- By George Bennett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
President Donald Trump hunkered down at his Mar-a-Lago estate for most of Sunday, forgoing golf for a second straight day, unleashing a fusillade of tweets that downplayed Russian influence on the 2016 election and meeting late in the afternoon with House Speaker Paul Ryan.
After joining first lady Melania Trump on Friday night for visits to hospitalized victims and law enforcement officers who responded to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, the president spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday at his tropical compound.
He ventured off the grounds around 7 p.m. Sunday for dinner at Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach, returning to Mar-a-Lago about 2 1/2 hours later.
Trump, who is making his 13th Palm Beach visit as president, usually plays golf when he stays at Mar-a-Lago. But Bloomberg News reported he was staying off the links out of respect for the 17 people killed on Wednesday in Parkland, about 40 miles from Palm Beach.
Trump also plans to hold a listening session with students on Wednesday and meet with state and local officials on school safety Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
While Trump stayed off the golf course on Sunday, he didn’t stay off Twitter.
Beginning late Saturday night and continuing on Sunday morning, Trump lashed out at his own national security adviser and the FBI as well as former President Barack Obama and CNN over Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s insistence that it didn’t contribute to his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, in Germany on Saturday, said there was “incontrovertible” evidence that Russia sought to disrupt the 2016 election.
“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” Trump tweeted at 11:22 p.m. Saturday.
Trump also linked the Russia probe to the FBI’s admission it failed to follow up on a warning about Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz .
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” Trump tweeted after 11 p.m. on Saturday. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”
Russia dominated Trump’s Sunday morning tweets as well. He noted that, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals, Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election began in 2014 while Obama was president.
“Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing,” Trump said in one Sunday tweet.
Trump has expressed doubt in the past about Russian meddling, but since Mueller’s indictment he appears to have embraced the idea while asserting it wasn’t done in collusion with his campaign and didn’t have an effect on the outcome on the 2016 election.
“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did!” Trump tweeted at 7:33 a.m.
About 40 minutes later, Trump tweeted: “If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”
Trump met with Ryan around 4 p.m. at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump and Ryan “had a productive meeting today,” the White House said. “The two leaders discussed a wide variety of topics, including securing our Nation’s borders through immigration reform, the continued benefits the American people are experiencing as a result of tax reform, the overwhelming need to improve our Nation’s infrastructure, and the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida.”
Trump is scheduled to return to Washington on Monday.