WASHINGTON – President Trump left Wednesday for Las Vegas to speak with survivors of the mass shooting that left 59 people dead, just one day after traveling to survey hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
"It's a very sad thing," Trump told reporters of the deadly shooting, as he exited the White House. "We're going to pay our respects."
The president and first lady Melania Trump will travel to a local hospital to visit with patients and medical professionals, according to the White House schedule. They then head to an undisclosed location to meet with what the schedule simply listed as "civilian heroes" and first responders.
"The police who have done really a fantastic job in a very short time," he said Wednesday. "And yeah they’re learning a lot more. And that’ll be announced at the appropriate time. It’s a very, very sad day for me, personally."
Previewing his Las Vegas trip with reporters on Tuesday night, Trump said he has been fully briefed on the investigation into Stephen Paddock, the suspected gunman who fired guns into a crowd of concert goers on Sunday night which also injured more than 500 people.
Trump declined to discuss what might have motivated the shooter, only that he was "a sick and demented person."
The president has also described the reaction to the Vegas shooting as a "miracle."
On Twitter, he said Tuesday that "it is a 'miracle' how fast the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police were able to find the demented shooter and stop him from even more killing!"
While some lawmakers said the shooting underscores the need for more and better gun control, Trump has declined to discuss that subject.
"We’ll talk about that on a later date," he told reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned from Puerto Rico.
Declaring that visit a success, Trump said Puerto Rico residents praised the government's efforts to help them recover from Hurricane Maria.
"I think it means a lot to the people of Puerto Rico that I was there," Trump said. "They’ve really responded very nicely, and I think it meant a lot to the people of Puerto Rico."
During a briefing, Trump also cracked a joke about the cost of the recovery, saying that "now I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack," a comment that drew barbs from critics.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hit Trump for having "the gall to complain about Puerto Rico" while he has proposed "tax cuts for billionaires" throughout the United States. He also noted that Trump didn't tell jokes about Texas and Florida after their hurricanes.
"Mr. President, enough," Schumer said. "Stop blaming Puerto Rico for the storm that devastated their shores, and roll up your sleeves and get the recovery on track. That’s your job as President."
Before leaving for Las Vegas, Trump protested some of the news coverage of the Puerto Rico visit and presumably other events.
"Wow, so many Fake News stories today," Trump tweeted. "No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth. The Fake News Media is out of control!"