President Donald Trump arrived at Mar-a-Lago Friday for a holiday weekend that will include a campaign-style rally in Melbourne today and potential interviews with candidates for the vacant national security adviser’s post.
After stopping at a Boeing facility in South Carolina for the unveiling of the new 787 Dreamliner aircraft, Trump arrived at Palm Beach International Airport aboard Air Force One at about 3:30 p.m. for his third consecutive weekend in Palm Beach County.
About 80 supporters were on the tarmac to greet Trump, who stopped briefly to chat with Army veteran Beau Brumfield and Marine Corps veteran Bill Wheeler and to accept an “America Trump 45” T-shirt made by an apparel company that Brumfield owns.
Trump then spent several minutes shaking hands and signing autographs for the larger group of supporters before getting into a black Chevy Suburban with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Steve Bannon for the brief trip to Mar-a-Lago.
As the motorcade traveled east on Southern Boulevard near Parker Avenue, a vehicle — not the president’s limousine — was struck by a rock, according to an ABC News report.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Friday that it was assisting the Secret Service in investigating the incident.
A Secret Service spokesman also said, “The Secret Service can confirm that an object appears to have been thrown at the motorcade this afternoon. We are investigating at this time and don’t have anything further,” according to a White House press pool report.
Farther east, Trump’s motorcade quickly passed St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Church, which sits on the corner of Southern Boulevard and the bridge to Mar-a-Lago, about 4 p.m. That was a relief to father Andrew Maginas, who had said he was worried about the impact of Trump’s visit on the church’s annual festival and fundraiser this weekend.
The brief road closure to accommodate Trump’s motorcade came well before the dinner hour. Maginas said he did not know what road closures to expect Saturday.
“It’s like rain,” Maginas said. “You can’t do anything about it.”
While Trump is at Mar-a-Lago, a senior administration official said he might interview candidates for the national security adviser’s position that came open when Michael Flynn resigned Monday amid questions about his contacts with the Russian government during Trump’s transition.
Acting National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg accompanied Trump on the trip and was described by the president in a morning tweet as “very much in play for NSA — as are three others.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said no timetable has been set for selecting Flynn’s replacement.
Before arriving at PBIA, Trump celebrated American jobs and manufacturing at the Boeing plant.
“That’s what we do in America — we dream of things, and then we build them. We turn vision into reality, and we will be doing a lot more of that, believe me, in the months and years to come,” Trump said.
Trump’s remarks were largely focused on his economic message, but later in the day he tweeted his disgust with the media.
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Trump tweeted after arriving at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump’s Melbourne speech at 5 p.m. today is part of an effort to take his message directly to the public without having it “filtered” by the media, Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One during the trip to West Palm Beach.
The Melbourne trip is officially a campaign event that won’t be paid for with tax dollars, the White House said. Trump filed Federal Election Committee paperwork on Jan. 20 — his Inauguration Day — setting up a 2020 campaign, though Trump said he was not formally announcing a re-election bid.
“President Trump, just as he did so effectively throughout the campaign, is going to continue taking his message directly to the American people,” Sanders said.
“He can do that very easily by taking the stage and talking to the people of America, addressing their concerns and being able to properly express what he’s doing, what his administration has done over the last month and what they plan to do in the coming weeks.”
Asked if the rally is part of a 2020 campaign or for another candidate, Sanders said, “I think it’s, most likely, a campaign rally for America.”
Staff writers Christine Stapleton and Hannah Winston and White House pool reports contributed to this story.
TRUMP PROTEST PLANS CHANGE
Two groups’ plans to demonstrate against President Donald Trump in West Palm Beach have been changed from a protest of his arrival Friday evening to one of his departure Monday night.
The Friday protest was scrapped when the White House announced Trump would arrive at Palm Beach International Airport earlier than expected – when many protesters are still at work.
It has been rescheduled to 8 p.m. Monday. South Florida Activism and the West Palm Beach Chapter of Women’s March plan to gather at Dreher Park, then line Southern Boulevard just north of the park to demonstrate as the president’s motorcade travels on the road to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. The time could change again, depending on Trump’s schedule.
TRAFFIC RESTRICTION RETURNS
President Donald Trump arrived in Palm Beach on Friday for his third weekend visit in a row.
The Secret Service has mandated that South Ocean Boulevard, from its intersection with South County Road to the roundabout at Southern Boulevard, be restricted to only residents when the president is in town.
That restriction, which was imposed Friday and will last until Trump departs on Monday, may push traffic north to the Royal Park Bridge and the Flagler Memorial Bridge.
Highway signs on Interstate 95 alerted drivers to expect delays if they are driving in the area.