Trump in Palm Beach: What the president said to local firefighters

President Donald Trump at West Palm Beach Fire Rescue Station 2 on Wednesday (Photos by Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to a fire station in West Palm Beach on Wednesday.

Click here to read Wayne Washington’s story on the president’s day (Spoiler alert: Golf was involved).

Trump tweeted about the experience afterward.

“Just left West Palm Beach Fire & Rescue #2. Met with great men and women as representatives of those who do so much for all of us. Firefighters, paramedics, first responders – what amazing people they are!” Trump told Twitter followers.

Here’s a transcript from the White House of the president’s remarks while he was at the station:

THE PRESIDENT: How’s the media? Good? Everyone good? These are great people. These are great people.

I just want to thank everybody for the fantastic job you’ve done and are doing. What you do, in terms of paramedics and fire and all of the other things you do that people don’t appreciate like they should. But we appreciate it. And we’re giving you a lot of equipment. We’re giving you a lot of help. You know, we’ve opened it up.

So, again, thank you very much. Fantastic job. (Inaudible.) Okay? (Inaudible.) This is real power over here, right? (Laughter.) This is real power. Any questions? Go ahead?

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: Things are going great. That’s the kind of question we like. (Laughter.)

I think our country is doing well. We’re setting records with stocks. How are your 401(k)s doing, pretty well?

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: It’s doing well, right? They’re all doing well. The 401(k)s doing well, the stocks are doing well, a lot of companies coming back into this country. And they’re coming back into the country that we love, which is what we care about, and then even before the tax cut.

And I tell you, that tax cut bill is something with what’s it’s kicking in. Literally we know when the big companies — AT&T, Comcast, so many others, Wells Fargo — they’re giving thousands of dollars to their employees. And nobody saw that happening right away, but that happened early. And now what’s happening is many other companies are following suit.

So the country is really — you have a big, big beautiful ship that we’re turning around. And a lot of good things are happening. You know with the military, we’re rebuilding our military. It was depleted. You guys were a little bit depleted too.

We’re giving you — and particularly the police, we’re giving them military equipment, which was taken away by the previous administration. You know all about that. And now you’re getting the military equipment. They didn’t want them to use the military equipment. Somebody will explain why. But now you have the best military equipment, and you’re able to use it for the police force.

But I want to thank the job you do medically and with the paramedics — the job you do with the fire has been incredible.
So they said, would you like to come over here and say hello? Some of you I’ve met, many of you down in Palm Beach.

But you do a fantastic job, so we just wanted to thank you very much. Really fantastic people. And hopefully with the media surrounding us, they’ll understand exactly what’s happening because we want to give these people credit for the great job they do.

So thank you all very much. We appreciate it. Now I’ll go back to Palm Beach, and you go back and also watch yourselves on television, huh? (Laughter.) We created some stars in here, Chief. You know that, right?

Chief, you have any questions?

CHIEF DONATTO: Yeah, you know the House and the Senate, at record levels, passed the SAFER and Assistance to Firefighters Grants program. And that should be coming to you soon (inaudible). In your opinion, is that a good thing?

THE PRESIDENT: Well they just passed it, and it’s coming to me, and it’s a good thing. And you like it, right?

CHIEF DONATTO: We love it. And we just appreciate —

THE PRESIDENT: You know, one of the things that people don’t understand, we have signed more legislation than anybody — we broke the record of Harry Truman. And they were saying, if we get this big tax break — because that’s the legislation of all legislation, that’s the biggest there is.

And that included ANWR, as you know. And it included the repeal of the individual mandate, which is a disaster. That’s where you have the privilege of paying a lot of money so that you don’t have to buy health insurance. All right? The most unpopular thing, which most people thought should have been unconstitutional. But we repealed it. And we got ANWR, which is going to be one of the great drilling sites of the world — great oil reserves.

But we have a lot of things. But we had a lot of legislation passed. And here’s an example of something that soon will be passed and signed. So yeah, we’re going to take care of it. I know you folks have been fighting for that for a long time.

