Former president Donald Trump and a coterie of his top allies, donors and paying club members gathered at his palatial beachfront club Tuesday night for a reunion of sorts: to sip Trump-branded wine, snack on an amuse-bouche of fried shrimp and pastry-wrapped hot dogs on the Mar-a-Lago patio and, most importantly, relitigate parts of the 2020 election that he lost 17 months ago.
The fraud fete on a sweltering spring night showed how much Trump and the ecosphere around him remain focused on the last election and his false claims of fraud — and how he now inhabits a cosseted club life where he is the roundly cheered, and rarely challenged, star who everyone pays to see. As he traversed the club, he repeatedly asked guests and members about fraud in certain states and offered vague claims of explosive findings that he said were still to come.
The occasion: The debut of a 42-minute film called “Rigged: The Zuckerberg Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump” from Citizens United President and Trump ally David Bossie that stars a range of Trump advisers and alleges Facebook helped Democrats by pouring money into states for voter turnout and education efforts. A hyperbolic poster advertising the movie, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg devilishly grabbing cash, was perched by the pool for a cinematic sunset as guests strutted about clinking glasses.
Nothing has animated Trump over the past two years like his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and he seemed particularly ebullient before watching the film, saying he was looking forward to its screening more than “Citizen Kane,” “Titanic” and “Gone with the Wind.”…
A who’s who of prominent advisers and election deniers and prominent challengers in his campaign to overturn the 2020 election gathered for the affair — along with random donors at the club for another event who spilled in, some hangers-on and Washington operatives looking for business, and candidates seeking his endorsement or help. Kari Lake, a prominent Republican candidate for Arizona governor and supporter of Trump’s claims, approached reporters and called the “mainstream media” the “enemy of the people,” urging them to quit and expose their owners.
There was lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who closely worked with Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to push fraud claims after the 2020 election and appeared with Trump on the call in which he demanded Georgia’s election officials “find” votes to overturn the results. That is now under criminal investigation in Georgia.
Michael Gableman, the retired Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who oversaw a criticized voter audit in that state, appeared in person and on film. “Michael, you’ve been unbelievable,” Trump said, thanking Gableman and bringing applause. Guests swelled to greet Gableman. His inquiry has made little pretense of neutrality and was led by figures who have shown allegiance to Trump or embraced false claims of fraud, and its findings were criticized.
When Peter Navarro, the former Trump adviser who posited some of the most extreme theories on overturning the election and is now under contempt proceedings by the House of Representatives, barreled into the room late, longtime Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski hollered out “Doctor!” and embraced him.