This article has been corrected.
President Trump rose to the defense of his daughter Ivanka on Tuesday, after her clothing line was dropped by the retail chain Nordstrom.
There are a lot of reasons that this was a questionable thing to tweet, starting with the fact that the president of the United States was using his time — and government resources, once he retweeted from @POTUS — to bolster his daughter’s business.
But then people started to notice something else: The tweet was sent at 10:51 a.m. Eastern, about 20 minutes after Trump was supposed to have been participating in his daily intelligence briefing, according to his published schedule.
Not only that, but many of Trump’s tweets are sent from an Android phone. Trump’s Android phone is apparently the same one he’s used for years. Wired called that device “very, very risky” given that he’s using an old phone that’s significantly vulnerable to hacking. This prompted another concern: Did Trump have that phone in the briefing with him? Was he carrying an insecure device with a microphone into one of the most secure places in the world?
The answer is no in this case. Trump doesn’t actually take the daily briefing every day (despite its title), and it’s on his calendar again for Thursday — meaning that he probably skipped Wednesday’s. What’s more, the Ivanka tweet came from an iPhone. But the whole thing raised an interesting question: What’s the president supposed to be doing at those moments when he’s tweeting?
Using his published daily schedule (which is admittedly incomplete) and the index of his tweets from Trump Twitter Archive, we created a side-by-side look at how Trump’s public schedule compares to his Twitter schedule. One user interface note: The darker yellow tweets are those sent from his Android device. Lighter yellow; something else. (On a desktop, mouse over a hidden tweet to read the full text.) An important caveat: We assumed meetings ran an hour; we don’t generally know how long they actually ran.
The calendar begins at 6 a.m. on Jan. 21.
Some things we noticed:
- Trump’s Android use tends to happen off work hours — either before his day begins or after it ends. (The New York Times’ recent look at life in the White House indicated that Trump’s days usually end at 6:30 p.m.) During the day, it’s some other device.
- While the tone of the midday tweets is generally less Trumpian than his Android tweets, it’s clear that he sometimes gets hold of a way of tweeting his own unfiltered thoughts on occasion. (Like this tweet.)
- He’s often tweeting immediately before his day begins. On Thursday, for example, his tweets excoriating Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) were sent right before he was supposed to, once again, take the daily briefing.
- It’s sort of fascinating to see how long it takes for the effects of his actions to ripple out. He signed an executive order the afternoon of Jan. 27 barring migration from seven countries, and, a few days later, tweeted about the protests that ensued.
As the weeks progress, it will be interesting to see if this balance is sustained. What’s documented above is something of a transition period for him, moving from being Donald Trump, private citizen to Donald Trump, president. Perhaps, by the middle of this year, Trump will finally have pivoted to the sober, traditionally presidential person many hoped to see. Perhaps he will leave his Android phone and its Trumpian tweets by the wayside.
Correction: This article originally said that the Nordstrom tweet was sent from Trump’s Android device.