During the holiday season, Trump also managed to fit in at least five rounds of golf and scores of false tweets about the results of the 2020 election.
Once Trump returned to Washington, his schedule remained in vacation mode. The disclaimer was revised slightly: “President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings.” But the density of scheduled events remained consistent at or near zero.
In fact, this has been Trump’s schedule essentially since dawn on Nov. 4 of last year. After polls closed the day prior and after Trump appeared before reporters in the middle of the night to declare victory, his daily schedules quickly became ghost towns. Of the 64 days since Nov. 4, the White House has listed scheduled events on only 27 of them.
It is by far the emptiest his calendar has been since he took office. There have been other periods in which Trump has had no scheduled public events on his calendar, but those usually overlapped with holiday periods or the weekends. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t do anything, as those disclaimers want you to understand. But it doesn’t exactly suggest a president who’s engaged with his formal responsibilities to the fullest possible extent.
(The busy end-of-year activity in 2018 and 2019 was centered on the government shutdown and his efforts to pressure Congress into approving funding for a wall on the border with Mexico.)
If we look at this only on a monthly basis, the past three months are remarkable. The percentage of days in each month where Trump has nothing on his schedule has soared as the number of actual events — including things like rounds of golf — has dropped.
It’s worth noting that while this lull overlapped with the holiday period, it has not been limited to times at which he was hunkered down in one of his privately owned properties. Of the 292 days on which his calendar has been blank, 165 of them have been days he has visited one of his properties. Since Nov. 4, 24 days without scheduled events have been while he has been based in Washington and didn’t head to his golf course in Virginia.
What has Trump been doing? He’s been tweeting a lot. He has pardoned a slew of political allies swept up in the Russia investigation and granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom to several athletes and to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), one of the few legislators willing to uncritically amplify and bolster Trump’s rhetoric about the Russia probe. So he has kept busy, but generally while aimed at things unrelated to the governance of the country.
Nothing, though, has occupied his time like his obsession about somehow undoing the election that will return him to the private sector. The majority of his tweets over the past two months have centered on election-related conspiracy theories that he has invented or picked up from cable news and various right-wing voices in the media. He has tweeted a lot about what he sees on television, as he usually does, and has clearly spent an inordinate amount of time huddling with lawyers and allies to figure out what new spaghetti to throw at the wall.
It hardly bears mentioning outside the White House complex, but this is going on as the novel coronavirus claims thousands of lives a day and as states struggle with distribution of the vaccine, which bears nearly the entire load of Trump’s efforts to halt the virus’s spread.
What remains unclear in the abstract is why Trump wants a second term in office anyway. He enjoys the trappings of the job, sure, and the power. But he never bothered actually articulating a platform of policy goals during the 2020 election, even when pressed by friendly reporters to do so. That he has the position now and isn’t actually doing anything with it lends credence to the idea that his motivations for trying to overturn his loss are rooted more in his own vanity and possible legal concerns than much else.
It doesn’t really matter. The die is cast: Trump will be out of office in just over two weeks. It’s likely that his typical day-to-day activity won’t change much when that happens: tweeting complaints and golfing at his own properties.
All that will be different is we won’t be told about how he’s “work[ing] from early in the morning until late in the evening” with all of those calls and meetings.