Donald Trump is under fire for the sale of tickets to the lavish New Year’s Eve party he and his family are hosting at the swanky Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
According to Politico reporter Kenneth P Vogel, more than 800 tickets have been sold
Ummm … Mar-A-Lago sold 800+ tickets to its New Years Eve party featuring the President-elect of the United States of America & his family.
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) December 30, 2016
Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced Friday that the event, with an 800-person guest list featuring actor Sylvester Stallone, was a sell-out.
The event is expected to include a cocktail hour in the resort’s living room and patio area, followed by dinner and dancing until 1am in its grand ballroom to live music performed by the band Party on the Moon.
Mr Spicer, on a Friday morning conference call with reporters, said the party would be attended by Mr Trump, his wife Melania and their 10-year-old son Barron Trump.
Mr Spicer said other guests would include Stallone and musician Quincy Jones, but Mr Jones’ spokesperson Arnold Robinson was quick to deny he would be in attendance.
The legendary music producer would instead be spending New Year’s Eve with his family in Los Angeles.
Incoming White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks rejected criticisms that Mar-a-Lago was selling access to the president-elect.
“The transition is not concerned about the appearance of a conflict,” she told Politico.
“This is an annual celebratory event at the private club, like others that have continued to occur since the election. Additionally, the president cannot and does not have a conflict.”
Trump praises Putin
As questions are asked about the ethics of the party, controversy rages over Mr Trump’s praise of Vladimir Putin after Russia’s President ruled out a retaliation for Barack Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over alleged US election hacking claims.
While there have been suggestions Mr Obama’s move could spark a new Cold War, Mr Putin said his government would not react to the expulsions until he saw how relations developed under Mr Trump.
Mr Putin went as far as saying, “I am inviting all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas parties in the Kremlin”.
— РоссиЯ 🇷🇺 (@Russia) December 30, 2016
Mr Putin maintained Russia, which denies US accusations it hacked and stole emails to try to help Mr Trump win the election, would avoid responding with “irresponsible diplomacy”.
The move is seen by analysts as a case of Mr Putin biding his time and putting the onus on Mr Trump to show his hand.
“If Trump doesn’t play ball, then we’ll be back to the old-style adversarial relations,” James Nixie, head of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the London-based think-tank Chatham House, told CNN.
Mr Trump tweeted: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”
Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016
Mr Putin had earlier admonished the Obama regime for implementing sanctions and expelling Russian diplomats, but said his response would not include the expulsion of US diplomats.
On the Kremlin’s website, Mr Putin described the sanctions as a “provocation aimed to further undermine Russian-American relations”.
Mr Putin said: “The Russian diplomats returning home will spend the New Year holidays with their relatives and dear ones. At home. We will not create problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anybody.”
With several of the Russian diplomats – labelled ‘persona non grata’ by President Obama – struggling to book travel in time to meet the December 31 explusion deadline, the Russian government sent a plane to ferry them home.
The Rossiya Special Flight Squadron aircraft was dispatched to airlift the 96 Russians, including children, affected by the sanctions.
Mr Putin further shifted his focus from the Obama camp to the Trump troupe in his annual New Year’s greetings statement to foreign heads of state and government.
– with ABC, AAP