This weekend, the Trump family is trading ritzy for rustic.
Instead of heading to one of his plush properties, President Trump boarded Marine One late Saturday morning en route to Camp David, the secluded government-owned retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains.
Nearly five months into his presidency, it’s Trump’s inaugural visit to what was a frequent destination for many of his predecessors.
Trump, wearing a dark suit but no tie, emerged on the South Lawn of the White House shortly after 11 a.m. He was joined by his wife, Melania, who sported a relatively casual dress, and their 11-year-old son, Barron, in soccer attire: a white shirt, white shorts with an Arsenal club logo, knee-high red socks and Nike footwear..
Trump waved at the assembled press, ignored shouted questions about the special prosecutor investigating him for possible obstruction of justice, and, with that, was soon headed off for what aides said they hope will be a relatively relaxing Father’s Day weekend. The first lady’s parents were also traveling with the first family to Camp David.
Trump’s departure was pushed back about an hour Saturday, prompting some speculation that he was having second thoughts about the trip. Aides said the delay was weather-related.
Trump has spent more weekends away from Washington than not. Early in his presidency, he favored his palatial Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., which aides dubbed the “Winter White House.” The club closed for the season last month, so more recently, he’s been inclined to head to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., which some have dubbed “Camp David North.”
It’s not terribly surprising that Trump has eschewed the real Camp David, located near Thurmont, Md., about 60 miles northwest of Washington.
“Camp David is very rustic, it’s nice, you’d like it,” Trump said in an interview with a European journalist just before taking office. “You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes.”
With the first lady and Barron’s recent move to Washington from New York, the family appears willing to try new things.
White House staffers said little Saturday about what Trump plans to do at the Navy-run facility. The White House advertised no public events over the weekend, and aides said senior staff was not joining the president.
A Camp David blog, accessible through the White House website, offered that “the president, first lady, and son Barron are staying overnight in the Aspen Lodge and will return to the White House on Sunday afternoon.” The blog promised additional information as it becomes available.
The 125-acre retreat includes another dozen cabins, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, a skeet range and a movie theater. There is a single golf hole with multiple tees — a far cry from what is available at Trump’s clubs around the country.
On the weekends he has stayed in Washington, the president has made a habit of heading to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., which has two 18-hole courses.
Among the White House press corps, there was speculation that if Trump didn’t find enough to do at the rustic retreat, he might take to Twitter to fill the time — assuming his phone had service. As of late afternoon, Trump had not fired off any tweets.
Trump on Saturday became the 14th president to visit Camp David, which originally was a getaway for federal workers and their families. President Franklin D. Roosevelt turned it into a presidential retreat in 1942, choosing the spot for its seclusion and security.
For some presidents, it became a regular destination and a place to welcome world leaders.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower hosted Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev for talks there in 1959. The two watched movies. President Ronald Reagan went there more than 150 times, riding his horse and playing host to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
President Jimmy Carter struck a peace deal there in 1978 between Egypt and Israel. President George H.W. Bush hosted Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for a round of summit talks, played tennis and zipped around in golf carts.
President Bill Clinton hosted a failed summit between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in 2000. President George W. Bush decamped there 149 times, according to statistics kept by CBS News reporter Mark Knoller.
President Obama was less of a fan. Although he hosted a Group of Eight summit at Camp David in 2012, he visited the retreat just 39 times.
For Trump, Mar-a-Lago has been the preferred venue to entertain global leaders. In February, he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe there. The pair also played rounds of golf at two other Trump-branded properties in Southern Florida, disappearing from public view for what was billed as some fairways diplomacy.
In April, Trump welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mar-a-Lago for a two-day summit that included talk about North Korea and trade.
In more recent weeks, Trump has decamped twice to his secluded golf club in New Jersey’s fox-hunt and horse country, about 45 miles west of New York City, where he maintains a residence.
Trump’s getaways to Florida and New Jersey have drawn a cascade of new reports about the additional security costs for taxpayers and surrounding communities. Camp David, by contrast, has been secured for decades.
Michael Rosenwald contributed to this report.