Richard DeAgazio was already seated for dinner, on the Mar-a-Lago Club’s terrace, when President Trump entered with the prime minister of Japan on Saturday night. The crowd — mostly paying members of Trump’s private oceanfront club in Palm Beach, Fla. — stood to applaud. The president’s party sat about six tables away.
Then, DeAgazio — a retired investor who joined Mar-a-Lago three months ago — got a text from a friend. North Korea had just test-fired a ballistic missile, which it claimed could carry a nuclear warhead. DeAgazio looked over at the president’s table.
What was happening — as first reported by CNN — was an extraordinary moment, as Trump and Abe turned their dinner table into an open-air situation room. Aides and translators surrounded the two leaders as other diners chatted and gawked around them, with staffers using the flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate documents on the darkened outdoor terrace.
The scene of their discussion, Trump’s club, has been called “The Winter White House” by the president’s aides. But it is very different than the actual White House, where security is tight and people coming in are heavily screened. Trump’s club, by contrast, has hundreds of paying members who come and go, and it can be rented out for huge galas and other events open to non-members. On the night of the North Korea launch, for instance, there was a wedding reception underway: CNN reported that Trump dropped by, with Abe in tow.
Now, as a national-security crisis broke out in front of him, DeAgazio continued snapping pictures — and posting them on Facebook.
“The President receiving the news about the Missile incident from North Korea on Japan with the Prime Minister sitting next to him,” DeAgazio wrote as the caption for a photo he posted on Facebook at 9:07 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.
Security experts have said this casual approach to national security discussions was very risky.
The two leaders could have discussed classified documents within earshot of waiters and club patrons. Those cellphones-turned-flashlights might also have been a problem: If one of them had been hacked by a foreign power, the phone’s camera could have provided a view of what the documents said.
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Source: Washington Post/