Trump holds call with troops, plans Coast Guard visit on Thanksgiving

President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE held a teleconference with service members on Thursday morning for Thanksgiving before visiting members of the Coast Guard.

The White House said that Trump wanted to wish service members stationed around the world "a happy Thanksgiving and thank them for their service."

The call, which was announced on Wednesday evening, included members of all five branches of the U.S. military, according to the White House.

"Melania and I want to express our profound gratitude for the extraordinary sacrifices you make to defend our nation while you're away from your families and loved ones," Trump said during the call.

 

The president indicated on Twitter that he would also pay a visit to see members of the Coast Guard "to thank them for the great job they have been doing," though the trip was not on the president's official schedule for the day.

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Trump, who is spending the Thanksgiving holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., visited the Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet less than half an hour away from his resort.

While there, he praised Coast Guard officers for their work responding to hurricanes that have hit the U.S. this year. He also joked with Coast Guard members and invited them to his Mar-a-Lago resort.

“Anybody that wants to go, you go," he said. "If you break par, I'll give you $100," he joked.

Trump has sought to tout his support for the military following backlash over his decision to not visit a World War I cemetery during a trip to France earlier this month, a planned visit the White House said was canceled due to bad weather.

The president has also acknowledged regret for not paying a visit to Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington on Veterans Day, telling Fox News's Chris Wallace in an interview that aired last Sunday, "I should have done that."

Trump also engaged in a feud earlier this week with retired Adm. William McRaven, a former NAVY Seal who oversaw the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. After McRaven called Trump's rhetoric toward the press a threat to democracy, Trump said the former SEAL was a "Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats try to turn now into November The Memo: Unhappy voters could deliver political shocks beyond Trump On The Trail: Trump, coronavirus fuel unprecedented voter enthusiasm MORE fan" and an "Obama-backer" and claimed that the U.S. should have killed bin Laden sooner than 2011. 

Additionally, Trump has faced renewed criticism for having not visited troops in Afghanistan or Iraq.

He said during his interview with Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" that his "unbelievable busy schedule" has prevented him from doing so. 

The president has maintained, however, that he is planning to visit troops in a combat zone, though he hasn't said where or when he will go. 

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump insulted UK's May, called Germany's Merkel 'stupid' in calls: report Mattis urges people to wear masks in PSA about 'nasty little virus' Dozens of GOP ex-national security officials to form group to back Biden: report MORE told reporters Wednesday that he has advised Trump against going to certain combat areas because of security concerns. 

“The president’s the commander in chief and he decides where he needs to go,” Mattis said when asked about Trump visiting troops.

“There are times I don't want him in certain locations, to be frank with you, for his security and the troops’ security," he added.

Updated: 12:13 p.m.