Breaking Protocol, Trump Dines Out Without Press in Tow | NBC4 Washington
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Breaking Protocol, Trump Dines Out Without Press in Tow

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    President-elect Donald Trump emerged from his New York skyscraper Tuesday night for the first time in days, moving about the nation's largest city without a pool of journalists on hand to ensure the public has knowledge of his whereabouts. Checkey Beckford reports. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016)

    President-elect Donald Trump emerged from his New York skyscraper Tuesday night for the first time in days, moving about the nation's largest city without a pool of journalists on hand to ensure the public has knowledge of his whereabouts.

    The president-elect spent about two hours dining with family at the 21 Club, a restaurant a few blocks from his Trump Tower residence. Journalists were only aware that Trump was leaving home when they spotted a large motorcade pulling away from the building, including an ambulance with lights flashing.

    The movement was a surprise given that Trump's campaign had already called a "lid" - a signal to journalists that he would not be venturing out in public for the rest of the day. The practice is meant to ensure that journalists are on hand to witness, on behalf of the public, the activities of the president or president-elect, rather than relying on secondhand accounts.

    Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks issued the lid at 6:14 p.m. But just over an hour later, Trump's motorcade left his residence. His whereabouts became clear only after a fellow diner tweeted a picture of the president-elect arriving at the restaurant.

    Reporters and photographers caught up with Trump at the midtown Manhattan restaurant but were not allowed inside.

    NBC News' Hallie Jackson, who made a reservation at the restaurant, reports Trump was dining inside with his wife Melania, and that Secret Service agents moved to block her view of them. 

    Meanwhile, NYPD blocked off 52nd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues as Trump dined inside the 21 Club. 

    His motorcade left the area shortly after 9:30 p.m. Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were spotted entering a Cadillac SUV at the back of the motorcade.

    Hicks said she was unaware that Trump planned to leave his home and had not intended to leave the press in the dark. She said the Trump team was working toward setting up a protective pool in the near future.

    Every president and president-elect in recent memory has traveled with a pool of journalists when leaving the White House grounds. News organizations take turns serving in the small group, paying their way and sharing the material collected in the pool with the larger press corps.

    The White House depends on having journalists nearby at all times to relay the president's first comments on breaking news.

    A pool of reporters and photographers was in the motorcade when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas. The pool was just steps away from President Ronald Reagan when he was shot outside a hotel in the District of Columbia, and was stationed outside his hospital as he recovered. The pool also travels on vacation and foreign trips and at times captures personal, historic moments of the presidency.