Executive Time
February 14, 2019

Sometime in the last few weeks, President Trump "installed a room-sized 'golf simulator' game at the White House, which allows him to play virtual rounds at courses all over the world by hitting a ball into a large video screen," The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing two people told about the system. A White House official said Trump paid to install the $50,000 system in his private quarters with his own money. A few weeks ago would put the simulator installation during the 35-day government shutdown, in the longest golf drought of Trump's presidency — 69 days, broken Feb. 2 when he teed off with Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus at a Trump golf course in Florida.

The White House official said Trump has not used the golf simulator during his generous periods of "Executive Time," or even used it at all. Three of Trump's golf courses have simulators made by the Danish company TrackMan Golf, which prices a full setup at $49,995, the Post reports. TrackMan did not respond to the newspaper's question about providing a system for the White House, but this would be how that system would work:

Trump's golf simulator replaced what an aide to former President Barack Obama described as a "fairly unsophisticated" one Obama put in the White House. Obama, who played about 38 rounds of golf per year during his eight years in office, also converted an indoor tennis court into a full basketball court. Trump has played golf — usually at one of his own golf resorts — about 139 times as president, or 70 times a year, the Post estimates, noting that "there is no way to have an exact count because he usually does not acknowledge having played." Peter Weber

February 11, 2019

The leak of President Trump's internal calendars showing he devoted 60 percent of this workday to unstructured "Executive Time" spooked the White House, and in response, "enraged White House officials" launched a mole hunt to catch the leaker, Axios reported Sunday, confirming a report in Politico. "This crackdown has not stopped the leaking," Axios notes, posting four new leaked private schedules that show Trump spent about half of last week in "Executive Time."

Trump indicated how much this betrayal is not "a source of repeated embarrassment" that has "infuriated" him, as Politico reported, by tweeting on Sunday that his leaked calendars "should have been reported as a positive, not negative. When the term Executive Time is used, I am generally working, not relaxing. In fact, I probably work more hours than almost any past president."

In fact, Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman reports, the leaking of the schedules, "which revealed how little work Trump actually does, was a signal of how disaffected his staff has become." The main problem, one former West Wing official told Sherman, is that "Trump is hated by everyone inside the White House." Sherman's 10 sources said Trump's management style, paranoia, penchant for blaming staff for problems he created, and increasing tendency to "run the West Wing as a family business," have left staff burned out and resentful, and several high profile aides are eying the exits, including Whit House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The Trump White House, of course, "has pledged to root out leakers in the past — most recently after a New York Times op-ed penned last year by a senior administration official identified only as 'part of the resistance inside the Trump administration,'" Politico notes. "In the wake of the op-ed's publication, the White House embarked on a search for the official that has yet to turn up the culprit." Peter Weber

February 4, 2019

President Trump's public schedule is usually pretty empty. According to 51 internal White House schedules leaked to Axios, his private calendar is pretty empty, too. "The schedules, which cover nearly every working day since the midterms, show that Trump has spent around 60 percent of his scheduled time over the past 3 months in unstructured 'Executive Time,'" Axios reports. You can read the schedules for yourself, but here's a visualization — Executive Time is orange.

Overall, since Nov. 7, Trump has spent about 297 hours in Executive Time and 77 hours in scheduled meetings, plus 39 hours having lunch and 51 hours traveling, according to the private calendars Axios obtained. Trump's Executive Time typically lasts until 11 a.m.; he is listed as being in the oval Office from 8-11 a.m., but he's never there during that period, six people with direct knowledge tell Axios. Instead, he's upstairs in the residence, watching TV, reading newspapers, and calling people. The private schedules aren't complete, either, though, Axios says: Trump has impromptu meetings, and there's a third daily schedule, "kept within a very small, tight circle," with an extra meeting or two not listed on the private calendar.

"The president sometimes has meetings during Executive Time that he doesn't want most West Wing staff to know about for fear of leaks," Axios reports. "And his mornings sometimes include calls with heads of state, political meetings, and meetings with counsel in the residence." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Axios that "Trump has a different leadership style than his predecessors and the results speak for themselves." And in case they don't, Sanders suggested that Trump's unscheduled hours "allows for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive president in modern history." Read more at Axios. Peter Weber

June 25, 2018

If you've ever wondered why President Trump's Oval Office desk is always so clean, he keeps most of his paperwork, plus stacks of newspapers, on the table in the president's private dining room right off the Oval Office, a former Trump administration official tells Jonathan Swan at Axios. This is where Trump spends a good chunk of his workdays, including his morning "Executive Time" of watching cable news and tweeting.

In the dining room, the former official said, Trump is "constantly referencing articles and columns in the Times, WSJ, or Post, watching TV and responding in real time — like, a good interview with an elected official might get them a phone call. Unexpected criticism might get them one too." Aides will come in with something to sign or a phone call or a proposed tweet, and Trump apparently rewatches confidante Sean Hannity's Fox News show from the night before, the official said. "I remember one specific time when he was watching a Hannity replay and he interrupted the conversation and turned up the volume, 'Wait, wait for it ...' (Hannity says whatever it was defending DJT.) 'So good,' Trump said. 'He's so good.'" You can read more at Axios. Peter Weber

February 5, 2018

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) didn't bat an eye Monday when President Trump blasted him as being "one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington." Responding to Trump's tweet, Schiff said:

Ouch. Meanwhile, government funding is once again about to expire — this time on Thursday — and senators are pessimistic about reaching a long-term deal for people brought to the United States illegally as children by Trump's deadline of March 5. Jeva Lange

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