WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump with early Wednesday tweets renewed his criticisms of the father of a UCLA basketball player by calling him an “ungrateful fool.”
Trump was emphatic about his personal role in appealing to China to release LaVar Ball’s son LiAngelo and two other student-athletes after they were arrested for shoplifting.
“IT WAS ME,” he tweeted as part of a 5:25 a.m. post from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending Thanksgiving with his family.
The three players faced jail sentences but Trump said he personally intervened during his visit earlier this month with President Xi Jinping and secured their return home.
LaVar Ball, unlike his son and the other students, has not publicly thanked Trump. He told CNN earlier this week that he had contacts in China who helped to free his son.
Trump tweeted Wednesday: “It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence — IT WAS ME.”
He called the elder Ball “just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair.” King, a Trump supporter, is a colorful former boxing promoter.
The president continued: “ . . . LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!”
Trump went later Wednesday to his namesake golf club.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that he has calls and meetings this week in Florida, especially relating to the GOP tax plan. He will meet next week in Washington, D.C., with congressional leaders to discuss end-of-the-year legislative matters, she said.
Trump had voiced similar anger at LaVar Ball on Sunday, tweeting of the basketball players, “I should have left them in jail!”
ESPN last week had asked Ball about Trump helping his son.
“Who?” Ball responded. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”