Trump Says His Executive Time “Should Have Been Reported As A Positive”

Published on February 10, 2019 by Athena Pallas

A week after reports emerged that President Trump spent 60% of his scheduled time in the three months after the midterms in “Executive Time”, Trump took to Twitter not to deny this, but to say that it “should have been reported as a positive”. In addition to the issue of how Trump spends his time, given a not-so-little thing called freedom of the press, it is also problematic for a president to say how things should be reported. Trump’s “Executive Time” was added as a category on his schedule by former White House chief of staff John Kelly in order to accommodate Trump’s objections to having a structured schedule. That unstructured “Executive Time” involves Trump watching large amounts of TV news, especially Fox News, tweeting, and telephoning. Trump reportedly spends large blocks of time in “Executive Time”, including from 6AM – 11AM most weekdays, with his first meeting of the day, usually his daily intelligence briefing, usually not occurring until 11 or 11:30AM.

Trump’s schedules were leaked by an internal source to Axios. The White House, and Trump himself, have not denied their content for the most part, instead focusing on decrying the leak and the leaker. There is reportedly an active effort underway in the White House to identify the person who leaked the schedules. According to The Hill:

President Trump on Sunday defended his use of “Executive Time,” arguing that his approach to the presidency should be taken “as a positive” after leaked schedules showed much of his workdays since the midterms have been free of scheduled commitments…Trump’s tweets on Sunday did not dispute anything in the report, other than how it was characterized by pundits. While critics have cited the schedules as evidence of laziness or a lack of transparency, White House officials and Trump’s allies have argued that the unscheduled time does not reflect the full spectrum of work the president does on a given day…Even as the White House has aimed to downplay the significance of the leaked schedules, it has reportedly launched an internal inquiry into the source of the information. (Acting chief of staff Mick) Mulvaney said he hopes to have a resolution “this week” on who leaked the documents.

Trump in his tweet asserted that “When the term Executive Time is used, I am generally working, not relaxing…” and said it “should have been reported as a positive, not a negative”, writing “The media was able to get my work schedule, something very easy to do, but it 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………”. As usual, Trump gave no evidence to support his saying “I probably work more hours than almost any past President….”.

Trump then followed up with another tweet in which it was clear that he fails to grasp that the job of President of the United States is always time-consuming. Instead Trump decried the state of the country as he received it, saying it was that sorry state of the country that meant he had “no choice but to work very long hours”. Trump, continuing the previous tweet, wrote, “The fact is, when I took over as President, our Country was a mess. Depleted Military, Endless Wars, a potential War with North Korea, V.A., High Taxes & too many Regulations, Border, Immigration & HealthCare problems, & much more. I had no choice but to work very long hours!”

Many of the responses to Trump’s duo of tweets showed a very different viewpoint. As this person responded, with a fair measure of sarcasm, ” ‘ I’m not lazy,’ claims person who took 9 days to respond to accusations of laziness”, along with a joking headline “Laziest Person in America Not Lazy, Claims Laziest Person in America”.

Another agreed, writing, “You watch TV, eat McDonalds, and Tweet. You work less than seven year olds because they have to go to school.”

Trump may want to dictate how things should be reported, may even try to get us to discount our own experience by saying things like “Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening” (MSNBC), as he did at a campaign rally in July, but it is clear that he is not successful in these efforts, except perhaps with that segment of his base that buys everything he says, hook, line, and sinker.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.