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Donald Trump marks MLK day with surprise 2-minute visit to memorial

Click to play video: 'Trump, Pence lay wreath at Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in surprise visit' Trump, Pence lay wreath at Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in surprise visit
WATCH: Trump, Pence lay wreath at Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in surprise visit – Jan 21, 2019

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump paid a brief visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington on the holiday honouring the civil rights leader.

Trump was joined by Vice-President Mike Pence on a frigid and windy day. The two laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial, then held a brief moment of silence.

READ MORE: Martin Luther King anniversary sparks thousands to take place in marches, speeches

Trump told reporters as he departed that it was a “great day” and a “beautiful day,” but did not respond to questions about the partial government shutdown, now in its 31st day.

The visit lasted less than two minutes.

WATCH: Sharpton criticizes Trump and Pence for having no official events recognizing MLK Day

Click to play video: 'Sharpton criticizes Trump and Pence for  having no official events recognizing MLK Day' Sharpton criticizes Trump and Pence for having no official events recognizing MLK Day
Sharpton criticizes Trump and Pence for having no official events recognizing MLK Day – Jan 21, 2019

Trump had been criticized earlier in the day by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who said it was “an insult to the American people” that the White House was not commemorating the holiday with an event.

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The president’s memorial visit had not been listed on his public schedule and reporters travelling with him were not informed of Trump’s destination until they arrived.

Trump tweeted earlier: “Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the colour of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God.”

WATCH: Joe Biden blasts Trump for empowering racist ‘forces’ in MLK Day speech

Click to play video: 'MLK Day: Joe Biden blasts Trump for empowering racist ‘forces’' MLK Day: Joe Biden blasts Trump for empowering racist ‘forces’
MLK Day: Joe Biden blasts Trump for empowering racist ‘forces’ – Jan 21, 2019

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also faced criticism Monday, after tweeting that King was “a great American who gave his life to right the wrong of racial inequality.”

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Many Twitter users responded to the tweet, saying that King did not give his life, but was assassinated.

— With files from Global News reporter Maham Abedi

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