He’ll promote U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for governor against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — following up on a December tweet praising DeSantis and a “full endorsement” of DeSantis in June.
Trump, who’ll be appearing at the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds, will also make a pitch for Gov. Rick Scott‘s bid for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson — identified in a Trump campaign announcement as “Ben Nelson.” Former Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson were often mistaken for each other when their Senate careers overlapped from 2001 to 2013.
Scott’s campaign didn’t immediately say whether the governor will attend.
The Trump campaign says the Tampa event will be Trump’s 36th rally in Florida since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015.
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson announced this afternoon he will oppose President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Florida Judge Allen Winsor for the federal bench — months after Nelson joined Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in supporting Winsor to the administration.
Winsor has come under attack from liberal groups because, in his role as solicitor general under Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, he defended Florida’s voter-approved ban on gay marriages before it was eventually overturned.
After working for Bondi, Winsor was appointed in 2016 to the Tallahassee-based First District Court of Appeal by Gov. Rick Scott — who is challenging Nelson for Senate this year. Trump nominated Winsor for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
The Associated Press reports that under Florida’s nominating process, judicial candidates are evaluated by a committee that sends them on to the state’s two senators. Both Nelson and Rubio recommended Winsor and three other names to Trump. Nelson spokesman Ryan Brown told the AP that Nelson and his staff interviewed Winsor before his name was submitted to the president.
In a statement today, Nelson said: “Because of the information brought up by the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will vote against the confirmation of Allen Winsor. For years, Florida’s two senators have relied on a bipartisan Judicial Nominating Commission to select our state’s judicial nominees. This system, which was designed to take politics out of the process, only works if Florida’s two senators agree to respect the commission’s choices and jointly send the names they choose to the White House for consideration. This is exactly what we did in the case of Allen Winsor.”
Nelson did not specify what the information brought up by the Judiciary Committee was.
“Bill Nelson is so partisan that a small group of out-of-state Democrats can force him to vote against a Floridian that he interviewed, recommended and supported,” said Scott campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone. “Despite claiming to be independent, Bill Nelson’s own actions show that when Democrats like party boss Chuck Schumer say ‘jump,’ Nelson’s only question is ‘how high?’”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is endorsing conservative blogger Javier Manjarres in the Republican primary for a Palm Beach-Broward congressional seat.
“I have known Javier for many years and can attest to his indisputable commitment to preserving our American way of life. He is one of the strongest conservatives on the political playing field today, and I am confident that when elected to the U.S. Congress, his unique approach of addressing issues facing our nation will serve his constituents – and all Americans well,” Bondi said in a statement released by Manjarres’ campaign today.
Manjarres is running against Nicolas Kimaz and Eddison Walters in the GOP primary for heavily Democratic congressional District 22, the seat held by U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.
Deutch faces a primary challenge from Jeff Fandl.
Manjarres released this statement on Bondi’s endorsement: “I appreciate the support that Attorney General Bondi has extended to my congressional campaign. I am proud of the work she has done for our state, especially her ongoing effort to eradicate the opioid epidemic, and her support for President Trump‘s pro-American agenda.”
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.
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.
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 —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
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.
ATTORNEY GENERAL BONDI: Thanks, Governor.
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.
FIRE CHIEF FERNANDEZ: 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
OFFICER LEONARD: Thank you.
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.
Scott issued an executive order Saturday night replacing State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who oversees prosecutions in Orange and Osceola counties, with State Attorney Brad King of the Fifth Circuit, which includes Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion and Sumter counties.
Ayala, a Democrat, became Florida’s first black state attorney when she was elected in 2016. She declared this year that she will not seek the death penalty in any cases, leading Scott to remove her from 23 cases. Ayala challenged the governor’s decision to the Florida Supreme Court, where justices appeared skeptical of her arguments in June.
Kissimmee Police Sgt. Sam Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter were shot Friday night. Baxter died Friday night and Howard on Saturday. Everett Glenn Miller, 45, was arrested late Friday and charged with first degree murder.
“Last night’s violence against our law enforcement community is reprehensible and has no place in our state,” Scott said in a statement released Saturday night. “In Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence and those who attack our law enforcement. Today, I am using my executive authority to reassign this case to State Attorney Brad King to ensure the victims of last night’s attack and their families receive the justice they deserve.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi announced her agreement with Scott’s decision.
“Two Florida police officers were brutally murdered and the victims’ families deserve a prosecutor who is willing to consider all sentences, including the death penalty – that is why the Governor and I agree the investigation and prosecution of this case must be reassigned,” Bondi said.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and one of his top deputies, Al Johnson, were among those lobbying Tuesday and Wednesday for the legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, and state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton. The legislature commissioned Aronberg to head a task force to craft the legislation, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi endorsed it, and the House passed it unanimously.
But the Senate version appeared to be stalled this week and its House sponsor was concerned Wednesday afternoon.
“I would say at this juncture it doesn’t look good, which is very disappointing,” Hager said.
Before the bill was added late Wednesday to today’s Senate calendar, Aronberg — a former state senator — said he hoped the gravity of the issue would persuade the Senate to take action.
“It’s one of these sausage-being-made, end-of-session issues that we are hopeful the Legislature will do the right thing,” Aronberg said. “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this is a life-or-death issue.”
The Florida Commission on Ethics determined Friday that there is no probable cause that Attorney General Pam Bondi violated state law in 2013 when she asked for a campaign contribution from Donald Trump around the same time her office was reviewing fraud allegations against the for-profit Trump University.
As she prepared for her 2014 re-election, Bondi asked Trump for a contribution to the pro-Bondi committee And Justice For All. The nonprofit Donald J. Trump Foundation wrote a $25,000 check in September 2013. Not long afterward, Bondi’s office decided not to join New York in a fraud suit against Trump University.
Trump settled complaints against Trump University for $25 million shortly after winning the presidential election in November. He also paid a $2,500 fine to the IRS because the charitable foundation was prohibited from making a contribution to political groups.
She also defended her decision to keep the contribution rather than return it.
“If I had returned it, you would have reported, ‘Bondi accepted a bribe, got caught and returned it,’” Bondi said in September. “That’s how the reporting goes. And so, no, there was nothing improper about it. So there was no reason to return it.”
Newsmax CEO and West Palm Beach resident Christopher Ruddy is the latest Floridian to get an Oval Office photo with President Donald Trump, tweeting a picture of himself with the president this afternoon.
“Many Tell Me Best Speech I Ever Gave,” Trump told Ruddy of his Tuesday night address to Congress, according to Ruddy’s tweet.
Attorney General Pam Bondi tweeted a similar picture of herself in the Oval Office on Monday and Gov. Rick Scott tweeted one on Saturday. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted a picture of himself in the Oval Office with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Venezuelan dissident Lilian Tintori on Feb. 15.
“I’m not prepared to answer anything; I’m not going to confirm or deny anything right now,” said Bondi, a member of Trump’s transition team, following a Cabinet meeting.
The phrase “right now” is Bondi’s term of choice to explain what appears to be her short-term plans to remain as Florida’s attorney general.
After meeting Trump at New York’s Trump Tower on Friday, she also told reporters, “I’m very happy being attorney general of the state of Florida right now.”
“I went to New York at the request of the president of the United States-elect,” Bondi added Tuesday. “I was up there meeting with him, and frankly I don’t think anyone should come out of those meetings and talk about anything that was said in those meetings.”
Talk of a possible Bondi post now centers on the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the nation’s drug czar.
Bondi has been outspoken in urging state and federal action against prescription drug addiction, a problem Trump also called a “tremendous problem” on the campaign trail and vowed to address when elected.