Politics

Sun’s Out — But Trump Opts for Motorcade Amidst Political Storm Clouds

CNN reporter was banned from event after asking president questions about Michael Cohen

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs the White House on June 8. Despite sun in the skies over Washington Thursday, he opted to take his motorcade to Joint Base Andrews, meaning reporters were not able to ask any questions. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A day after another chaotic day at the White House, President Donald Trump won’t be holding one of his signature mini-press conferences as he leaves the mansion Thursday morning.

Wednesday was another turbulent one for Trump’s presidency, as he and his European Union counterpart announced a mini-trade deal that left most of the big pieces unresolved at an impromptu press conference that left White House staff and journalists scrambling. 

White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also banned a CNN reporter from that event after she asked Trump several pointed questions during a photo op with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Several of those questions were about his former attorney, Michael Cohen, and whether the president is concerned about what he might tell federal investigators.

Trump regularly stops to answer questions from reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House. But not Thursday as he departed for events in Iowa and Illinois on workforce development and a speech on the GOP tax law as Cohen and lawyer Lanny Davis of Clinton scandal fame continue their efforts to mount a public campaign against Trump.

As reporters tweeted pictures of a sunny summer sky in Washington, the White House gave no indication Trump was ducking questions about Cohen.

After nearly two weeks of rainy conditions, the weather in Washington Thursday morning is partly cloudy with long periods of sun. The days in-town White House print pool reporter sent this note announcing Trump would not have the chance to hear reporters’ questions — it’s his call on whether or not to respond — on his way to Marine One: “On what appears to be the nicest day Washington has had all week, the White House has informed the pool that POTUS will motorcade to JBA because of bad weather.”

The local NBC affiliate’s radar showed no bad weather in the area. A Roll Call reporter wore sunglasses while walking his dog in southeast Washington, which Marine One typically flies over en route to the suburban Maryland base.

Other members of the day’s press pool reported the White House blamed fog in the area.

The executive helicopter cannot fly through low-hanging clouds to land, especially when there are objects on the ground — like the trees on the South Lawn as well as other aircraft and vehicles on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews.

A White House spokeswoman declined to provide a statement to Roll Call on the record. A call to Marine Corps Squadron One, which oversees the Marine One fleet and works with the White House on ferrying the president, went unanswered; there was no voicemail for a reporter to leave a message.

But the in-town pool already will be in their vans at the rear of the motorcade that will take Trump to Andres, meaning they won’t get to shout questions — and, as often happens — have a back-and-forth with him that amounts to a mini-press conference.

That means he won’t hear questions like the ones CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked Wednesday during an Oval Office photo-up with the EU chief:

  • “Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?”
  • “Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is about to say to the prosecutors?”
  • “Are you worried about what is on the other tapes, Mr. President?”
  • “Why is Vladimir Putin not accepting your invitation, Mr. President?”

Trump declined them all, merely giving his signal it was time for the press to leave, “Thank you very much, everybody.”

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