Some reporters barred from covering Trump-Kim dinner

Several U.S. journalists on Wednesday were barred from covering President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a dinner at their second summit in Vietnam.

The White House at first was not going to allow any U.S. print reporters into the room due to sensitivities over shouted questions at prior meetings, according to the print pool reporter in Hanoi. But after photographers joined their print colleagues in protest, the White House allowed one print reporter into the room.

That meant reporters from the three major wire services, as well as another newspaper reporter, were not allowed in to cover the dinner.

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“Due to the sensitive nature of the meetings we have limited the pool for the dinner to a smaller group, but ensured that representation of photographers, TV, radio and print poolers are all in the room,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement explaining the decision.

“We are continuing to negotiate aspects of this historic summit and will always work to make sure the U.S. media has as much access as possible,” she added.

The Trump White House’s decision to limit press access stands in stark contrast to previous  administrations, which have traditionally pushed for greater access during meetings with foreign leaders overseas.

The move drew pointed criticism because it came during a meeting with Kim, an authoritarian leader who restricts the free-speech and political rights of his citizens.

White House Correspondents’ Association President Olivier Knox said the group “strenuously objects to the capricious decision to exclude some journalists” from the dinner.

“This summit provides an opportunity for the American presidency to display its strength by facing vigorous questioning from a free and independent news media, not telegraph weakness by retreating behind arbitrary last-minute restrictions on coverage,” Knox said. “We call on the White House to not allow a diminution of the previously agreed-to press complement for the remainder of the summit.”

Reporters asked Trump several questions during his initial handshake and meeting with Kim about their negotiations as well as former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress.

Trump shook his head when asked if he had any reaction to Cohen’s expected comments. Later at dinner, Trump did not appear to be bothered by the presence of journalists, telling photographers to “make us look very good" and even asking them to share their photos so he could send them to Kim.

The North Korean leader, however, did appear irked by some of the questions shouted at the start of his one-on-one meeting with Trump, and flashed a grin as they were escorted out of the room.

The summit thus far has been marked by disputes over press access.

The White House press corps was ejected from their workspace at the hotel where Kim was staying after his arrival on Tuesday.

--This report was updated at 12:22 p.m.