As protesters, reportedly affiliated with Iran-backed militia groups, shouted “Death to America” and stormed the United States embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Tuesday, Donald Trump visited his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, for the 12th consecutive day.
After reportedly spending just 52 minutes there, Trump headed back to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, suggesting on his Twitter account that he had gone to the golf course for a “meeting on the Middle East, the Military, and Trade,” according to CNN reporter Daniel Dale, via Twitter. Dale also noted that Trump appeared to cut his golf outing short moments after Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that additional troops will be sent to the Iraq embassy to protect U.S. personnel.
Trump has spent 252 of his 1,076 days in office at one of his own golf clubs, or about 23 percent of all days since his January 20, 2017, inauguration, according to a CNN count.
In 2019 alone, despite the year opening with a government shutdown that lasted until January 25, Trump has spent 86 days at golf resorts that he owns, including clubs in Florida, New Jersey, and in Ireland, according to the CNN report. The report also noted that Trump had previously been sharply critical of President Barack Obama’s golf outings. Obama spent 333 days on a golf course during his eight years as president.
That is just 81 more days than Trump has spent on courses in less than three full years in office.
Kataib Hezbollah protesters breaching the gates of the US embassy in Baghdad. They say they will stay till US troops leave. It’s the biggest US embassy in the world & supposedly secure but hard to see how diplomats can remain now pic.twitter.com/17VkjQA71W— Liz Sly (@LizSly) December 31, 2019
As Trump visited his golf resort, the embassy siege continued in Baghdad, an attack reportedly provoked by U.S. airstrikes on Sunday against Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia bases in Iraq and Syria. The airstrikes, reportedly killing 24 and wounding 50, were in retaliation for what the U.S. government said was the death of an American contractor in a rocket attack by the militia.
As darkness set in over Baghdad, which is eight hours ahead of U.S. eastern time, protesters outside the embassy pitched tents, and Kataib Hezbollah issued a statement saying that its goal was to shut the embassy down, according to a Washington Post report.
“Two Apache helicopters and a ‘small contingent’ of Marines” were dispatched by the U.S. Defense Department to beef up security at the embassy, The Post reported.
Iraqi forces in the “Green Zone” — the heavily armed district of Baghdad that is home to the embassy and Iraq’s own government buildings — were reported to initially pull back, allowing the demonstrators to close in on the embassy.
According to the Post reporting, the Iraqi troops later set up barricades around the U.S. compound, even as the protesters hurled “gasoline bombs” over the structure’s walls.