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Trump eyeing move for White House press room as journalists’ group raises objections

The head of the journalists’ association covering the White House said Sunday that the group will object to any move by the incoming administration to “shield” President Donald Trump from scrutiny, amid reports that Mr. Trump’s advisers are considering moving the press briefing room out of the West Wing of the White House.

“The briefing room is open now to all reporters who request access,” said Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents Association. “We support that and always will. The WHCA will fight to keep the briefing room and West Wing access to senior administration officials open.”

He said the group will “object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps.”

Mr. Mason was meeting Sunday with incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer amid the reports that the new administration is considering a change of location for the press briefing room, possibly to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.

The massive 19th-century office building houses various White House departments, as well as an auditorium with a stage that is sometimes used for larger-scale press briefings and presidential events.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence and incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday that the Trump administration isn’t considering kicking out the White House press corps.

“What the team told me is there 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,” Mr. Pence said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Mr. Priebus, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said that moving reporters from the current press briefing room in the West Wing to another location in the White House complex could accommodate “quadruple” the numbers of reporters.

“What we’re talking about and the only thing that was even discussed about this was whether or not we want to take that room that only holds 50 people in that very small press room … and whether you want to go 50 feet to the [Eisenhower Executive Office Building] and have, for the first few weeks or the first month or so, the press conferences where you have three or four times the amount of people,” Mr. Priebus said. “It’s about more access.”

Esquire magazine, citing three senior Trump officials, reported Saturday that a bid to move reporters from the White House is “under serious consideration” by the new administration.

Mr. Pence said the new administration will be transparent, and that the discussions are focused on logistics.

“We’re working that out in a way that’ll reflect our commitment to transparency, to a free and independent press,” the vice president-elect said. “And we look forward to those days.”

Mr. Mason said his meeting with Mr. Spicer is an effort “to try to get more clarity on exactly what they are suggesting.”

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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