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White House Sends Mixed Signals on Oval Office Repairs

What was a ‘working vacation’ now pegged to ‘needed renovations’

President Donald Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office, which may or may not be under renovations. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office, which may or may not be under renovations. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Is the Oval Office under construction or not?

The White House said yes Monday, only to send out a list of West Wing and East Wing renovations a day later that did not mention the world’s most famous office.

Aides to President Donald Trump said last week the boss was heading to his New Jersey golf resort for an 11-day “working vacation.” But now they contend “needed renovations” necessitated his summer sojourn — even though all presidents have taken a break from Washington, typically in August.

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“While the White House undergoes needed renovations to the Oval Office and other areas in the West Wing, the president remained in Bedminster, N.J.,” spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a Monday statement. (Trump went directly to his Bedminster resort from a campaign rally Thursday evening in Pennsylvania.)

But the White House released a more detailed statement Tuesday about sprucing up the place. And two words were missing: “Oval Office.”

“The renovation currently underway consists of a large effort across multiple federal agencies, under the direction of White House Management & Administration, to improve the White House Complex,” the Tuesday statement said.

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It listed specific areas receiving attention: “the Office of Administration, the Executive Residence, the General Services Administration, the National Park Service, the White House Military Office, the National Security Council, and the United States Secret Service.”

The Tuesday statement included a list of East Wing, West Wing and other repairs. The one for the West Wing, of which the Oval Office is a part, has three entries.

One is work on the “restrooms on the ground floor and second floor of the West Wing.” Another is the “West Wing elevator’s wood paneling,” which needs to be replaced with “fire-rated paneling.” And the final one is for plumbing and drainage work in the “Navy Mess kitchen.”

No Oval Office entry, however.

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