President Donald Trump broke presidential tradition on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and spent the holiday the way he spends most holidays: at his golf course.
President Bill Clinton designated MLK Day as a national holiday in 1994, marking it as a day of service in honor of the slain civil rights leader. Since then, presidents have traditionally engaged in some act of public service on the day. Clinton in 2001 helped paint and repair a senior center in Washington, D.C. President George W. Bush volunteered at schools and attended cultural events celebrating King. And President Barack Obama and his family volunteered at a soup kitchen.
Trump, for his part, played golf on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of his long weekend at the "Winter White House," Palm Beach's Mar-a-Lago. He did manage to retweet a video of himself, posted by the White House Twitter, in which he honors King and his legacy:
The president began his day at Mar-a-Lago as he often does, with a series of early-morning tweets, this time blaming the Democrats for the stalemate on immigration reform. From Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s motorcade made its way to his golf course in Palm Beach. He made no public appearances, and then returned to Washington on Monday night.
On Friday, Trump appeared beside King’s nephew, Isaac Newton Farris Jr. at the White House for a signing of an MLK Jr. proclamation. Trump told the American people to celebrate the day “with acts of civic work and community service.”
That press conference took place amid a swelling controversy over the president’s alleged remarks during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers the previous night, during which he reportedly called Haiti, El Salvador, and certain African nations “shithole countries.”
“No, no, I’m not a racist,” Trump said on Sunday, in response to the controversy. “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
Protests, primarily led by the Haitian-American community, took place near Mar-A-Lago on Monday.
Trump, on his way to the airport to fly back to D.C., took an opportunity to blast Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who said he’d heard the president’s “shithole” remarks.