We had a lot of legislation pass. They were saying that if we got this one done, we would have succeeded with legislation. But I believe we have — and you’ll have to ask those folks, but I think they know the real answer — We have more legislation passed, including the record — was Harry Truman. That’s a long time ago. And we broke that record. So we have a lot done.

In addition, we have a lot of executive orders. We’ve gotten a lot of the rules and regulations. You people suffered from that to a certain extent, too, in all fairness. But a lot of the regulations were voided. And now you can go back to work and do your jobs. In the case of builders, in the case of farmers, and so many others, they can now go back and do their jobs.

So we have the all-time record for stopping ridiculous regulations, and we’re very proud of that record. That’s one of the reasons the stock market has done, you know, at a record level. It’s a record level. We broke it 84 times this year. The stock market hit a new high 84 times since we won the election on November 8th of last year.

So that’s something we can all be proud of. And that makes you all very smart. Then your families say, “Boy, you’re a great investor.” Right? (Laughter.) When you have big numbers go up and your stocks go up and everything else. You know when the stock market goes up that affects everybody, not just — you know you think of the rich, you think of the big — the fact is it affects everybody because people own stocks, whether it’s in 401(k)s or otherwise. So it’s really been great.

Yeah, we’ll get that signed. It will to be signed. I know it will.

PARTICIPANT: We actually have 15 of those brave (inaudible) firefighters from last year’s (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT: Oh good. We have 15 of them. You know who we’re talking about here? Come on over here. Come on over. That’s great. (Applause.)

I better sign it. Now I have no choice, right? (Laughter.)

You love this stuff, right? Huh? That’s good.

Congratulations. I’ll go back and sign fast, okay? (Laughter.)

So, again, continue doing what you do better than anybody in the world. We appreciate it a lot. And the safety and the lives that you save — incredible. Chief, thank you. And, Chiefs, thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 4:24 P.M. EST

Who’s on golf’s Donald Trump Tour?

Professional golfers who have joined President Donald Trump on the links, from top left: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Jim Herman, Rory McIlroy, Brad Faxon, Ernie Els, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods.

Before he teed off on the FBI Saturday in a series of tweets, President Donald Trump teed off at Trump International Golf Club with three PGA stars.

Trump’s golf partners Saturday were Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Jim Herman.

They are the latest professional golfers to hit the links with Trump since he became president.

Trump has also golfed with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, who between them have won 32 majors, as well as Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson and Brad Faxon.


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.



Dem pollster: Brian Mast ‘vulnerable,’ Trump and tax cut unpopular

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, at a town hall meeting in Stuart in June. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, is “vulnerable” and voters in his Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18 disapprove of President Donald Trump House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican package of tax cuts Mast voted for this week, according to the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

In polling last week for the liberal Patriot Majority USA, PPP focused on Mast and seven other Republican incumbents and the attitudes of voters in their districts toward the tax plan.

District 18 has a reputation as a swing district, with Democrat Patrick Murphy winning two terms there despite a slight registration edge for the GOP. In 2016, Trump carried the district with 53 percent and Mast won with 53.6 percent to 43.1 percent for Democrat Randy Perkins.

Mast has an approval rating of 40 percent and a disapproval rating of 45 percent, according to PPP’s automated telephone poll of 567 District 18 voters on Dec. 12-13. The survey has a 4.1 percent margin of error. Trump’s approval/disapproval score is 45/53 in the district. Ryan’s job approval rating is 34 percent and his disapproval score is 59 percent in the poll. The poll found only 31 percent of District 18 voters support the tax plan and 56 percent oppose it.

PPP found a virtual tie in a hypothetical race between Mast and a generic Democratic opponent, with Mast getting 45 percent and the Democrat 44 percent.

After voters were read statements about the tax bill — including a false claim about deducting state and local taxes —  Mast’s support remained at 45 percent and generic Democrat rose to 47 percent. One of the statements read to respondents describes the tax bill as “eliminating the ability to deduct for state and local taxes paid from federal income tax.” The legislation does not eliminate the state and local tax deduction, but does cap it at $10,000.

