Soon after the 2016 election, Donald Trump had a private meeting in the White House with Barack Obama, and the sitting president walked his successor through his daily duties. Trump, the Wall Street Journal noted at the time, “seemed surprised by the scope” of the presidency.
It quickly became obvious that Trump sought a job he knew very little about. He soon after admitted as much, telling Reuters, “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” He added in an Associated Press interview, “I never realized how big it was.”
The question then became how the Republican amateur would adapt. The answer is coming into focus: he may not be adapting at all. On the contrary, though many hoped the president would rise to the occasion, roll up his sleeves, and begin to tackle his monumental tasks with maturity and vigor, Axios reported over the weekend that Trump is apparently working less, not more.
President Trump is starting his official day much later than he did in the early days of his presidency, often around 11am, and holding far fewer meetings, according to copies of his private schedule shown to Axios. This is largely to meet Trump’s demands for more “Executive Time,” which almost always means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence, officials tell us.
The schedule says Trump has “Executive Time” in the Oval Office every day from 8am to 11am, but the reality is he spends that time in his residence, watching TV, making phone calls and tweeting. Trump comes down for his first meeting of the day, which is often an intelligence briefing, at 11am.
This president’s typical work day in the Oval Office reportedly starts around 11 a.m., and wraps up at 6 p.m., at which point Trump likes to return to the White House residence, where much of his time is devoted to watching television.
Axios highlighted a random example in which Trump scheduled a meeting with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11 a.m., followed by an hour of “Executive Time.” Then it’s time for lunch, which is followed by more “Executive Time.” From there, Trump scheduled another meeting, this time with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, followed by more “Executive Time.”
And then he calls it a day.
The same piece added that Trump used to have fuller days, but he “didn’t like the longer official schedule.”
The White House didn’t exactly deny the accuracy of Axios’ reporting, though it did insist Trump’s “Executive Time” included phone calls with a variety of officials (which I think means we’re supposed to consider it real work).
Nevertheless, this comes on the heels of an NBC News report that noted Trump had literally zero public events on his schedule last week.
Of course, it’s hard not to wonder: if the president enjoys so much downtime over the course of a typical day, why does Trump also feel the need to play quite so much golf?