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Trump's press 'briefing' that wasn't

It was a quiet afternoon at the White House toward the end of a four-day week. Network correspondents were p...

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 6:29 AM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 6:29 AM

It was a quiet afternoon at the White House toward the end of a four-day week. Network correspondents were preparing for their evening newscasts, cameramen were scattered throughout the briefing room and outside, some reporters had stepped out for coffee.

Minutes after 4:00 p.m., a voice came on the overhead speaker announcing that press secretary Sarah Sanders would hold a briefing in "five minutes."

The scramble was on.

For a White House that has held increasingly rare briefings, the short notice was unusual yet not surprising. And as the press appearances have shrunk, the importance of each opportunity to ask questions has increased.

Still photographers ran to secure their spots. Television camera crews and audio technicians rushed to turn on, focus and color balance cameras and wire up correspondents for live shots. The White House audiovisual staff turned the podium microphones on and the lights up at the last minute.

And when Sanders took the podium, instead of taking questions she introduced a "very special guest" -- the President of the United States.

"Hello, everybody, beautiful place, I haven't seen it," President Donald Trump said as he walked in, wishing the press assembled a happy new year.

Thursday marked Trump's first official appearance at the briefing room podium nearly two years into his administration. But despite being billed as a press briefing, and taking place in the briefing room, Trump did not deliver a briefing (he took no questions) and instead gave a statement pressing for his border wall.

His visit was such a surprise that the podium wasn't dressed with a presidential seal. Journalists were still filling in seats in around the back of the briefing room, which is normally packed and standing room only for briefings, as the President began to speak.

He offered his warm congratulations to newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, praising what he called her "tremendous, tremendous achievement."

On the first day of divided government during his administration, Trump cited infrastructure as one area where the White House could work with the Democratic-controlled House. Then, Trump made a push for his border wall, introducing some members of the National Border Patrol Council and National ICE Council.

The remarks came on the 13th day of a partial government shutdown as Democrats have officially taken control of the House and negotiations to fund the government have reached a stalemate due to ongoing disputes about border security and wall funding. The White House won't say whether the President would accept a funding package with less than $5 billion for a border wall, but leadership from both parties in Congress are expected to meet with the President at the White House Friday morning.

The President said he had been sitting in the Oval Office with the border patrol agents in a previously scheduled meeting and decided he wanted to "see the press" so the agents could "tell them about the importance of the wall."

"First time I've ever done this. The first time I've done it, and I've done it for you (the National Border Patrol Council members). And I'm very proud of it," he said.

Trump refused to take questions about the government shutdown, walking out of the briefing room along with the border patrol agents, Sanders, communications director Bill Shine and social media director Dan Scavino, a mere eight minutes after entering.

One reporter, who had gotten word of the briefing but was across town on Capitol Hill, rushed back across Pennsylvania Avenue, but missed it altogether.

"It was over before I even got there," the reporter texted.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 154411

Reported Deaths: 3836
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10409104
Hinds10279202
Harrison7313112
Jackson6566128
Rankin5887106
Lee529496
Madison5014107
Forrest389786
Jones369088
Lauderdale3594147
Lafayette338253
Washington3246108
Lamar297850
Oktibbeha252362
Lowndes247064
Bolivar244384
Panola232653
Neshoba2249121
Marshall222851
Leflore208591
Monroe206778
Pontotoc204231
Lincoln197366
Sunflower192655
Warren180258
Tate177751
Union171926
Copiah167940
Pike165359
Yazoo160140
Scott159430
Itawamba157635
Alcorn155628
Pearl River155368
Coahoma152743
Simpson152653
Prentiss151331
Adams144752
Grenada143345
Leake139744
Holmes133461
Covington128639
Tippah128430
George128325
Winston125526
Hancock124341
Wayne121323
Marion119446
Attala119334
Tishomingo112443
Chickasaw109432
Newton108229
Tallahatchie98127
Clay94727
Clarke93653
Jasper85223
Stone80615
Calhoun78713
Walthall77629
Montgomery76926
Carroll74115
Lawrence73814
Smith73216
Yalobusha73128
Noxubee72717
Perry68326
Tunica62619
Greene61522
Jefferson Davis59017
Claiborne58916
Amite56615
Humphreys54719
Benton50018
Quitman5007
Webster46714
Kemper45018
Wilkinson40522
Jefferson37112
Choctaw3617
Franklin3555
Sharkey32417
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 252900

Reported Deaths: 3638
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33526501
Mobile20103365
Madison13723151
Tuscaloosa13366154
Montgomery12552236
Shelby1079677
Baldwin9051137
Lee787266
Morgan696451
Calhoun6598121
Etowah656167
Marshall647357
Houston541038
DeKalb498137
Cullman462443
St. Clair441956
Limestone440445
Lauderdale426754
Elmore421164
Walker3735111
Talladega370157
Jackson340423
Colbert332042
Blount306140
Autauga281842
Franklin257434
Coffee250015
Dale239054
Dallas231532
Chilton228939
Russell22663
Covington225034
Escambia202331
Tallapoosa187291
Chambers182750
Pike161514
Clarke161019
Marion144736
Winston137523
Lawrence133436
Pickens126518
Geneva12508
Marengo123424
Bibb120418
Barbour118911
Butler118642
Randolph105522
Cherokee105124
Hale98131
Fayette94616
Washington93219
Clay92824
Henry8896
Monroe83011
Lowndes80929
Cleburne78814
Macon75522
Crenshaw72230
Bullock70119
Lamar7018
Conecuh70014
Perry6916
Wilcox64818
Sumter58622
Greene43518
Choctaw43114
Coosa3664
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