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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

We always think of Trump as a New York guy, or the president in the White House. But at heart, he's a Florida Man with a Trumpian Florida life: big mansions and big money.

Why it matters: At Mar-a-Lago, we're seeing a whole new form of lobbying. People pay dues to the private club of the president of the United States, then try to influence him in person on government policy — all outside the normal watchdogs and strictures and surveillance of Washington. It's a stunning situation.

The big picture: "In the popular conception, he's a Manhattan real estate builder. But in some ways that's not really his world. Certainly not anymore. His world is Palm Beach," Axios' Jonathan Swan noted on "Axios on HBO."

  • "If you drew a circle around Mar-a-Lago, his private club, there is no more concentrated an area of political influence outside Washington, D.C."
  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross owns a 16,000 square foot home in Palm Beach, according to South Florida Business Journal.
  • Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is from the area.
  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson has a home in Palm Beach Gardens.

Between the lines: Trump is "in his happy place at his club or at the golf course. He is completely relaxed. And that's when he's most receptive to ideas," Swan noted.

  • "It's this weird world where you've got him at the dining table people come up and talk to him and you get an invaluable piece of time with the most powerful person on earth."
  • As of mid-April, Trump had spent 99 days at Mar-a-Lago while president, NBC News reports.
  • Mar-a-Lago's initiation fee doubled in 2017, shortly after he was elected president, to $200,000 a year.
  • Trump routinely uses his own club to host foreign leaders, including Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
  • He's also notably showed up at events taking place at his club, including crashing a wedding at Mar-a-Lago on the same night North Korea conducted a missile test in 2017.

The bottom line: The club has "all the accoutrement that make people sometimes describe Trump as a poor person's idea of a rich person," Axios' Mike Allen said.

  • "Gold ceilings, and gold lamps and gold floors and fringe. He gets to think of himself as the literal monarch. Everyone is there to pay obeisance to him. And he really doesn't have to accommodate the press."

Go deeper

Pompeo, wife misused State Dept. resources, federal watchdog finds

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The State Department's independent watchdog found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules when he and his wife asked department employees to perform personal tasks on more than 100 occasions, including picking up their dog and making private dinner reservations.

Why it matters: The report comes as Pompeo pours money into a new political group amid speculation about a possible 2024 presidential run.

Dead malls get new life

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.