President Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office has been unique in far more ways than one, but a significant deviation from past presidents is his penchant for “Executive Time” — sometimes huge swathes of the day where he is left to his own devices, often resulting in TV watching binges and tweet storms.
Politico reported on Monday that last week included a day where Trump enjoyed nine hours of down time.
> President Donald Trump had about three times as much free time planned for last Tuesday as work time, according to his private schedule. The president was slated for more than nine hours of “Executive Time,” a euphemism for the unstructured time Trump spends tweeting, phoning friends and watching television. Official meetings, policy briefings and public appearances — typically the daily work of being president — consumed barely more than three hours of his day.
> The president was slated to spend 30 minutes on the phone with CEOs and make brief remarks at a state leadership conference. He was briefed by senior military leaders in the evening and joined them for dinner. Aside from an 11:30 a.m. meeting with White House chief of staff John Kelly — his first commitment of the day — the rest of his day was unstructured, some in blocks as long as 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Some White House aides told Politico that Trump is productive during his Executive Time — calling lawmakers and world leaders or scheduling meetings — not simply watching television, making personal calls and tweeting.
Still, his approach to the nation’s highest office is far different from most of his predecessors:
> As a freewheeling president in one of the world’s most regimented jobs, Trump appears to be redefining the nature of the role. Past presidents were disciplined in their scheduled time, squired from meeting to meeting, event to event, from the moment they arrived in the Oval Office until they headed up to the residence at night.
> Trump, by contrast, enjoys huge blocks of unscheduled time in which he can do as he pleases. He is hardly the first president to have an erratic schedule. Clinton and Jimmy Carter were known to make middle-of-the-night phone calls, and every president has kept different hours: George W. Bush was an early bird, Barack Obama a night owl. But even Trump allies who say the president is always working concede that the Trump presidency is uniquely defined by his down time, when his short-term bugaboos become the drivers of his agenda, rather than any long-term vision.
Trump reportedly felt that his first chief of staff overloaded him with meetings during the day, which resulted in the addition of greater amounts of downtime to his schedule.
> The concept of “Executive Time” was Kelly’s response to the president’s complaints that he was over-scheduled under his previous chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and “didn’t have any time to think,” one of those aides said.
> “There was always this tug and pull early in the administration when Priebus was there because if there were too many things on his schedule, he would complain. But if there were too few things on his schedule, the senior staff would complain because he would be left to his own devices and spend more time watching TV or calling people on the phone or calling in advisers unscheduled to the Oval Office,” said a former White House aide familiar with the evolution of his schedule and the president's gripes about it.