Trump will reset in N.J.
BEDMINSTER, N.J.» President Donald Trump, who knocked his predecessor’s work ethic and said he probably wouldn’t take vacations as president, has settled in for 17 days here at his secluded golf club in New Jersey’s fox-hunt and horse country.
Aides are billing Trump’s time at one of his favorite properties as a “working vacation,” a notion bolstered by his arrival on Air Force One on Friday with a retinue of aides, including his newly minted chief of staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly.
Trump agreed. “Working in Bedminster, N.J., as long planned construction is being done at the White House,” Trump said on Twitter. “This is not a vacation - meetings and calls!”
He was referring to an overhaul of the heating and air-conditioning systems and other renovations in the West Wing.
Other Trump tweets Saturday night offered praise for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump only recently referred to as “beleaguered,” and for the United Nations Security Council action on North Korea.
Trump also issued a statement defending his national security adviser, H.R. Mcmaster, who has been under fire from conservative groups for pushing out several hard-liners on the national security staff and renewing the security clearance of former president Barack Obama’s last national security adviser, among other things. Trump was briefed on Saturday morning by Kelly on a Marine Corps helicopter crash off the coast of Australia.
Still, even some close to Trump hope that his time in this 8,200-person township about 45 miles west of New York City will provide as much of an August respite as possible from his first six months in the White House.
“It’s good for everyone,” Barry Bennett, a Trump adviser during the campaign, said of the break. “It’s good for the president, and it’s good for Washington. I hope it’s a few hard days of nothingness.”
Trump has no public events scheduled over the weekend and planned to remain on his 535-acre property, where he has already spent four weekends since arriving in office and which some locals have taken to calling “Camp David North.”
Aides said over the coming days, staffers are expected to cycle in and out of town and that the president will be kept fully up to speed on developments at home and abroad.
A series of meetings and phone calls are expected with several lawmakers, who face a weighty agenda next month, including a request from the administration to increase the nation’s debt ceiling, as well as promised action on tax reform. And it’s possible Trump’s time away could include a couple of day trips elsewhere to highlight initiatives or rally supporters.
“The president will continue to work over the next two weeks,” said deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters, who is among the White House staffers on site this weekend.
Trump’s trip is very much in keeping with a tradition of presidents escaping Washington during the late summer.
Martha’s Vineyard, known for its affluence, became the choice summer vacation spot for both President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. Clinton was also known to make summer trips to Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Obamas visited several national parks.
President George H. W. Bush spent his vacation time at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
There was a time when presidents could truly get away, said presidential historian Robert Dallek, noting that President Franklin D. Roosevelt would go on sea voyages “because he was so stressed and burdened by all the demands on him.”
But for presidents these days, August getaways are “never as relaxing as they hope it will be,” said historian Douglas Brinkley. “You may get a few extra rounds of golf in, but there’s no escaping the public eye.”