Donald Trump gathered his social and political clan around him at his opulent Mar-a-Lago club in Florida to welcome in the New Year in classic Trumpian style.
“It will be a fantastic 2018,” a tuxedoed Trump said, as he entered the gilded ballroom at Mar-a-Lago, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and son Barron, and predicted the stock market would continue to rise and businesses would come to the US at “a rapid clip”.
The US president cited what he considered to be signal accomplishments, including opening the Arctic national wildlife refuge to oil drilling, tax reform and scrapping individual health insurance requirements.
Asked for his reaction to North Korea leader Kim Jong-un’s remarks about having a nuclear button on his desk, Trump responded by saying, “We’ll see.”
His comments followed the release of a self-congratulatory three-and-a-half minute video earlier in the day that offered a summary of what Trump felt were the high points of his first year in office.
“We gave birth to the modern world and we will shape tomorrow’s world with the strength and skill of American hands,” he proclaimed.
Trump followed that with a Twitter post extending new year wishes to some of his familiar foes. “As our Country rapidly grows stronger and smarter, I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year. 2018 will be a great year for America!”
But the self-congratulatory mood came as ethics experts called out Trump’s New Year bash for crossing boundaries between the president’s public responsibilities and his private interests. Tickets for the event cost $600 for Mar-a-Lago members and $750 for their guests.
Richard Painter, the former top ethics lawyer in the George W Bush administration, told the Guardian on New Year’s Eve that he felt that the party – as with Trump’s continued use of Mar-a-Lago generally – offered presidential access to anyone that can afford its $200,000 initiation fee.