President Trump’s private social club in Palm Beach, Fla., hosted a New Year’s Eve gala at which revelers without masks dined indoors and danced to performances by Vanilla Ice and members of the Beach Boys.
Mr. Trump himself did not attend the black-tie party at the club, Mar-a-Lago, as he usually does, instead cutting short his holiday vacation and returning to Washington on Thursday without explanation.
But members of the president’s family and extended political circle partied on anyway at an event that flouted warnings against indoor gatherings during the holidays as the coronavirus surges to its deadliest levels yet. The gala also appeared to violate specific guidelines posted on the Palm Beach County website mandating facial coverings in “all businesses and establishments.”
Attendees included Mr. Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend, the former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and a former New York mayor, was shown in online footage ballroom-dancing with a female partner to a rendition of “New York, New York.” More than 500 guests were expected, according to The Palm Beach Post.
“Ok this is amazing. Vanilla Ice is playing the Mar-a-Lago New Years Eve party,” the younger Mr. Trump wrote in a Facebook post that included a clip of the 53-year-old rapper, best known for his smash hit “Ice Ice Baby,” performing before hundreds of closely packed revelers dancing awkwardly in formal wear and without masks. “As a child of the 90s you can’t fathom how awesome that is. Beyond that I got the birthday shoutout so that’s pretty amazing.”
Other guests included Mr. Trump’s second son, Eric, and his wife, Lara; the president’s daughter Tiffany Trump; Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida; and Mike Lindell, the Palm Beach-based chief executive of MyPillow and a prominent supporter of the president.
Social media posts from the event also showed live performances by Teri Nunn, the lead singer of the 1970s and ’80s new-wave band Berlin, famous for the song “Take My Breath Away,” and two members of the Beach Boys, who now perform without the founding members Al Jardine and Brian Wilson. (Mr. Jardine and Mr. Wilson have disavowed performances that the touring version of the group, fronted by another founding member, Mike Love, has played in support of Mr. Trump.)
A menu posted on Instagram by one attendee showed a first course of “Mr. Trump’s Wedge Salad,” followed by cheese tortellini and a Wagyu beef entree.
Tickets to the event reportedly cost $1,000. Many were most likely sold days before the first news reports emerged on Wednesday that Mr. Trump would not attend.
One photo posted online by Eric Trump featured at least 15 party guests and one server in the background. Only the server wore a mask.
Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, unexpectedly returned to the White House hours before the party, which he had originally planned to attend. It was unclear why Mr. Trump flew back to Washington, where he has not appeared in public since his return.
As the new year approached on Thursday night, Mr. Trump’s mind was on his election defeat as he continued to spread false claims of voter fraud. Less than 15 minutes before midnight, as millions of Americans were preparing to toast the arrival of 2021, Mr. Trump tweeted two clips from the right-wing One America News Network promoting conspiracy theories about the election.
On Friday, Mr. Trump continued to send election-related tweets, including several promoting a protest rally in Washington on Jan. 6, when Congress will convene to formally certify the election of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Mr. Trump also tweeted a complaint after Congress voted for the first time to override one of his vetoes, upholding the passage of a sweeping military spending bill. The president complained that the measure did not repeal a law shielding technology companies like Facebook and Twitter from liability for their users’ posts, and that Congress had not approved the larger economic stimulus checks he had demanded.
“Now they want to give people ravaged by the China Virus $600, rather than the $2000 which they so desperately need,” he wrote. “Not fair, or smart!”
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