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President-elect Donald Trump said in a recent interview with Fox News that he would not move the press briefing room out of the West Wing of the White House, but that his team would “pick the people” who are assigned the 49 seats.
A weekend Esquire report said members of Trump’s team had discussed booting the press corps from the briefing room in the West Wing.
Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, later confirmed that discussions were underway to move the press to a larger room to accommodate more reporters.
“So we said we’re going to move it to a larger room in a nearby area, but not the same area, and the press went crazy,” Trump said in a Fox News interview broadcast Wednesday.
The president-elect continued: “So I said, ‘Let’s not move it.’ But some people in the press will not be able to get in because there’s just too many. We’ll make sure you get a seat, but there’s too many people for this small room.”
The seats in the briefing room, which has been used for decades, are assigned by the White House Correspondents’ Association. Over the weekend, the organization’s president stressed that the briefing room “is open to all journalists who seek access now.”
Trump, however, said interest in access had increased after his election, and that “many people” want a seat.
“So we’ll just pick the people to go into the room,” he said, disregarding the long tradition of the WHCA assigning seats.
“I’m not sure other people will be thrilled about that,” Trump added. “But we offered a much larger room because we need a much larger room. And we offered to do that, but they went crazy.”
Trump concluded: “They’ll be begging for a much larger room very soon. You watch.”
The WHCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s remarks.