PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) — President Donald Trump is keeping a close eye on Hurricane Dorian as its bears down on the Florida coastline. At 5:00 p.m., the National Hurricane Center issued a Tropical Storm Watch from Deerfield Beach to Sebastian Inlet putting Trump’s prized Mar-a-Lago in the middle of the Watch.

The president gave the impression as he left the White House on Friday that he would spend Saturday at Camp David with experts monitoring what has developed into a powerful Category 4 storm. However, he traveled by helicopter from Camp David in Maryland to his private Virginia golf club for several hours.

On Friday, Trump was asked if he is worried about his Mar-a-Lago resort, and he answered, “The thing I’m worried about is the state of Florida.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump traveled with a FEMA official and that he is being briefed “every hour.”

Trump returned to Camp David later Saturday, where he was briefed on the hurricane.

He said he would return to Washington on Sunday to attend a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Mar-a-Lago
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Mar-a-Lago, currently closed for the summer, is on the wealthy barrier island of Palm Beach.

Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post built Mar-a-Lago, which dates from the 1920s, with the main mansion containing 126 rooms. Trump bought the place in 1985, after efforts to make it into a national park didn’t work out.

During the cooler months, Trump visits the property frequently and has held several high-level meetings there with world leaders, such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and China’s Xi Jinping.

Hurricanes have always been a part of Mar-a-Lago.

In 2005, Trump said he received a $17 million insurance payment for hurricane damage to the resort, but an Associated Press investigation found little evidence of such large-scale damage.

At the time, Trump said he didn’t know how much had been spent on repairs, but acknowledged he pocketed some of the money. He transferred funds into his personal accounts, saying that under the terms of his policy “you didn’t have to reinvest it.”

“Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion,” he said of the storm damage. “It’s still not what it was.”

Trump is a climate change skeptic whose policies have infuriated many environmentalists. Separately, when Dorian appeared headed to Puerto Rico he tweeted the American island is “one of the most corrupt places on earth. Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt.”

Those sentiments led many Trump critics to publicly hope the storm steers toward Mar-a-Lago — although that would also mean disaster for nearby middle-class and low-income neighborhoods.

“I’m rooting for a direct hit on Mar a Lago!” former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell tweeted Wednesday. Campbell, who served as prime minister for four months in 1993, later dialed that back, tweeting, “I know Palm Beach well and am sorry if it gets a big hit.” Still, she said she hoped Dorian would “shake up Trump’s climate change denial.”

Eric Trump, the president’s son, replied Friday to Campbell on Twitter: “Our family is rooting for the safety of millions of homes, businesses, families and wonderful people in a great State of Florida.”

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments