He has answered no questions from reporters, has not taken any cameras into the Oval Office and has ventured no further than his golf course of the same name, 25 miles from the White House in Virginia.
In fact, according to a White House official, there is even the word that Trump is seriously considering canceling his annual visit to Mar-a-Lago to celebrate Thanksgiving and choosing to stay in Washington instead.
“It feels like a bunker mentality,” said the official.
Even if workers dismantle the temporary metal mesh fencing that surrounded the White House on election day and drive away, the president will remain pinned in the building as he continues to deny losing to President-elect Joe Biden.
If he looks out of his north-facing windows, he can see the exam stand for Biden’s inaugural parade – the same one he sat in four years ago – being rebuilt on his lawn.
When he ventures downstairs to meet at the Oval Office, he often stays late into the evening to talk about his chaotic legal efforts and wonder why more of his lawyers aren’t defending him on TV.
During a particularly heated meeting last Thursday, his deputy campaign manager accused his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who had the speakerphone, of being a “f ** king a ** hole”.
Some days there is talk of a public appearance, but few have appeared since Biden was predicted to be the election winner. This gave him the same number of votes (306) that Trump had previously classified as a landslide victory when he took office in 2016.
Few previous periods in his administration had such lighting plans. Trump has rarely or never defended himself against television cameras for so long.
His three public appearances since Nov. 3 have been a lying appearance in the boardroom, a rain-soaked wreath in Arlington National Cemetery, and remarks in the rose garden about the coronavirus vaccine, all of which ended with no questions asked.
Even Trump’s publicly traded but closed press events were thrifty. He had lunch with Vice President Mike Pence twice and met with his State Department and Treasury Secretaries last Thursday. However, his schedule has not included an intelligence briefing in more than a month, despite the fact that his administration has refused to inform the president-elect, who on Tuesday convened his own non-state national security meeting and invited cameras for a photo. op.
Trump has largely stopped calling US allies, especially because they want to acknowledge Biden’s victory. The last foreign leader the White House Trump spoke to was French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he elected on October 30 after a terrorist attack in Nice. On Tuesday, two of Trump’s closest global friends, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave Biden letters of congratulations.
He has sent smoke signals through some members of the conservative media. His friend Geraldo Rivera, a Fox News correspondent, said Trump described himself as a “realist” when they spoke last week.
“It will soon be time to say goodbye with grace and dignity,” tweeted Rivera. Trump spent the following weekend making false claims that he “won the election,” including all capital letters that identified social media media as disinformation.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, some of Trump’s advisors pushed for more official events that would show the president is doing the job he is now desperate to keep. However, prior to November 3, the White House had no announcements or official commitments in the pipeline as Trump and his team focused on re-election.
Trump has taken political and human moves behind closed doors, including firing the Secretary of Defense and preparing the drawdown orders for Afghanistan and Iraq. He reportedly asked about ways to strike Iran during a meeting last week. And his administration is working hard to step up deregulation and immigration efforts before the end of Trump’s term in office.
Even so, Trump has shown little interest in expanding his schedule, people familiar with the matter said, and few aides have brought up the idea because of his dark mood and concerns about his loss on him.
Even with Biden making public appearances focusing on governance on a daily basis, Trump has felt no obligation to keep up – despite observing the former Vice President’s activities from the White House.
Instead, he spends the morning watching TV at the residence, arrives at the Oval Office later that afternoon and stays until the evening. He paces back and forth between the office and its adjoining dining room, which is equipped with a large television and where newspapers and magazines are distributed.
When members of his coronavirus task force notified governors on Monday of a nationwide increase in cases from the Situation Room of the White House in the basement, Trump was upstairs following developments in Georgia and Pennsylvania where his team is struggling to take legal action, to question the election results.
Later, when Pence made his way to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the dignified transfer of American soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Egypt, the president was in the west wing reaching out to developments in Nevada and making claims that they would have a “big impact.”
The president has not yet commented on the deaths of the Americans who were killed in a peacekeeping force in Egypt last Thursday. He didn’t tweet about the crash or make any other public comments about it.
The west wing had been without coronavirus in the weeks following the election as Chief of Staff Mark Meadows without a personal guide. A number of other Trump advisors became infected after attending an election night party at the White House where few guests wore masks.
Meadows returned to the White House on Monday. He’d worked in isolation and spent a lot of time on conference calls with colleagues and Trump. People familiar with the events told CNN.
Others in the building seem less sure of their future. Despite an edict from Trump’s hiring manager that anyone caught looking for work would be fired immediately, many résumés came in from the White House on Capitol Hill over the past week as employees look for jobs.
Many more said they are looking forward to a day when Trump even obliquely recognizes that he will not be president in January so that they too can look for their next appearance. Until then, employees will come into the building later or not at all.
There’s a pervasive feeling of autopilot in the east wing when Trump doesn’t instruct when or whether to accept the election results. Without approval to plan a White House move in 64 days, there is no need to start packing or book trucks, leaving staff in the balance, “Are we going to stay or are we going?” for someone with knowledge of the situation.
First Lady Melania Trump is focused on revealing her Christmas decorations for the time being, and lists are being made for the dozen of Christmas parties the White House is still keen to host.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that time was running out for Trump’s legal challenges and that state voting certificates would provide vital evidence that the election was over.
“Once these certifications are in place due to litigation in various locations, they will be final,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “The electoral college will meet in December and the inauguration will be on January 20th.”
“We will have a proper transfer from this administration to the next,” McConnell said. “What we all say about it is frankly irrelevant.”
For now, Trump continues to strive to advance his legal challenges and ponder increasingly conspiratorial theories about why the voices didn’t go his way. When he went public he was only looking for the most famous venues.
Glimpses from cameras positioned across the Potomac River from his golf club on Saturday and Sunday showed him racing across the course behind the wheel of his car with a caddy hanging on his back.
Trump seemed to get the greatest consolation from the many supporters who gathered in Washington over the weekend. Many protested the election results and spoke out in favor of him. The day before the rally, he wrote on Twitter that he “might even try to stop by and say hello”.
But even then, Trump didn’t really show up in the crowd. Instead, he chose to roll through the revered crowds in his motorcade and vigorously waved out the window while secret service agents jogged beside his vehicle.
Trump later called his social media advisor Dan Scavino to marvel at the sight.