Some people simply don’t want an ex-president living in their backyard.
Several wealthy residents of Palm Beach, Fla., have put outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump in a bit of a bind after they called for the city to bar him from living at his Mar-a-Lago resort when he leaves office next month.
A coalition of neighbours sent a letter to the City of Palm Beach on Tuesday, in which they called for the city to prevent Trump from making Mar-a-Lago his permanent residence. The letter was penned by an attorney and addressed to the U.S. Secret Service, according to a copy obtained by the Washington Post.
The letter argues that Trump signed away his right to live at Mar-a-Lago in the 1990s, when he converted the property from a private residence to a private club in a contentious deal with the city. The letter urges Palm Beach to inform Trump that he must find a new permanent residence for his post-presidency, and calls for him to do it now to “avoid an embarrassing situation” later on.
Trump will no longer live at the White House on Jan. 20, 2021, and his Floridian neighbours could prevent him from moving into his so-called “Winter White House” for his post-presidency.
Trump has spent more than 130 days of his presidency at the resort, according to the Post. He’s visited the residence over two dozen times, bringing with him a large cadre of security staff and aides, as well as noisy aircraft and irritating road closures.
Trump’s neighbours have filed numerous complaints about these inconveniences over the years. Now they worry those disruptions will persist if Trump lives there on a permanent basis.
The real estate mogul was a longtime resident of Manhattan before he won the presidency, but he became a Florida man last year when he changed his permanent address to Mar-a-Lago.
However, the deal he signed in 1993 reportedly prohibits Mar-a-Lago members from staying there for more than 21 days a year, or more than seven consecutive days at a time. The deal was signed to prevent Trump from turning the resort into a hotel.
“There’s absolutely no legal theory under which he can use that property as both a residence and a club,” Glenn Zeitz, a resident who has joined the fight, told the Post. “Basically he’s playing a dead hand. He’s not going to intimidate or bluff people, because we’re going to be there.”
The letter comes at a tough moment for Trump, who has struggled to embrace the reality of his loss to Joe Biden last month — and who has openly called for the free and fair election results to be overturned in his favour.
His legal team has suffered defeat after defeat while pursuing that goal in court, and he has yet to formally acknowledge Biden’s victory. His team has not proven any of his claims of widespread voter fraud, and the Electoral College has already confirmed Biden’s win.
Trump is also facing legal jeopardy in his former home state of New York. He and his Trump Organization are under criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, and he faces a tax fraud investigation from the state’s attorney general. The president also faces lawsuits related to two alleged sexual assaults, as well as a fraud and conspiracy suit from his niece, Mary Trump.
Additionally, Trump could face criminal prosecution for income tax evasion after the New York Times reported that the billionaire paid no more than $750 a year in federal income taxes for several years.
Now he faces a legal battle with the city where he hopes to live in his twilight years.
Trump has battled the City of Palm Beach for years over various changes at Mar-a-Lago, pushing some rules and breaking others, the Post reports. The city has also given him some leeway during his presidency, including permission for a helipad that was prohibited in the 1993 agreement.
Trump’s neighbours say they’re not trying to drive him out of the community altogether.
“Palm Beach has many lovely estates for sale, and we are confident President Trump will find one which meets his needs,” they wrote at the end of the letter.
The City of Palm Beach did not immediately respond to the report. Trump did not mention the dispute amid a tide of baseless voter fraud claims on Twitter Thursday.
Biden will become the 46th president of the United States at noon on Jan. 20.
—With files from Reuters