He’s always calling people, talking to people. He’s always up to something; it’s just not what you would consider typical structure.
That’s what one “senior White House official” told Axios in response to a rather embarrassing “scoop” Jonathan Swan published on Sunday.
Long story short, someone inside the White House leaked three months’ worth of Trump’s daily schedules and unsurprisingly, he doesn’t actually do much work – unless you count “Executive Time”, a concept made famous by John Kelly, who quickly realized that this isn’t a president who can be relied upon to adhere to any kind of structure.
Axios published the schedules in their entirety on Sunday. They are embedded in full below, but the bottom line is that since November 7, Trump has spent nearly 300 hours doing whatever it is he does during “Executive Time”, 51 hours traveling, 39 hours having lunch and just 77 total hours in meetings.
That is obviously hilarious and the White House isn’t amused. Here’s what Madeleine Westerhout, director of Oval Office operations, tweeted:
What a disgraceful breach of trust to leak schedules. What these don’t show are the hundreds of calls and meetings @realDonaldTrump takes everyday. This POTUS is working harder for the American people than anyone in recent history. https://t.co/n1HrxmCsiB
— Madeleine Westerhout (@madwest45) February 3, 2019
Got that? Trump takes “hundreds” of calls and meetings “everyday”. I’m not sure Madeleine is doing her boss any favors there considering that if her contention were true, it would mean Trump calls or meets with someone eight times an hour (at minimum) around the clock, an absurd proposition to be sure.
The “details” in the Axios post aren’t really surprising. Trump wakes up early (we know that because of the time stamps on his tweets) and spends about five hours every morning “watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers”, Axios writes. He’s never in the Oval Office during that time.
On some days, the schedules indicate he doesn’t do anything other than “Executive” (and let’s just pretend that’s a verb) and eat.
The schedules are incomplete in that they don’t capture all of Trump’s meetings, and amusingly, the fact that the public now has this information is apparently indicative of why the president’s calendar appears so sparse. “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 goes on to say.
Trump’s meeting with Herman Cain is an example of something that was blocked out as “Executive Time”, perhaps because the prospect of Cain being nominated for the Fed Board is even more embarrassing than the notion that Trump isn’t doing any work.
“A White House aide is weaponizing [Trump’s] schedules, which says a lot about how people in the White House feel about the man they work for”, the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman dryly noted.
Predictably, Sarah Sanders has a different take on all of this that features some of Kellyanne Conway’s patented “alternative facts”.
Those of us who live in the real world read the schedules published below as evidence to support the contention that, very much contrary to his claims about “working hard” and being “high energy”, Trump is in fact lazy and spends the majority of his time watching Fox and eating “hamberders”. But for Sanders, they are proof of precisely the opposite. Here’s what she told Axios:
While he spends much of his average day in scheduled meetings, events, and calls, there is time to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive President in modern history.
It’s just like Trump said last summer, “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
Apparently that applies even when you’re reading directly from his daily schedules.