WASHINGTON, June 14 — It was supposed to be a quiet morning at the White House as President Donald Trump marked his 71st birthday, with nothing on his public schedule until the late afternoon. But that was shattered by early reports that a shooter had opened fire on Republican lawmakers and staff at a baseball practice across the Potomac River in Virginia.
White House staff canceled Trump’s scheduled public events Wednesday and scrambled to bring details to the president as he watched the developments on television, including the news that the House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and a congressional aide were shot.
Trump posted on Twitter shortly before 9 a.m. that Scalise, “a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.”
Scalise was shot in the hip on the ball field in Alexandria, Va., shortly after 7 a.m. and was taken to George Washington University Hospital in Washington for surgery.
Aides told reporters Trump would cancel his scheduled speech at the Department of Labor on Wednesday afternoon, and Trump’s senior advisers huddled to decide how the president would react to the shooting.
Vice President Mike Pence canceled a morning speech at the National Assn. of Home Builders in Washington to stay in the West Wing with Trump to help manage the administration’s response.
“The vice president and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely,” Trump said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected.”
In the hours immediately after the shooting, Secret Service agents closed off large sections of Lafayette Park in front of the White House. By 10:30 am, the park was open to the public again, and tourists were taking photos in front of the White House fence.