WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. ― President-elect Donald Trump played golf at his course about 13 miles north of his Palm Beach resort Saturday.
What time he left Mar-a-Lago, what time he arrived at Trump National in Jupiter, who he met or played with once there, what time he was finished and whether there were any incidents along the way were not immediately clear, as he ditched the reporters assigned to cover him for the day.
“It was a last-minute decision to play golf, nothing more,” Trump travel aide Stephanie Grisham said.
Presidents, presidents-elect and major party presidential nominees in recent decades have been accompanied everywhere by a group of print, online, wire service and broadcast reporters, a rotating “pool” that shares that information for use by all their colleagues. That tradition, though, was broken during the campaign by Trump, who largely refused to allow members of the press to travel on his personal jetliner, forcing the use of a second plane.
The resulting logistical complications sometimes meant pool reporters ― who often paid thousands of dollars per day for air travel ― were unable to arrive at his campaign events until after he had taken the stage. Trump also refused to take reporters to fundraiser locations. Candidate in both parties had made a practice of this, including releasing information about the hosts, the number of attendees and the amount collected.
Not long after the election, Trump went to a New York City restaurant ― with a full Secret Service motorcade ― without notifying his press pool. Reporters on call that evening learned of his visit because of a restaurant patron’s tweet that he was there, and then the reporters scrambled to get there too.
Trump was scheduled to attend a New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night, which, according to a Politico report, has sold 800 tickets at more than $500 each. Unlike political fundraisers for political parties, the profits from the New Year’s Eve party were expected to flow directly to Trump, who owns the hotel.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told Politico that he was not concerned that ticket buyers might be trying to purchase access to the soon-to-be-president. “This is an annual celebratory event at the private club, like others that have continued to occur since the election. Additionally, the president cannot and does not have a conflict,” Hicks told Politico.