Trump's press 'briefing' that wasn't

It was a quiet afternoon at the White House toward the end of a four-day week. Network correspondents were p...

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 7:29 AM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 7:29 AM

It was a quiet afternoon at the White House toward the end of a four-day week. Network correspondents were preparing for their evening newscasts, cameramen were scattered throughout the briefing room and outside, some reporters had stepped out for coffee.

Minutes after 4:00 p.m., a voice came on the overhead speaker announcing that press secretary Sarah Sanders would hold a briefing in "five minutes."

The scramble was on.

For a White House that has held increasingly rare briefings, the short notice was unusual yet not surprising. And as the press appearances have shrunk, the importance of each opportunity to ask questions has increased.

Still photographers ran to secure their spots. Television camera crews and audio technicians rushed to turn on, focus and color balance cameras and wire up correspondents for live shots. The White House audiovisual staff turned the podium microphones on and the lights up at the last minute.

And when Sanders took the podium, instead of taking questions she introduced a "very special guest" -- the President of the United States.

"Hello, everybody, beautiful place, I haven't seen it," President Donald Trump said as he walked in, wishing the press assembled a happy new year.

Thursday marked Trump's first official appearance at the briefing room podium nearly two years into his administration. But despite being billed as a press briefing, and taking place in the briefing room, Trump did not deliver a briefing (he took no questions) and instead gave a statement pressing for his border wall.

His visit was such a surprise that the podium wasn't dressed with a presidential seal. Journalists were still filling in seats in around the back of the briefing room, which is normally packed and standing room only for briefings, as the President began to speak.

He offered his warm congratulations to newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, praising what he called her "tremendous, tremendous achievement."

On the first day of divided government during his administration, Trump cited infrastructure as one area where the White House could work with the Democratic-controlled House. Then, Trump made a push for his border wall, introducing some members of the National Border Patrol Council and National ICE Council.

The remarks came on the 13th day of a partial government shutdown as Democrats have officially taken control of the House and negotiations to fund the government have reached a stalemate due to ongoing disputes about border security and wall funding. The White House won't say whether the President would accept a funding package with less than $5 billion for a border wall, but leadership from both parties in Congress are expected to meet with the President at the White House Friday morning.

The President said he had been sitting in the Oval Office with the border patrol agents in a previously scheduled meeting and decided he wanted to "see the press" so the agents could "tell them about the importance of the wall."

"First time I've ever done this. The first time I've done it, and I've done it for you (the National Border Patrol Council members). And I'm very proud of it," he said.

Trump refused to take questions about the government shutdown, walking out of the briefing room along with the border patrol agents, Sanders, communications director Bill Shine and social media director Dan Scavino, a mere eight minutes after entering.

One reporter, who had gotten word of the briefing but was across town on Capitol Hill, rushed back across Pennsylvania Avenue, but missed it altogether.

"It was over before I even got there," the reporter texted.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 118322

Reported Deaths: 3591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21502767
Lake10688323
Elkhart6707111
St. Joseph6619113
Allen6330205
Hamilton4938109
Vanderburgh378131
Hendricks2766124
Monroe265536
Tippecanoe256613
Johnson2352124
Clark225957
Porter219947
Delaware200162
Cass19559
Vigo186827
Madison170375
LaPorte149141
Floyd139664
Warrick138242
Howard132663
Kosciusko125917
Bartholomew118457
Marshall101524
Dubois99919
Boone99146
Grant95134
Hancock94643
Noble93132
Henry81226
Jackson7739
Wayne77014
Morgan73438
Daviess68028
Shelby68029
Dearborn67528
LaGrange64011
Clinton62314
Harrison59224
Putnam58411
Gibson5355
Knox5289
Lawrence51629
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48811
White48714
Decatur45939
Miami4394
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper4012
Scott39011
Steuben3907
Posey3460
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31325
Clay3085
Ripley3078
Orange28824
Whitley2826
Carroll27813
Adams2763
Wabash2728
Starke2717
Washington2701
Wells2674
Spencer2633
Jefferson2503
Huntington2473
Fulton2442
Tipton22822
Randolph2238
Perry22113
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1641
Rush1574
Vermillion1310
Fountain1292
Blackford1213
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1043
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 151802

Reported Deaths: 4746
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin27119607
Cuyahoga17554656
Hamilton13237315
Montgomery7938164
Lucas7343364
Butler6085111
Summit5366252
Warren311549
Marion311147
Mahoning3095281
Stark2913175
Pickaway267944
Lorain233386
Delaware230621
Fairfield213253
Licking194963
Columbiana194080
Wood192172
Trumbull1916132
Clark183940
Clermont174423
Lake164851
Greene149034
Medina147539
Miami146351
Allen146269
Portage116866
Mercer113218
Erie95947
Tuscarawas94120
Wayne94068
Richland92219
Ross89624
Madison84312
Darke80643
Geauga72649
Athens7242
Belmont72427
Hancock72010
Lawrence67122
Ashtabula66048
Shelby66010
Putnam61923
Auglaize6119
Sandusky58020
Huron5557
Union5512
Scioto5167
Seneca48814
Ottawa47130
Preble44515
Muskingum4383
Holmes3959
Jefferson3384
Henry33414
Defiance33012
Champaign3133
Logan3133
Clinton30213
Perry3009
Brown2922
Knox28815
Washington26223
Jackson2616
Morrow2612
Fulton2591
Hardin25713
Crawford2476
Ashland2464
Coshocton23411
Fayette2336
Highland2303
Williams2143
Wyandot21312
Pike2020
Gallia19613
Meigs17610
Guernsey1738
Hocking1679
Carroll1527
Adams1364
Van Wert1243
Monroe11018
Paulding1100
Harrison643
Morgan500
Vinton473
Noble340
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 44°
Angola
46° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 46°
Huntington
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 45°
Decatur
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 42°
Van Wert
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 42°
Fall-like Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events