TURNBERRY, Scotland — President Trump, at his luxury seaside golf course here, turned his eye to domestic politics Saturday morning — attacking former president Barack Obama, questioning the FBI, torching CNN and bragging about his 2016 win.
With country roads to the golf course cordoned off and aides mum about the president’s activities on a sunny Saturday morning, he gave a glimpse into his mind around 11 a.m. local time. He also said on Twitter that he planned to golf.
“The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration,” the president tweeted, about Friday’s federal indictments against 12 Russian intelligence agents charged with hacking into the Democratic National Committee servers and stealing emails.
Trump did not criticize the actions of the Russian spies or President Vladimir Putin, whom he will see Monday in Helsinki for a meeting and news conference that many of Trump’s advisers have warned against. He instead focused his criticism on Obama, as he did Friday when asked about Russia’s seizure of Crimea.
The president has resisted calls from some Democrats and Republicans to call off the Putin meeting after the indictments were handed up in Washington. Nor has the president outlined a comprehensive plan for what his administration will do to keep election interference from happening again.
Trump was told before he left for Europe that the Justice Department planned to indict 12 Russian actors over the hack, but he still sounded positive notes about Putin and attacked the special counsel investigation during Friday’s news conference.
He also offered an unsubstantiated theory he often repeats, questioning whether the hidden hand of the government was biased toward Democrats in 2016 and whether there was covert material on a Democratic server hacked by the Russians.
“Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t the FBI take possession of it? Deep State?” he asked on Twitter, using a favored term among conservatives for a cabal of nonelected bureaucrats and officials they say is working to undermine elected representatives.
The president then tweeted that he turned on CNN on his television set at the Trump Turnberry resort, saying he was allowing himself a rare viewing “to see if they covered my takedown yesterday of Jim Acosta (actually a nice guy).”
The president squabbled with Acosta, a White House reporter for the network, at a news conference Friday at the British prime minister’s country estate.
He did not answer when Acosta shouted questions during the news conference and instead called Acosta “fake news,” before turning to a reporter from Fox News.
“Remember, it was Little Jeff Z and his people, who are told exactly what to say, who said I could not win the election in that ‘there was no way to 270’ (over & over again) in the Electoral College. I got 306! They were sooooo wrong in their election coverage. Still hurting!” Trump wrote.
“Little Jeff Z” appeared to refer to Jeff Zucker, the CNN president. Trump often likes to remind people that he was elected president over Hillary Clinton.
The president has spent the past four days haranguing allies to spend more on defense at NATO and alternately criticizing and praising British Prime Minister Theresa May.
But domestic politics have never been far from Trump’s mind as he has zagged Europe. He has frequently criticized Obama — an unusual move for U.S. presidents on foreign soil — and continued apace with his attacks on the news media. He has tweeted about Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI figures who were having an affair and whose text messages have given fodder to critics of the Mueller probe. Both testified days ago in front of Congress.
The trip to his golf course seemed part relaxation, part plug for a property struggling to turn a profit. During his news conferences, Trump has mentioned the resort by name several times. He called it “incredible.”
Trump hit the links Saturday, playing the course using a golf cart, which he drove. Most players at Turnberry, unless they have a note from their doctor, are required to walk the course, though they can hire caddies to wheel their bags of clubs.
He was also expected to see the burial grounds of ancestors in Scotland, aides said.
It was an odd scene, with Scottish police standing sentry in the dunes and along the fairways of the seaside course, keeping protesters and photographers at a distance. Occasionally, one could hear the thwack of a ball being hit from the tees.
At the perimeter to the golf links, there were small clusters of demonstrators. Helen Broussard, 70, a retired schoolteacher, was holding up an anti-Trump placard that read, “Yer jaiket’s oana shoogly peg, Donnie” — Your jacket is on a wobbly peg — roughly translated as “you are on your way out.”
“I came out to say that Donald Trump is not welcome in Scotland,” said Broussard, adding she was disgusted by Trump’s orders to separate children from their parents when caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border — a policy now on hold.
On a quiet country road nearby, a gaggle of protesters stood beside a large dog crate filled with dolls — charging that Trump put babies in cages.
“We’re not anti-American. We’re anti-Trump,” said Alistair Wilson, 67, a retired video producer.
As Trump tweeted and swung his clubs in Turnberry, demonstrators were also making their voices heard in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. Thousands of protesters, some in kilts, met at the Scottish Parliament and marched through the streets chanting “Dump Trump.” Some held aloft signs that said “Even Hufflepuffs Dislike Trump,” a Harry Potter reference. The Trump baby blimp also made an appearance.
When Trump arrived via motorcade on Friday evening, locals came out of their homes to wave and take photographs. Reporters on the trip said they didn’t see a single sign of protest then.
In the hazy distance Saturday was Trump Turnberry, a 112-year-old Victorian-era grand hotel, situated on a hill with sweeping views of sea and Trump’s world-class Ailsa golf course, the site of a golf legend, the Duel in the Sun, the epic match won by Tom Watson by one stroke against runner-up Jack Nicklaus at the 1977 Open Championship.
Chris O’Donnell, a manager at the Athletic Tavern pub in nearby Girvan, said it was hard to judge the overall mood in the area. Trump provides jobs at his resort; the golf course is stunning; the Turnberry hotel, which was once shabby, has been renovated to the highest standards. But still, Scots generally don’t like the man or his politics.
“A lot of people are anti-Trump in some ways, and others are pro-Trump in some ways; it’s quite hard to judge it,” he said. “The people who are anti-Trump make lots of noise.”
Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.