Trump to visit California on Saturday to meet with wildfire victims

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump will travel to California on Saturday to meet with victims of the massive wildfires burning there.
  • The trip will come exactly one week after Trump threatened to withhold federal funding to California to punish the state for "gross mismanagement of the forests." 
  • In recent days, however, Trump has shifted his tone, sending administration officials to the state and speaking to California's Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on the phone.
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

President Donald Trump will travel to California on Saturday to meet with victims of the massive wildfires currently burning in the state, the White House told NBC News on Thursday.

The state is currently fighting two fires, one outside of Los Angeles and another far more deadly fire north of Sacramento. As of Thursday afternoon, authorities had confirmed 56 deaths in the northern California fire known as the Camp Fire, and another three deaths in the southern fire, known as the Woolsey fire. 

It was unclear Thursday precisely which area of the state Trump planned to visit. The White House said more information would be released in the coming days. 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long visited California on Wednesday, where they met with victims, first responders and with California Gov. Jerry Brown (D). 

Preventing and combating wildfires is "not a Republican or Democrat issue," Zinke said at a press conference with Brown, "this is an American issue, and we should address it as such."

Zinke's comments came just days after Trump had publicly blame California's Democratic state leadership for the fires and threatened to cut off federal aid to the state.

"There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor," Trump tweeted on Saturday. "Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!" 

It was unclear what, exactly, Trump was talking about, but the tweet was widely criticized. By Wednesday, the president had stopped criticizing California, and tweeted that he had spoken to Brown "to let him know that we are with him, and the people of California, all the way!"