In a few minutes, President Donald Trump will release a new set of tweets, flooding social-media accounts with his unique brand of digital smelling salts—words that will jolt his supporters and provoke his adversaries.
Nearly a dozen senior aides stand in the Oval Office, crowding behind couches or near door-length windows. This is the way he likes to work, more often than not: in a crowd. He sits behind his desk finishing the tasks of the day, which have included watching new Senate testimony about Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, by signing orders in red folders with a black Sharpie.
When he held the job, Barack Obama tended to treat the Oval Office like a sanctum sanctorum, accessible only for a small circle of advisers to break its silence on a tightly regulated schedule. For Trump, the room functions as something like a royal court or meeting hall, with open doors that senior aides and distinguished visitors flock through when he is in the building.
In practice, it feels much like his old corner office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, minus all the clutter of memorabilia, a place to convene an audience, to broadcast his exceptionalism, to entertain, take photos, amaze and make deals. Some aides still call him “Mr. Trump,” and everyone turns to listen when he speaks. His presence always seems to consume the room.
And the stream of visitors is constant. Just a few hours earlier, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster had stopped by with a foreign military delegation. Vice President Mike Pence brought by the Prime Minister of Georgia unscheduled for a photo. The New England Patriots got to take pictures behind the desk recently, and the President says the billionaire Ronald Lauder, a great collector of art, went crazy when he saw the painting of George Washington above the fireplace. “Never had people,” Trump likes to say of Obama’s use of the space. “I use the room. I use it a lot. I had the biggest people in the country here.”
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