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Trump visits Pittsburgh synagogue

President TrumpDonald TrumpClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden's Inauguration Day Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpNational Archives launches official Trump presidential library online Trump extended Secret Service protection for family members in final days in office: report Harris, Emhoff bid Pences farewell from Capitol steps MORE on Tuesday visited the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a gunman carried out the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. 

The Trumps paid their respects to the dead by lighting candles inside the synagogue's vestibule for each of the 11 victims of Saturday's massacre. They then laid stones atop makeshift memorial stars outside the building, a traditional Jewish mourning ritual, and also set down white flowers.

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Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., accompanied the president and first lady during their visit, as did Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpTrump extended Secret Service protection for family members in final days in office: report Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports Author Ryan Girdusky: Ivanka Trump to face challenges in potential Senate run against Rubio MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Pardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office Trump preparing another 100 pardons, commutations before leaving office: reports MORE, the president's daughter and son-in-law and White House advisers who are Jewish, and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinPence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden Treasury imposes additional sanctions on Cuba over allegations of 'serious human rights abuse' Treasury Department sanctions inner circle of Russian agent Derkach for election interference MORE.

Trump and his family members afterward visited University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian Hospital, where he met with four police officers who were wounded by the gunman. 

Trump made the trip to Pittsburgh over the objections of some public officials and Jewish leaders who asked him to put off a visit, which has been the subject of controversy amid a national debate about gun violence, anti-Semitism and political hatred.

But the president was reportedly wary of being criticized for waiting too long to visit the city and he was greeted by the rabbi of Tree of Life upon his arrival.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers previously told CNN that Trump was "certainly welcome" to make the visit, saying, "I am a citizen. He is my president."

Tuesday's trip was full of reminders of the storm surrounding Trump's presence.  

Protesters carrying signs saying "hate has no home in Squirrel Hill" and imploring Trump to "stop encouraging hate" stood outside the synagogue in the city's Squirrel Hill neighborhood as the president arrived. 

 

Local officials did not greet Trump at the airport after Air Force One landed, as they typically do when the president travels outside of Washington, D.C. Along the motorcade route, some onlookers gave Trump a thumbs down and others raised their middle fingers to him. 

All four congressional leaders also turned down invitations from the White House to accompany Trump to Pittsburgh.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Revising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear McConnell faces conservative backlash over Trump criticism MORE (R-Ky.) were unable to make the trip due to scheduling conflicts, their offices said. Ryan's staff said he could not make it on such short notice. House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer placed on administrative leave: reports Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden taps career civil servants to acting posts at State, USAID, UN MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' Why pretend senators can 'do impartial justice'? MORE (D-N.Y.) also decided not to attend. 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) had suggested that Trump delay his visit until the funerals for the victims were completed.  

Trump has struggled to play the role of consoler in chief in times of national crisis, and his response to the Pittsburgh massacre has proven no different. 

The president delivered a forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's shooting but decided to go ahead with a campaign rally in Illinois that night.

Trump has previously declined to deliver unequivocal condemnation of neo-Nazis and other extremists in key moments, such as after last year's killing of a counterprotester at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Robert Gregory Bowers, the alleged Pittsburgh gunman, echoed Trump's rhetoric on the migrant caravan, calling it a group of "invaders" in a social media post before the shooting. 

Bowers railed against HIAS, a Jewish refugee resettlement organization he accused of helping bring people to the United States to carry out violence.

Updated at 5:49 p.m.