President Donald Trump is showing signs of increasing frustration with the uncertainty surrounding his Senate trial as he spends time in Florida over the holidays at his Mar-Lago resort with a rotating cast of aides.
Trump has settled into something of a routine during the first week of his holiday in Florida, firing off shots at Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Twitter for withholding articles of impeachment from the Senate in between rounds of golf and mingling with family and friends.
He also vented about his impeachment while taking questions from reporters after his holiday greetings to US troops on Christmas Eve and when he spoke to conservative students last Saturday.
Trump’s apparent frustration with the state of limbo comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to signal ambivalence about starting the trial. The Kentucky Republican said earlier this week that he is not anxious to move on to the task, despite the President’s clear eagerness.
A source close to Trump says the President has been seeking input over the holidays from a variety of allies about who should be on his defense team and what his defense strategy should be. There are serious discussions about having some of his House GOP allies play a role in the trial, but Trump hasn’t made a final call, people familiar with the matter say.
One source says the only certainty about the President’s defense team at this point is that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is the lead and will be assisted by several of his deputies. The President’s personal outside counsel will play a more limited role, the source says.
Meanwhile, White House officials have been coming and going from Trump’s Palm Beach retreat. Presidential senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner arrived Thursday, a person familiar said. Now that Kushner has joined the President, sources say, the holiday is likely to become more of a working trip than the relatively unstructured time Trump has spent at Mar-a-Lago so far.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney joined Trump last weekend, when the President arrived, and he helped with the event for conservative students that Trump spoke at Saturday.
Mulvaney is expected to return to Mar-a-Lago this weekend, a person familiar said, and another aide from his office is expected to rotate in after the acting chief of staff leaves next week.
Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley is also expected to join the President for the second week of his holiday.
Eric Ueland, the White House legislative director, was in Florida earlier this week but has departed, a White House official said.
Cipollone at one point had been expected to join Trump for part of the trip but there are no concrete plans for that at this time, a person familiar with the matter said. That could change as the end of the holiday congressional recess – and the revival of the impeachment drama – draws closer.