Scoop: Insider leaks Trump's "Executive Time"-filled private schedules
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
A White House source has leaked nearly every day of President Trump's private schedule for the past three months.
Why it matters: This unusually voluminous leak gives us unprecedented visibility into how this president spends his days. The schedules, which cover nearly every working day since the midterms, show that Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time over the past 3 months in unstructured "Executive Time."
- We've published every page of the leaked schedules in a piece that accompanies this item. To protect our source, we retyped the schedules in the same format that West Wing staff receives them.
What the schedules show: Trump, an early riser, usually spends the first 5 hours of the day in Executive Time. Each day's schedule places Trump in "Location: Oval Office" from 8 to 11 a.m.
- But Trump, who often wakes before 6 a.m., is never in the Oval during those hours, according to six sources with direct knowledge.
- Instead, he spends his mornings in the residence, watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.
Trump's first meeting of the day — usually around 11 or 11:30 a.m. — is often an intelligence briefing or a 30-minute meeting with the chief of staff.
- Since Nov. 7, the day after the midterm elections, Trump has spent around 297 hours in Executive Time, according to the 51 private schedules we've obtained.
- For those same schedules, Trump has had about 77 hours scheduled for meetings that include policy planning, legislative strategy and video recordings.
Some days, Executive Time totally predominates. For instance, he had 1 hour of scheduled meetings on Jan. 18 (with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin) and 7 hours of Executive Time.
- The day after the midterms, Trump's schedule had 30 minutes for a chief of staff meeting and more than 7 hours for Executive Time.
- Former chief of staff John Kelly introduced the concept of Executive Time because the president hated being locked into a regular schedule.
- "He's always calling people, talking to people," a senior White House official told us. "He's always up to something; it's just not what you would consider typical structure."
Between the lines: The private schedules we published below do not list all Trump's meetings over the past three months.
- That's because many of his meetings are spur of the moment, according to senior White House officials with direct knowledge of his daily habits.
- It's also because a more detailed schedule — kept within a very small, tight circle — typically has 1 or 2 extra meetings per day that aren't listed on private schedules sent to staff.
The president sometimes has meetings during Executive Time that he doesn't want most West Wing staff to know about for fear of leaks. And his mornings sometimes include calls with heads of state, political meetings and meetings with counsel in the residence, which aren't captured on these schedules.
- For example, the private schedule we obtained said Trump had a "media engagement" at 4:30 p.m. this past Wednesday. The more detailed schedule revealed it was an interview with the right-wing Daily Caller, according to a source with direct knowledge.
- Wednesday's more detailed schedule also listed Trump's meeting with former presidential candidate and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, whom he is considering for a Federal Reserve governorship, per Bloomberg. (The private schedule obscured that meeting with Executive Time.)
The longer view: Chris Whipple, a student of presidential schedules who wrote the book 'The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency," told us that "there's almost no [historical] parallel" for how this president spends his days.
- "The most important asset in any presidency is the president's time," Whipple said. "And Trump is a guy who gives new meaning to the notion of an unstructured presidency."
Responding to Axios' reporting, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders emailed this statement: "President Trump has a different leadership style than his predecessors and the results speak for themselves."
- "While he spends much of his average day in scheduled meetings, events, and calls, there is time to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive President in modern history."
- "President Trump has ignited a booming economy with lower taxes and higher wages, established the USA as the #1 producer of oil and gas in the world, remade our judiciary, rebuilt our military, and renegotiated better trade deals. It’s indisputable that our country has never been stronger than it is today under the leadership of President Trump."