WASHINGTON — President Trump briefly visited a national monument to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday to lay a wreath below the towering statue of the slain civil rights leader.“Beautiful day,” Mr. Trump said to reporters. “Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.”
He was accompanied on the two-minute visit by Vice President Mike Pence and David Bernhardt, the acting interior secretary.Mr. Trump’s stop by the memorial — to observe a moment of silence without extended public remarks — appeared to be a last-minute addition to his calendar.
The president’s schedule listed no public events to mark the federal holiday honoring King’s life, which had drawn criticism from civil rights activists.“There is no official event at the White House to celebrate Martin Luther King Day,” the Rev.
Al Sharpton said on Monday morning, speaking at the National Action Network breakfast in Washington before Mr. Trump’s visit to the memorial. “This is an insult to the American people that the president of the United States does not officially recognize or give any ceremony for Dr. King.”Mr. Trump also drew heat last year for spending Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Trump International Golf Course in Palm Beach, Fla., and only tweeting a video message about the civil rights leader.
This year, however, Mr. Trump has been grounded in Washington by the ongoing government shutdown. His aides have said he does not plan to travel to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, where he typically spends winter weekends, until the shutdown is over.After returning to the White House from the King monument, Mr. Trump had no other public events listed for Monday.
In a tweet, he said it was “my great honor” to visit the monument.In the past, presidents have honored the federal holiday with service activities.In 2015, President Barack Obama volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club in Washington. In 2007, President George W. Bush visited the Cardozo High School in the capital to spend time with volunteers, highlighting the holiday as a day of service.