Trump's vacation: golf, tweets and phone calls


Washington (AFP)

President Donald Trump is spending his winter vacation at his exclusive Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida but he is not taking a break from two of his favorite things -- golf and Twitter.

Trump flew to his Florida resort on Air Force One a week ago, and his days since have tended to follow the same routine.

Shortly before 9:00 am, the presidential convoy leaves Mar-a-Lago and heads for the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

The ride takes about 10 minutes with the motorcade generally stopping for red lights along the way.

Trump supporters occasionally gather on the route brandishing signs such as "Trump 2020" and protestors also make an appearance. On one day, a woman was waiting outside his golf club wearing a pink T-shirt with the word "Resist."

Trump's golf partners have included his son, Eric, and a Republican senator, according to the White House.

He has also hit the links with several professional golfers including Jim Herman, Daniel Berger, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau.

The White House goes to great efforts to prevent the media from viewing Trump on the golf course but CNN managed to get a peek at the president one day driving a golf cart.

On Friday, Trump invited about 60 members of the US Coast Guard to play golf at his club. TV images showed him shaking hands and taking pictures with Coast Guard members while wearing a white shirt, black pants, white shoes and a red "USA" hat.

"I just wanted to thank you," Trump was overheard saying. "Don't say I took a triple bogey, when I actually did a birdie."

- Impromptu NY Times interview -

Trump, after lunch at the club's Grill Room on Thursday, gave an impromptu interview to Michael Schmidt of The New York Times, speaking on a variety of subjects for about half-an-hour without any aides present.

According to the Times, Trump said 16 times during the interview that there had been "no collusion" between members of his presidential election team and Russia.

The Times said Trump also showed off a plaque that lists him as the winner of "several" annual club championships. Asked how far he was driving the ball these days, the 71-year-old Trump said it "Gets shorter every year."

According to a tally kept by NBC News, Trump has spent 113 of the 342 days of his presidency at one of his properties.

His predecessor, Barack Obama, tended to vacation in his birthplace, Hawaii. George W. Bush would usually return to his Texas ranch.

The only day Trump hasn't played golf during his Florida break was on Christmas Day.

Besides the daily golf outings, Trump has left Mar-a-Lago on two other occasions -- for a Christmas Eve mass and for a visit to a local fire station.

His tweet salvos generally come in the morning -- before golf -- and in the evening.

There have been nearly 40 tweets or re-tweets during the past week on a wide range of subjects: North Korea, the FBI, the economy and the Islamic State group to name just a few.

On Friday morning, he took aim at a new target -- the US Postal Service -- and an old one -- retail giant Amazon.

On Christmas Eve, Trump and his wife, Melania, fielded calls at Mar-a-Lago from children around the country expressing wishes for Santa Claus.

Trump told one child "Santa will bring you building blocks, so many you won't be able to use them all."

He promised another his ailing grandmother would recover. "So your grandma's gonna be good, okay, she's gonna be good," he said.

Trump also held a video conference on Christmas Eve with soldiers deployed overseas, telling them they're doing "an incredible job."

?I just want to wish everybody a very, very merry Christmas, we say Merry Christmas, again, very, very proudly," he said.

Trump is scheduled to return to Washington next week after a New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago.