11:44 a.m.: The White House press corps is invited into a conversation President Trump was hosting with House Republicans in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. The subject was the health-care bill hustling its way to the House floor; the president used the occasion to outline several arguments for the bill’s passage with the media in attendance.
About 12:30 p.m.: The president thanks the pool, indicating that they should leave. Reporters, including ABC’s Jonathan Karl, try to use the occasion to ask Trump questions, instead of simply observing the interaction with the House members. Trump ignores them. White House staff try to usher reporters out.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 10, 2017
According to the pool report from Roll Call’s John Bennett, the effort to get the press to leave the room is joined by an unexpected party. “One of Trump’s personal security men entered the Roosevelt Room from a door behind the pool and began yelling loudly for us to clear out,” Bennett wrote.
Trump had private security personnel in his employ staffing him at rallies over the course of the campaign, alongside the Secret Service. In January, he announced that one of them, Keith Schiller, would join him at the White House to serve as a deputy assistant. It was Schiller who struck a protester in the face outside Trump Tower in September 2015 after the protester tried to reclaim a sign Schiller had snatched away.
Bennett later clarified that it was Schiller who’d yelled at the assembled press. He asked the White House for more details on the interaction, receiving a statement: “The staff asked the press to leave the room. I am not going to comment any further.”
1:26 p.m.: Shortly before White House press secretary Sean Spicer is slated to begin his daily press briefing, there’s some commotion in the briefing room among the reporters.
Fox News Radio John Decker just loudly told everyone in briefing room that Gateway Pundit is here "they hate blacks, Jews, Hispanics." Wild
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) March 10, 2017
Lucian Wintrich, a staffer for the site Gateway Pundit, which gained press credentials under the Trump administration, enters the briefing room and is accosted by a reporter for Fox News Radio, according to BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo.
Update: In a statement, Decker denied accosting Wintrich. “Earlier today I had a conversation with a representative from the online publication Gateway Pundit,” it reads. “The conversation was straightforward and direct. … At no time did I accost or assault this individual.”
On Thursday evening, Gateway Pundit published a story touting a long-debunked claim about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. It’s well known for propagating other false stories, as well.
2:03 p.m.: Asked about the jobs numbers released Friday and Trump’s past insistence that unemployment data was misleading or phony, Spicer cracked a joke.
REPORTER: In the past the president has referred to particular job reports as phony or totally fiction. Does the president believe that this jobs report was accurate and a fair way to measure the economy?
SPICER: Yeah. I talked to the president prior to this and he said to quote him very clearly: “They may have been phony in the past but it’s very real now.”
Spicer and reporters in the room laughed.
Trump regularly disparaged official government data during the campaign, but it wasn’t hard to see that his attitudes would change once he entered office. Considering only those economic metrics Trump focused on during the campaign, the economy is in as bad shape as it was under Obama.
2:29 p.m.: Spicer is asked why the press isn’t being accommodated on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trip to Asia, an unusual exclusion that was soundly criticized this week.
Spicer replies that the secretary is using a smaller plane to save money.
2:37 p.m.: The staffer for the Gateway Pundit — who has pledged to “troll” the media in his new role — fields questions from the press corps outside the White House.
The Gateway Pundit guy is now holding a gaggle outside the White House because nothing matters pic.twitter.com/lxgsjUtDeF
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) March 10, 2017
The good news appears to be that no one from Trump’s staff yelled at them to leave.