There have been rumblings about kicking the press out of the White House almost since Donald Trump won the presidency, culminating with a report in Esquire last week that the Trump administration has in fact been giving the idea “serious consideration.”
“If they do so, we’ll still cover him. The White House press corps won’t go away,” CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett told CBSN’s Josh Elliott Monday. “You can shove us a block away, two blocks away, a mile away. We will be on top of this White House -- as we’ve been on top of every White House.”
Mr. Trump and several on his communications team have had a stormy relationship with the press, both during his presidential campaign and during his transition.
“I would not be surprised if they moved us out. I really do think there is something about the Trump administration and those closest to him who want the symbolism of driving reporters out of the White House, moving the elites out farther away from this president,” Garrett said.
Since the Esquire report, however, a more limited move -- relocating the press briefing room -- has been explained as a constraint on size, not as a punishment of the media who cover the White House. It’s a “pretty small room,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said on “Face the Nation” Sunday.
“[T]here is such a tremendous amount of interest in this incoming administration that they’re giving some consideration to finding a larger venue on the 18 acres in the White House complex to accommodate the extraordinary interest,” he told anchor John Dickerson.
The White House briefing room has only 49 seats, incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer has said. Asked during a “CBS This Morning” appearance whether the press would be able to keep its workspace in the White House, he responded, “Yeah.”
If Team Trump were to move the press out, it would be much more difficult for reporters to access the White House press offices, which are housed in the same Wing as the briefing room and the press, CBS White House Correspondent Mark Knoller says.
Once on White House grounds, reporters are free to come and go between those offices and their booths and cubicles. And after the president meets with world leaders, members of Congress, or other people of interest, reporters can also just walk out the doors of the briefing room to the White House driveway to see whether they’ll comment to reporters about their meetings with the commander-in-chief or other White House officials.