coronavirus: Home Alone: No rallies and no golf for Donald Trump, just the TV to rankle him

Katie Rogers & Annie Karni

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump arrives in the Oval Office these days as late as noon, when he is usually in a sour mood after his morning marathon of television. He has been up in the White House master bedroom as early as 5am watching Fox News, then CNN, with a dollop of MSNBC thrown in for rage viewing. He makes calls with the TV on in the background, his routine since he first arrived at the White House.

But now there are differences. The president sees few allies no matter which channel he clicks. He is angry even with Fox, an old security blanket, for not portraying him as he would like to be seen. And he makes time to watch governor Andrew M Cuomo’s briefings from New York, closely monitoring for a sporadic compliment or snipe.

Confined to the White House, the president is isolated from the supporters, visitors, travel and golf that once entertained him, according to more than a dozen administration officials and close advisers who spoke about Trump’s strange new life. He is tested weekly, as is Vice President Mike Pence, for Covid-19. The economy — Trump’s main case for re-election — has imploded. News coverage of his handling of the coronavirus has been overwhelmingly negative.

The daily White House task force briefing is the one portion of the day that Trump looks forward to, although even Republicans say that the two hours of political attacks, grievances and falsehoods by the president are hurting him politically.

Trump will hear none of it. Aides say he views them as prime-time shows that are the best substitute for the rallies he can longer attend but craves.

The president, who advisers say is more sensitive to criticism than at nearly any other point in his presidency, has come to rely on only a handful of longtime aides.

Hope Hicks, a former communications director who rejoined the White House this year as counselor to the president, maintains his daily schedule. His former personal assistant, Johnny McEntee, now runs presidential personnel.

As soon as he gets to the Oval Office, the president often receives his daily intelligence briefing, and Pence sometimes joins him. Then there are meetings with his national security team or economic advisers.

Throughout the day, Trump calls governors, will have lunch with Cabinet secretaries and pores over newspapers, which he treats like official briefing books. He calls aides about stories he sees, either to order them to get a world leader on the phone or to ask questions about something he has read.

After the daily White House briefing, Trump watches television in his private dining room off the Oval Office. Aides who are still around will join him to rehash the day and offer their assessments. Comfort food — including french fries and Diet Coke — is readily available.

If he is not staying late in the West Wing, Trump occasionally has dinner with his wife, Melania Trump, and their son, Barron. By the end of the day, Trump turns back to his constant companion, television.

Source Article

Lois C. Ferrara

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