If Mar-a-Lago is still the “Southern White House,” as the president used to refer to it, then the Trump resort in Palm Beach is certainly lacking the robust security of its counterpart in D.C. According to a new report from the Palm Beach Post, an 18-year-old college student from Washington, D.C., snuck into the mansion last year on the day after Thanksgiving while the first family was visiting.
Mark Lindblom, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, was visiting his grandparents at a nearby beach club when he decided to walk into Mar-a-Lago, passing through a metal detector manned by Secret Service agents. Lindblom strolled through the private resort for around 20 minutes before he was arrested.
“We have no reason to believe he had a political, criminal, or terroristic purpose,” U.S. Attorney John McMillan said on Tuesday before a federal magistrate. “It was a foolish decision he did on a lark.” Lindblom added, “I wanted to see how far I could get.” He pleaded guilty to a charge of entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and received probation for a year.
The teenage breach is concerning for Mar-a-Lago, as the Secret Service presence was ramped up for the president’s visit — doubly so, considering recent security concerns and the president’s lax approach to his favorite property. In March, reports emerged that a 45-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, Cindy Yang — who founded the spa where Patriots owner Robert Kraft was recorded by police paying for oral sex — was selling access to President Trump, primarily during his Mar-a-Lago visits. And in April, a Chinese national was arrested in the club carrying a thumb drive filled with malware, $8,000 in cash, and a device for detecting hidden cameras.
Some of the security threats are coming from the inside. The Secret Service reportedly relies, in part, on staff to help screen visitors to the club, where visitor logs are kept private. And though Trump appears to have left behind the habit of treating the Mar-a-Lago terrace like an “open-air situation room,” his history of discussing international crises in mixed company seems all the more damaging with the compounding reports of his club’s laissez-faire membership policy.