Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted at 4:07 p.m. EST that she would hold a press conference at 4:10 p.m that same day. After being over ten minutes late, Sanders held the first briefing of 2019.
It was expected that Sanders would use the opportunity to shift blame of President Donald Trump’s shutdown to Democrats, who took power just hours before.
Neither CNN nor Fox News knew what the press conference would be about, but it was assumed she would answer questions about the president’s proposal to end the shutdown.
Republican CNN commentator Ana Navarro suspected prior to the briefing that it was more about deflection of the Democratic Congress than anything.
President Donald Trump surprised the press room by coming in to do his own press briefing. It’s the second time Trump has spoken to the press this week. He began by congratulating Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her win and pivoting to speak about border security.
He explained that he has gotten more support over his demand for a wall over the past several weeks. As a fact-check, the vast majority of the American people do not want the wall. At the same time, 50 percent of Americans blame Trump for the shutdown, while only 32 percent blame Democrats.
He let current and former members of the border patrol speak about the need for a wall and then refused to take questions.
CNN’s political panel called the press conference nothing more than a stunt.
“Donald Trump couldn’t stand it that Nancy Pelosi was the center of attention today,” said Republican Bill Kristol.
Never mind. He didn’t take questions. You don’t get credit for a press conference if you don’t take questions. https://t.co/tDgrD7xg2G
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 3, 2019
you have to make news if you want to step on someone else's day https://t.co/aDPG9s0pro
— Alex Roarty (@Alex_Roarty) January 3, 2019
So, President Trump goes to the briefing room. Talks border wall. Has a cast of bald border patrol guys talk about the border wall. And then he leaves without taking questions. Nor does Sarah Sanders take questions. Gonna have to do more than that to take the spotlight off NDP.
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) January 3, 2019
No questions. The president came out with border patrol agents to the podium and called for a wall, while introducing the agents — who echoed his call. "Will there be no questions today?" @kaitlancollins could be heard shouting as everyone retreated.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) January 3, 2019
That was nothing more than a long tweet stream in front of microphones and cameras under the guise of a briefing.
— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) January 3, 2019
See the video below: