President Donald Trump traveled to Los Angeles Tuesday for his first Southland visit since taking office, and quickly snarled traffic on the west side of town as he was taken by motorcade to the scene of an evening fundraiser.
Trump landed at Los Angeles International Airport at about 3:30 p.m., then was flown by helicopter to Santa Monica Airport. He was then driven in a motorcade to the home of Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Ed Glazer in the exclusive Beverly Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, just outside Beverly Hills.
Trump will be headlining a Republican National Committee fundraiser at Glazer’s home. Aerial footage from news helicopters showed a large tent in the backyard of the palatial estate.
The presidential motorcade forced rolling closures on westside streets, and on the eastbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway and northbound San Diego (405) Freeway at about 4 p.m. The freeways quickly reopened once the motorcade passed.
After taking part in the evening fundraiser that will include a roundtable discussion with some of the highest-paying ticketholders, Trump is expected to spend the night at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown Hotel near Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street.
The Los Angeles Police Department warned motorists that at least three streets will be closed until 1 p.m. Wednesday:
— Figueroa Street between Sixth and Eighth streets;
— Wilshire Boulevard between Flower Street and Beaudry Avenue; and
— Seventh Street between Flower and Bixel streets.
By early afternoon, police reported extreme congestion downtown, and they urged people to avoid the area bounded by Fifth Street and Olympic Boulevard between Union and Grand avenues.
Congestion in that area will likely continue Wednesday morning. It’s unclear exactly what time Trump will be leaving the hotel in the morning, when he is expected to fly the St. Louis, Missouri, area.
Anti-Trump protesters gathered Tuesday afternoon at Beverly Gardens Park, 9439 Santa Monica Blvd. Organizers said they wanted to express “Southern California’s opposition to the attacks on civil liberties launched by the Trump Administration.”
Trump supporters, meanwhile, gathered just a few blocks away at the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards.
Trump began his first post-inauguration California visit at 11:30 a.m., when he arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego County. He then took a helicopter to Otay Mesa to view eight 30-foot-tall border wall prototypes that have been erected there.
He hailed the prototypes and said he prefers versions that allow law enforcement to see through them into Mexico so they can monitor activity on the other side. He touted his proposed wall as critical to national security.
After his tour, Trump returned to Air Station Miramar, where he spoke to members of the military, promising pay raises and modernized equipment for troops, and floating the idea of creating a “Space Force” military branch.
He departed Miramar en route for Los Angeles after the speech.
Tickets for the RNC fundraiser at Glazer’s home range from $35,000 just for the dinner up to $250,000 for the chance to meet Trump, attend the roundtable discussion and have a photo taken with him, according an invitation obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The fundraiser is being hosted by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, national finance chairman Todd Ricketts and deputy national finance chairman Elliott Broidy, The Times reported.
The visit is Trump’s first as president to California, a state with which his administration has clashed on issues of border security and immigration.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday Trump has a base of support in the state.
“While California may not have — he may not have won that state, there is certainly a lot of support for this president, not just there but across the country,” she said. “And he looks forward to being there and presenting a lot of the specific policies.”
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, led a Monday afternoon rally in Beverly Hills in advance of Trump’s visit, denouncing the president’s plans for a border wall and his immigration stances. De Leon, a candidate for U.S. Senate, offered to show Trump parts of California other than Bel Air or Beverly Hills.
“I’ll take you to East L.A. and Boyle Heights,” he said. “We’ll go to Little Armenia and Koreatown. We’ll go off to Chinatown, Filipinotown and Thai Town. In fact, I’ll take you to my favorite taco stand in Lincoln Heights and see if you can handle the heat. Because I’ve got news for you, this is what America looks like and the future is bright.”
Gov. Jerry Brown sent a letter to Trump Monday, telling him that “California thrives because we welcome immigrants and innovators from across the globe.”
“You see, in California we are focusing on bridges, not walls,” Brown wrote. “And that’s more than just a figure of speech.”
Brown invited Trump to visit the Central Valley and see bridges and viaducts being built for a proposed north-south high-speed rail line.
Trump lashed out at Brown during his stop in Otay Mesa.
“I think Governor Brown has done a very poor job running California,” Trump said. “They have the highest taxes in the United States. The place is totally out of control.
“You have sanctuary cities where you have criminals living in the sanctuary cities and then the mayor of Oakland goes out and notifies when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is going in to pick them up,” he said. “And many of them were criminals with criminal records and very dangerous people … And no, I think the governor’s doing a terrible job running the state of California.”
Brown responded on Twitter, thanking Trump for the “shout-out.”
“But bridges are still better than walls,” Brown wrote. “And California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America. #Facts.”
–City News Service
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