Trump Returns to Mar-a-Lago with Family for First Time Since Shutdown Began

The president was last at Mar-a-Lago just before Thanksgiving but strategically chose to stay in Washington during the shutdown for the Christmas and New Years holidays

President Donald Trump escaped cold D.C. temperatures on Friday, flying to Florida for a weekend trip at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

Trump, 72, was photographed alongside his wife Melania Trump, 48, and their 12-year-old son Barron as they departed Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport. The first family touched down at 6:54 p.m. ET, according to a White House pool report.

Though the Trumps carried umbrellas to avoid rain in Palm Beach on Friday, cloudy skies were expected as the beach town reached a high of 78 degrees on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Midwest and Northeast are warming up following the polar vortex that claimed the lives of 21 people.

Also onboard for the getaway were Ivanka Trump, 37, her husband Jared Kushner, 38, and their three kids: Arabella Rose, 7, Joseph Frederick, 5, and Theodore James, 2.

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Donald Trump, Melania Trump and Barron Trump arriving in Florida on Friday. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
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Barron Trump, Melania Trump and Donald Trump. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

It’s the president’s first vacation since the government was temporarily reopened after the 35-day government shutdown, the longest in American history.

In addition to visiting Mar-a-Lago this weekend, the president is expected to swing by a Super Bowl LIII watch party on Sunday at the nearby Trump International Golf Club, CBS News reported.

He will fly back to D.C. before the weekend’s up to put the finishing touches on his State of the Union address, CNN reported.

Mr. Trump was last at Mar-a-Lago just before Thanksgiving but strategically chose to stay in Washington for the Christmas and New Years holidays during the shutdown.

“I am all alone (poor me) in the White House,” he tweeted in part on Christmas Eve.

The family had originally planned to spend more than two weeks at Mar-a-Lago over the winter holidays, but Mr. Trump tweeted that he was canceling his trip to Florida hours after the shutdown began on Dec. 22.

Mrs. Trump and Barron, who had already traveled to Florida for the vacation, returned to the White House to be with the president. However, Mrs. Trump and Barron traveled back to the property during the shutdown for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in January, CNN reported.

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Tuesday’s State of the Union is expected to address the former Celebrity Apprentice host’s ongoing demand for a border wall with Mexico. Mr. Trump contends a barrier is needed to stave off a “crisis” of drugs, violence and human trafficking, while Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, has dismissed a border wall as “immoral” and “ineffective.”

Congressional Democrats, empowered in the midterms, roundly rejected Trump’s plan — a refusal that led to the historic closure of the government. Democrats, however, have said they will work with the president and Republicans to hash out broad funding for other border security measures — a compromise Trump accepted in January while agreeing to temporarily reopen the federal government.

Still, Mr. Trump has vowed that he is not abandoning his signature proposal to “build a wall.” He has said that should Congress not agree to fund a wall, he might wade into legally questionable territory by declaring a “national emergency” and attempting to allocate the funds himself without approval.

“I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to do that,” Mr. Trump said of the potential declaration on Friday. “We have very strong legal standing.”

“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” the president told reporters from the White House’s Rose Garden on Jan. 25. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15 again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency. We will have great security.”

President Trump Meets With Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen And FEMA Administrator Long In The Oval Office
President Donald Trump. Win McNamee/Getty

The president reversed himself in agreeing to spending bills without a guarantee of a southern wall, which has been a signal issue of him dating back to his campaign.

In his speech announcing the shutdown would end, Mr. Trump also took pains not to distance himself from the idea of a wall — reiterating his familiar arguments about the perils of illegal immigration and the value of borders secured his way.

He said that in the three weeks that the government would reopen, a bipartisan group of lawmakers would work with homeland security experts on a bill funding border security and related measures including, he hoped, a wall.

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ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty

“Barriers, fences or walls, or whatever you want to call it will be an important part of the solution,” he said.

“Over the next 21 days, I expect that both Democrat and Republicans will operate in good faith,” Trump continued. “This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of our whole beautiful wonderful nation. If we make a fair deal, the American people will be proud of their government for proving that we can put country over party.”

However, Mr. Trump tweeted on Thursday that “Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee are wasting their time” by trying to negotiate with Democrats.

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