NEW: At Trump International, President Trump praises Coast Guard


Friday was another day of golf for President Donald Trump, who capped his visit to Trump International Golf Club with a photo call featuring members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Strolling toward a waiting group of 60 guardsmen, Trump praised the Guard for its work helping Americans who had been menaced by hurricanes and apocalyptic flooding earlier this year.

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He put his arm around Gene Gibson, commanding officer at the Guard’s Lake Worth Inlet station, where many of those who golfed and lunched at Trump International Friday were from.

He pointed to a pair of guardsmen who were wearing white hats bearing the president’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

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“I like those hats,” the president said, who sported a red “USA” cap. He positioning himself among the guardsmen and helped them hold up a Coast Guard flag for pictures. “I like that.”

Trump closed the course so the guardsmen could conduct a tournament.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: President Donald Trump in Palm Beach

“These brave men and women patrol the waterways near Palm Beach and Mar-a-Lago every day,” Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement sent to reporters. “The president wanted to thank these service members personally for their service to this nation.”

>>This weekend’s photos: Trump visits Palm Beach

Reporters covering the president were allowed to photograph Trump as he interacted with the guardsmen, but they were not allowed to take pictures that might include the club’s private members, many of whom were finishing up their own rounds of play when the president met the guardsmen on the 17th hole of the course.

Reporters were also not allowed to ask Trump questions.

“It’s an honor to have you here,” he told the guardsmen. “I just want to thank you. The job you do is fantastic.”

It was the second time in three days Trump singled out first responders during his holiday break in Palm Beach County. On Wednesday, he stopped at West Palm Beach Fire Rescue Station No. 2 on Dixie Highway to praise firefighters and paramedics.

Both quick stops were gobbled up by reporters and photographers largely kept at arm’s length from the president during his stay.

On Friday, he praised not only the Coast Guard but his own course, saying it is “one of the great courses of the world, as you know.”

Trump has drawn criticism from those who see his frequent visits to and praise of his properties as an inappropriate effort to profit financially from the presidency.

Other presidents have divested themselves of financial holdings or placed them in a trust to end or minimize conflicts of interest.

Trump has said he is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of his companies, but critics contend the steps Trump has taken have been largely symbolic and still leave him and his children in position to profit from the presidency.

Trump’s financial dealings have drawn at least three lawsuits from people and groups who claim the president is in violation of a clause of the U.S. constitution barring presidents from being in the pay of a foreign government.

A federal judge in New York recently tossed out one of those suits, claiming the group that brought it, Citizens for Responsibilities and Ethics in Washington, failed to show it had been harmed by the president’s business activities.

Within the high-hedged, lavish confines of Trump International on Friday, the president was all smiles. Jaguars, Bentleys and Ferraris filled the parking spaces.

The president was a rich man among other rich men.

He told the guardsmen he made one group of players wait while he posed for pictures.

“The man that just sold the Houston basketball team for $2 billion is in that group,” Trump said, referring to billionaire Leslie Alexander, who, according to Forbes, bought the Houston Rockets in 1993 for $85 million and sold them in September for $2.2 billion.

Trump said Alexander told him he had no problem waiting to complete his round.

“He said, ‘If it’s the Coast Guard, I don’t mind waiting,’” Trump said.

After posing with the guardsmen, Trump’s motorcade took him back to Mar-a-Lago, again passing a string of supporters waving to him while they stood on the Southern Boulevard bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.

Trump gave them a double thumbs up and blew them a kiss.



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