After tough week, Trump looks for a lift at Liberty University


WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Saturday is set to deliver the commencement address - his first as president - to Liberty University, the nation's largest Christian college, where he is expected to find to a friendly audience after a week of turmoil in Washington.

Trump has been closeted in the White House all week, making only a few, brief public appearances after he took the highly unusual and fraught step of abruptly firing James Comey as FBI director on Tuesday.

Dismissing the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at a time when the agency probes alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election has overshadowed Trump's push to boost jobs through tax reform and a massive infrastructure program.

The Lynchburg, Virginia, college should provide a receptive crowd for Trump's economic message. He campaigned there during his run for office and was bolstered by the endorsement of its president, Jerry Falwell Jr., who helped secure support from religious conservatives.

55 PHOTOS
Donald Trump through the years
See Gallery
Donald Trump through the years

Donald Trump with Alfred Eisenpreis, New York City Economic Development Administrator. Sketch of new 1,400 room Renovation project of Commodore Hotel.

(Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Donald Trump pauses in his apartment 5/20 after receiving the news that the Board of Estimate unanimously approved a 40-year tax abatement plan. Under the plan Trump will purchase and refurbish the Commodore Hotel, which closed into doors 5/18, from the Penn Central Transportation Corp. In return for his $10-million-dollar purchase and up to $100 million face-lifting investment, Trump will have no real estate taxes for 40 years.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Real estate developer Donald Trump announces intentions to build a $100 million dollar Regency Hotel.

(Photo by John Pedin/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump stands behind architect's model of City Hall Plaza.

(Photo by Frank Russo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Roy Cohn's birthday party in February 1980 in New York City.

(Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)

Donna Mills and Donald Trump during 1983 Annual American Image Awards at Sheraton Center in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Donald Trump attends 38th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Dinner on May 10, 1985 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Portrait of real estate mogul Donald John Trump (b.1946), smiling slightly and facing to his right, 1983. New York.

(Photo by Bachrach/Getty Images)

Boxing promoter Don King holds up the arms of Mike Tyson and former champion Larry Holmes during a press conference here 12/1. Looking on is Donald Trump. The fight will be held at the Trump Plaza Hotel.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Donald Trump, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, and billionare poses in the foyer of his home in August 1987 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

(Photo by Joe McNally/Getty Images)

Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump during 1988 U.S. Open - September 3, 1988 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Ivana Trump and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks Fight at Trump Plaza - June 27, 1988 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Billionaire Donald Trump and his wife Ivana arrive 04 December 1989 at a social engagement in New York.

(Photo credit should read SWERZEY/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Daughter Ivanka Trump during Maybelline Presents 1991 Look of the Year at Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump attends 'Hoop-La' Special Olympics Basketball Game on June 25, 1992 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump and Joan Rivers during Opening of The Rose Room in the Plaza Hotel at Plaza Hotel Rose Room in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Donald Trump touches 07 April 1993 Marla Maples stomach to confirm published reports that the actress is pregnant with his child. The two arrived for Maples appearance in the Broadway musical 'The Will Rogers Follies'.

(HAI DO/AFP/Getty Images)

US business tycoon Donald Trump enters the PLaza Hotel in New York past supporters 21 December 1994. Hundreds of supporters showed up at a news conference where Trump denied a New York newspaper report that the Sultan of Brunei had bid 300 million USD to buy the Manhattan hotel.

(Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Christine Whitman during Opening of New Warner Bros. Store in Trump Plaza Casino at Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump attends Marc Jacobs Fashion Show on April 4, 1995 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Boxing: IBC Heavyweight Title: View of celebrity businessman Donald Trump and actor Steven Seagal seated ringside during Lennox Lewis vs Tommy Morrison fight at Boardwalk Convention Hall. Atlantic City, NJ. (Photo by John Iacono /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) 

New York real estate giant Donald Trump poses in his Trump Tower office on a giant letter 'T' on May 8, 1996.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Portrait of Marla Maples and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, with their daughter Tiffany, as they pose together at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1996.

(Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Ron Delsner backstage at a KISS concert at Madison Squre Garden in New York City on July 25, 1996.

(Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

Donald Trump attending Halloween party thrown by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss at the Supper Club to kick off Fashion Week.  

(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump open his new building at 1 Center Park West- The new Trump International Hotel and Tower.

(Photo byJames Hughes/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump and his girlfriend Celina Midelfar watch Conchita Martinez and Amanda Coetzer 07 September at US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.

(TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Celine Dion, husband Rene, Donald Trump & Ivanka Trump

(Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

Entrepreneur Donald Trump and Rev. Al Sharpton speak at a ribbon cutting ceremony for Sharpton's National Action Network Convention April 5, 2002 in New York City. The group aims to further the development of civil rights.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and his girlfriend Melania Knauss attend the Marc Bouwer/Peta Fall/Winter 2002 Collection show February 14, 2002 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

(Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)

Donald Trump at Madison Square Garden

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Donald Trump stands on the sidelines before the start of the AFC divisional playoffs between the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans on January 10, 2004 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Temperatures have reached as low as 7 degrees in the Foxboro area.

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Donald Trump, Visionary Business Leader award honoree, poses with his children Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka at Fashion Group International's 22nd Annual 'Night Of Stars' at Cipriani's 42nd Street October 27, 2005 in New York City.

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

Eric Trump and Donald Trump attend the Chicago Bulls vs New Jersey Nets game at the IZOD Center on October 31, 2007 in East Rutherford, New York.

(Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)

 Donald Trump delivers a speech with his son Barron after he was honored with the 2,327th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, CA, 16 January 2007.

(GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Portrait of former model Melania Trump and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, as they sit together at a table during the 16th annual 'Lady in Red' gala, hosted by LIFE (Leaders In Furthering Education), at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, December 4, 2009.

(Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis via Getty Images)

Donald Trump sands with Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela prior to the Miss Universe 2010 Pageant Final at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on August 23, 2010. Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant and along with the Miss World is the most publicized beauty contest in the world. California clothing company Pacific Mills founded the contest 1952 and was acquired by Donald Trump in 1996.

(MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

US tycoon Donald Trump arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 27, 2015.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump speaks during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits on April 10, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual NRA meeting and exhibit runs through Sunday.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Real estate mogul and billionaire Donald Trump attends Golf legend Jack Nicklaus' Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda March 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Trump announed on March 18 that he has launched a presidential exploratory committee.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry with his children Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference.

(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters in his office in Trump Tower, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

 Coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, which airs on all ABC News programs and platforms. On this final night of the convention, Donald Trump accepts the party's nomination for President of the United States.

(Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) 

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to an answer his wife Melania gives during an interview on NBC's "Today" show in New York, April 21, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo)

President-elect Donald Trump speaks to reporters following his meeting with Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group, meeting at Trump Tower, January 9, 2017 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after Trump's address at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump has coffee during a reception ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017.Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump appear on stage at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a U.S. Air Force Academy football jersey that was presented to him by team captain Weston Steelhammer during the presentation of the Commander-in-Chief trophy in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers the keynote address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's "Days of Remembrance" ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, U.S, April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. first lady Melania Trump, their son Barron and the Easter Bunny arrive for the 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"He's going to tell them what he wants to do to make their careers run more smoothly and make it easier for them to raise families," Falwell told WDBJ7, a CBS television affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, about Trump's message to graduates.

"I've been working with his speech writers and I think he's going to deliver a wonderful speech that will be personal to Liberty," Falwell said in the interview.

Trump has expressed frustration that the Russia probe has loomed over his presidency. He insisted this week that he fired Comey over his performance, not because of the investigation, but the timing of the dismissal and his comments afterward have raised alarms with his critics.

Trump, who has been preparing for his first foreign trip to the Middle East and Europe late next week, also will deliver the commencement address to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, on Wednesday.

