President Donald Trump once said he got $17 million in a hurricane damage insurance payout for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, but an Associated Press investigation couldn’t find much evidence of the supposed damage.
The 2016 AP investigation is newly relevant as a massively powerful Hurricane Irma swirls toward Florida. The storm is expected to engulf much of the state, and Mar-a-Lago — where Trump often spends his weekends — is in the storm’s path.
During a 2007 deposition for a civil lawsuit that didn’t have a whole lot to do with the insurance payment, Trump said he received the $17 million from an insurance policy and that the money went toward fixing up the “landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion,” and added that the estate’s “still not what it was.”
He also mentioned that some of the insurance money went into his wallet, which was allowed based on the terms of the policy. However, the AP couldn’t figure out which insurance company paid the bill, and the only confirmation of the payout amount is Trump’s word at the deposition.
The payment allegedly comes from 2005, the year Hurricane Wilma hit Florida. Though the storm was powerful, the AP could only find evidence of some downed trees and missing roof tiles at Mar-a-Lago. The estate is valued at around $150 million, so, when you think about $17 million in damage, you’d think winds and water wrecked more than 10 percent of the structures and facilities.
Donald Trump Jr. got married there two weeks after Hurricane Wilma, which seems like an event unlikely to have taken place had Mar-a-Lago been the cracked, water-stained mess Trump seems to have claimed.
The AP also asked around, and couldn’t find anyone who could come close to a reason for Trump’s eight-figure claim.
When reporters asked Mar-a-Lago member and former Palm Beach Mayor Jack McDonald about the sum, he said, “I am unable to comprehend $17 million in reimbursable damage.”
Twelve years after Wilma, Mar-a-Lago is inside Florida’s mandatory evacuation zones and is closed ahead of Irma.
— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) September 8, 2017
“Our teams at the Trump properties in Florida are taking all of the proper precautions and following local and Florida state advisories very closely to ensure that everyone is kept safe and secure,” a Trump Organization spokesperson told CNN