Economic advisers fill room at national security briefing
Bannon sits outside the national security table
Kushner gets front seat to airstrike viewing
President Donald Trump tracked the first major military operation of his presidency from a makeshift Situation Room on the grounds of his lavish Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, surrounded by grim-faced aides fresh from dinner in the club’s dining room.
That’s according to a photo of the proceedings released by the White House Friday.
The image, which Press Secretary Sean Spicer said was edited for security reasons, shows Trump hunched over a table kitted out with secure video equipment and briefing papers. His brow furrowed, Trump is flanked by his Secretary of State and Secretary of Commerce.
Spicer tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, were not in the room, but instead participating by secure video conference.
The president’s press secretary said the photo was taken around 9:15 p.m. ET on Thursday evening, after Trump’s dinner with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The image stood in stark contrast to a previous weekend at Mar-a-Lago, which saw Trump plot out a response to a North Korean missile test from his club’s patio. That session played out in full view of other diners, drawing criticism.
This time – and with far more sensitive information at play – Trump retreated behind closed doors.
So who’s in the photo?
At the table, from left to right:
- Joe Hagin, deputy chief of staff for operations
- Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser
- Steve Mnuchin, secretary of treasury
- Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce
- President Trump, seated at the head of the table.
- Rex Tillerson, secretary of state
- H.R. McMaster, national security adviser
- Reince Priebus, chief of staff
Not sitting at table:
- Sean Spicer, press secretary
- A military aide
- Stephen Bannon, chief strategist who was recently removed from his National Security Council post
- Stephen Miller, senior adviser
- Michael Anton, senior national security official
- Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy
- Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser
Who’s not in the photo?
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, who participated via secure teleconference from Washington, Spicer said.
Where was the photo taken?
At a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort Trump frequents, according to Spicer.
What does the photo evoke?
The photo has already been likened to the iconic picture of former President Barack Obama huddled with his national security team in the White House Situation Room as they monitor via live video the killing of Osama bin Laden. The picture is shot from the same angle, with the president receiving a briefing on the operation he just ordered.
Does Kushner have security clearance?
Kushner has yet to detail to the federal government all of his foreign contacts, a condition of receiving his top secret security clearance. Most people in the photo appear to be looking at a screen on the table, but Kushner is looking resolutely over the table. It’s not clear if he’s looking at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or beyond, to White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report