White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders plans to hold her first press briefing in 41 days on Monday, returning to the podium after President Trump said he had instructed her “not to bother” giving briefings for a while, citing inaccurate coverage.
Sanders’ last briefing from the James S. Brady press room was on Dec. 18, just days before the government ran out of funding for key agencies and went into the longest partial shutdown in U.S. history.
The 41-day stretch without a press briefing is the longest in the Trump administration, topping the previous record of 29 days.
But she returns to the briefing room now that the shutdown crisis has eased -- at least temporarily -- after Trump agreed to sign a three-week spending package.
The shutdown, which lasted more than a month, was triggered over the issue of border security. Trump requested $5.7 billion in funding for border security and construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats vowed to block any spending package that included wall funding. It remains unclear whether the two sides can come together on a long-term package before the next Feb. 15 funding deadline. If not, a new shutdown could be triggered.
Last week, the president defended Sanders’ time away from the podium.
“The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular, certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!” Trump tweeted last week.
Olivier Knox, the president of the White House Correspondents Association, said last week in a statement that the “retreat from transparency and accountability sets a terrible precedent.”
“Being able to question the press secretary or other senior government officials publicly helps the news media tell Americans what their most powerful representatives are doing in their name,” Knox said. “While other avenues exist to obtain information, the robust, public back-and-forth we’ve come to expect in the James A. Brady briefing room helps highlight that no one in a healthy republic is above being questioned.”
Monday's briefing could be tense, with Trump battling tough coverage throughout the government shutdown.
This would also be the first briefing with Sanders since former Trump adviser Roger Stone was indicted last week as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.