President Trump is working less, according to White House calendar

A new report reveals the unprecedented depths of President Trump's unwillingness to actually work

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 29, 2018 4:51PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
(Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

A new report reveals that President Donald Trump spends an unprecedented amount of time relaxing or engaging in otherwise unstructured activity, including one day last week when he had more than nine hours blocked off for unspecified "Executive Time."

This analysis of Trump's schedule came about thanks to a recent article that looked into the president's private detailed schedules, according to Politico. It discovered that, on last Tuesday, Trump scheduled roughly three hours of his day for official meetings, policy briefings and public appearances and more than nine hours for "Executive Time" that, in his case, usually involves watching television, tweeting and talking with friends and allies over the phone. Indeed, Trump's first commitment last Tuesday was an 11:30 AM meeting with his White House chief of staff, John Kelly, and the rest of his day involved open time for blocks as long as 2 hours and 45 minutes

Although Tuesday was an extreme example, the rest of Trump's work schedule from Oct. 22 to Oct. 26 showed a similar pattern — brief spurts of activity involving the workload of the presidency followed by lengthy stretches of "Executive Time." None of his official commitments last week began earlier than 11 AM, and most of his time was spent commuting to and from political rallies for Republican candidates who felt they needed his help for next week's midterm elections. In total, Trump spent just over two hours last week in policy briefings and was only scheduled to receive the President's Daily Brief on two of the five days that were reviewed.

As one person familiar with the president's scheduling told Politico, "He might read something in the paper and immediately you’d get an impromptu meeting on trade. It’s just more impromptu than like a month in advance you have a policy time set that you’re going to work up to."

Trump's difficulty in focusing on anything unrelated to himself was foreshadowed by Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter who got to know the future president intimately while writing "The Art of the Deal" for him in the 1980s.

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Executive Time Tony Schwartz