Trump arriving today for Easter weekend in Palm Beach

Presidential Easters in Palm Beach: JFK and Jackie with kids in 1963; Donald and Melania Trump last year. (Kennedy photo from JFK Library; Trump photo by Melanie Bell/Palm Beach Daily News)

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump arrives later today to spend Easter weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Trump usually spends his South Florida Sundays at his nearby Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach. But on Easter last year, the president and first lady Melania Trump attended a church service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.

Check out, the Trump In Palm Beach Facebook page and @gbennettpost on Twitter for updates today and all weekend on Trump’s 16th presidential visit to Palm Beach.



Transcript, photos: Trump, Melania, Rubio, Scott meet cops after Parkland school shooting

Sen. Marco Rubio (near American flag at left), first lady Melania Trump, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, President Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi with first responders in Fort Lauderdale on Friday night. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

FORT LAUDERDALE — President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi met Friday night with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and about two dozen law enforcement officers and first responders who were called into action for Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Click here for a full story on Trump’s Friday arrival at Palm Beach International Airport and visit to Broward Health North Hospital and the sheriff’s office.

Here’s a transcript of the meeting with first responders as provided by the White House:

I just got back from the hospital. A young woman was shot — four bullets, two in her lungs. And they got her over to the hospital in less than 21 minutes. She had no chance, and, between the first responders, your people who got her — you know who I’m talking about — they got her there, Scott.

What a job you’ve done, and the doctors did a great job over at the hospital — a combination which is incredible. And I hope you’re getting the credit for it. Because, believe me, you deserve it. The job you’ve done is unparalleled.

President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Fantastic community here. Thank you. What a great job you’ve done, and we appreciate it very much. An incredible job, and everybody’s talking about it.

SHERIFF ISRAEL: You know what? I’m giving them all raises next week. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Give them a raise. Give everybody here a raise.

SHERIFF ISRAEL: Mr. President, these are the leaders. They led SWAT teams; they led staging areas; they led command posts. These are the leaders who led the first responders for police and fire, our deputies who were able do the amazing things we did in Broward County.

So these men and women are — and we’re — so appreciative and honored that you and the First Lady could come down and spend time in Broward County and let us know what it means to you. So thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Scott, and you did fantastically.

You know, I know Broward very well. I’ve been here many times. I don’t live very far away. I’m right up the road. We actually drove down. We landed over at Palm Beach International and we drove down. And this was supposed to take place on Sunday or Monday. And I said, “No way.” And then Marco said, “Hey” — he wants to go down early too. We didn’t want to wait. We didn’t want to wait.

Maybe we could ask you each to say your name and a little bit about what you do. You have a lot of folks here. I’d like to get the world to see the great job that you’ve done.

So the governor of Florida, we all know — Rick Scott has done a fantastic job. Fantastic governor. Truly a state that’s doing well. We know that Rick, right?.

GOVERNOR SCOTT: Yeah. (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: So I just want to thank you. (Inaudible) say something.

GOVERNOR SCOTT: First off, I want to thank you for coming down. As soon as it happened, Kirstjen Nielsen called me, and made sure that — if there was any federal resources, you know. And thank you for the conversation we had. And you promised any resources the federal government could provide.

I know everybody in law enforcement here is grateful to the Sheriff, and everybody has worked really hard. As you said, the hospital did a really good job. We’ve had the opportunity to visit the patients over there. The kids are — it’s horrible what happened, but they’re very optimistic about the future. So I just want to thank you and the First Lady for being down here —

First lady Melania Trump shakes hands with Coconut Creek officer Michael Leonard, who arrested the gunman, as Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and President Donald Trump look on. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)



GOVERNOR SCOTT: — and showing your gratitude for all the individuals that took care of everybody.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rick. Fantastic job. Fantastic governor.

Attorney General Pam Bondi.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BONDI: Thanks, President, and thank you and the First Lady, again, for being here. And, Sheriff, thank you for the great job you did. And, FBI, thank you for everything you did. And Governor, of course, you.

We were on the ground with our advocates from all over the state. They came on at a moment’s notice. And we had the very difficult job of being with the deceased’s families. There is no easy way to talk to someone about losing a child, especially (inaudible). And so it was very, very difficult.

And then, today, we went to the hospital and got to see what you saw. So some very good coming out of that. And we’ve also seen a lot of good with the citizens coming forward, wanting to help and wanting to help our first responders. And from all over the country, people have been reaching out — in such horror and tragedy.

