In an effort to curtail press access, all but one print reporter was excluded from the event, CNN reported. Several wire reporters, including Jonathan Lemire of The Associated Press, Jeff Mason of Reuters and Justin Sink of Bloomberg, were among those barred, according to their Twitter pages.
Mason and Lemire noted that they were excluded from the dinner after asking questions earlier Wednesday during a press event featuring Trump and Kim shaking hands.
Neither leader responded to questions from reporters at the time, which included inquiries about denuclearization and Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who is set to testify in front of a congressional committee Wednesday.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the press pool had been limited in a statement Wednesday.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the meetings we have limited the pool for the dinner to a smaller group, but ensured that representation of photographers, TV, radio and print poolers are all in the room,” Sanders said.
“We are continuing to negotiate aspects of this historic summit and will always work to make sure the U.S. media has as much access as possible,” she added.
Oliver Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, blasted the White House’s decision to slash media presence at the Vietnam summit.
“The summit provides an opportunity for the American presidency to display its strength by facing vigorous questioning from a free and independent news media, not telegraph weakness by retreating behind arbitrary last-minute restrictions on coverage,” Knox said in the statement.
He continued: “We call on the White House to not allow a diminution of the previously agreed-to press complement for the remainder of the summit.”
A day earlier, U.S. journalists were ejected from the Hanoi hotel where they had been working ahead of Kim’s arrival. They were told they could not take any photos or videos when the North Korean leader appeared.
Trump arrived in Vietnam on Tuesday for a second summit with Kim to discuss the authoritarian leader’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. The U.S. is seeking a commitment from North Korea to completely denuclearize.
Trump declared the hermit country was no longer a nuclear threat following their first summit in Singapore in June 2018, though satellite images suggest North Korea is continuing to develop its ballistic missiles program.
“Vietnam is thriving like few places on earth,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearize. The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un.”
Back in the U.S., Cohen is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday in a highly anticipated hearing. He is expected to say Trump is a racist con man who indirectly told him to lie about a Trump Tower Moscow real estate deal.
This story has been updated with a statement from the White House Correspondents’ Association.