Top congressional leaders from both parties decline to join Trump in Pittsburgh, sources say

McConnell, Ryan, Schumer and Pelosi couldn't make it as the president visits the city where the synagogue massacre took place Saturday.
Image: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Congressional leadership   - DC
President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Charles Schumer in the Oval Office on Dec. 7, 2017 in Washington.Olivier Douliery / Pool via EPA file

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By Frank Thorp V, Alex Moe and Dartunorro Clark

Top congressional leaders from both parties have declined to join President Donald Trump in Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon as he plans to pay his respects following a deadly synagogue shooting over the weekend, multiple sources told NBC News.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have all decided they won't go.

"The Leader was unable to attend today," Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, told NBC News. "But he did have two events yesterday where he spoke about this at length."

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AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said: "We weren’t able to make it on the short notice."

The White House announced Monday that Trump and first lady Melania Trump would be going to the Steel City Tuesday to show their support for the Jewish community. Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who are both Jewish, will also travel with the president, a White House official said.

Robert Bowers, who has expressed anti-Semitic views, opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue during services Saturday morning, killing 11 people and wounding dozens, officials said. He was taken into custody and charged with 29 felony counts.

Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh's Democratic mayor, told MSNBC on Monday that the president should not to visit while the community's grief is still so raw and while the city is stretching resources to support the community.

"I would prefer if he would wait until we have had the opportunity to have all of the funerals," he said. "We are trying to take care of the families and the victims and are coordinating our efforts around that."

He added, "And there's a lot of work that comes into planning a presidential visit and it would just be better to let the focus of attention be with the families tomorrow and not trying to detract it or place it somewhere else."

Local residents have also warned the president to stay away, with some saying the commander-in-chief shouldn't come because of his polarizing rhetoric.

The Pittsburgh chapter of the progressive group "Bend the Arc: Jewish Action" also published an open letter over the weekend calling on Trump to stay away because "your words, your policies, and your Party have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement." Over 47,000 people had signed the letter by Monday evening.

In a Fox News interview Monday night, Trump said he wanted to go to Pittsburgh to pay his respects to the victims and their families and also to visit the injured victims and police officers in the hospital.