President Donald Trump declined to take questions from reporters during his first state visit to China — and a former White House press secretary called out the official excuse as baloney.
The last three presidents each fielded questions from the media alongside their Chinese counterparts, but Trump declined to do so — and his press secretary offered an explanation.
“It was at the Chinese insistence there were no questions today,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.
NBC News political director Chuck Todd pointed out on Twitter that previous press secretaries demanded press conferences while on official state visits to China.
China isn’t supposed to have a say about press access. Previous press secs used to fight with Chinese counterparts for press access when in China. Witnessed personally. https://t.co/IWMgOoy7ZB
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) November 9, 2017
Jay Carney, who served as White House press secretary under former President Barack Obama, called out Sanders for failing to get Trump in front of reporters over Chinese objections.
I once had to tell Chinese officials that Pres. Obama would not show up for the press avail unless there would be a Q&A. They backed down. https://t.co/Z2LdwSYK9k
— Jay Carney (@JayCarney) November 9, 2017
Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, did not take any questions from reporters Thursday at an event described as a news briefing, and the president has largely stayed away from reporters during his heavily choreographed visit to China.