Beach. When I called her and left a message saying I
wanted to interview her, she didn’t return my phone call, and despite other calls,
she never spoke to me again. But in the end, I did find a number of people to talk
openly and I have peppered these on-the-record sources through the book, mixed
with anonymous interviews.

I have also been an eyewitness to events in these pages. At one such evening
at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, I asked President
Trump for an interview. “Let’s make it happen,” he said.
My subsequent requests went unanswered, but many other people spoke to
me, and the result is this book. While much in these pages might seem
unbelievable, I assure you it is true.
Laurence Leamer
Palm Beach, Florida
September 14, 2018

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Product details
 Price
 Pages
 287 p
 File Size
 1,908 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 ISBN
 978-1-250-17751-3 (hardcover) 
 978-1-25017752-0 (ebook)
 Copyright
 2019 by Laurence Leamer 


About the Author
Laurence Leamer taught in a mountain school in Nepal during his time in the
Peace Corps, as well as worked in a factory in France and a coal mine in West
Virginia. He has also written seventeen books, including five New York Times
bestsellers and an off-Broadway play. The award-winning author’s books
include The Kennedy Women, The Price of Justice, and the Edgar-nominated
The Lynching. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida, and Washington, D.C., with his wife, Vesna.

Acknowledgments
My wife, Vesna Obradovic Leamer, made astute comments on several drafts of
this book and took care of everything else in our lives so I could work more than
full-time on this project. Beyond Vesna, I am blessed with a group of wonderful
friends. Raleigh Robinson read so many versions of the manuscript, I would be
embarrassed to list the number here if I even remembered. The historian Nigel
Hamilton had many useful suggestions. My dear friend Father Hugh Duffy was
always ready to discuss Trump, as was another close friend, the psychoanalyst
Dr. Heath King, who earlier than almost anyone publicly predicted Trump would
win the presidency. The late ambassador Faith Whittlesey was full of intriguing
insights culled from her long career in Republican politics. At the end of the
process another one of my longtime friends, the novelist Diane Leslie, gave the
manuscript a last careful reading.

The Library of Congress, the Palm Beach County Library, and the District of
Columbia Library all had useful information, as did the website
newspapers.com. The Palm Beach Town Clerk’s office dealt expeditiously with
my requests, as did the public information officer at the Palm Beach Police
Department. Nick Golubov, research director of the Historical Society of Palm
Beach County, was helpful.

Among those who granted me on-the-record interviews or helped in other
ways were: Earl Hollis, Toni Hollis, Patrick Park, Ronni Fingold, David Fingold,
Thom Smith, Daryl Davidoff, Ken Davidoff, Jo Ella Manalan, Melissa Legare,
Judy Schrafft, Page Lee Hufty, Elaine De Bothuri, Alexandre De Bothuri,
Brownie McLean, Gunita Singh, Eric Schultz, Bernie Schultz, David
Schumacher, David A. Fahrenthold, Dan Moldea, Bob Kramer, Toni Holt
Kramer, the late Howard Reed, the late Cecilia Farris Lipton, Bill Thomas,
Bruce Bobbins, Moira Fiore, Jose Lambiet, Lois Romano, Frank Cerabino, the
late Stanley Rumbough Jr., Paul Rampell, Barbara Marshall, Liz McNeil,
Shannon Donnelly, Richard Haynes, Paul Onish, Judith Thibaut, Richard
Cowell, Buffy Donlon, the late Liz Smith, William Martin, Richard René Silvin,
Chris Ruddy, Laurel Baker, Ronald Jones, Gus Russo, Don Mendyk, the late
Simon Fireman, Sean Bianca Lee, Nicholas Papanicolaou, Mike Morgan, Nick
Leone, Nadine Epstein, Paulette Noble, Eva Weiss, Wes Blackman, Terry
Vaccaro, Richard Rampell, James Oelsner, the late Robert Moore, Wayne
Grover, Tony Senecal, Richard Grigonis, Etonella Christlieb, David Patrick
Columbia, Dale Coudert, Steven Alembik, Bernard Goupy, Herb Gray, Mindy
McGillivray, James Patterson, John Connolly, Torrance Harder, Samantha
Fuentes, Carmen Cruz, Jack McDonald, Joan Parker, Alvin S. Felzenberg,
Agnes Ash, Faustina Pace, Bruce Zeidel, Mark Hollingsworth, Nancy Lubin, Jack Blum.

