White House press briefings few and far between during summer months

White House press briefings few and far between during summer months
© Greg Nash

The White House public schedule for Friday does not include a daily press briefing as President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE heads to Charlotte, N.C., for a GOP fundraiser, marking the eighth consecutive day without a briefing.

As August comes to a close, the White House has held five briefings this month, and just one since Aug. 15.


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last fielded questions from the podium on Aug. 22. Since then, the rift between Trump and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems seize on Times bombshell to push allegations of Trump obstruction Mueller report may be 'anti-climactic,' says ex-intelligence director CNN ripped for hiring former Republican operative as political editor: 'WTF?!?!' MORE has intensified, and the president came under fire for how he handled official remembrances of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech MORE (R-Ariz.).

Additionally, the White House announced a breakthrough on U.S. trade with Mexico, and Trump said via Twitter that White House counsel Don McGahn will be leaving the administration in the fall.

Before the Aug. 22 briefing, Sanders took questions from the press on Aug. 15. That was proceeded by a briefing on Aug. 14, and back-to-back ones on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2.

It is uncommon for the White House to hold briefings while the president is traveling, and Trump spent 10 days this month working from his New Jersey golf club. He also spent several days at campaign rallies, offering fewer days for the press to pose questions to the White House in a public setting.

Sanders held eight briefings in the month of May, followed by five in June and three in July.

Trump spent a week in Europe in July for a NATO summit, a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May and a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was also gone for a few days in June, when he traveled to Singapore for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after attending the G-7 summit in Canada.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the infrequency of press briefings in recent weeks.

The Trump White House has held fewer briefings than the Obama administration did during a similar four-month period, according to data from the American Presidency Project, which maintains data on press availabilities across administrations.

In mid-2010 — roughly 1 1/2 years after former President Obama was sworn in — then-press secretary Robert Gibbs or his deputy, Bill Burton, held 10 briefings in May, nine in June, 11 in July and eight in August.

Trump has been openly critical of the press, frequently deriding negative coverage as "fake news" and sometimes characterizing journalists as the "enemy of the people."

In the absence of daily press briefings, Trump has fielded questions from a pool of reporters at various White House events, including Wednesday at a roundtable discussion on drug-free communities.

The pool setting consists of far fewer reporters than the daily briefings, and they allow Trump to choose which questions to respond to.

On Monday, the president did not respond to shouted questions from reporters about McCain’s legacy.

Even the opportunities for the pool to question Trump can be tinged with tension. During a White House event with the head of FIFA and U.S. Soccer, Trump jokingly mimed giving a red card to the press to "kick them out" of the Oval Office.