By Philip Bump | Washington Post
President Donald Trump is at Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, a day that can generally be fairly described as low-key for most people. In fact, you’re not even reading this right now; you’re driving to a relative’s house or you’re trying to remember what you need to get at the grocery store.
“Low-key” is also how deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters described the day to the press pool Wednesday morning. Trump would make a few calls this week, she said, but otherwise not much going on.
Less than 10 minutes later, though, the White House asked the press pool for a correction.
“While the White House communications staff expects the press pool to have a ‘low-key day,'” the update from The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson wrote, “the president will NOT have a low-key day and has a full schedule of meetings and phone calls.”
Got that? Not Trump on vacation at Mar-a-Lago. Trump working hard at what he calls the “Winter White House.” Trump tweeted to that effect Wednesday morning:
“Will be having meetings and working the phones from the Winter White House in Florida (Mar-a-Lago). Stock Market hit new Record High yesterday – $5.5 trillion gain since E. Many companies coming back to the U.S. Military building up and getting very strong.”
Trump calls it the “Winter White House” so that people will see his time there as an extension of his normal work life. In one sense it is: A president is never actually off-duty. In most senses, though, it isn’t. Trump’s calendar is generally clear when he’s at Mar-a-Lago (or at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey), with time instead reserved for playing golf.
But Trump consistently wants to give Americans the impression that he’s working when he’s at one of his private clubs. This is the president, after all, who on the campaign trail insisted that he probably wouldn’t have time to play golf if elected. It’s why he always talks about phone calls and meetings that aren’t on his official calendar, taking advantage of the public’s assumption that a president is working 24/7 to provide cover for the time he spends at leisure.
So we get a parade of tweets like these. Trump tweeted:
“Will be having many meetings this weekend at The Southern White House. Big 5:00 P.M. speech in Melbourne, Florida. A lot to talk about!”
(The speech in Melbourne was a campaign speech.)
“The reason I am staying in Bedminster, N. J., a beautiful community, is that staying in NYC is much more expensive and disruptive. Meetings!”
“Working in Bedminster, N.J., as long planned construction is being done at the White House. This is not a vacation – meetings and calls!”
“Working hard from New Jersey while White House goes through long planned renovation. Going to New York next week for more meetings.”
“Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!”
“Many meetings today in Bedminster including with Secretary Linda M and Small Business. Job numbers are looking great!”
While he was in Bedminster:
“Important meetings and calls scheduled for today. Military and economy are getting stronger by the day, and our enemies know it. #MAGA”
After returning from Bedminster:
“The White House never looked more beautiful than it did returning last night. Important meetings taking place today. Big tax cuts & reform.”
Over the course of his presidency, Trump has spent all or part of 98 days at properties associated with his private business – once every 3.1 days. He’s probably played golf 60 times, once every 5.1 days. We say “probably” because Trump doesn’t like to admit when he’s playing golf, again because he wants to give the impression that he’s always working. His former press secretary Sean Spicer once tried to argue that Trump rarely played golf and that, when he did, it was often strategic.
When Spicer said that, in mid-March, Trump had only played golf 10 times.
About an hour after Johnson sent out her update about how Trump wouldn’t be having a “low-key” day after all, another update from the press pool: Trump was departing Mar-a-Lago for destination unknown. Ten minutes later, the destination was revealed: The president is spending his morning at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.