My longtime agent, Joy Harris, was her usual indispensable self. One of the
many things she did for this project was to bring in Henry A. Ferris Jr. to help
shepherd the manuscript along. At Flatiron, editorial director Noah Eaker and
editor James Melia took the manuscript through the editorial process with
aplomb. I have been writing books for many years, and I have never been in
better hands—and four of them at that. That said, I have little choice but to say
that any weaknesses in this book are mine alone. I would like to say the cover
was my idea, but the credit goes to art director Keith Hayes. Flatiron publicists
Marlena Bittner and Amelia Possanza sail confidently through even the most

treacherous media seas, and I am glad to be on board.


Bibliography
Barrett, Wayne. Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth. New York: Regan Arts Reprint, 1992.
Boorstin, Daniel Joseph, and Douglas Rushkoff. The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. New York: Vintage, 2012.
Chandler, David Leon, and Mary Voelz Chandler. The Binghams of Louisville: The Dark History Behind One of America’s Great Fortunes. New York: Random House, 1989.
Curl, Donald W. Palm Beach County: An Illustrated History. Northridge, C.A.: Windsor Publications, 1987.
D’Antonio, Michael. The Truth About Trump. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2016.
Devine, Olympia. Mar-a-Lago: Ocean to Lake. Palm Beach: Golden Lion Publishing, 2016.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004.
Green, Joshua. Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency. New York: Penguin Press, 2017.
Hays, Charlotte. The Fortune Hunters. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007.
Johnston, David Cay. The Making of Donald Trump. Brooklyn: Melville House, 2016.
Kranish, Michael, and Marc Fisher. Trump Revealed: The Definitive Biography of the 45th President. New York: Scribner, 2016.
Leamer, Laurence. Madness Under the Royal Palms: Love and Death Behind the Gates of Palm Beach. New York: Hyperion, 2009.
Lewandowski, Corey R., and David N. Bossie. Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency. New York: Center Street, 2017.
Mayhew, Augustus. Palm Beach: A Greater Grandeur. New York: East Side Press, 2016.
McGoun, William W. Southeast Florida Pioneers: The Palm and Treasure Coasts. Sarasota: Pineapple Press, 1998.
O’Brien, Pat. I’ll Be Back Right After This: My Memoir. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2015.
O’Brien, Timothy L. TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2005.
O’Donnell, John R., with James Rutherford. Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump—His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall. New York: Crossroad Press, 2017.
Patterson, James, John Connolly, and Tim Malloy. Filthy Rich: The Billionaire’s Scandal—The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2017.
Raviv, Dan. Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled over the Marvel Comics Empire—and Both Lost. New York: Broadway Books, 2002.
Rubin, Nancy, American Empress: The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post. New York: Villard Books, 1995.
Ruddy, Christopher. The Strange Death of Vincent Foster: An Investigation. New York: Free Press, 1997.
Singer, Mark. Trump and Me. New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2016.
Smith, Liz. Natural Blonde: A Memoir. New York: Hachette Books, 2000.
Tifft, Susan E., and Alex S. Jones, The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty. New York: Summit Books, 1991.
Trump, Donald, and Kate Bohner. Trump: The Art of the Comeback. New York: Times Books, 1997.
________, and Charles Leerhsen. Trump: Surviving at the Top. New York: Random House, 1990.
________, and Tony Schwartz. Trump: The Art of the Deal. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987.
Trump, Ivana. For Love Alone. New York: Pocket Books, 1992.
________. Raising Trump: Family Values from America’s First Mother. New York: Gallery Books, 2018.
Von Hoffman, Nicholas. Citizen Cohn. New York: Doubleday. 1988.


Contents
Title Page
Copyright Notice
Dedication
Author’s Note

1. Trump’s Palm Beach
2. Fantasy Island
3. Estate Sale
4. Tabloid Prince
5. “Is That All There Is?”
6. The Forbidden City
7. “A T-Bone in a Kennel”
8. The Promises of Life
9. The Contest
10. A Proper President
11. The Apprentice
12. Trumped Again
13. The Candidate
14. The Sun King
15. Games of Chaos
16. “The President!!! The Great President!!!”

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Also by Laurence Leamer
About the Author
Copyright