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Donald Trump and wife attend Christmas Eve service in Florida

The president also spoke to troops and praised them for their efforts this year to eliminate the last of the Islamic State.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump (Andrew Hamik/AP)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump (Andrew Hamik/AP)

By Zeke Miller, Associated Press

US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attended a music-filled Christmas Eve service at a Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated church.

The pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, Jimmy Scroggins, and his family greeted the Trumps as they arrived moments into the event, called a Candlelight Christmas Celebration.

The Trumps received applause and cheers while taking reserved seats in the church’s third pew.

Brief sermons and readings by clergy were interlaced between traditional Christmas songs, as theatrical smoke billowed and fake snow descended from the rafters.

You made me think. I'm going to have to start working on that real fast Donald Trump, when asked what he had bought for his wife Melania

The Trumps then returned to his private club, where they were greeted by applause as they entered for Christmas Eve dinner.

Mr Trump, less than a week after being impeached by the House, did not respond when asked by a reporter if he prayed for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at church, but he said: “We’re going to have a great year.”

Earlier, the president called military service members stationed across the world to share greetings ahead of Christmas.

Speaking on Tuesday by video conference from his private club in Florida, where is he is on a more than two-week holiday, Mr 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.

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President Donald Trump speaks during a Christmas Eve video teleconference (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Mr Trump praised the armed forces for their efforts this year to eliminate the last of the Islamic State group’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,” Mr Trump said, thanking them for their service.

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

He was asked what he had bought Mrs Trump for Christmas.

A “beautiful card,” he said, and admitted that he 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.

PA

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