Trump cancels Mar-a-Lago Christmas trip over shutdown

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The White House announced on Saturday that President Trump will not take his scheduled Christmas vacation in South Florida, citing the government shutdown.   

“Due to the shutdown, President Trump will remain in Washington, D.C. and the first lady will return from Florida so they can spend Christmas together,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The president tweeted the news himself later Saturday: “I will not be going to Florida because of the Shutdown – Staying in the White House! #MAGA.”{mosads}

Trump had planned to spend 16 days at his Mar-a-Lago resort with his family for the holidays, but he said on Friday he would remain in the nation’s capital if Congress could not reach an agreement to avert a partial government shutdown.

But the president did not say at the time how long he planned to stay in Washington and there was some speculation he might still make the trip to Florida for Christmas if a lengthy shutdown appeared to be in the works.

That scenario played out on Saturday, with the Senate adjourning without a spending deal in place. Senators are not expected to meet again until Dec. 27, meaning the shutdown is all but assured to last at least four more days.

Trump did not appear willing to strike a quick compromise with Democrats, digging in on Saturday on his demand for border wall funding. He lunched on Saturday afternoon with his conservative Republican allies at the White House in a show of unity.

Despite the funding standoff in Washington, Palm Beach was prepared for Trump’s arrival.

First lady Melania Trump traveled down on Friday with their 12-year-old son, Barron Trump, to spend the holidays.

“It has long been the family’s tradition to spend their Christmas holiday at Mar-a-Lago. Her plans to travel with her son to their Florida home for his winter break have not changed this year,” the first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN on Friday.

The security perimeter that surrounds Mar-a-Lago when Trump is in town had been set up, with traffic cones, barricades and police cruisers stationed along Ocean Boulevard outside the club.  

Secret Service agents were monitoring traffic crossing the Southern Boulevard bridge, which leads from West Palm Beach to the Mar-a-Lago staff entrance, and agents had set up a checkpoint in an adjacent parking lot to screen vehicles entering the club.

The Secret Service is one of the government agencies whose funding lapsed at midnight. A senior administration official said Saturday that thousands of the agency’s employees will continue to work during the shutdown, albeit without pay.

The most recent government pay period ends on Dec. 22, meaning that the agents in South Florida will be paid for the work they have already done, but it is unclear how long they will remain here.

The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The president is known to feel at home at his South Florida properties, golfing and dining with friends and allies in an uncontrolled environment that supporters say he thrives on but critics say feeds his worst impulses.

Trump is facing perhaps the most critical juncture of his presidency, confronting the shutdown, Republican angst over his split with Defense Secretary James Mattis, signs of an economic downturn and an escalating Russia investigation.

The blue, red and gold Trump-branded jet had been spotted by a reporter on the tarmac of Palm Beach International Airport on Friday, indicating other members of the family were present. The president and first lady only travel on government jets.

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, was scheduled to speak on Thursday at the conservative Turning Point USA conference in West Palm Beach that drew dozens of young people to the South Florida city.

Camera crews, television producers and reporters had also arrived in the area late in the week in anticipation of Trump’s possible arrival, as did some administration aides.

But now, it appears the president will not be joining them any time soon.

Tags Appropriations Border wall Budget Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. James Mattis Melania Trump Shutdown

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