Trump handling of security information at Mar-a-Lago queried by House panel

WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's handling of U.S. security information at his Florida resort came under congressional scrutiny on Tuesday as a watchdog panel asked the White House to explain reports that Trump dealt with a sensitive foreign policy issue in view of club guests.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, head of the House of Representatives oversight committee, sent a letter asking the White House for details on how Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to a North Korean ballistic missile test while visiting the Mar-a-Lago golf resort over the weekend.

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PALM BEACH, FL - NOVEMBER 12: (MINIMUM PRICING APPLIES, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE) Place settings photographed before guests arrive for Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump's wedding reception at The Mar-a-Lago Club November 12, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
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General view of the upper balcony area during Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Haydon's wedding at The Mar-a-Lago Club November 11, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida.

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View of the beach club pool at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, February 17, 2003.

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General view inside The Mar-a-Lago Club November 12, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida.

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American businessman Donald Trump talks with a group of Boy Scouts on a tour of the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1999.

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General view of the upper balcony area at The Mar-a-Lago Club November 12, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida.

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General view of Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Haydon's wedding reception at The Mar-a-Lago Club November 12, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida.

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An American flag flies over Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago club November 1, 2006 in Palm Beach, Florida. The town of Palm Beach has cited Donald Trump because the flag is too big and does not meet the town's specifications. A hearing is scheduled.

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Grand interior reception at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Estate in Florida
Grand interior reception at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Estate in Florida
Party on the Moon performs during US President-elect Donald Trump's New Year's Eve party December 31, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. / AFP / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 13: The Donald J. Trump Ballroom at the Mar-A-Lago Club' in Palm Beach where Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke after the Florida primary, March 13, 2016 in Palm Beach, Florida (Photo by Brooks Kraft/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 1: Pool that Trump built at Mar-a-Lago. Photo by Mary Jordan/The Washington Post via Getty Images
PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 1: The tiled patio at Mar-a-Lago, a focal point of the estate. Photo by Mary Jordan/The Washington Post via Getty Images
PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 28: A general view at the Mar-a-lago Club Pool view at the Andrea Bocelli concert at The Mar-a-Lago Club on February 28, 2010 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Lucien Capehart/Getty Images)
View from an upper balcony of the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, September 4, 2010. The view looks south towards a newly constucted ballroom. (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Marjorie Merriweather Post Hutton's home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Real estate developer Donald Trump (C) w. wife Ivana sitting in their home, Mar-a-Lago, w. household staff behind. (Photo by Ted Thai/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FL - JANUARY 29: The pool at Mar-A-Lago where cocktails were held for the International Red Cross Ball January 29, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Lucien Capehart/Getty Images)
Atmosphere during Art for Life Gala Honoring Sean P. Diddy Combs Hosted by Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee Simmons at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, United States. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
PALM BEACH, FL - NOVEMBER 12: Preparations are made before guests arrive for Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Haydon?s wedding reception at The Mar-a-Lago Club November 12, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FL - NOVEMER 12: (MINIMUM PRICING APPLIES, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE) Ivana Trump and guests attend the wedding ceremony of Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Haydon at the Mar-a-Lago Club November 12, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FL - NOVEMER 12: (MINIMUM PRICING APPLIES, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE) Newlyweds Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Haydon pose with the groomsmen and bridesmaids after the wedding ceremony of Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Haydon at the Mar-a-Lago Club November 12, 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michelle McMinn Photography/Getty Images)
Palm Beach-dining setting for the club members. Mar-a-lago is an estate and National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach built by the heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. It was envisioned as a winter retreat for presidents, but never used as such and in 1985 Donald Trump purchased it. The estate contains the Mar-a-lago private club, and a separate closed off area that serve as the Trumps family private quarters..............-the Estate showcases a sumptuous decorative style , everywhere you turned there were lavish accents, but all of these tied together with elegance and an undeniable regal style. I was amazed at the countless details, the estate is truly breathtaking. #palmbeach #maralago #lls #blacktie #gala #glamour #jetsetter #exclusive #liveauthentic #luxury #lifestyle #fashion
The closing day at the Cavallino, Classic Sports Sunday in #palmbeach #vintage #cars #pbir #trophy #cavallino #carshow #racecar #bugatti
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Photos taken by private guests in the club's public dining area showed Trump and Abe conferring and looking at documents while surrounded by their aides following Pyongyang's missile launch.

"Reports and social media accounts have suggested White House staff used their own cell phones to provide illumination for reviewing documents," Chaffetz said in a letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

"Separately, one Mar-a-Lago guest posted to his Facebook page a photograph with a man described to be the holder of the 'nuclear football,'" he added.

SEE ALSO: White House: Trump is 'evaluating the situation' surrounding Michael Flynn

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Tuesday that Trump had been briefed on the North Korea situation with his national security team at a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, in Mar-a-Lago before and after the dinner.

Spicer said a photo was taken later at the dinner Trump attended, and "everyone jumped to nefarious conclusions" about what may or may not have been discussed.

"There is a SCIF there. It was utilized on two occasions that evening to convey to the president by his national security team the situation in North Korea," Spicer said.

While recognizing Spicer had denied any classified material was present in the dining room, Chaffetz said: "Discussions with foreign leaders regarding international missile tests, and documents used to support those discussions, are presumptively sensitive."

Chaffetz asked Priebus to explain to the committee whether security protocols were followed during the discussions, to identify which documents were reviewed at the dinner table in view of the guests and to explain whether any classified material was discussed in the resort's common areas.

He also asked for details on how the guests at Mar-a-Lago are vetted to ensure they are not foreign agents and to describe what security protocols are in place at the resort besides the SCIF.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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