Mar-a-Lago Guest Reports He Spotted the 'Nuclear Football' and an Impromptu Security Conference

A Facebook user claimed to have met an individual carrying sensitive national security items at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club.

Published Feb. 13, 2017

On 11 February 2017, Facebook user Richard DeAgazio shared two photographs he claimed depicted potentially sensitive matters of national security at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida:

The Washington Post published an additional Facebook post shared by DeAgazio (which was later made private) about club guests being able to observe President Trump's reaction to news concerning sensitive national security matters:

A separate Post article posited that the putative "open air ... casual approach to national security discussions" reflected by DeAgazio's posts was "very risky," reporting that DeAgazio continued to post to Facebook about what appeared to be an incidental conference between the U.S. and Japanese heads of government:

Richard DeAgazio was already seated for dinner, on the Mar-a-Lago Club’s terrace, when President Trump entered with the prime minister of Japan ... DeAgazio — a retired investor who joined Mar-a-Lago three months ago — got a text from a friend. North Korea had just test-fired a ballistic missile, which it claimed could carry a nuclear warhead. DeAgazio looked over at the president’s table.

“That’s when I saw things changing, you know,” DeAgazio recalled in a telephone interview with The Washington Post on Monday. He said a group of staffers surrounded the two world leaders: “The prime minister’s staff sort of surrounded him, and they had a little pow-wow.”

What was happening — as first reported by CNN — was an extraordinary moment, as Trump and Abe turned their dinner table into an open-air situation room. Aides and translators surrounded the two leaders as other diners chatted and gawked around them, with staffers using the flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate documents on the darkened outdoor terrace ... As a Mar-a-Lago member, DeAgazio already had remarkable access to a president that day ... Now, as a national-security crisis broke out in front of him, DeAgazio continued snapping pictures — and posting them on Facebook.

... DeAgazio, for one, said he was impressed that Trump had not gotten up from the table immediately, to seek a more private (and better-lit) place for his discussion with Abe.

“He chooses to be out on the terrace, with the members. It just shows that he’s a man of the people,” DeAgazio said.

DeAgazio's told the Post that his claim about the "nuclear football" was one he verified using Wikipedia, not through information he received from anyone present at Mar-a-Lago during his visit. The paper added that the deleted post disappeared following DeAgazio's conversation with them.

Although DeAgazio's extraordinary images were controversially received and widely shared, much of the included detail pertains to matters of national security that officials will neither confirm nor deny.


Bump, Philip.    "Trump Ran a Campaign Based on Intelligence Security. That’s Not How He’s Governing."     The Washington Post.    13 February 2017.

Fahrenthold, David A.    "Security Experts Question Trump's Handling of Mar-A-Lago Terrace As Situation Room."     Chicago Tribune.    13 February 2017.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.