Donald Trump made a hasty retreat from the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday, going back to the White House in his motorcade while leaving the press pool behind and then putting a cap on appearances for the day.
The mysterious retreat caused confusion among reporters at the event and led to speculation about what could have caused the president to leave so quickly. As the Hill reported, Trump did not notify the reporters who were assigned to monitor the president’s movements of his whereabouts and document his activities that he would be returning to the White House so quickly.
“Reporters were briefly held at the Ellipse outside the White House without any immediate indication of where the president had gone,” the report noted. “They were later notified that Trump had returned to the White House via motorcade without the press pool in tow.”
As reporter Zeke Miller noted via Twitter, the press pool exists to be in close proximity to the president to document his movements for history and to report on anything that happens in case of emergency. Trump’s decision to leave the press pool behind was met with some controversy and protest from members of the press pool.
This was not the first time that Donald Trump had ditched his press pool, however. After winning the election in 2016, then president-elect Trump left behind the press pool so he could attend a steak dinner at the swank 21 Club in Manhattan. Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, had told reporters that Trump was bedding down for the night, but the newly elected president later re-emerged for the fancy dinner, Market Watch reported.
At the time, Hicks said she was not aware of Trump’s movement and that she would never purposely “leave the press in the dark.”
The incident raised fears that Donald Trump would not conform to the long-held tradition of informing the press of presidential movements, which is meant to keep the American people informed especially in the case of some kind of emergency, though it had happened only one other time since he took office, an unannounced trip to Mexico City.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 29, 2018
The quick slip on Wednesday after the Christmas tree lighting ceremony caused quite a bit of drama and sparked rumors on Twitter that Donald Trump suffered a “panic attack” that caused him to leave. Other rumors indicated that he had received a hurried cell phone call that led him to leave, though there was no evidence for either. There was no official explanation for why Trump so quickly left the ceremony.