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Trump and Pence make surprise visit to MLK memorial

Trump and Pence visit MLK Memorial

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence made a brief and previously unannounced visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall on a brutally cold Martin Luther King Jr. Day morning.

Mr. Trump and Pence placed a wreath at the memorial. The president's motorcade spent barely six minutes at the memorial, according to the White House press pool. The temperature was only roughly 17 degrees during Mr. Trump's visit, with a wind chill that made it feel like 1 degree. But Mr. Trump did not directly mention King in his brief greeting to the press. 

Mr. Trump told reporters it's a "great" and "beautiful" day, ignoring questions about the ongoing partial government shutdown. 

The visit was not on Mr. Trump's public White House schedule, and the White House kept the trip quiet until Mr. Trump arrived. In between tweets touting economic growth and blaming Democrats for the shutdown, Mr. Trump remembered the civil rights leader's life in a tweet Monday morning. 

"Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God," Mr. Trump tweeted, reiterating remarks he gave last year to remember King

He tweeted about his brief visit later in the day. 

Mr. Trump has no events on his public schedule for the rest of the day, as he asks Democrats to come to the table to work on ending the shutdown and securing the southern border. On Saturday, the president announced a temporary fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients in exchange for wall funding, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called that offer a "non-starter." Democrats want stronger and more permanent protections for immigrants who came to the country as children with their parents. Monday marks the 31st day of the partial shutdown, as hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without paychecks. Mr. Trump did acknowledge their sacrifice in a tweet Monday morning. 

"To all of the great people who are working so hard for your Country and not getting paid I say, THANK YOU - YOU ARE GREAT PATRIOTS!" Mr. Trump tweeted. "We must now work together, after decades of abuse, to finally fix the Humanitarian, Criminal & Drug Crisis at our Border. WE WILL WIN BIG!"

Meanwhile, Democrats with an eye on the 2020 presidential election are participating in MLK Day events up and down the East Coast. Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kristen Gillibrand, among others, are remembering King at high-profile events with African-American leaders.