On Friday, Donald Trump let his aides know that he was eager to get out there and take questions at a news conference after his historic signing of the tax bill. Trump wanted to “hold a news conference to tout his accomplishments before leaving for Mar-a-Lago,” but his aides weren’t all on board with his request, according to CNN News.
Trump’s aides were just as eager as Trump, but they wanted to do the opposite. The White House staff wanted to keep him off the podium to save him from answering public questions. Despite the White House aides being told both Thursday and then again on Friday to prepare for a news conference, that didn’t happen, both press events were scrapped.
According to the New York Times, Trump “signed the most consequential tax legislation in three decades on Friday, even as he complained that he has not been given credit for his administration’s accomplishments during a turbulent first year.” Could be the reason he was so eager to hold that press conference?
Despite the White House aides’ best efforts, an impromptu conference shuffled together at the last minute, as Marine One waited to whisk Trump to his Mar-a-Logo home in paradise. Trump even celebrated his tax bill signing triumph with the press pool by handing out pens to the members. According to The Hill, Trump, with the help of his aids, handed out presidential pens.
There was friction behind the scenes at the bill signing as well when on Friday morning, the press was told that Trump was going to sign this historic tax bill without the press looking on. He would sign it in private. The press pool was not happy and they let their protest be known.
They told the White House officials that they would not use the pictures that the White House photographer would take in place of allowing the pool into the signing. They wanted nothing to do with pictures dolled out by the White House photographer for this event.
Apparently, their message was received loud and clear as they were “hastily escorted into the Oval Office for the signing,” reports CNN. What happened next had an undercurrent of a showdown between Kelly and the White House aides via Trump and the press pool.
Trump was in an upbeat mood and “he seemed eager to answer questions the press pool had,” but that wasn’t the plan and from what CNN reports, “the aides appeared on higher alert than normal” with Chief of Staff John Kelly and other White House staff members “attempting to kick reporters out and get the President on Marine One to Mar-a-Lago.”
CNN paints a picture with their words of the Oval Office as Trump and the press had conversations over the bill. On the other side, there were the aides under the direction of Kelly planting themselves in front of Trump’s desk as the press slowly crept closer with each pending question. The view of Trump was “all but blocked” by Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn and other White House officials, describes CNN.
Then the final word came over. That word was passed along to the press by Kelly who asked the press to make their exit as the “helicopter is running out of gas.” Marine One was waiting on the White House lawn for Trump at the time.
What the aides were guarding against, according to CNN, is Trump’s tax plan getting overshadowed by questions from the press about the investigation into the Russian election meddling and other matters. If Trump was besieged with questions from the press about the other pending perils, this may work at diminishing the big accomplishments of the day.