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The State Department Wrote About Mar-A-Lago And People Are Not Happy

The condensed version of a blog post explaining the history of Trump's private club, which the article called "the winter White House," went viral on Monday.

Posted on April 24, 2017, at 3:54 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump has spent the vast majority of his weekends since taking office at Mar-a-Lago, his private estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

The White House has argued that the estate counts as a "winter White House" or "Southern White House." Critics have said that this is a way to downplay Trump's historically high number of trips away from Washington in the early days of his administration.

The Trump administration has also argued that Mar-a-Lago serves as an alternative to Camp David, a US-owned property, for hosting foreign dignitaries.

Susan Walsh / AP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first world leader to be spirited away to the club, which charges a $200,000 members fee.

A post earlier this month on ShareAmerica, a US government site, laid out the history of the estate, highlighting the eight years it spent as a government-owned building.

Marc Serota / Reuters

The estate was the property of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress of the Post cereal fortune, who willed the full estate to the US government when she died in 1973. But the grounds were too expensive to keep up and so it was returned to the Post estate just a few years later in 1981. Trump himself purchased the property in 1985.

The article declared that "Trump is not the first president to have access to Mar-a-Lago as a Florida retreat, but he is the first one to use it."


"By visiting this 'winter White House,' Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer," the post reads.

The website for ShareAmerica, part of the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs, says it's the department's "platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society."

The original piece was first published on April 4, just ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the estate.

Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

Several embassies globally tweeted about the article or posted links to it on their Facebook pages.

Facebook: usembassydublin

A condensed version of the article was posted the next day to the US Embassy in the United Kingdom's website, and it's that version that finally caught Twitter's eye on Monday.

Alex Brandon / AP

What stood out to most people posting to Twitter was the US embassy in London's omission of the fact that Mar-a-Lago is now a dues-collecting private business.

What the fuck is this?

That in turn has led people to accuse the State Department of actively promoting Trump's businesses, which his children still run.

Shame on you, @USAinUK U.S. Embassy/London advertising Trump's PRIVATE, FOR-PROFIT BUSINESS on its Gov't website.…

Readers also latched onto the fact that the State Department echoed the White House's use of the term "winter White House."

The US Embassy is advertising Mar-A-Lago. It's not the Winter White House, you slime molds. It's APRIL.

Members of Congress soon began weighing in as well, including one Democratic lawmaker who called the post "absurd."

The @StateDept should not be using their resources―funded by taxpayers―to promote Trump's $25 million vacation home…

By Monday evening, the post had been scrubbed, with just two sentences replacing the entirety of it: “The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders. We regret any misperception and have removed the post.”

Why is Mar-A-Lago being promoted on two State Department websites?…

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.