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Bombshell Report Exposes Trump’s Mar-a-Lago GOP Grift

Donald Trump has transformed Mar-a-Lago into an “essential rite” for Republican candidates as he quietly rakes in millions.

Donald Trump smiles weirdly and makes a fist. A row of U.S. flags are behind him, as are massive drapes, and a huge chandelier can be seen above him. He is at Mar-a-Lago.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

A stunning new investigation by The New York Times exposes how Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago has become the lucrative “epicenter” of the MAGA movement, shifting from a nonpartisan venue that hosts galas for charity to a hub for the conspiratorial far right to extol Trump’s greatness and sing songs in his honor at the low, low price of $600,000 a head.

According to an analysis of evidentiary records in New York’s fraud case against the Trump Organization, Mar-a-Lago pulled in a net profit of $22 million in 2022. While the remainder of Trump’s clubs and properties also saw an increase in profits through and after Trump’s presidency, Mar-a-Lago—where Trump spends most of his time and to which conservatives flock, hoping for a glimpse of their dear leader—has seen more than double in profits, according to an analysis by the Times.

According to the Times, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club increased its initiation fee from $100,000 in 2016 to $600,000 by 2022. With approximately 500 members, that’s roughly $12 million being given to the club Trump owns, which is effectively money straight into Trump’s pocket.

According to campaign finance filings through the first quarter of 2024 reviewed by the Times, candidates and political committees have spent more than $4.7 million at Mar-a-Lago since Trump left the White House, with Trump’s campaign and super PAC accounting for roughly a quarter of that total.

Some of Trump’s grift was known during his presidency: Mar-a-Lago collected a pretty penny from the federal government, charging more than $1.4 million for rooms rented to Trump’s mandatory Secret Service entourage during his presidency and even charging the White House for liquor consumed by his aides.

Prior to Trump’s political career, the Times notes, Mar-a-Lago was largely a venue for glitzy charity galas and few political events. In the 2014–2015 season, the last before Trump announced his run for president, the Times counted 52 fundraiser events at Mar-a-Lago, with only one being political.

After his infamous “very fine people” comment about the neo-Nazis and white supremacists at the deadly Unite the Right rally in 2017, many traditional charity events stopped using Mar-a-Lago and set up shop elsewhere, according to the Times. All but six fundraiser events abandoned the venue—and have since been replaced by far-right events, such as an annual gala hosted by Turning Point USA, a conservative group using Christian nationalism to target college campuses, which began taking place at Mar-a-Lago in 2018.

The Times identified 130 people who attended three or more events at Mar-a-Lago since Trump left office. Many are election denialists and Capitol rioters, and 44 are members of Congress, state officials, or Republican candidates running for office. Thirty-four of those candidates received endorsements from Trump after they made the pilgrimage and kissed the ring.

“We don’t do too many of these things at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump claimed in March 2022 at a fundraiser for Vernon Jones, who was running for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 10th congressional district. “I don’t want to make it a totally political place,” Mr. Trump added.

Trump’s Donors Really, Really Hate J.D. Vance

A new report reveals how Donald Trump’s donors are fighting about the possibility of Senator J.D. Vance becoming Trump’s running mate.

J.D. Vance speaks on a mic and makes a hand gesture
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s donors are reportedly fighting with each other over the prospect of Senator J.D. Vance becoming Trump’s running mate.

The Daily Beast reports that Republican donors are sharply divided over Vance, with criticisms over his lack of political experience and business expertise. Some are also upset about one of Trump’s campaign managers, Susie Wiles, reportedly playing favorites with Vance.

“The person who’s had some outside influence here is Susie Wiles,” one GOP strategist said, based on conversions with donors, adding that “she certainly wants Vance. Vance is like her little pet.”

Donors are more inclined toward Senator Marco Rubio and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who demonstrate more experience, as well as safer foreign policy stances in Rubio’s case. In contrast, “J.D. Vance is a guy who wrote a book and helped with a Netflix show,” the strategist said.

