Trump calls troops ahead of Christmas holiday

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump called members of all five branches of the military stationed across the world to share greetings ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Speaking Tuesday by video conference from his private club in Florida, where is he is on a more than two-week vacation, Trump said, “I want to wish you an amazing Christmas.” The group included Marines in Afghanistan, an Army unit in Kuwait, a Navy ship in the Gulf of Aden, an Air Force base in Missouri and a Coast Guard station in Alaska.

Trump praised the armed forces for their efforts this year to eliminate the last of the Islamic State’s territorial caliphate and for killing IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He also touted economic successes at home and a pay raise for troops kicking in in the new year.

“You make it possible for us to do what we have to do,” Trump said, thanking them for their service.

Trump briefly fielded questions from troops, including an invitation to attend the homecoming of the USS Forrest Sherman when the destroyer returns to its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, next year.

Trump was asked what he’d bought his wife, first lady Melania Trump, for Christmas. He said he’d bought her a “beautiful card,” but was “still working on a Christmas present.”

“You made me think. I’m going to have to start working on that real fast,” he said.

Trump has been largely out of the spotlight since delivering a speech to conservative students in nearby West Palm Beach on Saturday, spending his days golfing on his private course and greeting the well-heeled members of his clubs.