Trump Provides Reasons for ‘Executive Time’, but the Facts Don’t Agree

February 11, 2019, 12:35 PM UTC

Donald Trump isn’t happy with media reports that say he isn’t working hard enough.

On Twitter Sunday he responded to more than three months worth of leaks of his daily schedules, 60% of which were occupied by “executive time”. He contended that this is productive work time, despite the media’s portrayal that he spent that time “relaxing.”

Trump also said that his schedule was easy to come by, contradicting the characterization of their publication as “leaks.” But others in the White House might disagree. Since the first leaks last week, the White House has launched an internal investigation to find out who released the schedules, and the president’s secretary, Madeleine Westerhout called the leak “a disgraceful breach of trust.”

To prove his work ethic, Trump tweeted a dubious claim that he worked more than other presidents and cited the list of issues he has faced in office. In the list, he repeated some familiar exaggerations that have been fact-checked and proven false. For instance, he claimed again that there was a risk of war with North Korea when he took office. That claim was extensively fact-checked after the recent State of the Union and found to be exaggerated at best.

The notion that the U.S. military was depleted when he took office is contradicted by the World Bank, which shows that U.S. military expenditure as a percentage of GDP was higher in 2016 than it was in 2001 (though down from its 2010 peak) and that it declined between 2016 and 2017, Trump’s first year in office. Whether there’s “too much regulation” is, to a certain degree, a matter of perspective, but the claim that taxes are high belies the downward trend in taxes since the 1980s and the fact that the highest marginal income tax rate when Trump took office was among the lowest since the Great Depression, according to the Tax Policy Centre.

So how exactly does Trump spend his “executive time”? The Guardian reports he makes calls to fox news hosts, old friends such as Rudy Giuliani, Congressional leaders, and newspapers like The New York Times to complain about their coverage. Trump says these are all work-related activities, but Chris Whipple, who wrote a book about White House Chiefs of Staff, said, “If the calls had any governmental purpose, it would be on the schedule.”