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Trump Team Considers Moving Press Briefings From White House’s West Wing

Variety logo Variety 1/15/2017 Ted Johnson
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The incoming administration of Donald Trump is considering moving the press from their current location in the West Wing to a larger space, but there are concerns that reporters will be evicted entirely from the prime location at the White House.

Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus, in an interview on “This Week” on ABC, said that under discussion is whether to move briefings to a larger space in the Old Executive Office Building, which is on the White House grounds, to accommodate more people. He noted that the existing briefing room only seats 49 people.

“So no one is moving out of the White House,” he said. “That is the White House, where you can fit four times the amount of people in the press conference, allowing more press, more press coverage from all over the country to have those press conferences. That’s what we’re talking about.”

Esquire reported on Saturday that the incoming administration was considering a plan to move the press out of the West Wing entirely, where briefings are held and where a number of news organizations have work stations.

Priebus insisted that “the only thing that’s been discussed is whether or not the initial press conferences are going to be in that small press room.”

The White House Correspondents Association issued a statement from its president, Jeff Mason of Reuters, saying that he would be meeting with Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer to “get more clarity” on plans.

“The briefing room is open now to all reporters who request access,” Mason said. “We support that and always will. The WHCA will fight to keep the briefing room and West Wing access to senior administration officials open. We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps.”

At the start of Bill Clinton’s term in 1993, a plan was considered to move press conferences to the Old Executive Office Building, which is across the street from the West Wing, but that was quickly abandoned in the face of complaints from news organizations. The current space was built atop a swimming pool during the administration of Richard Nixon. Press conferences were moved to the White House Conference Center from 2006 to 2007 during the term of George W. Bush as the space underwent renovations.

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