Speed Reads

Trump Transition

Donald Trump ditches press pool for steak dinner at Manhattan restaurant

At 6:14 p.m. on Tuesday, Donald Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the reporters and photographers covering Trump at his Manhattan residence that the president-elect was staying in his apartment for the rest of the night — calling a "lid." Less than two hours later, an unscheduled motorcade left Trump Tower, and the press pool did not know where Trump was until a Bloomberg municipal-bond journalist tweeted out a photo of him entering the upscale 21 Club restaurant (which she misidentified as Keene's).

Hicks later said she had not meant to lie to the press and had not known Trump was slipping out to dine with his family, then asked the press pool to respect the president-elect's privacy. That is traditionally not how the presidency works — at least one member of the protective press pool always follows the president around to inform the public where he is and document if anything happens to or near the U.S. commander-in-chief. Ditching the press is a big violation of protocol, and not the first from Trump, who declined to travel with the press while he was campaigning and hasn't held a press conference since the summer. "With his Tuesday night actions, the Trump Administration is shaping up to be the least accessible to the public and the press in modern history," say Alexandra Jaffe and Ali Vitali at NBC News.

At first glance, this sounds like "a Beltway media thing, or an inside baseball thing," but it really isn't, Rachel Maddow said on MSNBC. "Once you are president, once you are president-elect, it is a matter of tradition, it is a matter of security, it is a matter of national interest that you don't go dark — you're not really allowed to be a private person anymore," she explained. "There's no law that says the president or president-elect has to allow a press pool representative to follow their movements, but it is tradition, and it's tradition for a reason, and it's a tradition that has a national security basis, and it's a tradition, so far at least, that Donald Trump appears intent on not following." Peter Weber