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Mar-a-Lago dilemma turns in Trump’s favor; town attorney takes his side

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Turns out, former President Donald Trump found an unlikely ally in his battle with bitter neighbors who have mounted a challenge to his calling Mar-a-Lago home.

That ally being the Palm Beach attorney who signed an agreement in the early 1990s changing the Florida property from a residence to a private club.

Town attorney John C. Randolph is recommending that the former president should be allowed to use Mar-a-Lago as his residence even though Trump had promised the town council in 1993 that he would not live there, the Washington Post reported.

In sharing the article online, Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia summarized things by saying the neighbors wanting to block Trump from living at the resort are “about to get some bad news.”

Roig-Franzia said in the piece if the town follows Randolph’s advice, “it would be a blow to a loosely affiliated group of neighbors, preservationists and attorneys who have argued that Trump is prohibited from living at the iconic, nearly century-old estate that he had referred to as his ‘winter White House.'”

The article noted that before approving the 1993 agreement, which banned members from staying in guest suites for more than 21 days a year, the town council wanted to know whether Trump would reside there.

Trump’s attorney at the time, Paul Rampell, replied, “The answer is ‘No’… except that he will be a member of the club and would be entitled to use its guest rooms.”

Citing a memorandum it obtained, the Post reported that Randolph now argues that the promise is pretty much meaningless because there’s nothing in the agreement that specifically bans Trump from living at the club.

Trump’s current attorney in the matter, John B. Marion, has been pushing a similar argument as the town attorney, that Trump is not bound by the promise he made to the council in 1993.

Nothing that may have been said by Trump before the 1993 agreement was signed “is relevant,” Marion wrote in a letter to Randolph, according to documents obtained.

Both men reportedly agree that Palm Beach’s zoning codes allow employees to live at private clubs and that as the owner of Mar-a-Lago, Trump is a “bona fide employee,” according to the letter.

Trump uses an “Owner’s suite,” rather than a “guest suite,” the attorney noted.

The issue could come up before the council on the same day Senate Democrats begin their impeachment trial for Trump, as they attempt to remove a private citizen from a seat he no longer holds — the U.S. Constitution be damned.

More on that and Randolph’s opinion from the Post:

The memo represents the first time that a town official has formally weighed in on a nettlesome issue that has threatened to complicate Trump’s ex-presidency. The legal opinion is the latest step in a year-long dispute that could force a decision by town officials who have been reluctant to take a formal position. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residency could be raised before the town council at its two-day meeting next week, possibly as soon as Tuesday — the same day Trump’s Senate impeachment trial begins in Washington.

Tom Tillison

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