Local and national officials are declining to appear with President Donald Trump on Tuesday as he visits a grieving Pittsburgh, where funerals for slain congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue were beginning.
Trump, accompanied by the First Lady and prominent Jewish members of his administration — including daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — arrived in the stricken city just before 4 p.m. ET. He was expected to visit with wounded law enforcement officers and pay respects to the dead amid ongoing funeral observances for the mostly elderly victims. He was due back in Washington in a matter of hours.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were all invited to join the President but were not planning to take part in the visit, according to two congressional sources. Through their offices, McConnell and Ryan both cited scheduling conflicts.
The Washington Post reports:
Trump offered to visit with the family of Daniel Stein, a 71-year-old who had just become a grandfather when he was gunned down at Tree of Life. Stein’s nephew, Stephen Halle, said the family declined in part because of the comments Trump made in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, when he suggested the synagogue should have had an armed guard.
“Everybody feels that they were inappropriate,” Halle said Tuesday. “He was blaming the community.”
The city’s Democratic mayor, Bill Peduto, had asked the White House to consider “the will of the families” before visiting — as well as the resources of a city straining under the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
President Donald Trump arrives in Pittsburgh as people gather in Squirrel Hill to oppose his visit in the wake of the Tree of Life shooting.
— Post-Gazette Visuals (@PGVisuals) October 30, 2018
As President Trump arrives in Pittsburgh, hundreds of residents gather in Squirrel Hill for a protest telling him he’s not welcome in their city. pic.twitter.com/iGlOb0c5li
— Clint Hendler (@clinthendler) October 30, 2018