Trump begins 17-day “working vacation” at N.J. golf club

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – President Donald Trump, who knocked his predecessor’s work ethic and said he probably wouldn’t take vacations as president, has settled in for 17 days here at his secluded golf club in New Jersey’s fox-hunt and horse country.

Aides are billing Trump’s time at one of his favorite properties as a “working vacation,” a notion bolstered by his arrival on Air Force One on Friday with a retinue of aides, including his newly minted chief of staff, John Kelly.

With the Russia investigation gaining steam and looming crises in North Korea and other hot spots, no one expects a truly quiet couple of weeks.

In fact, within hours of arriving, Trump felt compelled to issue a statement defending his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who has been under fire from conservative groups for pushing out several hard-liners on the national security staff and renewing the security clearance of former president Barack Obama’s last national security adviser, among other things. Trump was briefed on Saturday morning by Kelly on a Marine Corps helicopter crash off the coast of Australia.

Still, even some close to Trump hope that his time in this 8,200-person township about 45 miles west of New York City will provide as much of an August respite as possible from his first six months in the White House.

“It’s good for everyone,” Barry Bennett, a Trump adviser during the campaign, said of the break. “It’s good for the president, and it’s good for Washington. I hope it’s a few hard days of nothingness.”

Trump has no public events scheduled over the weekend and plans to remain on his 535-acre property, where he has already spent four weekends since arriving in office and which some locals have taken to calling “Camp David North.”

Aides said over the coming days, staffers are expected to cycle in and out of town and that the president will be kept fully up to speed on developments at home and abroad.

Meetings and phone calls are expected with several lawmakers, who face a weighty agenda next month, including a request from the administration to increase the nation’s debt ceiling, as well as promised action on tax reform. And it’s possible Trump’s time away could include a couple of day trips elsewhere to highlight initiatives or rally supporters.

“The president will continue to work over the next two weeks,” said deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters, who is among the White House staffers on site this weekend.