Democrats Lauren Baer and Pam Keith have opened campaigns in District 18.

Looks like Ron DeSantis will go Full Trump in Florida governor bid

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis introducing President Donald Trump in Pensacola on Friday night.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who’s expected to launch a Republican bid for Florida governor in 2018, is leaving little doubt that he’ll be running as an enthusiastic supporter of President Donald Trump.

DeSantis and Rep. Matt Gaetz flew with Trump on Air Force One from Washington to Pensacola, where the president spoke for about 90 minutes before flying to Palm Beach.

DeSantis introduced Trump before the president’s rally and mentioned “fake news,” “drain the swamp” and “making America great again” in brief remarks that were captured on video and circulated statewide by Ron DeSantis for Florida, the federal committee he’s used for his past U.S. House races.

DeSantis hasn’t announced his 2018 plans, but they don’t appear to include a run for a fourth term in Congress. The DeSantis for Florida federal committee raised only $108,704 during the first nine months of 2017. Meanwhile, a state PAC called Fund for Florida’s Future that is expected to back a DeSantis gubernatorial run has raised more than $1.7 million since April.


‘Outraged’ by $220,000 settlement in Hastings case

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, says he didn’t know about a $220,000 settlement paid to a former staffer and is “outraged” by it.

Taxpayers spent $220,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that involved U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call reported Friday night.

Hastings has denied the claims in the suit and says he’s “outraged” by the settlement.

Winsome Packer, a staffer on the congressional Helsinki Commission that Hastings once chaired, filed a lawsuit in 2011 against Hastings and the commission. A federal judge dismissed the claims against Hastings — but not the commission — in 2012.

Click here to read the full story.

The House Ethics Committee in 2014 also cleared Hastings in a sexual harassment complaint filed by Packer.

But the ethics panel’s report also said Hastings “admitted to certain conduct that is less than professional.”

Hastings “hugs many people frequently,” the report said, and while a hug “on its own, is not sexual harassment…hugging is not the most professional way to greet coworkers, and different individuals have different comfort levels for touching others.”

The ethics report also said Hastings showed “poor judgment” when he admitted to comments “about not being able to sleep after sex, and another about female Members of Congress wearing the same underwear all day.”



Sen. Bill Nelson weighs in on eve of Florida Democratic chair vote

Sen. Bill Nelson is backing Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo for the Florida Democratic Party’s top post.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is backing Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo to lead the Florida Democratic Party ahead of a Saturday vote in Orlando.

Longtime Nelson political adviser Pete Mitchell confirmed the senator — Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat — will throw the large chunk of votes he controls behind Rizzo, who has led the county party since 2012.

Rizzo, Brevard County Democratic Chairwoman Stacey Patel and Hillsborough County Democratic State Committeewoman Alma Gonzalez are running to replace Stephen Bittel, who abruptly resigned last month after Politico reported accusations from six women that he made demeaning comments to women, leered and kept a breast-shaped stress ball in his desk.

A fourth candidate, Service Employees International Union Florida President Monica Russo, gave up her pursuit of the job and has endorsed Patel.

There are about 1,200 possible votes for chair under the Florida Democratic Party’s voting system. Rizzo has announced endorsements from party activists and officials who control more than 300 votes. Nelson’s endorsement comes with 42 votes.

Rizzo, 70, lives west of Boynton Beach.


Video: Democrat Lauren Baer focuses on health care in bid for Brian Mast House seat

Democrat Lauren Baer, a former Obama administration foreign policy adviser who hopes to unseat freshman Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, is introducing herself to voters with a three-minute biographical video that doesn’t mention Mast but hints that Mast’s vote for a Republican health care overhaul will be a central issue in her campaign.

Democrat Lauren Baer in her new campaign video.

Baer and U.S. Navy veteran and attorney Pam Keith have launched Democratic campaigns for Mast’s Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat.

Baer’s video highlights her mother’s struggles after a 1992 car crash when Baer was a middle school student.

