A sombre Donald and Melania Trump have visited some of the medial staff and law enforcement officials that responded to the horrific school shooting in Florida.
The US president and his wife congratulated the Broward Health North Hospital and the Broward Country Sheriff’s Department, where Trump praised the “great job” all the emergency workers had done, even suggesting that the police should be given a raise in salary.
CNN reported that Trump had spoken to some of the people injured in the shooting that killed 17 students and teachers at the Parkland high school, telling reporters only that it was “very sad something like that could happen”.
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
It’s not clear, however, whether Trump will visit the school itself, where some students and even the families of the slain teenagers have blamed his government’s inaction on stricter gun control for the tragedy. During his election campaign, Trump celebrated his support for the NRA and warned that rival Hillary Clinton was “coming for your guns”.
“It just seems like the only people who don’t care are the people making the laws,” Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old student, told CNN. “I don’t want Trump to come but we want more gun safety,” 18-year-old Kevin Trejos agreed in his comments to PBS. Even the usually Trump-supporting New York Post published a front-page opinion piece from its editorial board that pleaded: ‘Mr President, Please Act’.
“You can keep your promises to the kids and the parents and honor your offer to do ‘whatever we can do’,” the editorial said.
Trump has offered the community his “thoughts and prayers” but has repeatedly refused to comment on gun control or his ties to the powerful National Rifle Association in the wake of the latest mass shooting – the 18th at a school since the beginning of 2018. Instead, he has mentioned “the difficult issue of mental health” and tweeted that he was working with Congress, although not on what that work entailed.
I will be leaving for Florida today to meet with some of the bravest people on earth – but people whose lives have been totally shattered. Am also working with Congress on many fronts.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
It was revealed in the US that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had in fact been tipped off about threats made by the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, more than a month before the attack. Cruz is in custody and there are reports in the US that he may agree to plead guilty to charges in an attempt to avoid the death penalty. Cruz used the same semi-automatic weapon, which he purchased legally, as that used by the shooter who killed 59 people in Las Vegas in 2017.
Melania Trump, meanwhile, appeared to say little while on the visit in Florida. Wearing a white dress reminiscent of the one made famous by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, the first lady looked steely in the camera’s glare amid fresh press reports that the president had multiple affairs with strippers and porn stars during their marriage. Trump’s lawyer has dismissed the reports as “fake news”.
The first lady rode separately to the air base for the trip to Florida, as she did to Trump’s State of the Union address after the affairs allegations first emerged.