By Our Foreign Desk/Betsy Klein, CNN
The President of the United States is absent without leave.
President Donald Trump made his first public appearance in six days Wednesday when he visited Arlington National Cemetery for a somber ceremony commemorating Veterans Day alongside first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. He did not speak at the event.
But as he mounts a fierce battle to remain in office and refuses to concede the election he lost, Trump has shown little interest in the work of being President. Since he vowed to fight the election results in the wee hours after Election Day, Trump, who has spent four years producing television moments showcasing his office, has made few efforts to show the American people he is still governing.
Instead, he is firing off inflammatory and baseless claims on his social media accounts, many of which have been flagged by Twitter as misinformation, and hitting his golf course.
A White House spokesman defended the President’s light public schedule, saying he is “carrying out all of his duties.”
“Just as he promised, President Trump is fighting hard for a free and fair election while at the same time carrying out all of his duties to put America First,” deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
Trump did meet with his political and White House advisers on Tuesday to discuss the next steps in his legal strategy, a person familiar with the matter said, and offered no signs he plans to concede the election. Behind the scenes, Trump’s refusal to concede has prompted senior officials across the government to spread word that any cooperation with Biden’s team is forbidden, officials at agencies and the White House said.
But he remains absent when it comes to doing the work of the federal government.
President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, is keeping a presidential schedule, holding a news conference on Tuesday, fielding calls from world leaders and meeting with his newly appointed coronavirus advisory board.
A review of Trump’s daily public schedule since October 2, when he was diagnosed with Covid-19, shows a paucity of official White House events in the lead-up to the November 3 election and in the subsequent days.
Trump White House
Of course, the daily schedule does not include all of a President’s meetings and activities. But nearly 50 campaign rallies, the lack of official meetings over more than a month — the work of being President of the United States — particularly amid a global pandemic, is notable. Trump’s last intelligence briefing on the schedule was for October 2, the morning after he tested positive.
White House officials have frequently touted Trump’s accessibility and transparency with the press, and fielding questions on the way to Marine One with helicopter motors whirring has been a hallmark of his presidency. But Trump has yet to take any questions from the press since his loss, and has yet to provide any credible evidence to back up his baseless claims of voter fraud.
Trump did not take questions from reporters after he delivered a scourge of falsehood-laden remarks in the White House Briefing Room on election night.
Other official White House events since October 2 include meeting with troops at Fort Bragg on October 29, the swearing-in ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on October 26, and remarks on protecting seniors in battleground Florida on October 16.
There have been 13 days with no events listed on the schedule since October 2, including time the President spent convalescing at Walter Reed and at the White House.
Over the weekend, Trump resumed his golf outings, which had been on hold since September 27. He was spotted by CNN’s cameras on the links at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, on Saturday, and again on Sunday, marking his 411th day spent at a Trump property since taking office and 300th day at a golf club.
He was at the club as major networks declared the race for his opponent.