Donald Trump invited golf club members to help choose his cabinet, leaked audio suggests

President reportedly tells wealthy guests: ‘You are the special people’

Benjamin Kentish
Sunday 19 February 2017 14:42
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Donald Trump entertaining Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, Florida
Donald Trump entertaining Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, Florida

Donald Trump invited wealthy members of one of his golf clubs to help interview candidates for posts in his administration, leaked audio recordings have revealed.

The Republican was taped telling guests to “come round” and help interview potential “generals and dictators”, claiming it would be “fun”.

Audio recordings from a party hosted by Mr Trump at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey in November – just two weeks after his election win – reveal comments he made to members.

“We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow – generals, dictators, we have everything”, Mr Trump can be heard saying in the recording, which was leaked to Politico.

“You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.

“We’re going to be interviewing everybody – Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State. We have everybody coming in – if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable… so you might want to come along.”

Mr Trump can also be heard declaring the members of his golf club to be his true friends, referring to them as “the special people”.

“So, this is my real group,” he said. “These are the people that came here in the beginning, when nobody knew what this monster was gonna turn out to be, right?”

“I see all of you. I recognise, like 100 per cent of you, just about. You are the special people.”

In the tape from the party, held on 18 November, the Republican can be heard asking one golf club member for advice on who he should appoint to lead the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“We were just talking about who we [are] going to pick for the FCC, who [are] we going to pick for this, who we gonna accept – boy, can you give me some recommendations,” he said.

The US President is said by friends to be most comfortable when passing time at the clubs he owns. He is currently spending his third consecutive weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Concerns have repeatedly been raised about the access guests at Mr Trump’s clubs are given to the President.

Earlier this month, the billionaire mogul was criticised for holding a sensitive meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister on how to respond to a North Korean missile test in the middle of the Mar-a-Lago dining room.

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Pictures posted on social media by members showed the President and his staff poring over potentially classified documents and making high-level calls to Washington.

Others club members posed next to the presidential limousine and with the army officer carrying the “nuclear football” – the device from which a president can launch nuclear bombs.

Mr Trump has promoted several of his golf club employees to positions in his administration. Dan Scavino, his Director of Social Media, was a caddy at one of his New York clubs and was later promoted to manage it.

The US President also invited his Bedminster club manager, David Schutzenhofer, to help him decorate the White House.

In the recording, Mr Trump can be heard saying of Mr Schutzenhofer: “He’s going into the Oval Office, right? And you are going to make it beautiful.”

The then President-elect was also taped joking about asking his clubs’ members for campaign donations. Referencing his now chief of staff, Reince Priebus, he said: “These members are loaded, Reince. He will work the room for campaign contributions. Don’t quote me!”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the audio recording “tries to create a narrative that just isn’t true by taking snippets of conversations and events out of context”.

Mr Trump was not inviting guests to help with selection interviews but simply “giving a description of what is happening and explaining the nature of the disruptions at the club and reassuring the members”, she added.

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