White House press secretary Sean Spicer continued Monday to defend President Donald Trump's claims that Trump's predecessor ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the presidential election campaign, even as FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that there is "no information" supporting that claim. The White House didn't confirm whether the president played golf during his almost four hours at the course. "He also had a full day of meetings, calls and interviews for the new NSA (national security adviser)..."
Trump has visited the two courses near his Mar-a-Lago estate - Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter - 10 times in the first two months of his presidency.
But one of the president's friends offered a clue Saturday on Twitter; Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media, shared a photograph of Trump wearing a golfing glove, white polo shirt and red "Make America Great Again" cap and giving a thumbs-up as he posed with two golfers at Trump International.
The reticence may be due to Trump's frequent criticism, when he was a private citizen, of former President Barack Obama's frequent golf outings.
Trump said while campaigning for president that if he won, he would probably be too busy doing the people's business to golf. But the White House has customarily informed reporters traveling with the president what he is up to during these outings, and even provided some details, such as who joined his golf game. He has visited the course all 10 times he has golfed since becoming President. At an event in New Hampshire in February 2016, while again complaining about Obama golfing, Trump declared that if he were in office, "I'd want to stay in the White House and work my ass off". "I'm not going to have time to go play golf".
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It's a little late for Trump and his allies to argue that presidential golf is meaningless trivia, given that Trump himself spent months telling Americans that this was a credible metric for evaluating a president's diligence and productivity.
Trump's top aides would rather obscure that fact, especially considering the President's past comments about the sport and the White House. "I'm not going to have time to go play golf". "Your pooler inquired about who POTUS will the meeting and calls are with". According to a pool report that day, "the White House shares that while at the Trump International Golf Club, he has had meetings and may play a few holes of golf". The White House said Trump had "meetings and phone calls" at the club and wouldn't say whether he was golfing.
As I've noted before, I'm not at all inclined to criticize Trump for wanting to golf, It's a tough job, and presidents should unwind however they want.
But Manafort's control did not last through Election Day.