President Donald Trump wrapped up a weekend at Mar-a-Lago with a Palm Sunday visit to his nearby golf course and a prediction from confidant and West Palm Beach resident Chris Ruddy that one or two more “major” personnel changes are coming soon in the Trump Administration.
Trump boarded Air Force One at 3:48 p.m. to return to Washington after his 15th visit to Palm Beach as president. A Federal Aviation Administration advisory issued Sunday night suggests Trump will return to Palm Beach Thursday and leave on Easter Sunday. First lady Melania Trump and son Barron, who arrived with the president Friday, are remaining at Mar-a-Lago this week.
“The first lady will be staying in Florida as is their tradition for spring break,” said White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters.
Other Trump family members also appear to be in town. Donald Trump Jr. was spotted at a CrossFit gym in West Palm Beach on Sunday. His wife, Vanessa, who filed for divorce this month, tweeted Sunday that she was “enjoying the beach with my two youngest Chloe and Spencer!”
The president began Sunday with some predawn tweets. He hailed the French police officer who was killed after trading places with a hostage in an attack by an ISIS sympathizer. He defended a $1.3 trillion spending deal that has angered some conservatives, members of the Trump base and Palm Beach resident and radio host Rush Limbaugh.
The president also tweeted that “Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case” after lead counsel John Dowd quit last week and prominent Washington attorney Ted Olson reportedly turned down an invitation to join Trump’s team.
A few hours after those tweets, Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, announced that two lawyers who had been expected to join the Trump legal team — Joseph diGenova and wife Victoria Toensing — would not be hired because of conflicts.
Trump spent nearly five hours at Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach, arriving there at 8:55 a.m. as a man draped in a Trump flag stood across Summit Boulevard from the entrance. Trump left the club at 1:45 p.m. wearing a reddish golf shirt and white USA baseball cap. A man with a Vietnam veteran sticker on his bicycle saluted the motorcade from across the street as the president departed.
While the president didn’t make any public appearances on Sunday, Ruddy appeared on ABC News’ “This Week” to tamp down reports of a chaotic White House.
“The president told me he’s perplexed by all these reports there’s chaos at the White House or mass staff changes. He told me that he thinks the White House is operating like a smooth machine — his words,” said Ruddy, a Mar-a-Lago Club member who is CEO of conservative, Boca Raton-based Newsmax Media.
“He did say that he’s expecting to make one or two major changes to his government very soon, and that’s going to be it. Now other White House sources, not the president, tell me the Veterans Affairs Secretary, David Shulkin, is likely to depart the Cabinet very soon. But other reports — people like (HUD Secretary) Ben Carson, I’m told that the president is happy with the job he’s doing, he will be staying. Chief of staff (John) Kelly — the president is happy with the job he is doing. He will be staying.”
Ruddy was dismissive of “all of these fake news reports saying there’s turmoil and chaos.”
Trump, whose motorcade departed from its usual route Saturday while several hundred gun-control advocates were demonstrating in Dreher Park, had routine travels on Sunday. Dozens of Trump supporters and a handful of opponents displayed their opinions as the presidential convoy made its way along Southern Boulevard to the airport.
Staff writer Christine Stapleton contributed to this story.