Former President Donald Trump posed for a photo at his South Florida resort with convicted Philadelphia mobster Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, according to a report Monday.
Trump, 76, is flanked by Merlino and his friend in the photo, which was taken earlier this month at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach and obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The trio, wearing golf outfits, flash Trump’s customary thumbs-up sign in the pic.
Trump is wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, while Merlino’s friend has a red “Keep America Great” ball cap.
The Trump 2024 campaign kept the code of omertà when asked by the newspaper if the former president knew Merlino.
“President Trump takes countless photos with people,” a Trump spokesperson said after the Inquirer shared a copy of the photo. “That does not mean he knows every single person he comes in contact with.”
The photo with Merlino, who spent time in federal prison on racketeering, illegal gambling and extortion charges, raises questions about the vetting process around the former president.
Trump sparked criticism in November when he dined at Mar-a-Lago with Kanye West, who had made headlines for anti-Semitic comments, and Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist who arrived at the Florida resort with the embattled rapper.
The dinner took place one week after Trump announced that he would launch a third White House run in 2024.
The 45th president said he didn’t know Fuentes and that the Holocaust denier who took part in racist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 showed up at the resort with West.
Later, Trump said he met with West, who goes by Ye, because the rapper had lost endorsement deals worth billions with Adidas, Vogue, Balenciaga and other major companies for saying he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”
Trump called West a “seriously troubled man.”
The Inquirer pointed out that Trump and Merlino were both up-and-comers in the Philadelphia region in the mid-’90s.
Trump, already a successful real estate developer in the Big Apple, was running casinos in Atlantic City, while Merlino was carrying out a violent campaign to become a mob boss in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
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