UPDATE: Trump holds VA meeting at Mar-a-Lago Saturday night

SATURDAY UPDATE: The White House said President Donald Trump held a meeting to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs while at Mar-a-Lago Saturday night.

“This evening President Trump had another meeting, including dinner, concerning the Department of Veterans Affairs and how to turn it around for the benefit of our great veterans,” the White House said in a summary of Trump’s day. “Great progress is being made and will be reported on in the future.”

President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport on March 17, 2017, with his wife Melania and son Barron. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: President Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Trump had said Friday that the meeting was scheduled for that evening at his “Southern White House.” A White House spokeswoman later told The Palm Beach Post that the meeting would not happen at that time.

Though the statement sent Saturday night by the White House did not mention with whom Trump met, pool reports earlier in the day showed the president met with Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter before the pair had dinner with first lady Melania Trump and Perlmutter’s wife, Laura. They also were joined by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Later, Vice President Mike Pence joined the group for dessert after he spoke at a meeting of the Club for Growth at The Breakers in Palm Beach.

» RELATED: Trump, Pence visit Palm Beach as Democratic critic attends fundraiser

» RELATED: President Trump stops in at cancer charity event at Mar-a-Lago

UPDATE: A White House spokeswoman told The Palm Beach Post that the meeting will not happen tonight.

EARLIER STORY: President Donald Trump will host a group of business leaders and doctors to discuss veterans’ health care while at his Mar-a-Lago Club this evening.

The president, speaking at a Veterans Affairs listening session at the White House earlier today with VA Secretary David Shulkin, said the “major meeting” would bring together “some of the people that we put on a board” to address health care issues in the department at his “Southern White House.” It will kick off Trump’s fifth weekend stay in Palm Beach since he took office in January.

President Trump said Friday morning he will host a group to talk about Veterans Affairs at his Mar-a-Lago Club on Friday night. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

Among the members of that group: Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, a fellow part-time Palm Beacher who supported Trump’s presidential campaign. Perlmutter met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in December as Trump was planning his transition into the White House.

Trump mentioned the meeting during his opening remarks at the listening session.

» RELATED: Live updates tonight as President Trump arrives

“And tonight I’m having a major meeting with some of the people that we put on a board,” Trump said to those seated at a table in the White House’s Roosevelt Room. “Ike Perlmutter is an amazing man —Marvel — is one of the great, great businessmen of our time, and others — we’re having a meeting tonight at what we call affectionately the Southern White House. Seems to be the most convenient location. Everybody always wants to go to the Southern White House.”

Trump then turned to Shulkin.

“So are you going to be at that meeting?” Trump asked. Shulkin shook his, no. “You heard about it, right? It’s going to be great — all about the VA.”

The White House has not yet released Trump’s schedule for this weekend, and the meeting at Mar-a-Lago this evening did not appear on the president’s Friday schedule that was sent to the press Thursday night. The Palm Beach Post has reached out to the White House for more information.

Also at Mar-a-Lago tonight: Gateway for Cancer Research is hosting its St. Patrick’s Day party, beginning at 7 p.m. Receiving the Palm Beach Legend Award at the event is Patrick Park, who has said he’s Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Austria.






Jeb: I’ll debate Trump one-on-one

IMG_0498In a combined 36 minutes of remarks and answering questions, former Florida governor, and current presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, managed to avoid saying the name of you-know-who. Until the end.

Asked what he’d say if Republican front-runner, and part-time Palm Beach resident, Donald Trump, walked into the ballroom at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, Bush responded, “I’d say, ‘Donald, I’ll take you on one-on-one in a debate. Any time. Any place.’”

Cornered later by a reporter, and asked if he was serious and if he thought Trump would agree to it, Bush paused, then shrugged, then said, “I don’t know. Ask him.”

There was no immediate response from the Trump camp.

Bush, who trails Trump, and much of the rest of the GOP field, was both feisty and reasoned at Monday’s talk to the Forum of the Palm Beaches.

He subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, offered up sharp contrasts to the front-runner.

Repeating his dig at Trump at a recent debates that “you can’t insult your way to the presidency,” Bush said Monday, “I’m sick and tired of the politics of divide, the politics of destruction, the politics of anger.”

Repeating his stance that the government needs to control immigration but that it still can sympathize with immigrants’ motives, Bush praised America’s love of diversity by mentioning his new granddaughter is a “Mexican, Texan, Iraqi, Canadian, American,” but that when she reaches 21 and fills out a census form, “she’ll say, ‘not applicable.’ I’m an American.”

He also took on the incumbent, saying President Obama had no strategy to defeat the terrorist group ISIS or how to create a unified international force to establish a government when Syrian President Assad is gone, He said Obama had “gutted” the military, and described as “shameful” the fact that only three people were fired in the wake of the uncovering of massive problems at Veterans Affairs.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.