White House attempts to downplay leaked Trump schedules: "It wasn't that valuable of information"

New schedule leaks show the commander-in-chief continues to spend more than half of his days in "executive time"

By Shira Tarlo
Published February 11, 2019 4:05PM (EST)

After Axios revealed last week that President Donald Trump apparently dedicated about 60 percent of his work schedule over the last three months to what the White House refers to as "executive time," a second round of leaked schedules published by the news organization on Sunday showed that the commander-in-chief is still spending more than half of his days in the unstructured format.

An early riser, Trump usually spends the first five hours of his day in "executive time," Axios previously reported. Although the private schedules list him as being in the Oval Office from 8 to 11 a.m. ET each day, the president actually spends those hours in his residence "watching TV, reading newspapers and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers," the news site reported, citing six sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Trump's first scheduled meeting of the day typically occurs around 11 or 11:30 a.m. ET and is often an intelligence briefing or meeting with his chief of staff, according to Axios. The news site said the 51 private schedules it obtained reveal that, since Nov. 7, one day after the 2018 midterm election cycle, during which the Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives, Trump has spent about 297 hours in executive time and about 77 hours in meetings that included policy planning, legislative strategy and video recordings.

In response to Axios' latest story, Trump tweeted, "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," Trump continued. "In fact, I probably work more hours than almost any past President....."

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney attempted to downplay the significance of the leaked schedules as not "that valuable."

"That's probably the closest thing to a public schedule that we put out," Mulvaney told NBC's Chuck Todd during a Sunday appearance on "Meet the Press." "So it wasn't that valuable of information."

Despite his attempt to brush off the disclosure, Mulvaney reportedly approved a plan to track down the leaker. He also claimed that the president's seemingly ambiguous and unstructured daily schedule does not reflect his actual work.

"That executive time is on there to allow the president to prep for the next meeting, to debrief from the previous meeting," Mulvaney said. "The phone calls start at 6:30 in the morning, and they go until 11 o'clock at night, so I can assure you that the gentleman is working more than what's on that calendar."

Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders sought to rebrand the commander-in-chief's vague daily schedule and ambiguous activities during his free time in the White House in response to Axios' report.

Trump "has a different leadership style than his predecessors, and the results speak for themselves," Sanders wrote in an email to the news outlet. The point of Trump's more than 300 hours in unstructured time, Sanders said, is "to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive president in modern history."

"President Trump has ignited a booming economy with lower taxes and higher wages, established the USA as the No. 1 producer of oil and gas in the world, remade our judiciary, rebuilt our military and renegotiated better trade deals," Sanders added. "It's indisputable that our country has never been stronger than it is today under the leadership of President Trump."

Shira Tarlo

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