- Trump doesn’t have real friends at Mar-a-Lago, a Florida billionaire told the Financial Times.
- Despite the atmosphere of adulation, it’s “all transactional,” Jeff Greene told the paper.
- Reporters have long noted Trump’s love of associating with the rich and famous.
See inside the ornate Mar-a-Lago ballroom where guests wearing ‘Ultra MAGA’ hats crowded in as Trump announced his 2024 presidential bid
Former President Donald Trump said he had a “special announcement” on Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida.
The billionaire and now-Florida resident would go on to announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election in the private club’s grand ballroom. The room had golden seating set up for an estimated 500 people, though much of the crowd would be standing.
Security instructed reporters to be in the room no later than 6 p.m. Broadcasters such as CNN and Fox News would end up carrying much of the speech live.
Trump-supporting guests, some of them wearing MAGA hats and others wearing gowns or business suits, began flowing into the ballroom around 6:30 p.m.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell spoke to reporters earlier in the evening, saying he expected Trump would deliver a “great message of hope.”
Blake Marnell, a supporter from San Diego, told Insider’s Kimberly Leonard that he had come to Mar-a-Lago once before for a Kari Lake fundraiser.
Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Trump presidency, was one of the earlier guests to arrive.
In typical Trump fashion, the entire room — from the ground ceiling — was decked in gold.
Trump supporters used this studio-like space to take photos and film videos.
Guests Graham Allen (left) speaks to Alex Bruesewitz, co-founder and CEO of X Strategies near the MAGA video booth.
Meanwhile, members of the press sat in the back, with risers dividing the room between media and guests.
Organizers provided reporters with a beverage station of caffeine and water — all branded with Trump.
As the night went on, more guests crowded the event space. Background music included “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John.
Former Trump adviser Roger Stone was also in attendance.
Trump walked in and took the stage. One notable absence was his daughter Ivanka Trump, who said she’d be stepping back from politics to focus on her children. Jared Kushner was present for the announcement.
Trump made his White House run official, cracking very few jokes and saying he’d avoid using the phrase “fake news” because he wanted the evening to be “elegant.” The former president kept his focus on President Joe Biden rather than potential GOP rivals for the 2024 nomination, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Guests didn’t linger long after the hourlong speech, but voiced their support for Trump’s 2024 announcement as they exited the ballroom
A billionaire who lives near Trump in Florida said that former President Donald Trump is not surrounded by true friends at the club, according to the Financial Times.
Real estate mogul Jeff Greene told the paper that the atmosphere of adulation there is “all transactional.”
The paper said Greene joined as a Mar-a-Lago member in 2010. It was not clear if he remained part of the club.
Trump is well-known for holding court among allies and admirers at his Florida home, often soaking up applause when he walks in the room, as filmmaker Alex Holder said earlier this year.
And the FT described the many fans — including wealthy “Trumpettes” — who flock to Mar-a-Lago and lavish praise on the former president. Greene suggested this is all fake.
Asked who Trump’s close friends are, Greene told the paper: “I don’t think he has any friends.”
He said that one person he knows who plays golf with Trump “all the time” was never invited to the White House when Trump was president, implying that Trump did not really much care for him.
In 2018, Greene made a failed attempt at running for Florida governor as a Democrat, eight years after a 2010 attempt at the US Senate.
Before the 2018 campaign — when Trump appeared to take offense at an attack ad Greene ran — the pair had a cordial relationship, Greene told the paper.
But that was largely due to his wealth, Greene suggested. “He would come over to my table, I think because I was a billionaire,” he told the FT. “He likes billionaires.”
It’s a characterization that also came up in “Confidence Man,” the recent book by Trump-watching New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
In an excerpt seen by Insider, Trump considered his time as president worth it because he made “so many rich friends and nobody knows who they are.” Haberman wrote that she found the remark “jarring” when Trump said it.
Speaking of the legions of fans who gravitate towards Trump’s club, Greene told the paper: “They want to be around him because he’s the ex-president.”
Trump “likes people to defer to him . . . and tell him how good he is,” Greene told the FT.
Despite this, Greene said he felt more welcome at Mar-a-Lago than at other clubs.
Others, such as British hard-right politician Nigel Farage, told the paper that he considered Trump a “good friend” who “meant it” when he said in 2016 they would be friends for life.
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment, sent on Thanksgiving.