It’s been a year since Donald Trump stunned the political world with one of the biggest election upsets ever. His presidency has been unorthodox, including the informal designation of his Mar-a-Lago Club as the Winter White House.
The following is a timeline of key moments of the Trump presidency in Palm Beach County since Election Day 2016.
November 2016: Exactly two weeks after defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump arrives in Palm Beach for his first visit as president-elect. It’s been 50 years since the county saw a part-time resident elected president, so the visit is a novelty. Still, Trump’s stay will be overshadowed locally on Thanksgiving weekend when news breaks of the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
December 2016: Trump spends the holidays at Mar-a-Lago, including hosting his annual New Year’s Eve party. Among the attendees is Sylvester Stallone, who is reportedly being mulled as an appointee to a National Endowment for the Arts post. In a sign of the rocky road ahead for the news media covering the 45th president, Trump breaks with custom by ditching the traveling press pool when he plays a round of golf at his Jupiter club on Dec. 31.
January: Trump is getting ready for the inauguration. He is spending most of his time between New York and Washington. But Mar-a-Lago is still on his mind. On Jan. 18, he tweets a photo of himself at his Palm Beach Club, sitting at a desk, with a legal pad and pen-in-hand looking pensive “writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House.”
February: Trump returns to Palm Beach three times, but it’s the second visit, Feb. 10-12, that is most memorable. Accompanying Trump is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They play golf and discuss world affairs. On Saturday evening, the two leaders, surrounded by club members and guests, conduct crisis diplomacy as they huddle with aides at their dinner table to discuss a response to a North Korean missile test.
March: In an early month visit, Trump ignites another Twitter firestorm — this time alleging that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower in New York. The tweet barrage follows a pattern in which some of his most explosive social media missives take place during his time at the Winter White House, including prior references to a “so-called judge” who blocked his travel ban and labeling the news media the “enemy of the American people.” On this trip he is met at Mar-a-Lago by Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, who was and will again be, a Trump Twitter target.
April: Trump hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. Thousands of protesters descend on the county, advocating for fair trade, religious freedom and other causes. A big talking point is the ongoing and provocative North Korea missile tests. But the missiles launched during this Mar-a-Lago trip are 59 U.S. rockets that strike a Syrian military base.
May: The season’s over, so Trump does not return. But Mar-a-Lago is still in the news. Palm Beach County officials and taxpayers hope to get reimbursed for the $4 million in costs incurred by local law enforcement assisting on presidential security during his visits to the Winter White House. And the watchdog group Judicial Watch reports that just two of Trump’s Palm Beach visits, the Feb. 3-6 and March 3-6 trips, cost the Air Force nearly $1.3 million to fly the president here.
June: Trump returns to South Florida, but not to Palm Beach. He makes a quick afternoon visit to Miami on June 16 to announce a new Cuba policy. But the impact of his visits remains. Palm Beach International Airport mulls building a protective wall to replace the use of school buses to guard Air Force One. And the county continues to wrestle with how to assist the Lantana airport, which is grounded by flight restrictions when Trump visits.
July: A key campaign promise — a crackdown on illegal immigration — plays out locally when the popular manager of a Palm Beach eatery faces potential deportation. Locals launch a Change.org petition asking the feds to let him stay. He is granted a reprieve.
August: Trump’s comments after white nationalist and neo-Nazi marches in Charlottesville, Va., turn violent elicit a backlash at Mar-a-Lago. More than a dozen charities cancel or move their events out of Mar-a-lago for the coming season, either in protest or after facing pressure from donors.
September: The president and first lady Melania Trump return to Florida following Hurricane Irma’s devastating hit on the Keys and Gulf Coast. Trump tells Floridians he’s “there for you 100 percent” while meeting with victims in Naples and Fort Myers. Southwest Florida is a friendly part of the state for Trump, who garnered 61.1 percent of votes in Collier County and 58.7 percent of the ballots cast in Lee County in winning Florida on Election Day 2016.
October: What charities crisis? The season opens at Mar-a-Lago, and the president’s club is expecting to be as busy as ever with weddings and events. One charity, the Big Dog Ranch animal rescue group, has a change of mind and indeed schedules its March 10, 2018, fundraiser at the Winter White House. Another group, the Trumpettes fan club, schedules a Red, White and Blue Celebration for Jan. 18 at Mar-a-Lago to mark the president’s first year in office.
November: The first indictments from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election have a Palm Beach County tie. Indicted is Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has a home in Palm Beach Gardens. The home becomes a partial focus of his bond hearing. The indictment also lists a series of unidentified Florida vendor companies, none of which is accused of wrongdoing, that performed work for Manafort, and were perhaps paid with laundered money.