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Trump leaves press pool behind at National Christmas Tree lighting

The Hill logo The Hill 11/29/2018 Brett Samuels
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in the 96th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony near the White House in Washington, U.S., November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst © Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in the 96th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony near the White House in Washington, U.S., November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

President Trump on Wednesday departed the National Christmas Tree lighting event without White House staff notifying a pool of reporters assigned to monitor the president's movements of his whereabouts.

Members of the protective press pool - a group of reporters assigned to remain with the president and document his activities - indicated shortly after 6:30 p.m. that Trump had returned to the White House without any warning or comment from staffers.

Reporters were briefly held at the Ellipse outside the White House without any immediate indication of where the president had gone. They were later notified that Trump had returned to the White House via motorcade without the press pool in tow.

Members of the press pool protested the situation on Twitter.

The White House did not provide an explanation for leaving the media behind, despite several questions from the press pool.

The president and first lady attended the national Christmas tree lighting on Wednesday night. They sat in the front row for most of the festivities, and the two appeared on stage briefly to light the tree and wish the crowd a merry Christmas.

Trump, who has had a contentious relationship with the media, previously abandoned his protective press pool between his election and inauguration, though he has not done so since taking office.

The then-president-elect left behind the group of journalists tasked with covering his movements in November 2016 to go out to dinner, and did so again in December 2016 in order to play golf.

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