Reporters kept out of Obama-Lynch meeting

President Obama dodged potential questions about violent street protests in Baltimore on Monday when he met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Obama met with Lynch for the first time since she was sworn in, but the White House barred print, radio, and television reporters from covering the Oval Office meeting. Only still photographers were allowed inside.

The president and his new attorney general said nothing while their pictures were taken, photographers told a pool reporter.

During the meeting, Lynch updated Obama on the situation in Baltimore and said she "stands ready to provide any assistance that might be helpful there," the White House said in a statement.

Earlier Monday, Obama spoke with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and told her the federal government is ready to provide "assistance as needed." Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett phoned Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, according to the White House.

Obama's meeting with Lynch came as police clashed with protesters in Baltimore following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of a spinal injury while in police custody.

Young demonstrators hurled rocks, bottles and other objects at police officers. Seven officers have been injured so far, according to a police spokesman.

Footage of the clashes played on televisions in the White House press office as reporters lodged a complaint with press staff about the lack of access to the meeting, according to a pool report.

Just hours earlier, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Lynch “could play a pivotal role” in rebuilding ties between law enforcement and their communities in the wake of police-related deaths of black men around the country. 
“There is the expectation she could do important work in this area,” Earnest said.   
— This story was updated at 6:36 p.m.