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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Maybe the White House really is a dump!

According to a golf writer who quotes only a single anonymous source, President Trump was “chatting with some members before a recent round of golf” when he explained his frequent appearances at the club by saying: “That White House is a real dump.”


A White House spokesman denied the account — as did Mr. Trump.

But this much is clear: The White House needs some serious work.

Mr. Trump took serious grief last week when staff announced the president would spend 17 days at his golf club in New Jersey. Stories whirled saying he was taking a “golf vacation,” but c’mon, people, you gotta know by now that the president of the United States — Democrat or Republican — never has a day off, don’t you?

Turns out Mr. Trump left the White House — along with everyone else who works there — so workmen could undertake some serious tasks. First, the 27-year-old heating and cooling system needs to be replaced, but so do worn carpets throughout the building. A major project on the South Portico stairs, built in 1824, will also be completed while he’s gone.

The house — with 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 147 windows and 28 fireplaces — was first occupied by President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, who moved into the mansion in 1800. Those pesky British burned the building in 1814 during the War of 1812, requiring massive repairs.

Major renovations were done during Teddy Roosevelt’s term and again during Harry Truman’s time in office, when everything but the outer walls were dismantled. Since then, there have been major projects undertaken, but often, the president and his staff could remain in the White House.

But a new report in Politico says things are not so great at America’s House.

Bug zappers buzz in the West Wing while flies zip around. The yellow carpet is worn, and it can sometimes be difficult to work in parts of the White House because it fills with fumes when Marine One lands or takes off on the lawn of America’s most famous home.

Some White House aides claim to have seen rodents, and say they’re used to having maintenance professionals moving around their work space to do work on the air conditioning system, which hasn’t been overhauled in more than 20 years.

Fixing it is top of the agenda for a building-wide renovation blitz scheduled for the next two weeks, while Mr. Trump heads to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

“We had bug zappers going 24/7,” said Tommy Vietor, who served as National Security Council spokesman under President Obama. “It’s the best office I will ever have, but that building is old and the infrastructure needs constant improvement.”

The renovations are expected to be completed by Aug. 21. Other White House staff has moved into the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building while the work is done.

As for the report that Trump called the White House a “dump” — to a bunch of strangers at one of his golf clubs — well, that just seems spurious.

The golf writer, Alan Shipnuck, claims “the president said this in front of eight or nine members and staffers at [Trump] Bedminster. It was his first visit to the club after he had been residing in the White House. It was a moment of candor. Someone who was a part of that conversation relayed it to me. I found this person to be an extremely credible source on any number of topics.”

Sounds like more fake news.

• Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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