Donald Trump wrapped up his sixth — and most consequential — presidential visit to Mar-a-Lago on Sunday by golfing at his nearby course while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley struck differing tones on U.S. plans in Syria after Thursday’s Trump-ordered missile strikes.
Trump will return to Palm Beach for Easter weekend, he told guests at his Trump International Golf Club, according to an exclusive Palm Beach Daily News report Sunday.
Trump’s Palm Sunday included five hours at Trump International in unincorporated West Palm Beach. The president golfed as part of two foursomes and ordered a salad in the club room afterward, Palm Beach Daily News Society Editor Shannon Donnelly reported.
While he was at the club, Trump also took time to tweet that the U.S. “strongly condemns” the bombings earlier in the day of two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt.
Trump left the golf club and returned to Mar-a-Lago for about 90 minutes, then headed for Palm Beach International Airport.
As the presidential motorcade crossed the Intracoastal Waterway about 4:15 p.m., the vehicles slowed. Trump didn’t get out of the car or roll down his window, but he could be seen giving a thumbs-up and mouthing “thank you” to supporters on the north side of Southern Boulevard near Olive Avenue.
Trump’s fans said they agreed with his decision to bomb a military base in Syria.
“It’s good to have a president with cojones,” said Bruce Langmaid of Palm Beach.
“I think he did the right thing with Syria,” said Wayne D’Angelo of Palm Beach Gardens. “If it was Obama, he probably would have given them $3 billion and asked them not to do it again … (Trump) let them know America is not who it used to be.”
Farther west, the motorcade passed some protesters near Dreher Park. The group — smaller than in previous weeks — included people holding signs that spelled out “Loser” and “Liar.”
Air Force One took off for Washington around 4:30 p.m.
Trump’s latest visit to his tropical White House was the most historically significant of his presidency so far.
Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping for a summit Thursday and Friday at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly before dining with the Chinese leader Thursday night, Trump huddled with top advisers in a secure room at Mar-a-Lago and gave final approval to fire Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack in Syria earlier in the week.
And while the president was at Mar-a-Lago, the Senate on Friday confirmed his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, fulfilling a pledge that helped Trump win skeptical conservative voters last year. Gorsuch is to be sworn in Monday.
“This week was a win,” said U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City. “He’s clearly demonstrated he will do what he says he’s going to do domestically. This action in Syria, layering upon his domestic policy, I think it’s absolutely going to give Iran, North Korea and any other actor pause.”
The missile strikes themselves drew initial bipartisan support, but also raised questions about future U.S. plans for civil war-ravaged Syria and the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Tillerson and Haley appeared on Sunday morning shows to lay out U.S. strategy in the region.
Haley, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, cast doubt on Assad being part of any political solution in Syria.
“There is not any sort of option where a political solution’s going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime,” Haley said.
But Tillerson, on ABC’s This Week, seemed to outline a political process that includes Assad, at least initially.
“Once we can eliminate the battle against ISIS, conclude that and it is going quite well, then we hope to turn our attention to cease-fire agreements between the regime and opposition forces,” Tillerson said.
“And in that regard, we are hopeful that we can work with Russia and use their influence to achieve areas of stabilization throughout Syria and create the conditions for a political process through Geneva in which we can engage all of the parties on a way forward. And it is through that political process that we believe the Syrian people will ultimately be able to decide the fate of Bashar al-Assad.”
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio took issue with Tillerson on Assad.
Appearing in a later segment on the ABC show, Rubio said, “I listened to the interview earlier today, I guess, that Secretary Tillerson is going to have on your program, and I’m a bit concerned about the outlines of the strategy, as I understand it. I think it’s based on assumptions that quite frankly are not the right ones. And I hope they’ll reconsider this idea that we’re going to get rid of ISIS and then we’ll hopefully use Assad and others to come up with a solution, it’s not going to work.”