When it comes to covering President Trump‘s excursions to his self-nicknamed “summer and winter White Houses” in Mar-A-Lago and Bedminster, New Jersey, the White House Press corps has had to get creative.
Because Trump’s activities at his golf clubs are often hidden from the press, reporters have resorted to scouring Instagram for clues about how the president spends his weekends away from Washington — and how many rounds of golf those weekends include.
This weekend, for example — the eighth weekend that Trump has spent away from the White House, and the 14th consecutive weekend that he has visited a Trump-owned property since taking office — the press corps was told that the president was “having meetings and taking calls” at his Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster on Saturday.
But an Instagram post shared from the golf course on Saturday afternoon showed the president walking on a putting green, carrying a golf club and wearing his golfing best.
According to CBS, Instagram user “40primrose” posted the photo on Trump’s public account on Saturday, alongside the caption: “Seis de Mayo w POTUS,” which translates to “the 6th of May” with the president.
The post and account were soon deleted — but not before Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Memoli tweeted a screenshot of the telltale photo.
The tweet gave White House reporters exiled in Branchburg, New Jersey — six miles away from Trump’s golf club — their only glimpse of the day into what the president was up to.
Trump’s regular — and costly-to-taxpayers — weekend getaways and golf habits have come under heavy scrutiny. The president has made 18 golf outings since his inauguration on Jan. 20, the majority of which the White House has refused to confirm or comment on.
The New York Times reported in February that “the White House goes to considerable lengths to keep Mr. Trump’s golf game away from scrutiny,” which the newspaper said included sequestering reporters to keep them from seeing the president playing golf.
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The president confirmed via Facebook that he played golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to the U.S. in February. (The New York Times reported that Trump actually played two rounds of golf with Abe: 18 holes at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, and nine more at the President’s club in West Palm Beach.) It was also confirmed — via photos shared by passers-by on social media — that Trump played separate rounds of golf with pro golfers Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump’s golf club visits during a press briefing last month, saying: “Just because you go somewhere doesn’t mean you did it.”
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During Barack Obama’s presidency, Trump repeatedly criticized his predecessor for spending too much time on the golf course.
He trotted out the criticism on the campaign trail as well, promising voters that if elected, “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”
It seems the hypocrisy of Trump’s comments was not lost on Obama White House photographer Pete Souza, who on Sunday shared a throwback photo of Obama not-so-secretly playing a round of golf as president.
“Meetings, 2016,” Souza captioned the snapshot.