Vance also underperformed in his 2022 Ohio election victory, running nearly 10 points behind the state’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine. The strategist said that this shows that many Republicans in Ohio didn’t support Vance, which may translate to other swing states.

The article did point out that Vance has the support of at least one big-time donor: Silicon Valley billionaire David Sacks, who is part of the infamous “PayPal mafia” that includes the likes of Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, among other tech moguls. Will those connections be enough to elevate Vance to be Trump’s running mate above Rubio and Burgum? Rubio’s establishment support has hurt him with some MAGA personalities, including Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. It seems the decision will come down to whether Trump wants a safe choice or an antiestablishment figure like himself.

Trump Ally Exposed for Horrific Hit List of Political Enemies

Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “secretary of retribution” is even more bloodthirsty than the former president.

Ivan Raiklin smiles
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “secretary of retribution” is touting a wild plan to arrest politicians, police officers, and journalists he views as disloyal to the former president, according to a sweeping new investigation by Raw Story.

Conservative political activist Ivan Raiklin claims to have assembled a “Deep State target list” that includes high-ranking Democrats and Republicans, U.S. Capitol Police officers, officials at the FBI and other intelligence agencies, witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trials, and journalists at The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post, and other news outlets. Their supposed crime? Being Trump’s political enemies. And Raiklin views himself as justice incarnate.

During one podcast appearance earlier this year, Raiklin said his nickname was the “deep state marauder, a.k.a. the mauler.” Raiklin’s plan for what to do with his list isn’t nearly as gruesome, but it is still terrifying. He intends to enlist right-wing sheriffs to carry out mass arrests, and in May, he declared his intention to arrange “livestreamed swatting raids.”

Raiklin reportedly claims that if he went public with all of the so-called evidence he collected on Trump’s enemies in the deep state, it would be probable cause to arrest those high-ranking officials and journalists on his list.

Those arrests would be carried out by “constitutional sheriffs,” specifically a right-wing anti-government group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Those sheriffs would then deputize the 75,000 veterans Raiklin claims were dismissed from the military for refusing to comply with Covid-19 vaccine mandates, forming a rogue army intent on revenge.

Thus far, attempts at assembling his troops have proved less than successful.

Raiklin attempted to recruit some at the group’s convention in April, where he asked a panel whether they’d “be willing to go to the maximum level to create consequences for these federal actors,” who he alleged had committed some kind of “seditious conspiracy.”

The response was underwhelming, according to Raw Story. Despite being fairly sympathetic to Raiklin, officers warned that his plot was illegal, and it would be unlikely that prosecutors would ever press charges.

Even Sheriff Dar Leaf, who gained notoriety among the far right for suggesting that the group that attempted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was simply attempting to make a citizen’s arrest, felt that Raiklin’s plan went too far.

“We’re not going to be able to just go out and arrest,” Leaf said. “We’ve got to do a grand jury indictment, just like the Constitution says.”

When asked by Raw Story about Raiklin’s plan, Leaf said he didn’t know who Raiklin was, and opposed political prosecutions.

Former Sheriff Richard Mack, who leads the Constitutional Sheriffs group, told Raw Story that he had severed ties with Raiklin in early June and did not approve of his rhetoric. “Quite frankly, he talks about that list of 350 people—I’m sure they can afford lawyers,” said Mack. “It reeks of lawsuits, and it doesn’t follow due process.”

Raiklin has also emailed sheriffs’ offices across the country hoping to enlist them to his cause. Not one has signed on, according to Raw Story.

More about Trump’s plans for revenge:

Elon Musk Idiotically Demands Laws for What’s Already Illegal

The X owner is pushing one of Donald Trump’s most bonkers election conspiracies.

Elon Musk gestures while making a weird face
Apu Gomes/Getty Images

Elon Musk is giddy to elevate right-wing talking points about alleged rampant election fraud ahead of November.

