On Tuesday, Oct. 30, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will travel up north to visit the site of a tragic shooting at a synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27. But Trump's visit to Pittsburgh goes against the wishes of Mayor Bill Peduto and some Jewish leaders in the community, according to CNN. His visit comes as funeral services begin for the 11 victims of the shooting. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the president's visit but did not receive a response at time of publication.
Peduto told CNN on Monday, Oct. 29 that he believed it would be best if Trump postponed his visit out of respect for the families of the victims. “I do believe that it would be best to put the attention on the families this week, and if he were to visit, choose a different time to be able to do it,” he told the network. “Our focus as a city will be on the families and the outreach that they’ll need this week and the support that they’ll need to get through it.”
"We did try to get the message out to the White House that our priority tomorrow is the first funeral," Peduto told Anderson Cooper. He signaled that a presidential visit would stretch the city's resources, as law enforcement will have to provide security for the president as well as the funerals, processions, and Jewish centers in the city. Despite that message, the White House went forward with plans to visit the city following the shooting. Pittsburgh officials, per the network, learned of Trump's confirmed plans via news announcement.
Pittsburgh county executive Rich Fitzgerald also confirmed to CNN that he wouldn't host Trump on Tuesday. "I will not be meeting with the president. If the president wishes to come next week, or the next, that's something we can look at," he said. "I'm focused on family and community."
According to CNN, all four top congressional leaders from both parties — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — all turned down invitations to accompany the president to Pittsburgh, per CNN.
But the president wasn't dissuaded from visiting by everyone. "I'm a citizen. He's my president. He is certainly welcome," Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was leading services at the synagogue where the shooting took place, told CNN. He added though that he had no plans to meet with Trump, focusing his attention on the funeral services.
However, a group of 11 Jewish leaders in the community also wrote an open letter to Trump saying he is not welcome in Pittsburgh until he takes steps to denounce the policies central to his presidency. The letter read:
President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism ... until you stop targeting and endangering and targeting all minorities ... until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees ... until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.
Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the letter, but did not immediately hear back.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made an emotional statement defending the president and denouncing the violence over the weekend. "He adores Jewish Americans as part of his own family," Sanders said at a press conference on Monday. "The president is the grandfather of several Jewish grandchildren. His daughter is a Jewish American, and his son-in-law is a descendant of Holocaust survivors." Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are practicing Orthodox Jews, and Kushner's grandparents were Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.
Trump, in a response to reporters on Saturday, suggested that the shooting wouldn't have happened had the synagogue had armed guards attendant. The comment was not well received, particularly by families of the victims and Mayor Peduto. The White House had not returned Elite Daily's request for comment on the president's suggestion as of publication.
Trump also told Fox News in an interview Monday night that he was getting unfair treatment by the press, specifically about the series of pipe bombs sent to Democratic figures and CNN last week, and claimed he was being unfairly associated with recent acts of violence, arguing that other presidents and politicians were not held to the same standard. He also reiterated his line that the press is the "enemy of the people," and railed against "Fake news."
Trump added of his Pittsburgh visit: "I really look forward to going ... I would have done it even sooner, but I didn't want to disrupt any more than they already had disruption."
While he might not be able to expect the warmest of receptions in Pittsburgh, the president and first lady are scheduled to arrive Tuesday afternoon.