Trump Team May Move West Wing Briefings to Expand CapacityBy
Pence says tremendous interest in covering new administration
Chief of staff says current briefing room will be overwhelmed
The incoming Trump administration is considering moving White House press briefings out of the West Wing to accommodate more than the “Washington media elite,” President-elect Donald Trump’s press secretary said.
“This is about greater accessibility, more people in the process,” Sean Spicer said Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “Media Buzz.” Involving more people, including bloggers and others who aren’t from the mainstream media, “should be seen as a welcome change,” he said.
Spicer and other Trump officials said no decisions had been made.
Their comments followed a report Saturday by Esquire, citing unidentified officials from the transition team, that the new administration may move the press corps out of the main White House building altogether because of antagonism between Trump and the media.
Any change would be made for logistical reasons, in response to heavy demand from media organizations, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday.
“The briefing room is open now to all reporters who request access,” White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason said in a statement Sunday. “We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps.”
Mason said he was meeting with Spicer “to try to get more clarity on exactly what” the proposal is.
“There’s such a tremendous amount of interest in this incoming administration that they’re giving some consideration to finding a larger venue on the 18 acres in the White House complex, to accommodate that extraordinary interest,” Pence said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
“The interest of the team is to make sure that we accommodate the broadest number of people who are interested and media from around the country and around the world,” Pence said.
On ABC’s “This Week,” incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said demand for press-conference credentials far exceeds the “49 people” who can fit into the current briefing room.
“The one thing that we discussed was whether or not we want to move the initial press conferences into the Executive Office Building,” Priebus said, adding, “you can fit four times the amount of people.”
“I know that some of the folks in the press are uptight about this, and I understand,” Priebus said. He didn’t address whether a change was being mulled only for briefings or also for the media’s daily working arrangements. The briefing room sits between the offices of White House communications staff and those of major news organizations, and is steps from the president’s Oval Office.
After “500 or 600” people attended Trump’s press conference in New York on Jan. 11, the president-elect’s first since the election, “we started thinking, man alive, if we have more people involved instead of less people involved, wouldn’t that be a good thing,” Priebus said.
Although located across the street, the Executive Office Building is still “the White House,” he said.
— With assistance by Ben Brody