20 PHOTOS
Donald Trump's golf outings through the years
See Gallery
Donald Trump's golf outings through the years
U.S. property mogul Donald Trump holds a golf club during a media event on the sand dunes of the Menie estate, the site for Trump's proposed golf resort, near Aberdeen, north east Scotland May 27, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN POLITICS - Tags: SPORT GOLF BUSINESS)
Businessman and television personality Donald Trump (2nd L in red hat) and Carolyn Kepcher (2nd R), executive vice president of the Trump Organization, watch the first round of the 105th U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, North Carolina, June 16, 2005. The tournament is being played on the famed Pinehurst No. 2 course. REUTERS/John Sommers II RTW/KS
Donald Trump (L) and professional golfer Natalie Gulbis look down the fairway at the Manhattan Golf Classic on Governors' Island in New York October 22, 2006. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky (UNITED STATES)
Donald Trump tosses a golf ball to his caddy after hitting a shot into the rough in a skins match at the Manhattan Golf Classic on Governors' Island in New York October 22, 2006. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky (UNITED STATES)
Donald Trump (R) drives his golf cart along the ninth fairway while he watches the final group of the day with an unidentified partner during the first round of the ADT Championship LPGA golf tournament at the Trump International course in West Palm Beach, Florida November 15, 2007. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES)
U.S. property mogul Donald Trump poses next to bagpipers during a media event on the sand dunes of the Menie estate, the site for Trump's proposed golf resort, near Aberdeen, north east Scotland May 27, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN POLITICS - Tags: SPORT GOLF BUSINESS)
Real Estate magnate Donald Trump (R) plays golf with Scotland's Colin Montgomerie during the opening of his Trump International Golf Links golf course near Aberdeen, northeast Scotland July 10, 2012. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS SPORT GOLF REAL ESTATE)
Golf - RICOH Women's British Open 2015 - Trump Turnberry Resort, Scotland - 30/7/15 US Presidential Candidate Donald Trump views the course during a visit to his Scottish golf course Turnberry Action Images via Reuters / Russell Cheyne Livepic
U.S. property magnate Donald Trump practices his swing at the 13th tee of his new Trump International Golf Links course on the Menie Estate near Aberdeen, Scotland, Britain June 20, 2011. To match Special Report USA-ELECTION/TRUMP-GOLF REUTERS/David Moir/File Photo
HARRISON, NY - JUNE 9: Donald Trump hits a shot during the pro-am prior to the start of the Buick Classic at the Westchester Country Club on June 9, 2004 in Harrison, New York. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 09: Donald Trump putts on the ninth hole in the pro-amateur Buick Classic at the Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y. (Photo by Howard Earl Simmons/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 7: Tycoon Donald Trump hits out of the second fairway during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on February 7, 2003 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 27: Real-estate mogul Donald Trump (right) and director Ron Howard ride golf cart during the opening celebration for Trump's latest venture, the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
092226.FI.0113.trump.1.LS. Real estate mogul Donald Trump is set to break ground on a luxury housing project at his golf course on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. (Photo by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
American businessman Donald Trump eyes his shot off the tee during the ground-breaking ceremony for the Trump International Golf Club, Palm Beach, Florida, 1997. (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)
American football player Tom Brady (fore) tees off, watched by real estate developer Donald Trump (in red cap), on the course at Trump International Golf Club, Palm Beach, Florida, January 22, 2006. (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)
View of American football player Tom Brady (seated left) and real estate developer Donald Trump in a golf cart at Trump International Golf Club, Palm Beach, Florida, January 22, 2006. (Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)
Developer Donald Trump poses next to a green side bunker on hole 11 at his new golf course, Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, on Friday morning. Digital image taken on 01/14/05 (Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Photo by Mirek Towski/FilmMagic for Laura Davidson Public Relations)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"To young Americans at both schools, I will be bringing a message of hope and optimism about our nation's bright future," Trump said in his weekly address to the nation.

Trump will encourage students to "be a force for good in the world by standing up for the values that Liberty has taught them," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Liberty University said it expects more than 7,000 of its 18,000 graduates to participate in the ceremonies, most of whom earned their degree online. Past commencements have attracted as many as 40,000 people, the college said.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.