UPDATED: Trump makes unannounced Iraq visit

President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE made an unannounced trip on Wednesday to Iraq, his first visit to troops in a combat zone as president.

The president and the first lady, Melania TrumpMelania TrumpEx-Melania Trump adviser raised concerns of excessive inauguration spending weeks before events: CNN The Hill's Morning Report - Trump moves green cards, citizenship away from poor, low-skilled White House seeks volunteers, musicians for Christmas celebrations MORE, departed on the trip late Tuesday night.

Before the trip, Trump called troops deployed around the world on Tuesday but did not have any scheduled visits on or before Christmas. He would have become the first president since 2002 to not visit troops around Christmastime.

Last year, Trump visited wounded soldiers of all military branches at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center days before Christmas.

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NBC News reported that Trump's predecessor, former President Obama, visited troops each year at Christmas from 2009 through 2016 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Before Obama, former President George W. Bush made trips to Walter Reed to visit injured soldiers each Christmas from 2003 to 2008.

Bush didn't visit troops in 2002, according to NBC News.

Trump told service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard during his Christmas calls that the U.S. is "eternally grateful" for them.

"I want you to know that every American family is eternally grateful to you," Trump said. 

Trump had faced criticism for not visiting troops in an active war zone, though he said last month that he would do so soon.

The White House was eerily quiet before Trump's visit was made public. Many staff offices were empty with the lights off, and no Marine was stationed by the door of the West Wing, suggesting the president was not in the Oval Office.

Updated at 2:40 p.m. to reflect Trump's visit to Iraq