Report: Few recall $17M hurricane damage at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE said he received a $17 million insurance payment for 2005 hurricane damage at his private Florida resort — and pocketed some of it instead of spending it on repairs, according to a new report.


Trump’s description of the extensive damage to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., does not match accounts from his supporters and the club’s members, The Associated Press said Monday. And he apparently admitted that he had pocketed some of the payout because of the terms of his insurance policy. 

Trump admitted in a 2007 deposition about an unrelated matter that he had a “very good insurance policy” during a series of storms two years before, The AP said. And he added that he had pocketed some of the $17 million because the terms of his policy meant “you didn’t have to reinvest it.”

Though he could not remember which storm hit Mar-a-Lago, or when, Trump at the time described how the insurance payout was being spent. 

“We continue to spend the money because we continue to suffer the ravages of that hurricane,” Trump said. "It really beat up Mar-a-Lago badly.

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

Trump’s version of events surfaced during an unsuccessful and unrelated 2007 libel lawsuit against journalist Tim O’Brien, the AP reported Monday. But O’Brien’s attorneys were permitted to review Trump’s financial records, including some involving Mar-a-Lago, raising questions about the alleged damages he claimed. 

The GOP presidential nominee’s version of events contradict others, who could not remember such extensive damage. 

Trump’s former butler, Anthony Senecal, told the AP the billionaire was discussing Hurricane Wilma, the last of several storms that hit the area between 2004 and 2005.

But Senecal said Mar-a-Lago merely lost some roof tiles during Wilma’s landfall in 2005.

“That house has never been seriously damaged,” he said of the estate’s luck with hurricanes. "I was there for all of them.”

Tim Frank, Palm Beach’s planning administrator during the hurricanes, said $17 million would require “dozens, maybe scores of workers” for repairs.

“If there were $17 million dollars of damage, we sure as hell would have known about that,” he said of the insurance payout.

“I would have known if there was anything in the magnitude of $100,000. If they changed the door knobs, I was supposed to review it.”

Jack McDonald, a Mar-a-Lago member and the GOP mayor of Palm Beach at the time, agreed with Frank’s memory.

“I am unable to comprehend $17 million in reimbursable damage,” he said.

The AP said Palm Beach building department records show no permits for construction at Mar-a-Lago at that scale after the storms.

The only permits that appeared hurricane-related were for $3,000 in repairs to storm-damaged outdoor lighting and the vacuuming of sand from the property’s beachfront pool.

The AP noted that a little more than two weeks after Wilma, Trump hosted nearly 400 guests at Mar-a-Lago for his son Donald Jr.’s wedding. Thought part of the celebration was moved because of hurricane damage, the AP said, wedding photos available on Getty Images show the house, pool and landscaping in good condition.