A mass shooting kept Donald Trump away from the golf course — but not all weekend

As teenagers were buried by their families on Monday, Trump went to his private golf club

By Charlie May
Published February 20, 2018 8:56AM (EST)
 (Andy Buchanan/AFP/GettyImages)
(Andy Buchanan/AFP/GettyImages)

As funerals proceeded for teenagers killed in the Florida school shooting last week, President Donald Trump spent his Presidents Day at his private golf club, only a few dozen miles away.

Shortly after 9 a.m., the president arrived at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. He was spotted wearing a white cap and a white polo, press pool reports said. Of course, the president's hypocrisy when it comes to golf, and his sharp criticism of others, is well documented.

Trump spent much of the weekend away from the golf course, encouraged by aides that it wouldn't be good for optics, but apparently he couldn't help himself on Monday. Not far from him, 14-year-old Alaina Petty and 15-year-old Luke Hoyer were laid to rest by families and friends, the New York Daily News reported.

Trump visited a Florida hospital on Friday to meet with victims who were being treated. He also stopped by the Broward County Sheriff's Department to praise law enforcement for their response efforts. The tragic shooting occurred on Valentine's Day, when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz took 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In the aftermath of the incident, it's the students who have been the loudest and have demanded action be taken on guns in the U.S. A number of students also planned a march on Washington next month.

Trump is expected to hold a listening session with students on Wednesday, though it's unclear who will attend, or what discussions will be had.

While the president has been silent on gun control and only focused on mental health, despite the outcry from surviving students to take action, the White House announced on Monday that Trump would support measures that improve the federal gun background check system, the Associated Press reported.

"While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

The bipartisan bill was initially put forth by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, after the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last November in which 26 people were killed. "The bill would penalize federal agencies that fail to provide the necessary records and reward states that comply with federal grant preferences and other incentives," according to the AP.

Though it would still be a concession for Trump, whose ties with the National Rifle Association appear unbreakable, the legislation is still unlikely to satisfy a nation that has grieved from mass shootings for too long.

Meanwhile, the aides inside the White House have expressed that the tragedy provided a bit of a "reprieve" for an administration that was in the midst of two major scandals at the time of the tragedy. The Trump administration had been managing the fallout of the domestic abuse scandal that involved former staff secretary Rob Porter, and on Friday a federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the 2016 election.

"For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve," a White House official told The Washington Post. "A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled."

The official added, "But as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos."

Charlie May

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