GOVERNOR SCOTT: The Attorney General has great victim advocates. She’s done it (inaudible) at Pulse, and then she — after the Las Vegas shooter, she took a lot of her individuals out with her to help out there. And she’s done a great job here, bringing her child advocates and helping people — or victim advocates helping people.


THE PRESIDENT: I’ll tell you who appreciates it, too, are the parents. Because I was at the hospital with a lot of parents. And they are really thankful for the job you’ve done. Now, in those cases, their child is in really great shape considering they, in most cases, would not have been. But they are really thankful to everybody. Thanks, Pam.

UNDERSHERIFF KINSEY: Steve Kinsey, I’m the undersheriff for Broward Sheriff’s Office. Thank you for coming, Mr. President and Ms. First Lady. We really appreciate your support of law enforcement. You and the Governor are always behind us.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

COLONEL POLAN: Jim Polan. I’m a colonel assigned to operations for the Sheriff’s Office. Again, thank you for being here.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jim.

COLONEL DALE: Jack Dale. I’m the colonel of investigation. So we led the investigative effort.

THE PRESIDENT: Great. Good job.

DEPUTY WIRTH: Chris Wirth. I’m a deputy with the Sheriff’s Office assigned to the bomb squad responders (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chris.

LIEUTENANT CARDINALE: Chris Cardinale from Sunrise Police. I was one of the first responders there, along with Captain Bradley, Jim McLean (ph) from Coral Springs, and Deputy Carbocci from BSO. And the victim you were talking about earlier, this gentleman here, along with Jim McLean brought her out first, and then we got her on a — got her some rescue.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. And you found her in a very odd place, too. Not easy to even find. What a job you did. Thank you very much.

MR. BRADLEY: Gareth Bradley. I was one of the SWAT medics that responded —

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Great job. I’ve heard about that. Heard about you. Great job. Thank you.

DEPUTY HANKS: Mr. President, I’m Deputy Hanks. I’m assigned to the Parkland district. I was part of a small contingent of the Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies and Coral Springs officers that made the initial entry into Building 12, where the incident happened.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

FIRE CHIEF FERNANDEZ: Mr. President, Joe Fernandez, fire chief for Broward County under Sheriff Israel. Thank you for your support for the fire rescue service. We’re in a much more forward-leaning posture thanks to your support, equipment, and we were able to work tightly with law enforcement to save those lives.

THE PRESIDENT: You did. Thank you.


COLONEL PALMER: Good evening, Mr. President. My name is Colonel Gary Palmer. I’m executive director of the Department of Detention, where he’s being housed currently.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. Great job, thank you.

SPECIAL AGENT FORCELLI: Mr. President, Pete Forcelli, special agent in charge of ATF’s Miami field division. Thanks for your support, and it’s great to work with these fine people. The law enforcement and public safety community down here in South Florida is like no other I’ve had the honor of working with. Amazing people.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s very nice. That’s very nice. Thank you very much.

SPECIAL AGENT LASKY: Robert Lasky, special agent in charge, FBI. We’re happy to lend a hand and be a part of the team to overcome these events. Of behalf of me and the thousand people that work for me, thank you for all your support and thank Broward County. They’re a tremendously professional organization.

THE PRESIDENT: Great job, Bob. Really great job. And you had a lot FBI guys down here, quickly. So great job. Thank you very much.

SPECIAL AGENT LASKY: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Marco. We know Marco.

SENATOR RUBIO: Mr. President, we just want to thank you and the First Lady for coming. Obviously, the Governor and the Attorney General for their response. And the stories of the heroism from the schools that inspire — teachers; the administrators, some who lost their lives; and the men and women of law enforcement who rushed into this building not knowing what’s on the other side.

This is a community and a state that’s in deep pain. And they want action to make sure this never happens again. It’s happened too often. And I know, and I hope, and I pray we’ll come together. And I know you want to solve this, and —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you’re behind them. I can tell you that, Marco. I spent a lot of time with Marco. He’s behind you, 100 percent, as is the Governor, as is Pam, as we all are. Really, as we all are.

You have a great story to tell. Go ahead.

OFFICER LEONARD: Mr. President, thank you for having me here. My name is Officer Michael Leonard. I’m with Coconut Creek Police Department. I was the one that located the shooter. With the assistance of my backup, once they arrived — Sergeant (inaudible) of the Coral Springs Police assisted me in handcuffing and taking him into custody.

