WH Tried to Force CNN’s Kaitlan Collins to Move to Back Row at Briefing, Reportedly Threatened Secret Service Involvement
The White House attempted to force CNN’s Kaitlan Collins to give up her assigned seat and move to the back row of the briefing room on Friday, and reportedly threatened to get the Secret Service involved if she would not comply. When the print reporter that the White House press officials wanted her to swap seats with refused to budge, they backed down.
Collins has become one of the most fierce challengers of President Donald Trump during the daily coronavirus task force briefings, earning praise for pushing back on some his most inaccurate comments, unfounded claims, and administration missteps. As a result, Trump has, at times, clearly frozen her out from asking questions and verbally snapped at her when she has refused to back down.
Hours after Friday’s briefing, which abruptly concluded after 22 minutes with the president refusing to answer any questions from the press, CNN’s Jim Acosta revealed that Trump officials had attempted a last-minute rearrangement of the press seats, which are assigned by the White House Correspondents’ Association, not the Trump administration.
“Just to show you the Soviet-style totalitarian-like lengths they were going to, this evening, they were trying to rearrange the seats in the briefing room, so our colleague Kaitlan Collins would be stuck in the back row and another moved to the front of the briefing room,” Acosta explained. “[Washington Blade reporter] Chris Johnson, thank goodness for him, refused to get up out of his seat. So, it took almost an act of civil disobedience to foil their plans. One White House official was saying ‘We’re going to get the Secret Service involved if you don’t switch seats around.'”
“That’s a good use of Secret Service resources,” CNN host Anderson Cooper snarked.
“It’s remarkable,” Acosta said, agreeing.
Washington Post White House reporter Seung Min Kin related more details about the incident, quoting WHCA President and ABC News correspondent Jon Karl, who said the Secret Service disavowed any involvement in the Trump administration’s effort to backbench Collins.
Oh wow: per @jonkarl, “The Secret Service tells the WHCA they were not involved whatsoever in this effort by the WH to change seating assignments” despite a White House official telling today’s pooler he needed to switch seats with CNN and that the Secret Service was involved
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) April 24, 2020
Collins later put out her own matter-of-fact statement on Twitter, confirming the incident, but essentially putting it behind her.
Tonight the White House tried to have me, and only me, swap seats with another reporter several rows back. We both refused to move from our seats that were assigned well in advance. The briefing was short, the president took no questions and it proceeded as planned.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 24, 2020
Watch the video above, via CNN.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org