President Donald Trump will spend the weekend away at his Palm Beach estate, making this the first vacation of his presidency.
The White House announced this week that President Trump will arrive at Mar-a-Lago Club on Friday, February 3rd and will return to the White House on Monday, February 6th. They are referring to Mar-a-Lago as the “Winter White House.”
Here’s everything you need to know about what Trump will be doing on his trip and the protests that are planned.
1. President Trump Will Reportedly Attend the Annual Red Cross Ball
President Trump this weekend is expected to attend the 60th annual Red Cross Ball, which is being held at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday, February 4th, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.
This is a yearly fundraiser put on by the humanitarian organization, and the Palm Beach Daily News also reports that President Trump will be joined at the event by his wife, Melania Trump.
According to the Miami Herald, the event was scheduled to take place at Mar-a-Lago before the November election; it has been held at Mar-a-Lago in the past, and Trump has been in attendance for prior events.
Red Cross is now facing criticism for hosting the fundraiser at Trump’s estate, especially in light of the president’s recent executive order temporarily suspending the U.S. refugee program and halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. Some of the money the Red Cross raises this weekend will go to help those affected by President Trump’s travel ban.
“The American Red Cross, when requested by local authorities, will provide basic support to stranded travelers affected by the recent executive order on immigration, including providing food and water at ports of entry; blankets, toiletries and other aid; and health, mental health and spiritual care services,” Red Cross spokesperson Jeanne Hamrick told My Palm Beach.
2. Melania Trump Will Appear With the President for the First Time Since the Inauguration
Melania Trump is expected to join President Trump on his trip this weekend. This will be the first time the president and the first lady have been together since the inauguration.
That’s because Melania Trump has not moved into the White House yet and is instead living in New York while Baron Trump finishes the school year. She has made no public appearances at all in the past two weeks, sparking rumors that she might never move to D.C. at all.
The first lady just recently hired Lindsay Reynolds to be her chief of staff; this hiring usually takes place before the inauguration. One of Melania Trump’s advisers said that the first lady still intends to move to the White House.
“It has only been a short time since the inauguration, and the first lady is going to go about her role in a pragmatic and thoughtful way that is unique and authentic to her,” the spokesperson told The New York Times.
3. The Trip Will Cost About $3 Million
Politico reported this week that Donald Trump’s weekend vacation will cost up to $3 million.
That’s hardly an unprecedented price tag. In fact, the only reason we have that figure is because Barack Obama took a trip to Palm Beach in 2013 that is virtually identical to Trump’s, and the Government Accountability Office reported that Obama’s Florida trip cost $3 million. Obama in February 2013 spent the exact same amount of time in Palm Beach as Trump is about to.
But Trump over the years repeatedly criticized President Obama for taking frequent expensive vacations, and so it’s worth noting that he is taking a similarly-priced vacation two weeks into his presidency.
Trump also said in a 2011 interview with Fox News that Obama is always taking vacations.
“The fact is he takes more vacations than any human being I’ve ever seen,” Trump said. “…It sends a bad message. Here we have a country that’s really going to hell in a handbasket. Let’s not kid ourselves – what’s happening in this country is horrible. All over the world they’re talking about it. And we have a president who’s constantly – whether it’s Martha’s Vineyard or someplace else – constantly on vacation, I mean all the time he’s on vacation. So I think it sends a very bad message. We have to work in this country to bring it back.”
Trump went on to say, “I think it’s pretty sad we’re the taxpayers paying for his trips to raise money.”
4. President Trump Said in 2015 He Would Not Take Vacations as President
In June 2015, when Trump first launched his campaign, he said that if he won the presidency, he would not take any vacations.
“I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done,” Trump told The Hill. “I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off.”
He also said during a 60 Minutes interview in November 2016, “There’s just so much to be done. So I don’t think we’ll be very big on vacations, no.”
Trump would likely argue that this doesn’t count as a vacation, as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says that the president will be holding meetings while at Mar-a-Lago. That was often true of Obama’s vacations too, though; according to The New York Times, when President Obama took a vacation at Martha’s Vineyard in 2015, he spent a large part of it on phone calls trying to rally support for the Iran nuclear deal. Nancy Reagan once famously said, “Presidents don’t get vacations — they just get a change of scenery,”
Promising not to take vacations as president and then immediately taking a lot of them is not unique to Donald Trump, though. According to Politifact, Barack Obama made a similar pledge, saying during his 2008 campaign, “You give me this office and in turn, my fears, doubts, insecurities, foibles, need for sleep, family life, vacations, leisure is gone. I am giving myself to you.” He ended up taking 28 vacations throughout his eight years in office.
Trump had reportedly considered the idea of spending every weekend away from the White House. The New York Times reported in November that Trump was “talking with his advisers about how many nights a week he will spend in the White House” and that he told them he “would like to do what he is used to, which is spending time in New York when he can.” During his presidential campaign, Trump flew back to Trump Tower every evening, regardless of how far from New York he was holding his late-night rallies.
The president was mocked a few weeks ago for “taking off” his first weekend on the job; he was inaugurated on Friday, but he said he didn’t consider his first day to be until Monday. Still, the president ended up getting a fair amount of things done that weekend, including a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters the day after his inauguration.
5. There Are Expected to be Protests Outside of Mar-a-Lago
This past week, protesters began to plan a demonstration for Saturday; it would take place outside of Mar-a-Lago during the Red Cross gala. The event was referred to as the “March to Mar-A-Lago for Humanity,” but it became so big – with 2,000 people saying on Facebook that they would attend – that the organizer shut it down.
“Safety must be the highest priority,” a notice on the event’s Facebook page read. “There was no way to self manage thousand of protestors and keep them on sidewalks…I will not allow a March initiated by me to put anyones life at risk.”
But another event page quickly popped up in its place, this time called “March to Mar-a-Lago We Will Not Be Stopped.” This protest is being organized by South Florida Activism and Women’s March Florida, and there are currently about 1,100 people who say they are going to the event.
Earlier this week, President Trump was scheduled to travel to Milwaukee to visit a Harley-Davidson factory, but it was cancelled due to the threat of protests. Trump ended up meeting with Harley-Davidson executives at the White House on Thursday.