THE PRESIDENT: That was so modest. I would have told it much differently. (Laughter.) I would have said, “Without me, they never would have found him.” (Laughter.)

But, you know, their story is amazing because Coconut Creek is not that close. And they heard he wasn’t around, and they can’t find him, and there was a description, and you were in a different area. And you said — it must have been sort of strange because you were so far away. You said, “I think that maybe is the shooter.” And very few people would have done what you did. I think it was a fantastic job


THE PRESIDENT: So now I’ve told the real story. (Laughter.)

First Lady, would you like to say anything?

THE FIRST LADY: Thank you all for what you do, and saving our children. That’s the most important. They’re our future. And let’s take care of them because they will go through a lot with what they experienced two days ago. And we need to take care of them. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Very nice. Thank you.

SHERIFF ISRAEL: Mr. President, I just want to, on behalf of this agency, thank you. You know, when you get to spend time with the President of the United States and the First Lady, it’s something you’ll never forget. But our conversation is not what I’m going to remember most. I’m going to remember about a half hour that you and the First Lady spent with the son of — who was shot — of one of our injured deputies. I’ll never forget that, and for you to do something like that is amazing. And it shows what you think of law enforcement, and we appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. He’s a good boy. (Inaudible.)

Congratulations. Let’s sit down, and thank you all very much.

FAU pep band to play before Trump Super Bowl watch party

President Donald Trump listens to the Palm Beach Central High School band before his Super Bowl watch party at Trump International Golf Club last year. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Atlantic University’s pep band will perform for President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump this evening at Trump International Golf Club before the first couple hosts a Super Bowl watch party, according to a White House advisory.

From a White House advisory for today.


Will FAU’s marching band make Trump International Golf Club a Boogie Wonderland?

A band from Palm Beach Central High School performed for the president and first lady before the Super Bowl last year, playing Green Day’s “Holiday” and other numbers on a lawn just outside the clubhouse.

“Every year we do this,” Trump explained to the band last year. “I really appreciate it. Take care of yourselves. Go watch the game. Enjoy the game. … Good luck everybody.”

There’s been no word yet on what the FAU band will play.

A visit to the band’s website in an attempt to glean its repertoire reveals the Marching Owls performed Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland,” the late Chuck Berry‘s “Johnny B. Goode” and the FAU fight song at halftime of the FAU-North Texas homecoming game in Boca Raton in October.

Trump, who arrived at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night for the 12th visit of his presidency, is expected to leave for Washington at 9 p.m. tonight.

FAU’s band has played for Trump Super Bowl parties twice before, FAU spokeswoman Lisa Metcalf said.

Although the White House advisory lists the FAU marching band as performing, Metcalf said marching band is a fall-term class, so FAU is sending the pep band, which is about 25 musicians.

Metcalf said the FAU band was first asked to play at the Trump Super Bowl party in 2015. She said the band was invited last year but had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t attend.



Watch Donald Trump make his 2018 predictions

President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Sunday night with son Barron and first lady Melania Trump. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump predicted a “fantastic 2018” on Sunday night as he arrived at the Mar-a-Lago ballroom for a New Year’s Eve gala.

Check out the video of the president, first lady Melania Trump and son Barron arriving on the red carpet:

Earlier Sunday, Trump played golf and had lunch with Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Check out other red carpet photos from New Year’s Eve at Mar-a-Lago by clicking here.

Trump today is spending a final day at his Palm Beach estate before returning to Washington in the afternoon.

Follow and @gbennettpost on Twitter all day today for updates

Protecting President Trump: Palm Beach County a bargain compared to New York

Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies outside President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago last month. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

Palm Beach County taxpayers will get a $3.4 million reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the costs incurred by local law enforcement agencies who helped protect President Donald Trump during his first seven visits to Mar-a-Lago as commander-in-chief.

Trump is expected to return to Palm Beach on Friday and remain through New Year’s Day.

Most of the FEMA money — nearly $3.3 million — will go to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the lead local agency in assisting the U.S. Secret Service during presidential visits. Another $71,270 goes to the town of Palm Beach Police Department and $63,164 goes to the West Palm Beach Police Department.

The reimbursements follow a $1 million federal reimbursement announced in October to cover local law enforcement costs when Trump visited Mar-a-Lago as president-elect in November and December of 2016.

