Clinton famously got himself into trouble for giving access to the Lincoln Bedroom within the second-floor residence to well-heeled donors, and he fell into trouble in other ways when he left the residence — such as his sexual indiscretions with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the West Wing that made him only the second U.S. president to get impeached.
President Barack Obama routinely returned to the residence each night by early evening for dinners with his family and often worked later into night from the private office in the residence known as the Treaty Room.
The White House residence offers its own living room, study and the Yellow Oval Room for grander entertaining — in addition to the bedrooms, kitchen, dining and dressing rooms. Over 90 people work in the White House residence, both serving the president and his family as well as helping to throw hundreds of events each year for visitors.
For Trump, moving to Washington has meant re-calibrating his New York routine, where he also lived and worked in the same Trump Tower building.
Now he tends to go to the Oval Office and adjacent private dining room for five to six hours a day for formal meetings, lunches and ceremonial events, current and former administration officials say. But the bulk of his work in the mornings, late afternoons, evenings and weekends happens in his private quarters where Trump can call staff and advisers as early as 6 a.m. and up to midnight. Sometimes he or one of his aides will summon a senior staffer to the residence for an informal discussion or quick meeting to review a speech.
He also uses it during working hours as a place to watch TV freely, tweet and serve as own his one-man communications director and political strategist. The residence serves like a bunker for his impeachment response and his real-time reaction to testimony, witnesses and public hearings.
Critics of Trump’s reliance on the residence as a place of business argue it can help to obscure official work and visitors. Calls he places or receives from landlines, unless they are following national security protocols, go out through the White House operator; only Trump and the operator generally know exactly who he has talked to in the last 24 hours. Trump also has long been known to rely on his cellphone for calls, avoiding the White House staff.
The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment.
A third former senior administration official insisted Trump’s heavy use of the residence was “not an attempt on the president’s part to hide things. He is a workaholic, so he wakes up early and works out of the residence. It’s just the way his internal work clock has been for decades,” the official said.
Trump also loves to open up parts of the private residence to special guests, personally taking them on tours of the Lincoln Bedroom where he’ll show off a copy of the Gettysburg Address. It’s a party trick he deployed in an attempt to wow German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a move he uses with a wide array of other White House visitors.
Once, Trump invited all the attendees at a September 2017 dinner for the White House Historical Association up to the second floor and ushered them into the Lincoln Bedroom.
“He talked about the room and Lincoln’s office. He pointed out documents,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project who attended the dinner that night. “He‘s very enthusiastic about the room and living in the White House itself.”