President Donald Trump’s sole appearance before the White House press pool was abruptly canceled today after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
According to Ben C. Jacobs of The Guardian, today’s reporter assigned to represent print outlets, members of the press were brought outside the Oval Office for what was scheduled to be a quick media availability.
They were taken back inside the briefing room not long after.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Waters told them several minutes later that they would not be given access to today’s meeting between the President and Libyan prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj.
The press pool is traditionally brought into meetings like these to hear opening remarks from attendees. Reporters then have the opportunity to shout out questions, which Trump has been known to respond to.
Mark Knoller tweeted that the Waters said the meeting was never meant to be open to the press, despite the fact that it was listed on the White House’s daily schedule.
WH now says there was never intended to be an Oval Office photo op today – even thought it was on the printed press schedule. WH says the schedule was wrong. pic.twitter.com/Yodf5J2Yot
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) December 1, 2017
Adding an additional layer of opacity, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not expected to hold a briefing today either.
While the press may not have a formal opportunity to hear the President’s response to the news surrounding his former advisor, the White House is scheduled to hold a holiday reception for members of the press corps this afternoon. The President remains on the docket to deliver remarks.
Following Flynn’s plea, Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer overseeing the response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, issued a statement playing down Flynn’s role in the White House and describing him as a “former Obama administration official.”
“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year,” Cobb said. “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn. The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org