- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2017

White House renovators didn’t waste any time overhauling the West Wing once President Trump left for a 17-day vacation Friday.

Renovations at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue began hardly an hour after Mr. Trump boarded Air Force One en route to Bedminster, New Jersey, according to his social media manager, Dan Scavino. The president is scheduled to spend the next two and a half weeks at his golf resort there as the White House receives a well deserved makeover.

Mr. Scavino tweeted a picture of the Oval Office being emptied hardly an hour after Air Force One left Joint Base Andrews on Friday, and on Saturday he shared a photograph of the White House’s historic Resolute desk being removed for renovation.

The White House announced earlier in the week that the West Wing will undergo extensive renovations in Mr. Trump’s absence, including upgrades to the facility’s 27-year-old air-conditioning and heating systems, as well as the installation of new wiring, paint and carpets.

“Due to the 24/7, 365-day use a year, the estimated age of the system based off of usage is 81 years old,” deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters Thursday.

“I doubt that you would want to come to work on a hot summer day when the air-conditioning wasn’t working,” she said Friday.

The improvements were authorized by the Obama administration but put off until now, according to the White House.

Its not unusual for presidents to leave the White House for weeks at a time when lawmakers on Capitol Hill break for August recess. Mr. Trump routinely ridiculed his predecessor for taking vacations, however, presenting ammo for critics who claim the president’s current excursion reeks of hypocrisy.

Mr. Trump will spend his 17-day “working vacation” at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, about 50 miles west of his midtown Manhattan residence.

Mr. Trump spent 58 of his first 195 days in office at his privately owned properties, including his Bedminster resort in addition to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, about 30 miles northwest of the White House.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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