“I know from firsthand experience from what my mother went through that someone can be healthy one day and very ill the next…People need to know that if something comes up in their life, they’re not going to have to worry about making a choice between their health and their family’s economic well-being,” Baer says.

The video also includes footage of Baer with her spouse, Emily Myers, and their baby daughter. Baer is trying to become the first woman in a same-sex marriage to serve in Congress.

Baer, an attorney who grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, is a granddaughter of the founder of the Baer’s Furniture chain. She was a policy adviser to former U.S. Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and to Samantha Power, who was U.S. ambassador the United Nations during the Obama administration.



Impeach Trump? Two Palm Beach County Democrats say it’s worth debate

U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, were among only 58 House members voting against tabling an impeachment resolution against President Donald Trump. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

An impeachment resolution against President Donald Trump was blocked by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday with a majority of Democrats joining a unanimous GOP in voting to table the measure.

But two members of Palm Beach County’s House delegation — Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach — defied their own party’s leadership and voted to consider the resolution by Rep. Al Green, D-Tex.

The vote to table Green’s impeachment resolution was 364 to 58.

“Now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a joint statement.

Frankel and Hastings disagreed.

Click here to read more about the vote — including Frankel’s explanation and Hastings’ unique perspective on impeachment.


Florida pols weigh in on Trump recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in Israel on a trade mission, praises President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Florida politicians had mixed responses to President Donald Trump‘s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to instruct the State Department to develop a plan to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in Israel on a trade mission, posted a video of himself and wife Ann Scott at the Western Wall praising the president’s announcement.

Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation for the 115th Congress, clockwise from top left: Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City; Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

“This is a great day,” Scott said. “I stand with Israel, I stand with all the citizens of Israel. The state of Fla stands with all the citizens of Israel. This is an outstanding day for both Israel and the citizens of the United States of America.”

Said Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: “Today’s announcement is an important step in the right direction. Unequivocal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be complete when the U.S. embassy is officially relocated there.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, in an interview with Fox News,  said Trump’s announcement is cause for “a day of celebration.” Mast criticized Hamas and others calling for a “day of rage” in response.

“For those that are saying this is going to cause unrest, you talk about groups like Hamas out there calling for a day of rage, it shows exactly who any blood would be on the hands of – it’s those that would go out there and ultimately bring about violence and not anybody else to blame. They’re constantly looking for a reason to go out there and cause disruption and it’s not a surprise that they’d try to use this,” Mast said.

Even U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, an ardent Trump critic, voiced cautious approval.

“The President’s decision today is a recognition of existing U.S. law that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that the U.S. embassy should ultimately be located in the capital,” said Deutch in a joint statement with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, a fellow member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

The Deutch and Ros-Lehtinen statement continued: “There is no debate that the Jewish people have a deep-rooted religious, cultural and historic tie to Jerusalem, and today’s decision reaffirms that connection. The fact is that Jerusalem – an ancient and holy city to all three monotheistic faiths – will remain the capital of the Jewish state in any iteration of a negotiated two-state solution. Today’s decision does not preclude our shared goal of two states for two peoples to be negotiated between the parties themselves. Now is the time for urgent progress towards the President’s stated objective of achieving a real and lasting peace.”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, was critical.

“I believe that Jerusalem is and should remain the undivided capital of Israel. To deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem would be to deny world history. That being said, the manner in which the Trump Administration has announced its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is of great concern,” Hastings said.
“In the context of peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the sensitivity of the status of Jerusalem cannot be overstated…The United States has long held that the final status of Jerusalem should be determined as part of an agreement negotiated between the State of Israel and the Palestinian leadership. The President’s announcement undercuts this position, as well as the role of the United States as an honest mediator of the conflict,” Hastings said.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, offered this response: “The President’s announcement today is consistent with current U.S. law and reaffirms what we already know: Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The U.S. must recommit to our long-standing goal of a negotiated solution that leads to two states for two people. Only direct negotiations between the parties will allow Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”