As a result, Mr. Trump did not address Mr. Flynn’s status for days after The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on Thursday that he had discussed American sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey I. Kislyak, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. Those reports contradicted earlier statements by several Trump officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr. Trump was also not asked about photographs of him being briefed on Saturday night after North Korea fired a ballistic missile, a highly sensitive deliberation that took place in full view of other patrons in a public dining room at his Florida club, Mar-a-Lago.
The lack of questions about that or Mr. Flynn drew protests from journalists, both inside and outside the East Room. “Reporters covering the White House who fail to ask the president about the most pressing news of the day should be ashamed of themselves,” Glenn Kessler, who writes the Fact Checker column for The Post, said on Twitter.
Presidents, it must be said, routinely pick and choose reporters at news conferences, often with an eye to drawing certain kinds of questions. The Trump administration, however, has taken that strategy to a new level, managing to avoid scrutiny on a major running story.
Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, has been open about wanting to expand the list of news outlets that traditionally have been regularly called on during White House briefings. He began his first briefing by calling on a reporter from The New York Post, Daniel Halper, who also got a question at Mr. Trump’s news conference on Friday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.
Mr. Spicer did not respond to a message seeking comment for this article.
Joint news conferences with the president and visiting foreign leaders are an awkward ritual, even during the best of times. First there is the simultaneous translation, during which both leaders need to wear earpieces, something that caught Mr. Trump off guard with Mr. Abe. He did not put in the earpiece during the prime minister’s lengthy introduction.
Normally, the leaders call on two reporters from each of their respective countries ostensibly to ask both of them about their just-concluded meeting. In reality, reporters often seize the opportunity to quiz the president about the pressing news of the day, which often has nothing to do with, say, Canada or Japan.
Foreign leaders often find themselves standing uncomfortably while their host tangles with reporters about health care policy or other domestic issues. That is even truer for leaders from countries, like Canada and Japan, with which the United States has generally tranquil relations, and hence generate little in the way of juicy news.
On Friday, for example, Mr. Halper asked Mr. Trump about his reaction to the federal court ruling striking down his immigration order. The president, clearly not yet used to the drill, replied with palpable irritation: “Well, your question was unrelated to what we are here for today, but I will answer it. We are going to keep our country safe.”
On Monday, Mr. Trump got no such surprises. His first questioner, Scott Thuman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, asked the president how he expected his relationship with Mr. Trudeau to develop on issues like terrorism and immigration, given their “notable and philosophical differences.”
“We’re going to have a great relationship with Canada, maybe as good or better, hopefully than ever before,” Mr. Trump replied.
In a statement, Mr. Thuman said he had prepared a question on Mr. Flynn but decided to “go a different route” when he heard that other reporters planned to ask the same thing. “Anyone familiar with me or my reporting knows it to be unbiased, free of agenda, and unafraid to ask tough questions,” he said.
The second American reporter, Kaitlan Collins of The Daily Caller, asked Mr. Trump to list the most important national security challenges facing the United States. She asked Mr. Trudeau whether he, having maintained an open-door policy for refugees from Syria, saw any merit in Mr. Trump’s immigration executive order on “national security grounds.”
Neither Ms. Collins nor Mr. Thuman said they shared questions in advance with the White House press office. Ms. Collins said she chose a broad question about national security because it was more relevant for her readers than the status of one of Mr. Trump’s staff members.
“They want to know where the next war is going to be,” she said of her readers. “Why would I even go to the press conference if we’re all supposed to ask the same question?”
The White House had alerted a reporter from Bloomberg News, Jennifer Jacobs, that she might receive a question — a standard practice by the press office to ensure that the reporter shows up and is prepared. Ms. Jacobs planned on asking about Mr. Flynn; she, too, had not told the White House in advance. But in the end, Mr. Trump did not call on Ms. Jacobs.
The White House’s press management left the press corps in a lamentable place, with the visiting Canadian journalists extracting what little news there was.
“President Trump,” said Tonda MacCharles of The Toronto Star, “you seem to suggest that Syrian refugees are a Trojan horse for potential terrorism, while the prime minister hugs refugees and welcomes them with opens arms. So I’d like to know, are you confident the northern border is secure?”
Mr. Trump replied, “Can never be totally confident.”
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