Former President Donald Trump was seen teeing off with professional golfers at Thursday’s pro-am at his New Jersey golf course amid a backdrop of criticism from 9/11 families upset that he has opened his doors to the Saudi Arabian-backed tour.
Trump hit the course with 2020 U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau and two-time major winner Dustin Johnson ahead of the first round of the LIV Golf Invitational at Trump National Golf Course Bedminster in New Jersey.
“Glad that’s over with,” Trump remarked after hitting his first tee.
Eric Trump was also seen on the course, joining his father for the pro-am, a sporting event open to both professional golfers and amateurs. Other celebrities listed as attending the event included Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
The night prior, Donald and Melania Trump were seen at a LIV Golf-sponsored party in New York City.
The former president addressed the backlash he has received from families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, suggesting the government never “got to the bottom” of who was behind them.
“Nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately. And they should have,” Trump told ESPN.
Victims’ families have criticized Trump for supporting the tournament, which has received a slew of funding from Saudi Arabia‘s sovereign wealth fund, believing the oil-rich nation had ties to the 9/11 attackers.
The FBI released declassified records from its investigation into links between the Saudi government and the 2001 terror attacks in September of last year. Although Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied orchestrating the attacks, families of the victims have pointed to the kingdom’s tight grip over its subjects, especially given that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, as evidence of involvement.
The tournament, which is slated to commence Friday and last through Sunday, features other golf professionals such as Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Patrick Reed.
The LIV Golf tournament, fueled by Saudi cash, has poached several high-profile prospects previously affiliated with the rival PGA Tour. Buoyed by public interest in its tournament, LIV announced an expanded 2023 schedule.