Just How Secure Is Mar-A-Lago, House Oversight Chairman Asks

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) — Security has been kicked up several notches in a Palm Beach estate that new President Donald Trump frequently visits.

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz wants to know more about the security measures at Mar-a-Lago, which President Trump calls the “Winter White House.”

The Utah Republican asked White House chief of staff Reince Priebus to describe the security protocols in place to protect sensitive information while the president is at the Palm Beach, Florida, resort that he owns and has visited two weekends in a row.

Chaffetz’s letter to Priebus, dated Tuesday, comes after news reports described a Saturday powwow between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after North Korea launched a missile. The leaders were at a terrace restaurant that was in full view — and earshot — of Mar-a-Lago members.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer reiterated Tuesday what he’d said earlier about Trump not receiving or reviewing any classified material at the dinner table. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that was also his understanding.

The Oversight leader wants to be briefed on whether security protocols were followed that weekend, what documents were reviewed in common areas and whether any classified information was discussed.

Chaffetz is also asking Priebus for an “explanation about whether and how the guests, employees, and residents at Mar-a-Lago are vetted in order to ensure that they are not foreign agents or spies on behalf of a foreign government.”

Priebus is asked to provide the information to the Oversight Committee by Feb. 28.

This is Chaffetz’s second inquiry into the month-old Trump administration. Last week, he asked the Office of Government Ethics to look into whether White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated ethics rules by touting Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during an interview.

Yet Chaffetz has seemed reluctant to look into what the Democrats on the committee call a far bigger issue: former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s December conversations with the Russian ambassador after the Obama administration imposed sanctions on the country.

Asked about whether lawmakers should probe the matter, Chaffetz told reporters Tuesday, “That situation is taking care of itself” and said he was glad Flynn had decided to resign. He also said such a probe would fall to the congressional intelligence committees.

Later, he told The Salt Lake Tribune he is “not ruling anything out” when it comes to the possibility of an Oversight probe.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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