Dizzying Day for Trump Caps a Year Full of Them

PALM BEACH, Fla. — It was perhaps fitting that President Trump ended another dizzying year in office with a crisis-driven day of surreal contrasts, one that began with him tracking a Middle East emergency from his golf club and ended with a tuxedo-clad president holding forth about North Korea, Iran and impeachment and vaping on a red carpet over the thumping din of party music.

Mr. Trump arrived at the $650-a-person annual New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago resort shortly after 9 p.m., as a packed ballroom of guests — including his children; his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who wore a green and red bow tie; and a procession of local society notables — awaited him inside.

He weighed in on the prowess of the Marines who rushed to the American Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday to help secure diplomats there under what amounted to a siege by demonstrators whom Trump administration officials said were directed by Iran.

“We have some of our greatest warriors there,” the president said. “They got in very quickly.”

With his wife, Melania Trump, standing beside him in a sparkling black and gold dress, Mr. Trump said that Iran would be foolish to start a war with the United States. “I don’t think that would be a good idea for Iran,” he said. “It wouldn’t last very long.”

“I want to have peace,” Mr. Trump added. “I like peace.”

The president also restated his confidence in the character of the brutal North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, who warned hours earlier that he had an unspecified “shocking” action planned to repay the United States for sustained economic sanctions on his country.

Noting that Mr. Kim had previously pledged to begin a process of denuclearization — although many experts differ with that assertion — Mr. Trump professed little concern that his diplomacy with the North was on the rocks.

“I think he’s a man of his word,” the president said, adding that he still had a “very good relationship” with Mr. Kim.

And of course there was impeachment: “A big, fat hoax,” Mr. Trump said, something that has been engineered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he called “a highly overrated person.”

Over pounding drums and a chorus that made it difficult to hear his words, the president renewed his complaints that European leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, had not done more to support Ukraine.

By then it had already been a long and action-filled day for Mr. Trump after what had been a relatively peaceful holiday escape. For the better part of two weeks, he had been laying low during his vacation, shuttling back and forth between Mar-a-Lago and the Trump International Golf Club only a few miles away.

Before he stopped to talk to reporters on Tuesday night, Mr. Trump had last been seen in public on Christmas Eve morning, when he explained that his time at what he called the “Southern White House” was far from leisurely.

“I really pretty much work — that’s what I like to do, is work,” Mr. Trump said in a video conference with military members serving overseas.

But White House officials have provided scant details about his daily activities, leaving the news media to speculate about what the golf-loving president was doing during the several hours per day he has been spending at his golf club.

As ever, the news media loomed particularly large in Mr. Trump’s mind. He bristled on Tuesday at what he called false reports that he had hit the links amid the Iraq crisis.

“The Fake News said I played golf today, and I did NOT!” he wrote in an afternoon tweet. “I had meeting in various locations, while closely monitoring the U.S. Embassy situation in Iraq, which I am still doing. The Corrupt Lamestream Media knew this but, not surprisingly, failed to report or correct!”

And near the end of his red-carpet remarks, Mr. Trump offered a message for the news media ahead of the year that will determine if he serves another term.

“If you’re honorable, I’m going to win by a lot,” the president told the reporters assembled before him. “If you’re not honorable, I’m just going to win the election by a little. So I’d rather have you be honorable, O.K.?”

And with that, he headed into the grand ballroom of Mar-a-Lago, and the dawn of a new year as president of the United States.

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