Trump keeps press at arm's length after wiretapping furor

Trump keeps press at arm's length after wiretapping furor
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President Trump has kept his distance from the press since accusing former President Obama, without evidence, of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.  

Trump has left it to Vice President Pence and his top aides to answer questions about the explosive allegation. And the president has mostly remained out of pubic view, even as he has taken a flurry of meetings with members of Congress and representatives from leading industry groups, conservative organizations and labor unions. 

The White House has made a string of major policy announcements as well — though not always with the president front and center. 

Trump signed his revised travel ban on Monday in the Oval Office without reporters or photojournalists present, a stark contrast to the initial rollout on Jan. 27, which included a signing ceremony and remarks at the Pentagon.  

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The only image from the latest signing was a photo handed out by the White House press office. 

The president on Tuesday endorsed the House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare after meeting with a group of legislators in the East Room, one of his four brief appearances this week in front of reporters.  

But Trump thus far has not answered questions about the health insurance plan, which has run into opposition from conservatives and Democrats. Nor has he appeared at a public event or conducted an interview to promote it, leaving those tasks to surrogates.  

Pence is headlining an event Saturday in Louisville, Ky., to plug the plan. The vice president has also done the rounds on conservative talk radio shows and local television networks.  

But Trump plans to hit the road next Wednesday for a campaign rally in Nashville, Tenn., where he could talk up the healthcare legislation and his broader agenda. 

“I think you will see a lot of travel and a lot of activity by the president and all of the administration,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said this week. “And it’s not just going to be the president. It's going to be, you know, the secretary, the directors, key administration staff.” 

The approach is a shift from the first few weeks of Trump’s presidency, when he packed his schedule with photo-ops where he drove his message on major issues and answered questions about the news of the day. 

The president did stage one impromptu photo-op this week, inviting the media to witness him surprise his first group of White House visitors. But staff told reporters they were not permitted to ask questions. 

White House officials say they are not shutting out reporters and defend the level of access Trump has given the press.

“We have gone above and beyond allowing the press into events. ... We've had greater access,” Spicer said Monday when asked during an off-camera briefing about the private travel ban signing. “One day out of the last 41 or 40, whatever it's been — but I think this president has been extremely accessible.”

Trump hasn’t stopped commenting on the issues of the day on Twitter, posting two dozen messages this week about Russia, jobs and economic data, and the healthcare bill. 

But his relative reclusiveness have kept away questions on other topics, including WikiLeaks’s exposure of alleged CIA hacking methods, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE’s recusal from an investigation into Russia’s presidential election interference and former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s lobbying ties to Turkey. 

Reporters will get their next chance to question Trump in a formal setting Tuesday, when he will hold a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House.