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Analysis | Trump has spent one out of every five minutes of his presidency in Palm Beach

The Washington Post logoThe Washington Post 4/17/2017 Philip Bump
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., April 6. © Carlos Barria/Reuters President Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., April 6.

Before hosting the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday, President Trump had another traditional Easter event to attend: the annual Easter egg hunt at Mar-a-Lago, the resort he owns in Palm Beach, Fla. On Sunday, the president and first lady Melania Trump attended the private event at the club while the reporter assigned to cover the president for the White House press corps waited in the parking lot. (The only indication of who attended was offered by the cars that arrived for the event: “a cavalcade of luxury vehicles, including Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Land Rover, Jaguar, Tesla, and Cadillac,” according to the pool reporter.)

Stephanie Grisham of the first lady’s office tweeted a photo of the Mar-a-Lago grounds — one of the few looks the public might get at the event (though the Palm Beach Post has a few others).

Why was Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Sunday? Quite simply, because he’s usually there on the weekend. On seven of the 13 weekends he’s been president, Trump has spent time at the resort, usually slipping away from Mar-a-Lago to head to one of his nearby golf courses to play a round. That includes each of the last two weekends, when he arrived on Thursday and stayed through most of Sunday.

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Note that this doesn’t include the time spent on Air Force One getting to Palm Beach: This is solely time once the plane lands in Palm Beach or departs from there. (We did, however, include Trump’s visit to his golf club in Jupiter, Fla. on Feb. 11.)

Trump’s taken to calling Mar-a-Lago the “winter White House” or “southern White House,” clearly in part to give the impression that his time at the facility is spent on presidential business. Often, his time there is spent on leisure, of course — but also occasionally on bolstering the commercial value of the property, however indirectly. There’s no discernible presidential value in attending the annual Easter egg hunt, of course, much less any of the various events he’s been photographed popping into over the past few months. There is a clear value to Mar-a-Lago, though.

If we tally the time spent in Palm Beach (at Mar-a-Lago and his golf clubs nearby) rounded to the half-hour since he was inaugurated and through noon on Monday, Trump has spent about one out of every five minutes of his presidency at the “winter White House” — 424.5 hours there and 1,663.5 hours everywhere else, including on Air Force One headed to Mar-a-Lago. (That trip takes about an hour-and-a-half, so that’s another 21 hours spent flying there and back.)

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In other words, there’s a very real sense in which Trump is splitting his time between two jobs: serving as president of the United States and acting as owner/host of Mar-a-Lago. In some cases, those roles overlap, like when he introduced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to a couple having their wedding at the facility. Of course, the attention that follows the president also now encompasses Trump’s property. Not just from the media: After all, a staffer for the first lady tweeted a photo of a private Mar-a-Lago event.

It’s not yet clear if Trump plans to travel to Palm Beach again this week. But if the existing pattern holds, he’ll go on any two of the next four days.

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