Trump busting presidential norms with weekend getaways


Forget the occasional skeet shooting trip to Camp David or golf outing at Andrews Air Force Base. President Donald Trump has established a new normal for a commander in chief’s leisure time by spending his 14th consecutive weekend at one of his gold-plated properties.

With this weekend’s trip to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump will have spent eight of his 16 weekends as president away from Washington, and will have visited various Trump Inc. sites 30 different times since the inauguration.

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The convention-busting pattern has attracted heavy criticism, with Democrats questioning Trump’s productivity during his “working weekends” and demanding answers about skyrocketing taxpayer bills for travel and security. The frequent visits to Trump’s own properties have also raised questions about whether the president is inappropriately boosting his brand.

And Trump doesn’t appear immune to the grief he’s getting. Hours after settling into his Bedminster resort on Thursday night, the president tried to justify yet another weekend getaway.

“Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend. Also saves country money!” the president Warning: session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_f069eac4933f5b6093b96dce1893c45c, O_RDWR) failed: Disk quota exceeded (122) in /home/iwebplanet2015/public_html/ on line 33″ target=”_blank”>saying
, "If you’re at the White House and you have so much work to do, why do you fly? Why do you leave so much? You think you’d want to work, work, work."

On Thursday, the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch released documents from the Air Force obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that calculate two of the president’s recent trips to South Florida on Air Force One had cost taxpayers nearly $1.3 million total.

Meanwhile, four Democratic members of Congress — Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse, (R.I.) and Tom Udall (N.M.), along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) — have asked the Government Accountability Office to more broadly examine the security issues and costs associated with Trump’s Mar-a-Lago costs. The GAO agreed in March to conduct a review.

Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, whose South Florida district abuts the president’s private club at Mar-a-Lago, lauded the new omnibus for the funding to help his hometown police force. But he also called on the president to write a personal check if he’s going to insist on so many return visits. “If Trump keeps using Mar-a-Lago or his other resorts as weekend vacation spots then President Trump should pay the costs himself,” Deutch said.

People who have long known Trump, however, celebrate the fact the 70-year-old billionaire is sticking to his snowbird travel routine — winters in Florida, summers up north, shacking up at his favorite properties — despite the late-in-life career change to professional politics.

“Knowing his personality, this is something I think is healthy and good,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump presidential campaign adviser. “These are his normal habits.”

Trump and his senior aides have joked that his preferred destinations had already been symbolically transformed: Mar-a-Lago as the “winter White House” and Bedminster as its “summer” companion.

Trump’s South Florida properties have so far gotten the most use and attention during the opening wintertime months of his presidency. He’s been to his West Palm Beach golf course 13 times since taking office, though it’s unclear if he’s played golf on each occasion because the White House doesn’t always confirm his activities.

3 Things about presidential leisure time

POLITICO’s Darren Samuelsohn gives us a look at three things about President Trump’s fourteenth consecutive weekend spending time at a Trump-branded property.

Mar-a-Lago members say they expect Trump will return to his private club next weekend for what’s typically seen as the retreat’s end-of-season event, a Mother’s Day brunch. If Trump goes, it’d mark his eighth visit to his club as president, a busy stretch that has included a pair of summits with the leaders of China and Japan and the occasional presidential drop-in at weddings and charity galas held in the property’s gold-plated Donald J. Trump ballroom.

But staying in Washington doesn’t mean Trump is out of options for waving the Trump Inc. flag. On five occasions so far, Trump’s taken the 35-minute motorcade ride to Trump National golf course in Northern Virginia, including last weekend. He’s also been out for three dinners at the steakhouse in the new Trump International Hotel just a few blocks from the White House.

Now it’s Bedminster’s turn. Trump spent a long weekend at the property last November. While there, he addressed the club’s long-time dues-paying members during a private ceremony — audio was later Warning: session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_d33c69ed91abea3038b8fe46741b420b, O_RDWR) failed: Disk quota exceeded (122) in /home/iwebplanet2015/public_html/ on line 33” target=”_blank”>running
an Associated Press story about Ivanka Trump’s new book.

There are other examples, too. A new Trump-branded condominium building being built on Uruguay’s southeastern coast still includes on its YouTube page a three-year old Warning: session_start(): open(/tmp/sess_685fcf30cd6390a1b90ce113dba80e6c, O_RDWR) failed: Disk quota exceeded (122) in /home/iwebplanet2015/public_html/ on line 33” target=”_blank”>spotted
a Trump Organization helicopter using the club’s new helipad — even though it was built for Marine One. POLITICO last month also obtained the latest copy of the South Florida club’s