Trump took four questions — two from American reporters and two from Canadian reporters — at a joint appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He was asked about his relationship with Trudeau and their differences on trade and immigration.
Trump avoided the potentially more uncomfortable subjects when the questions went unasked.
In what was a visible show of unity, Flynn sat in the front row with other Trump aides, including Vice President Pence.
“Obviously, North Korea is a big, big problem, and we will deal with that very, very strongly,” Trump said when asked by a reporter for the Daily Caller what he viewed as the biggest national security threats.
But Trump was not specifically asked about news reports that he received and discussed potentially sensitive information on North Korea's missile test with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while dining in a room filled with other patrons at Mar-a-Lago, his winter retreat in Palm Beach, Fla., on Saturday night. At least one other patron posted photos on Facebook of what appeared to be Trump and Abe discussing the situation with aides and reviewing documents lit by a cellphone flashlight.
For the second news conference in a row, Trump avoided questions about Flynn. The Washington Post reported last week that the administration's top national security official had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with officials from Moscow before Trump took office, according to intelligence officials who are investigating ties among Flynn and other Trump associates to Moscow.
Flynn and other administration officials, including Pence, had denied that Flynn had discussed the sanctions with Russian counterparts before Trump's inauguration. Stephen Miller, a senior White House official, notably declined to comment on Flynn during appearances on the Sunday political talk shows.
Some reporters were not pleased that Trump did not face questions on those topics.
By handpicking reporters, Trump manages to get through news conference without being asked about Flynn.— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) February 13, 2017
Reporters covering the White House who fail to ask the president about the most pressing news of the day should be ashamed of themselves.— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) February 13, 2017
The Trump White House has continued President Obama's practice of allowing two questions apiece from the American and foreign media contingents during news conferences after summits with foreign leaders. Obama's aides gave him a list of reporters to call on at news conferences, and Trump also appears to have predetermined who he will call on. But the new president and his press aides have faced criticism for allegedly tailoring access to conservative-leaning outlets that Trump might consider more friendly.
Trump called on reporters from the New York Post and Fox News during a news conference with Abe on Friday. They both asked him about his administration's response to a federal appeals court upholding a lower-court ruling that suspended an immigration ban on refugees and others from majority-Muslim countries.
On Monday, in addition to the Daily Caller, Trump also called on a reporter from Sinclair Broadcast Group, who asked him a general question about his differences with Trudeau on immigration, trade and terrorism. Sinclair, which operates a large network of affiliates, struck a deal with the Trump campaign for greater access to the candidate in exchange for agreeing to run packages without commentary, according to a report in Politico about private comments in December from Trump aide, Jared Kushner.
Sinclair executives have said the network had no special arrangement with the Trump campaign and that it offered equal time to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In his answer to the Sinclair reporter, Scott Thuman, Trump defended a series of immigration enforcement raids targeting illegal immigrants over the weekend.
“We have really done a great job,” Trump said. “We're actually taking people that are criminals, very, very hardened criminals in some cases, with a tremendous track record for abuse and problems, and we're getting them out. That's what I said I would do.”
The Canadian reporters also asked Trump about immigration and trade.
For his part, Trudeau avoided accentuating his differences with Trump. Though the Canadian leader had tweeted support for refugees after Trump's immigration order, Trudeau said that his job is “not to lecture another country” on its policies.
“We'll continue to pursue policies of openness … without compromising our security,” he said.