Photo credit: Courtesy of Ron Kessler
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! While it is not “fake news” that he showed up at Mar-a-Lago on New Year’s Eve, it is “fake news” that he went there to party. Best-selling author Ron Kessler should know; he was within a few feet of Scarborough. Kessler was a paying guest with his wife Pamela (author and former Washington Post writer) and witness to the kerfuffle that ensued between Scarborough and other media folks in the twitterspheare. Kessler attests that he saw him with his co-host Mika Brzezinski – he dressed in a sports jacket and thin tie, she in Capri pants – pass through the penguin crowd and ascend to the terrace level, but not for champagne and caviar on blini, cocktail shrimp and sushi and not as a black tie guest at the opulent affair; thus confirming what Joe has said all along that he wants to make it very clear that he did not party with Donald Trump!
Kessler, Scarborough, Trump, Brzezinski Photo via @maggieNYT
Maggie Haberman from The New York Times posted a picture on @maggieNYT of Kessler in the foreground of a photo with Joe and Trump. “What happened was that he and Mica came in very briefly at the very beginning and chatted for a few minutes with Donald and then went up the staircase to the terrace level to have their meeting. They didn’t partake in anything, they just met him there and just walked off. Scarborough is telling the truth, but I can understand why there was confusion over it,” said Kessler. “The meeting was arranged before hand to try to persuade him (Trump) to do an interview in the future.” Mar-a-Lago is President-Elect Trump’s resort in Palm Beach, expected to be his Camp David.
Ron and Pam Kessler
“This past week, I met twice with President-elect Donald Trump attempting to secure an interview for inauguration week. Judging from the snide reaction of some in the press, you would have thought I offered to sketch the outline of his inaugural speech. As for those who attacked me this weekend for doing my job, facts are stubborn things. The only “party” I attended on New Year’s Eve was the one in front of the TV with my children, watching “Groundhog Day,” “Ghostbusters” and Mariah Carey’s epic meltdown. That may not sound as exciting as a big party at Mar-a-Lago, but for my family, it was a perfect way to end 2016.” Joe Scarborough, The Washington Post.
“We go to Palm Beach several times a year,” Kessler told Hollywood on the Potomac. “The first time was when I was working on my book about Joe Kennedy, the father. Then we started vacationing there and then I decided to do this book on Palm Beach which is only because Pam and I were having dinner at Testa’s, had a bottle of Champagne and we were walking around the block. I was high (Kessler is a big fan of Champagne) when I said ‘wouldn’t it be good to do a book on Palm Beach?’ I really wasn’t serious about it because it was out of line with what I normally do and Pam said it would be the only book she would collaborate with me on……and that’s how it became serious. In the course of doing that I was able to get Donald’s cooperation so we went down on his plane, spent a week at Mar-a-Lago and became a friend and have known him ever since. That was 1998. The book “The Season” came out in 1999. We have had repeated interaction with him and have gone to many of his parties for years and sometimes he invites us to stay at Mar-a-Lago. So that’s the overall scoop.” Although the Kesslers are Honorary Members of the club, they pay for the events, the NYE party being $500 per person.
President-Elect Donald Trump with Pamela Kessler
So how will President-Elect Trump fit into the social fabric of Washington? “Basically he likes his own places. He is very territorial, so he will almost always go to one of his own (if above McDonald’s level or traveling around) like he did in his NY meeting with Romney. When he goes to Palm Beach, he never goes to any other restaurant, he never goes to Taboo or Chez Jean Pierre But, it will be a grand party in Washington because he – although he doesn’t drink – loves to entertain and schmooze which is part of his modus operandi. So he will entertain and have grand parties which is the way he does business and will be on the social scene, but probably at The White House rather than the Trump Hotel down the street to avoid any conflicts. It would be very rare though that he goes to someone else’s party.”
“The truth is that he works full time,” Kessler added. “He never even goes swimming at Mar-a-Lago. He will have a nice dinner, invite a friend or two and go to the events there, but most of the time he works and sleeps three hours a night, so he’s not going to other people’s parties I think. He loves to entertain. He’ll invite both sides and is just going to have a ball. Part of his reason to exist is, if you look at his track record, entertain – which speaks to the fact that he started Mar-a-Lago to have an impact on the social scene. He’ll mainly have parties at the White House.”
Ron Kessler and President-Elect Donald Trump
So will he show up at Cafe Milano, the celebrity watering hole in Georgetown? ”No, I don’t see that at all, although he might drop in briefly once just to make a statement, but that’s just not his style if you look at what he does in Palm Beach and NY – although every once in a while he will go out, but it’s very rare. Palm Beach has some of the best restaurants in the country but he never goes there. His staffers probably will though. He’s got Kellyanne Conway on the party circuit and Ivanka.” Washingtonians shouldn’t worry though: “He will have many many parties at the White House which will be his signature and everyone will be vying to go to the parties and in turn try to ingratiate themselves.”
Hollywood on the Potomac hears that Ivanka Trump, who was a student at Georgetown University, is looking at real estate in Georgetown where there is also an orthodox Jewish synagogue close by.
So now let’s get to the part that Kessler writes about: The Secret Service. “Trump and his friends and family sat at a long table where secret service people formed a sort of wall around them, if you will, so that no one would bother them during the dinner which is something new and of course all the security kicked in as guests were checked by sniffing dogs and SS was everywhere which made me happy given my concern for safety. It’s totally different now, even from when he was running for President. Now guests have to first go through a separate area, inspected and swept and of course had to be on the list and then before you go into Mar-a-Lago, they swept you again for metal.There were just agents everywhere – in front of his private quarters – and even Barron had an agent with him when he went to the Trump spa and of course other agents you couldn’t see. It looked like Barron was being very responsible. We saw him come out of the private quarters and there was an agent waiting for hm and he motioned to them, had a towel and went to the spa; so it looked like he was very aware of the security.”
So how was the Trump Champagne? “It was a lighter champagne, so let’s leave it at that.”
Ronald Kessler is the author of 20 books, including “The First Family Detail” and “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.” Click on this link for books by Ronald Kessler.