When will Trump hold a press conference?

When will Trump hold a press conference?
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE has not been quiet since winning the presidency. 

He is tweeting. He is speaking at rallies. He is doing interviews with handpicked reporters. He is even speaking off-the-record with his press corps. 

The one thing he is not doing? Holding a press conference. 

Trump’s refusal thus far to call a formal news conference is fueling concerns about how he will handle the media once he reaches the White House. 

Trump scrapped his first post-election news conference, scheduled for Dec. 15. He was supposed to discuss how he will handle his potential business conflicts as president. 

Trump aides say the question-and-answer session is being postponed until January, but they have not provided a specific date. 

ADVERTISEMENT
“The president-elect will be holding a press conference in January, he's made that very clear,” spokesman Jason Miller told reporters Tuesday. “As far as the exact day, that’s not yet set up but we are working to nail that down.”

The issue came to a head again on Monday amid a flurry of breaking news, including high-profile attacks in Turkey and Germany and the Electoral College vote.

Reporters on Monday asked Trump’s staff to hear from him on-the-record at his Mar-a-Lago estate, where he is spending the holidays.

Instead of an in-person response from Trump, his team released a trio of paper statements. He tweeted some additional reaction, blaming terrorists for the attacks.  

Trump’s critics have seized on the lack of press conferences to argue he is skirting the level of transparency and accountability expected of a president-elect.

The Democratic National Committee emailed reporters daily with a reminder of how long it has been since Trump last held a news conference, a streak that stands at 146 days. 

No president-elect dating back to 1976 has waited longer to hold a press conference. Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDem senator ties Kavanaugh confirmation vote to Trump-Putin controversy Don't place all your hopes — or fears — on a new Supreme Court justice Why did it take so long for Trump to drain the swamp of Pruitt? MORE held the previous record of nine days, set after his 1992 victory. By contrast, it has been 42 days since Trump won the election. 

In 2008, President-elect Obama called his first news conference three days after the election. George W. Bush waited just two days after the Supreme Court declared him the winner in Dec. 2000.  

Trump's last formal news conference came on July 27, when he raised eyebrows by calling on the Russians to hack into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonProminent Putin critic: If Trump turns me over, I'm dead Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia Trump tweets old video of Clinton talking up 'a strong Russia' MORE's email server. 

The last time Trump took questions of any kind from reporters was on Dec. 13, when he briefly appeared in the lobby of his Manhattan high-rise with rapper Kanye West. 

It was the same day he announced that ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of State. Trump did not appear publicly with Tillerson, instead opting to praise him in a tweet. 

Critics have pointed out the irony of Trump’s streak, given how his team and he attacked Clinton’s own nine-month run without a news conference.  

“I am getting great credit for my press conference today. Crooked Hillary should be admonished for not having a press conference in 179 days,” Trump tweeted on May 31. 

“Day 272 without a press conference, yet Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineGraham would consider US-Russia military coordination in Syria Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race MORE says Hillary ‘talks to the press everywhere she goes.’ Really?” then-campaign manager Kellyanne Conway wrote Sept. 1 on Twitter.

It’s been longstanding practice for presidents-elect to use press conferences to communicate with the public. 

Obama and Bush spoke at them every four-and-a-half days on average during their transitions, according to Brandon Rottinghaus, a presidential historian at the University of Houston. 

They used the events to announce Cabinet and White House staff picks, explain and and answer questions about them and the news of the day. 

Journalists can hold public officials more accountable in a news conference as opposed to other settings because they are forced to answer questions in an unscripted setting on a variety of topics.

“The lack of interaction with the press potentially damages the ability of the president-elect to unify the country and assuage the fears of those who opposed him,” Rottinghaus said.

Trump has generally left the task of discussion his actions to his team of advisers and surrogates.

While Trump’s extended run without a press conference has shattered records, his resistance to them is line with a trend of sitting presidents preferring direct communication through social media and staged events.

One of the only times Trump has announced a Cabinet pick in-person came during a Dec. 1 rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, when he revealed his selection of retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to lead the Pentagon.  

Trump praised Mattis as “one of our great, great generals” as the crowd roared in approval. 

Trump has also shown little regard for the traditional relationship between the president and members of the media, whom he accused of biased coverage throughout the campaign. 

Incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt last week that mainstays, such as the daily press briefing and the president’s weekly radio address, could change in the Trump administration. 

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), a Trump ally, said last month he is under no obligation to hold a news conference because of how he was treated by the press. 

“The news media so totally disgraced itself in this election, if I were Trump I would just say no,” Gingrich said during an interview with USA Today. 

“And if the White House Correspondents' Association doesn't like it, I'd say, 'Fine, disband.’”

Some argue the media gave up leverage with Trump on Sunday night by agreeing to speak with him off-the-record. 

“Trump, whose tweets are already breathlessly covered by the news media, may have even less incentive to take questions from the press corps if they’re willing to allow him to speak off-the-record, in-person.,” wrote Huffington Post media reporter Michael Calderone.