On Tuesday night, amid a disastrous White House transition process, President-elect Donald Trump broke with protocol and ditched his protective press pool to hit the 21 Club steakhouse in midtown Manhattan with his family.
The press was caught off guard when Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks signaled that Trump wouldn’t be leaving Trump Tower for the rest of the evening only to have his motorcade slip out around 7:30pm and head off to the restaurant, but NBC News reporter Hallie Jackson was able to snag a reservation and gain access inside the restaurant, where she caught President-elect Trump on video appealing to patrons who represent a sampling of the wealthiest denizens of the five boroughs. “We’ll get your taxes down,” Trump appealed, “don’t worry about it.”
“We’ll get your taxes down—don’t worry about it” POTUS-elect Trump tells diners at NYC’s 21 Club—via @HallieJackson who made a rez to get in pic.twitter.com/0IcEYXq7SW
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) November 16, 2016
Police blocked off the Manhattan block where Trump was dining, and when reporters eventually caught up to the incoming president, only those with a press pass were allowed to gather outside the restaurant.
When contacted by reporters, Hicks seemed genuinely surprised that the president-elect had left Trump Tower, claiming that she “wasn’t aware of this movement” and promised that she would never intentionally “leave the press in the dark.” Hicks also vowed that once Trump’s protective pool has been assembled, reporters will have “all of the access that they have ever had under any president.”
Jackson was particularly disturbed by the fact that Hicks told the press that Trump was in for the night only to ditch the press pool that customarily travels with the president-elect.
This is not a navel-gaze-y “woe is media” thing. This is about being conduit to Americans on basic whereabouts of president-elect.
— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) November 16, 2016
After returning to Trump Tower, the president-elect took a break from being the most unprepared man to take office by picking a fight with The New York Times on Twitter. This is going to be a long four to eight years.