Trump ends 32-day lockdown with Camp David trip with Hope Hicks

Donald Trump ends 32-day White House lockdown by flying to Camp David for weekend with officials including Hope Hicks – and promises he will socially distance

  • Donald Trump left the White House for his first trip in more than a month and took with him Hope Hicks and Jared Kushner
  • The president departed for Camp David for the weekend Friday evening before heading to Arizona next week and then to Ohio – both crucial state for reelection
  • The president returned to the White House March 9 from the campaign trail where he was holding massive rallies every few days 
  • Since then has had minimal reprieves from the residence
  • Trump has expressed his eagerness to leave the White House as Americans continue to complain of lockdown and stay-at-home orders
  • ‘I’d like to get out,’ Trump said Wednesday. ‘This is the most beautiful house in the world, in my opinion, but I think there’s just a great demand to get out’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Donald Trump left the White House late Friday afternoon, ending a 32-day lockdown by boarding Marine One to Camp David for a weekend with officials – and promising to socially distance when he is there.

The president took with him a group of senior officials including Hope Hicks, who was seen for the first time since she returned to the White House in March, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law.

Trump’s trip to Camp David is his first since last October, but it is the first time he has left the White House since March 28, when he traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to watch the USNS Comfort hospital ship set off for New York.

The president will spend the weekend at Camp David before heading to Arizona next week – a sign of his eagerness to project a return to normalcy.

As he left, the lack of normalcy was emphasized when a reporter asked if he planned to socially distance this weekend and he responded: ‘Yeah, I will.’

Get me out of here: Donald Trump stopped only briefly to answer questions from reporters as he left the White House for the first time since March 28 

New normal: Reporters did their best to socially distance in an almost impossible environment as Donald Trump left for Camp David

Answer: Donald Trump offered a shorter than usual performance on his way to Marine One but was asked if he would socially distance and said: ‘Yeah, I will.’

First sighting: Hope Hicks, officially counselor to the president in her second time as a White House staffer, headed for Marine One with Jared Kushner and Dan Scavino, Trump’s former golf caddy turned social media guru who was recently promoted to deputy chief of staff

We’re out of here too: Jared Kushner has not in fact been on lockdown, having fled Washington D.C. to spend Passover with his wife Ivanka Trump and their three children at a second home on his father-in-law’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course

Good to be back: Donald Trump has not been on Marine One since March 28, when he went to Norfolk, Virginia, to see off the USNS hospital ship Comfort as it was deployed to New York to help the crisis-hit hospitals system

Hail to the chief: A Marine salutes as Donald Trump climbs the steps to Marine One for the trip to Camp David

Wheels-up: Donald Trump and his entourage head for Camp David with a smaller than usual crowd to watch him go. Among those watching were (second from right) Kyle West, a mailman from Cincinnati, Ohio, who had just been honored at a ceremony in the White House by the president for his dedication during the virus crisis

Up in the air: Marine One heads for Camp David and Donald Trump’s first time away from the White House since March 28

The sighting of Hicks comes after her return to the White House at the beginning of March.

Surprisingly she had escaped being photographed in almost two months of working for Trump, officially as an aide to Kushner with the title Counselor to the President.

Her last role was as communications director, which she left after a tumultuous end to her initial White House career as first revealed first that she was having an affair with Rob Porter, Trump’s then staff secretary, and then that he was accused of assaulting both his ex-wives; then Hicks herself admitted telling ‘white lies’ to the press about Trump.

Her return in early March has been followed by weeks of staying out of sight. 

But she has been involved in the response to the coronavirus crisis and pushed President Trump to take control of the coronavirus briefings, which popped up his approval ratings for a few weeks, but have more recently tilted toward political disaster.  

Reporting from Politico sheds light on Hicks’ emerging role at the White House, as she traded in the communications director job to serve as a counselor to the president under Jared Kushner for her second tour.   

Hicks, Kushner, along with immigration hardliner Stephen Miller and staff secretary Derek Lyons all pressed the president to give last month’s ill-fated Oval Office address, in which Trump butchered the roll-out of his policy to ban travel from Europe due to coronavirus spread fears. 

The president trusts Hicks, 31, who started as Trump’s campaign press secretary and then followed him to the White House after his improbable victory in 2016. 

After ascending to the role of White House communications director – becoming the youngest person to ever hold the job – Hicks departed the White House in 2018 to work for Fox in Los Angeles. 

Politico reported that she missed her family and friends who lived on the east coast and the fast-paced, front-row-seat-to-history gig she had at the White House. 

By the time Hicks started at the White House in March coronavirus had come to the United States and the aide would need to help the president survive a pandemic. 

Hicks urged Trump to ‘act like a frontman,’ as Politico put it. 

Trump soon started leading the daily briefings, despite the coronavirus taskforce being led officially by Vice President Mike Pence. 

They culminated – or at least appeared to – in his disastrous briefing more than a week ago in which he speculated that coronavirus could be cured by ingesting disinfectant or somehow exposing the inner body to light. 

Faced with crumbling polls as a result of the briefings, he lashed out in an f-word tirade at his campaign chief, Brad Parscale, who presented data showing he faced losing the election.

‘I’m not f***ing losing to Joe Biden,’ Trump raged, the Associated Press revealed.

The combination of officials on the trip to Camp David suggests that his re-election prospects will be on the agenda again – and in particular the mechanics of campaigning during the crisis. 

The president has been at the White House since March 9, after being forced to cancel his massive reelection rallies and halt all other travel-related campaign events as coronavirus spread through the country and social distancing and stay-at-home orders were implemented.

And just like many other Americans, Trump has become stir-crazy after nearly two months of remaining in his residence.

‘I’d like to get out,’ Trump said at an event with business leaders at the White House Wednesday. ‘This is the most beautiful house in the world, in my opinion, but I think there’s just a great demand to get out.’

‘I’m going to Arizona next week,’ Trump revealed his plans to the room. ‘And I’m going to, I hope, Ohio very soon.’

‘And we’re going to start to move around, and hopefully in the not too distant future we’ll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other,’ he continued.

A poll out last week showed presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden up nine points in Arizona. The poll was a troubling sign for Trump as Arizona hasn’t voted blue in a presidential election since 1996.

Ohio, a rust belt state with 18 electoral college votes, is also an important state for Trump’s reelection in November.

Trump insisted that his trip to Arizona would be ‘industry’ related, indicating it would have something to do with combating the coronavirus.

Many states are considering when to lift lockdown and stay-at-home orders, while several others – mainly in Middle America – have already started the process.

Trump held a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina in March, and since then has had very few instances of leaving White House grounds.

One of his only day trips since sequestering in the White House was to attend the launching of the hospital ship USNS Comfort from Norfolk en route to New York to help relieve hospitals overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

He also visited CDC headquarters March 6, spent the weekend in Mar-a-Lago and visited FEMA headquarters March 19.

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