President Donald Trump wrapped up another Mar-a-Lago weekend on Sunday by hosting his traditional Super Bowl watch party at his Trump International Golf Club before heading back to Washington.
Sunday updates: Trump back in Washington after weekend in Palm Beach
Before entering the Trump International clubhouse to watch the Patriots-Eagles game with members of the private club, the president and first lady Melania Trump paused outside to listen to the pep band from Florida Atlantic University play “Hail to the Chief,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland” and Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance.”
“Thank you so much, that was so great, great job, great talent, enjoy the game,” Trump said after the band’s last number. He also shook hands with a few cheerleaders and the band’s director.
FAU bands also played at Trump Super Bowl parties in 2015 and 2016. The Palm Beach Central High School marching band performed before last year’s party, Trump’s first as president.
Trump dressed for the game in a dark suit and red tie while the first lady wore a blue baseball-style jacket with white and red trim and white jeans.
Also spotted at Sunday night’s event: son Barron, daughters Tiffany and Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump left the event as the second half was beginning, making the short trip to Palm Beach International Airport, and boarding Air Force One at 9 p.m.
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It was the president’s second visit of the day to the club on Summit Boulevard in unincorporated West Palm Beach. He spent about five hours at the golf course earlier Sunday.
After taking to Twitter several times Saturday to deride the Russian collusion probe and declare himself vindicated by a Republican House Intelligence Committee memo, the president made no public pronouncements on the topic Sunday — perhaps heeding the advice of friend and Mar-a-Lago Club member Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Boca Raton-based Newsmax Media.
Ruddy told CNN on Sunday that “this whole case has been about a false, fake, phony allegation of a crime” and that neither special counsel Robert Mueller nor the media has produced any evidence of collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
“My view is the president should wall himself off from this. None of the crimes that have been involved so far with Mueller involve his campaign or impact him. The president should stay away from it,” said Ruddy, who said he had chatted briefly with Trump on Saturday night.
A few hours before Sunday’s kickoff, Trump issued a statement honoring U.S. armed forces and alluding to the controversy over NFL players who knelt or raised a fist during the playing of the national anthem this season. The practice began in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem to protest police treatment of people of color.
Trump fanned the controversy in September when, during a speech in Alabama, he said he wished NFL owners would fire players who didn’t stand. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called the president’s remarks “divisive” at the time and there were widespread player protests the Sunday after Trump’s remarks, but by the end of the season, only a few players refused to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“Though many of our Nation’s service members are unable to be home with family and friends to enjoy this evening’s American tradition, they are always in our thoughts and prayers,” Trump said in his Super Bowl statement. “We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending our liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner. We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the National Anthem.”
Trump’s only other public statement during the day was a tweet about the South Carolina train crash that claimed at least two lives.
“My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims involved in this mornings train collision in South Carolina. Thank you to our incredible First Responders for the work they’ve done!” Trump told Twitter followers while he was at the golf course around noon.
This weekend marked Trump’s 12th presidential visit to Palm Beach. He has spent roughly 39 days in Palm Beach County as president — mainly at Mar-a-Lago or Trump International.