WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump questioned a 7-year-old’s belief in Santa Claus, telling the child it was “marginal” at that age to still think Father Christmas is real.
"Are you still a believer in Santa?" Trump said to a child calling in to the federal government's official "Santa Tracker," run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command. "Because at 7, it's marginal, right?" Trump said.
Later, Trump and first lady Melania Trump made an unscheduled visit to the National Cathedral late Monday for Christmas Eve services. The Trump family has attended Christmas Eve services near their Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, in the past.
With the government partially shutdown amid a partisan spending standoff, the president and first lady were set to remain in Washington for Christmas. Continuing a tradition, the two fielded calls from kids across the country wanting to find out the latest on Santa's progress across the globe.
The president's remarks marked his only public event on Monday.
Reporters were allowed to watch the scene for about five minutes Monday evening, listening in as children's calls to NORAD were patched through to the White House lines. Reporters could only hear the Trumps' end of the conversation.
"What's Santa going to get you for Christmas?" Trump asked another child, according to the White House pool report. "Who's with you....Have a great Christmas...and I'll talk to you again, OK?"
Melania Trump asked the children if they were tracking Santa and wished them a Merry Christmas. "I hope your dreams come true," she told one child.
NORAD started its Santa Tracker 63 years ago, following St. Nick's progress from the North Pole to children all over the world. Despite the partial government shutdown, military personnel were on duty, along with volunteers, to make sure the tracker didn't lapse.