Taking a page from Donald Trump’s book this past week, Musk has been up late, firing off various fearmongering tweets about requiring paper ballots, in-person voting, and hand-counting ballots.

It’s no coincidence. The House will vote Wednesday on the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility, or SAVE, Act, sponsored by Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee and Texas Republican Representative Chip Roy. Ahead of the vote, the GOP is trying to whip up controversy about election fraud.

The bill would require a Real ID or U.S. passport for voting, rather than the standard driver’s license, in an effort to tamp down on noncitizen voting. The bill also calls for states to purge noncitizens from their rolls and even have Homeland Security deport anyone unlawfully registered.

Additionally, just this week, Republicans announced they’ll put the issue of proof of citizenship in their party platform at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee next week.

You wouldn’t know it to hear Republicans talk, but it’s already a federal crime for noncitizens to vote in federal elections. What’s more, noncitizen voting is incredibly rare, making up only about 0.0001 percent of the votes cast in state elections in 2016, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Even the Cato Institute says “noncitizens don’t illegally vote in detectable numbers.”

Nevertheless, Republicans and their allies are running with the conspiracy theory that Democrats are using immigrants to steal the elections, combining two of their favorite topics: voter fraud and the border. “Why are Democrats so adamantly against ensuring only American citizens vote in our elections?” Speaker Mike Johnson wrote Monday on X (formerly Twitter). “They want to turn illegal aliens into voters. We must pass the SAVE Act to prevent this.”

Musk then reposted Johnson, writing: “Those who oppose this are traitors. All Caps: TRAITORS. What is the penalty for traitors again?”

At 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, Musk quote-tweeted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who wrote, “There is no hiding it now. Biden and the Democrats want illegal immigrants to vote in the election this November. Our elections are NOT safe from mass interference as long as states do not require proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections.”

As the owner of X, Elon is not only pushing this rhetoric on his site, but he is actually taking steps to help Trump and Republicans stop nonexistent voter fraud. Along with billionaire Nelson Peltz, Musk aims to present Trump with a “data-driven” election-oversight system.

As Elon would say, it’s all looking “extremely concerning”!

The 3 Wildest Things Trump Said at Train-Wreck Florida Rally

Donald Trump is totally losing it—and his rally at Doral made that more clear than ever before.

Donald Trump at a mic. People in the crowd in the stands behind him hold signs up reading "You're Fired!" and "Trump 2024."
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Riding high as Democrats continue to scramble following Biden’s debate performance last month, Trump on Tuesday spewed a dizzying array of nonsense and repeatedly fumbled over his prepared remarks during a campaign rally at his golf course in Doral, Florida.

1. Trump claimed Biden doesn’t know what a synagogue is during a bizarre tangent on his golf skills.

“This evening, I’m also officially challenging Crooked Joe to an 18-hole golf match right here on Doral’s Blue Monster,” Trump said, after challenging Biden to a debate with “no moderators, no holds barred.”

“I’ll even give Joe Biden 10 strokes aside. And if he wins, I will give the charity of his choice $1 million,” Trump continued before immediately declaring Biden won’t take him up on the offer—not because he’s hosting the NATO summit this week but because he’s “all talk.”

Trump then claimed Biden “doesn’t know what a synagogue is” and claimed Biden got “three or four” face lifts. “You know what took him so long to get into the race?” Trump asked the crowd. “The face lift didn’t work.”

2. Trump praised Hannibal Lecter—again.

Trump spent much of his speech fearmongering about asylum-seekers, comparing them to Hannibal Lecter. He then floated a conspiracy that countries across South America, Asia, Africa, and “every other place” are intentionally emptying “their prisons, their jails, and their mental institutions” to send “bloodthirsty terrorists, savage gang members, and child predators into the United States to prey on our people, to prey on you, to prey on everybody.”

“Did anyone ever see The Silence of the Lambs? Did you ever hear of Hannibal Lecter?” Trump asked the crowd while railing against asylum-seekers. “He was a lovely man. He would love to have you for dinner. He will take you. He had many people for dinner.”

