BEDFORD, New York – Libyan officials pitched a tent again on Donald Trump's suburban New York estate Thursday a day after it was taken down, prompting town officials to issue a criminal summons and threaten court action.
A Libyan official, Khalifa Khalifa, said the tent was legal and meant to honor Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi, who never came to the 213-acre Seven Springs estate to stay there.
"The tent is a symbol for the country and the president. It goes up everywhere they go," he said at the scene.
Bedford officials got wind of the new tent and arrived at the home early Thursday evening with a stop-work order and a criminal summons. The white-topped tent — lined with a tapestry of camels and palm trees and outfitted with leather couches and coffee tables — had been dismantled Wednesday after town officials said it was erected without permits and Trump said he requested it be removed.
Rhona Graff, a vice president of the Trump Organization, said by e-mail Thursday night that the tent was down. She did not answer a question about whether Trump's permission had been sought for the tent.
Town attorney Joel Sachs had said he would seek a court injunction if the tent hadn't been removed by Friday.
If an injunction were granted, the maximum fine would be $1,000 a day, he said.
"We're disappointed," he said. "We thought this thing was at an end Wednesday."
Reporters who had been invited onto the property Thursday for a possible meeting with Qaddafi were escorted off after the town officials arrived and before the tent was taken down. The Libyans said Qaddafi's plans had changed and he would not be coming to Bedford.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano said through a spokeswoman that the Libyans were "thumbing their noses" at the county and the town.
Before the tent was re-pitched, Trump said he had "no idea" that Qaddafi might be involved in the deal to rent a section of Trump's estate, a town official said.
Bedford Town Supervisor Lee Roberts said Trump told her Wednesday that as far as he knew, his arrangement was with partners in the United Arab Emirates and he was unaware of a Qaddafi connection.
As it turned out, the Libyan government erected a tent on Trump's Seven Springs estate for Qaddafi's use during this week's United Nations General Assembly.
Townspeople and local politicians fumed about an anticipated visit from Qaddafi, and the town alleged that the tent violated local codes.
Trump's office issued a statement late Wednesday saying that he had asked his unidentified "tenant" to remove the tent, and that the tenant had complied. He and the Secret Service said Qaddafi would not be coming to Bedford.
Roberts praised Trump for "defusing the issue." Sachs, however, suggested Thursday that Trump's action may have had something to do with Sachs' threat to take him to court.
"At 2:30 p.m. yesterday, I spoke to Trump and told him that if they did not dismantle the tent, we would commence criminal prosecution," he said. "And the only party we could name as a defendant would be the Trump Organization."
Qaddafi addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday, making waves by saying the U.N. Security Council "should not be called the Security Council, it should be called the 'terror council."' Demonstrators criticized him for giving an effusive welcome home last month to the Libyan convicted of the bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.
Qaddafi gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday afternoon in Manhattan.
The dismantling of the tent meant another failed attempt to find a place for the Libyan leader to spend time while in the New York area. Requests for space in Central Park, Englewood, New Jersey, and Manhattan's Upper East Side were all rejected. Qaddafi stayed at the city's Libyan Mission after arriving Tuesday.