While families across the country were enjoying one another’s company, President Donald Trump, by his own account, was “very lonely” over the holidays. Instead of relaxing with his relatives at his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump stayed at the White House as the government entered a still-ongoing shutdown over funding for his border wall.
“I was in the White House all by myself for six or seven days,” Trump said during a recorded Cabinet meeting Wednesday, according to Politico. “It was very lonely. My family was down in Florida. I said stay there and enjoy yourself. I felt I should be here just in case people wanted to come and negotiate the border security.”
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The president had previously lamented his loneliness on Twitter, writing on Christmas Eve: “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.”
But the president was joined the same day by his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who returned to the White House from Mar-a-Lago.
The couple spent part of Christmas Eve answering phone calls from children. The president caused a stir when he asked a young child : “Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at 7 it’s marginal, right?”
While the first lady was away from the White House, Trump had to make do with a bevy of Secret Service agents for company.
“I was here on Christmas evening. I was all by myself in the White House. It’s a big, big house—except for the guys on the lawn with machine guns,” he said. “Nicest machine guns I’ve ever seen. I was waving to them. I never saw so many guys with machine guns in my life. Secret Service and military. These are great people.”
Although they made the president feel safe, the “guys with machine guns” weren’t always the best crowd to spend the holidays with. “They don’t play games, they don’t, like, wave,” Trump said. “But I was all alone with the machine gunners. I felt very safe, I have to tell you. There’s a lot of them.”
Trump took a break from the White House to visit troops in Iraq and Germany with the first lady on December 26. During the visit, a video shared on his Twitter account revealed the presence of a U.S. Navy Seal team in Iraq.