President Donald Trump has spent about 60 percent of his work day in undefined “executive time” since the midterms, according to a detailed and revealing look at his daily schedules leaked from inside the White House.
The 51 days of schedules, covering much of November up to Feb. 1 and published by the political news website Axios on Sunday, do not capture absolutely everything the president does in a given day. As Axios notes, some pre-planned meetings are listed only on a “more detailed schedule” that is “kept within a very small, tight circle” so as to avoid them being shared publicly.
Still, what the schedules show is that since Nov. 7 — the day after the Republicans lost decisively in the midterm elections — the president’s days almost exclusively begin and end with hours of “executive time.”
White House reporters have long described these periods, distinct to Trump’s tenure as commander-in-chief, as essentially unstructured: Chafing at tight scheduling, he has preferred open-ended periods where he can mix favorite activities including watching cable news, tweeting and talking with friends, aides, reporters and lawmakers.
“He’s always calling people,” an anonymous aide told Axios, adding, “He’s always up to something; it’s just not what you would consider typical structure.”
Other regular events recorded on the schedules include Congressional meetings, state functions and travel.
In a statement to the site, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders did not dispute the authenticity of the schedules. She said 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,” Sanders told Axios. (The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.)
Sanders highlighted what she called “a booming economy with lower taxes and higher wages” and a “rebuilt” military as key achievements, as well as the president’s many federal judge appointments and his aggressive — or ostracizing, depending on the view — positions on trade negotiations.
Echoing her boss’ own bravado, she contended, “It’s indisputable that our country has never been stronger than it is today under the leadership of President Trump.”
The extensive schedules leaked to Axios appear to confirm years of headlines about Trump’s time in the White House: his distaste for extensive briefings and lengthy meetings and his preference for time to himself to freewheel and deal much as he did during his time as a New York City real estate and reality TV personality.
The converse of that has reportedly been a growing isolation in the West Wing.
As the New York Times reported in December: “At the midpoint of his term, Mr. Trump has grown more sure of his own judgment and more cut off from anyone else’s than at any point since taking office. He spends ever more time in front of a television, often retreating to his residence out of concern that he is being watched too closely. As he sheds advisers at a head-spinning rate, he reaches out to old associates, complaining that few of the people around him were there at the beginning.”
A Washington Post analysis last year showed Trump was taking fewer and fewer scheduled daily intelligence briefings and preferred them orally instead of written. A national security spokesman told the paper then, however, “[Trump] is an avid consumer of intelligence, appreciates the hard work of his briefers and of the entire intelligence community and looks forward every day to the give and take of his intelligence briefings.”
Axios first reported on the concept of his “executive time” in January 2018. At the time, Sanders argued Trump was accomplishing much.
She said: “The President is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen.”