Trump appeared cognizant of how far-fetched this comparison was, noting that the media “will say, ‘Oh, that’s terrible what Trump would say. He is rambling about Hannibal Lecter.’ No I’m not, rambling,” he said in defense of his recurring non sequitur likening asylum-seekers to a fictional character who eats people. “We are allowing people from insane asylums and mental institutions into our country by the tens of thousands.”

Trump’s claim appears to be rooted in a conspiracy theory that crime has dropped in Venezuela due to intentional efforts to send criminals to the U.S. According to available data, crime rates in Venezuela have gradually reduced slightly over time due to reduced opportunities for crimes to occur, as more people have been plunged into poverty and there is nothing of value worth stealing from them.

3. Trump promised to “take over our capital.”

Trump said he would take over Washington, D.C., so that it is “no longer a nightmare of murder and crime.” He also claimed people get “shot, mugged, raped” every time they visit the Jefferson Memorial or Washington Monument.

Important read on the Trump agenda:

Nancy Pelosi Really Doesn’t Sound Like She Wants Joe Biden to Run

The former House speaker gave a non-answer when asked if Joe Biden still has her support.

Nancy Pelosi, seated on an armchair, speaks and makes hand gestures. There is a black backdrop behind her.
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Does Joe Biden have Representative Nancy Pelosi’s support to lead the Democratic ticket in November? Pelosi says that it’s up to him.

Pelosi was asked the question on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday, and she ominously replied, “It’s up to the president to decide if he’s going to run.

“We’re all encouraging him to make that decision, because time is running short,” Pelosi said. Host Jonathan Lemire then reminded her that Biden has said he is going to run, and asked her if she wanted him to run.

“I want him to decide whatever he decides to do, and that’s the way it is, whatever he decides, we go in,” Pelosi responded.

Pelosi’s response could be easily interpreted as a nonanswer. Immediately after Biden’s disastrous debate performance two weeks ago, she didn’t make a commitment either. Last week, she called for both Donald Trump and Biden to take a mental fitness test.

Even though she doesn’t lead the House Democratic caucus anymore, Pelosi’s opinion still carries a lot of weight as a senior Democrat, and she presumably is in conversation with other leading members of the party. On Tuesday, House Democrats held a private closed-door meeting that reportedly left the party still divided on the future of Biden’s candidacy. While Biden has tried to put any thoughts of replacing him to bed, reports show that many Democrats are worried about his chances of winning reelection. If Biden doesn’t have total support from his party heading into November, it doesn’t bode well.

More on Dems in disarray:

Biden’s Attempt to Prove His Fitness Just Blew Up in His Face

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos interviewed Joe Biden after the disastrous debate, and he was not impressed.

George Stephanopoulos and Joe Biden sit facing each other
ABC/Getty Images

ABC News anchor George Stephanopolous was caught on film expressing doubt that President Joe Biden will be able to handle another term in the White House, only a few days after he did an exclusive interview with the embattled commander in chief.

In a low-quality video published by TMZ Tuesday, a pedestrian approached Stephanopoulos on the street in New York City. “Do you think Biden should step down? You’ve talked to him more than anybody else has lately,” the man asked.

“I don’t think he can serve four more years,” Stephanopolous replied, in a candid moment.

It’s a troubling response from the journalist whose interview with the president last week was meant to assuage national anxieties about Biden’s mental acuity, following a disastrous performance in last month’s presidential debate on CNN.

Stephanopolous’s comment also comes amid a high-stakes week for the president, as Biden continues to face calls from within his own party to withdraw from the presidential race, while also attending the NATO summit in Washington, D.C.

Stephanopoulos confirmed to TMZ that he had in fact made that statement but sought to walk it back some. “Earlier today, I responded to a question from a passerby. I shouldn’t have,” he told the outlet.

An ABC spokesperson clarified to TMZ that “George expressed his own point of view and not the position of ABC News.”

