Donald Trump spending weekend at New Jersey golf club; says it will save money and spare New York

Trump gives the thumbs-up as he makes his way to board Marine One en route to New York.
Trump gives the thumbs-up as he makes his way to board Marine One en route to New York.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump is spending the weekend at his golf club in New Jersey, saying he wanted to spare New York the chaos of a presidential visit while saving taxpayers' money.

"Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend," he tweeted on Friday morning, adding, "Also saves country money!"

In contrast to his predecessor, Democratic president Barack Obama, the New York real estate magnate has so far spent only the rare weekend at the White House, sparking sharp criticism about the steep costs incurred by the Secret Service and local police in protecting him and his family members.

During the transition period between his election on Nov 8 and inauguration on Jan 20, he hunkered down in his Trump Tower, paralysing traffic as several streets in the heart of Manhattan had to be blocked off.

Since his inauguration, Trump has left the White House - where he has been living alone - to spend most weekends at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

But this weekend, he opted instead for the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey, having travelled there late on Thursday after a meeting in New York with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Under a spending Bill recently agreed by Congress, the city of New York is to be reimbursed by the federal government for the tens of millions of dollars it has had to spend on presidential protection since Trump's election.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, put the cost at US$20 million (S$28 million) just during the transition period.

In addition, the cost of protecting Trump family members who remain in New York - the president's wife Melania and their youngest son Barron, who are staying in Trump Tower, as well as older sons Donald Jr and Eric, who now run the Trump Organisation - came to some US$13 million for the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.