FEMA announced the latest reimbursements on Wednesday. Aside from the Florida money, FEMA approved a $36.4 million reimbursement to the New York Police Department for its costs when the president and first lady Melania Trump were in Trump Tower in New York City.

Another $945,709 was approved for law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, where Trump has a golf club.



Hurricane Irma: Melania Trump speaks out after Florida visit

First lady Melania Trump in April talking to girls from HomeSafe in Lake Worth. (photo provided by HomeSafe)

First lady Melania Trump, who accompanied President Donald Trump to Fort Myers and Naples on Thursday to check out Hurricane Irma recovery efforts, spoke out about the experience on Thursday night at a White House Historical Association dinner.

It was the third such trip in recent weeks for the first lady, who also traveled with the president on two trips to Texas to check out Hurricane Harvey’s impact.

Click here to read what Melania Trump had to say after her visit to Southwest Florida.





This group is sticking with Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

Then-candidate Donald Trump at the 2016 Palm Beach County GOP Lincoln Day dinner at Mar-a-Lago. (Daniel Owen / The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — While 23 charities have decided to move their fundraisers from President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Club for the upcoming 2017-18 social season, the Palm Beach County Republican Party plans to return for a sixth straight year.

First lady Melania Trump and Gov. Rick Scott at a VIP reception before the 2017 Lincoln Day dinner in a picture snapped by an attendee.

County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett says the party has booked Mar-a-Lago for March 16 for its annual Lincoln Day fundraising dinner.

The party paid Mar-a-Lago about $150,000 for this year’s dinner, which drew about 700 people and raised about $300,000 in March. Trump — who keynoted the 2016 dinner at his club and also showed up in 2014 to introduce “special guy” Ted Cruz — did not attend this year’s dinner. First lady Melania Trump made a brief appearance at a VIP reception, however.

“It’s just a beautiful venue,” Barnett said of Trump’s winter White House. “Everybody loves it. We’ve had great attendance going back to 2013 just because it’s Donald Trump’s house. Our goal was to turn Lincoln Day into an attraction by itself regardless of who the speaker is.”

A 2018 speaker has not yet been announced.



Part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump, Melania reveal eclipse watch plans

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arriving at Palm Beach International Airport on April 6. (Rich Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump will watch today’s solar eclipse from the Truman Balcony at the White House, according to a White House pool report.

He will be joined by first lady Melania Trump.

The president will address the nation tonight at 9 p.m. “to provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia.”



Was Trump-China summit at Mar-a-Lago a bust?

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April. (Doug Mills/New York Times)

When President Donald Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April, Trump tweeted that “tremendous goodwill and friendship was formed” between the two leaders .

Aside from the high-level talks, the Palm Beach summit featured a visit to Bak Middle School of the Arts by First Lady Melania Trump and Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan, and a serenading of the Chinese president by the children of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner that Chinese state-run media called “a touching moment.”

Trump has said he hopes better relations with Xi will persuade China to rein in the nuclear ambitions of its neighbor, North Korea.

But after North Korea test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S., Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to show his disappointment in China.

“I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” Trump said in a pair of tweets late Saturday.


Melania Trump follows Princess Diana, Mother Teresa with Rome hospital visit

First lady Melania Trump visits the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesu in Vatican City. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

First lady and part-time Palm Beach resident Melania Trump visited a children’s hospital in Vatican City today as President Donald Trump‘s five-nation tour continued.

The president and first lady met Pope Francis earlier in the day and gave him artwork from Treasure Coast sculptor Geoffrey Smith.

Princess Diana and Mother Teresa have visited the same hospital, the White House said. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Melania Trump’s previous side trips have included a visit to girls at HomeSafe in Lake Worth in April.

The first lady “personally wrote a letter to the Pope asking to go” to the Bambino Gesu Chidren’s Hospital, said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.

Grisham said Princess Diana and Mother Teresa also visited the hospital.

Said Melania Trump in a statement released by the White House:

“My visit to Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital today was very moving. To spend time speaking to and coloring with children who have such a positive spirit despite illness was an amazing gift. The time I spent with the little ones in the Intensive Care Unit is something I will never forget, and I will pray for each of them daily. I want to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital, who all do such beautiful and critical work. Upon landing in Belgium, I learned a young boy and his family who had been waiting for a heart transplant was informed that the hospital has found a donor. I read a book and held hands with this special little one just a few hours ago, and now my own heart is filled with joy over this news.”