Watch: Trump Fumbles Repeatedly in Terrifying Speech at Florida Rally

Try to make any sense of what Donald Trump said.

Donald Trump speaks at a podium
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Donald Trump gave a particularly incoherent speech during a recent rally, as he rattled through a lengthy list of odd grievances that didn’t quite ring true, devoid of some very necessary segues.

In front of a crowd of about 700 people (although Trump claimed it was 45,000) in Doral, Florida, on Tuesday, the former president hit all of the normal beats of his campaign trail speeches, and then some.

Trump attacked President Joe Biden for his weak performance in the presidential debate last month, and for many of his policies. He dropped Kamala Harris’s name more than a few times, arguing that it doesn’t matter who the Democrats’ candidate is, he will beat anyone in a “thundering landslide.”

Over sweeping music, Trump went for a tear-jerking moment, only to suddenly veer into complaining about something else. It’s included in full because it’s just that wild.

“We will institute the powerful death penalty for drug dealers, where each dealer is responsible for the death, during their lives, of 500 people or more,” he said.

“Mothers will never again be forced to watch their children overdosing in hosp … and we will never allow mothers to watch their child hopelessly dying in their arms screaming, ‘What can I do, what can I do? Help me God, what can I do?’ We are a nation whose once revered airports are a dirty, crowded mess,” Trump continued, pivoting suddenly.

“You sit and wait for hours and then are notified that the plane won’t leave, that they have no idea when they will. Where ticket prices have tripled. They don’t have the pilots to fly the planes, they don’t seek qualified air traffic controllers, and they just don’t know what the hell they are doing.”

From the death penalty to crying mothers and crappy airports, if Trump was hoping for an emotional moment, he seems to have missed it by a mile. His breakneck pace and awkward delivery suggests that the presumptive Republican nominee doesn’t actually care about a single one of his randomly assembled points. How can anyone take him seriously when he speeds from his often-repeated, baseless claims about immigrants to whining that as a country, “We don’t eat bacon anymore”?

Trump continued to rely on blatant fearmongering to excite his supporters, who grew sleepy and disinterested as the former president rattled on through his 75-minute speech, according to The Guardian.

“We will take over the horribly run capital of our nation in Washington, D.C., and clean it up, renovate it, and rebuild our capital city, so that it is no longer a nightmare of murder and crime. But rather it will become the most beautiful capital anywhere in the world,” Trump said.

“Right now, if you leave Florida, ‘Oh, let’s go, darling, let’s look at the Jefferson Memorial, let’s look at the Washington Monument, let’s go and look at some of the beautiful scenes,’ and you end up getting shot, mugged, raped,” he warned, promising that he’d run the city “tough and smart.”

The violent crime rate in D.C. has dropped 30 percent since 2023, according to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. But of course, Trump is unconcerned with actual crime statistics. Instead, he’s interested in keeping his base in red states ignorant, fearful, and angry about life in blue states.

Why Trump Jr. Is Begging His Dad to Avoid Marco Rubio as V.P. Pick

Donald Trump Jr. is publicly asking his dad to pick anyone but Marco Rubio as his running mate.

Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a mic and makes a hand gesture pointing down. A backdrop reads "Trump Country Make America Great Again!"
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr. doesn’t want Senator Marco Rubio to be his father’s running mate, fearing that it would tempt establishment Republicans into impeaching the elder Trump.

The younger Trump expressed his fear on his video podcast Triggered Monday evening, in response to a submitted question during a live Q&A, where the questioner claimed that “Rubio guarantees another impeachment,” to which the host agreed.

If Rubio was the vice president on the ticket, “by the time my father’s hand moves off in the swearing in process … 12 p.m. January 20, the second it goes off, impeachment!” Trump Jr. said. “That’s how fast it would be.”

“There is something about having someone from outside the establishment to sort of further protect you from that establishment,” Trump Jr. added.

