Trump visits Pittsburgh synagogue

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Trump steps up attacks on 'Squad' after post-rally furor Trump says he doesn't care if attacks on 'Squad' hurt him politically 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 TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump steps up attacks on 'Squad' after post-rally furor Trump says he doesn't care if attacks on 'Squad' hurt him politically EXCLUSIVE: Career officials rebut claims of White House interference in security clearance process MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Trump: 'We already started' talks to get A$AP Rocky home from Sweden Kim Kardashian West thanks Trump, Kushner for helping efforts to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish jail MORE, the president's daughter and son-in-law and White House advisers who are Jewish, and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBudget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Conservative group raises concerns about potential budget deal How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade 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 RyanEx-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Ocasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants 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 PelosiDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets 10 questions for Robert Mueller Ocasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens 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.