While speculation abounds, there still is no indication as to who Trump will pick as his vice president. Some reports say the shortlist has three people: Rubio, Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. Other names have been mentioned in the past few months, including Senator Tim Scott, Representative Elise Stefanik, and Representative Byron Donalds.

In Rubio’s case, though, his presence on the ticket would seem odd considering how much Trump mocked the Florida senator on the 2016 presidential campaign trail, calling him “little Marco.” Rubio eventually fell in line like the rest of the GOP and backed Trump, but his political career never quite got over Trump’s bullying and his unsuccessful attempts to shoot back.

Lately, Rubio has been defending the former president and convicted felon from attacks related to the Heritage Foundation’s extreme playbook Project 2025, downplaying the manifesto and Trump’s connection to it. Will Trump overlook Rubio’s establishment ties to get a staunch defender like him as his vice president? According to one Trump adviser, the decision should be known to everyone by next Monday.

What Is Project 2025? Biden Team Zeroes In on GOP Agenda Under Trump

President Biden is pushing Americans to look into the Republican wish list that would guide a second Trump term.

Donald Trump clasps his hands and walks outside as a crowd of supporters are in the stand
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Project 2025’s prominence as a master plan for a Trump administration continues to gain prominence—and weaponized ridicule. “Google Project 2025,” President Joe Biden posted on X (formerly Twitter) Tuesday morning. The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday also put up several billboards fusing Donald Trump to Project 2025 in Doral, Florida, where Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in the evening.

“I know nothing about Project 2025,” Trump claimed on Friday. “I have no idea who is behind it.” Yet, the Republican Party’s platform—adopted from a proposed platform crafted by Trump’s campaign—has clear ties to Project 2025. Russ Vought, the RNC platform committee’s policy chair, and Ed Martin, RNC deputy policy director, were installed in their RNC roles in coordination with the Trump campaign. Vought, a former Trump appointee, wrote a chapter of Project 2025, and both men are on Project 2025’s advisory board, according to ABC News. Trump’s attempts to distance himself from the project has provoked ire from far-right pundits such as Alex Jones and white supremacist Nick Fuentes, who both insinuated Trump is being controlled by the establishment of the Republican Party.

“Donald Trump is lying again now,” Biden said in a statement released on Saturday in response to Trump denying affiliation to Project 2025. “He’s trying to hide his connections to his allies’ extreme Project 2025 agenda. The only problem? It was written for him, by those closest to him. Project 2025 should scare every single American.”

Project 2025, or the Presidential Transition Project, is a massive 900-page planning document offering pathways to dramatically overhaul the federal government in line with Trump’s aspirations and to pursue extreme policies Trump has floated. It’s the work of former Trump staffers and led by right-wing hate groups and top conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, whose president Kevin Roberts stated last week, “We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless—if the left allows it to be.”

As the BBC notes, Project 2025 echoes Trump’s own policy agenda, dubbed Agenda 47 on the basis of Trump becoming the forty-seventh president if he wins in November. While Trump’s campaign has denied Project 2025 as a policy platform endorsed by Trump, the document in actuality functions as a high-speed pathway to institute the policies he desires. When Trump stated he wants to deport 20 million people, for example, Project 2025 released a portion of the document that details exactly how he could do that. As Trump faced multiple federal investigations, Project 2025 crafted and released a plan for how he could turn the Department of Justice and FBI into his personal attack dogs.

Some aspects of Project 2025, such as a nationwide abortion ban, stray significantly from Trump’s stated positions. But as Rolling Stone notes, Trump’s “softened” position on abortion adopted by the RNC is nothing more than a gambit to dupe voters.

Similarities between much of the Project 2025 plan and Trump’s own campaign ambitions continue to spoil Trump’s efforts to distance himself from the extreme agenda. According to The Free Press, sources close to the Trump campaign have tried signaling to Project 2025 to stop pitching itself, saying, “The message we are sending to Heritage and others is the same as it was in December: You’re not helping.” An ex-adviser to Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence this week decried Trump’s efforts to distance himself from Project 2025 as “ludicrous.”