President Donald Trump, in his most comfortable element at the gilded Trump Tower on Tuesday as he took questions from reporters, was surrounded by approving aides as he took jabs at the media.
A few male aides who were gathered to the right side of the podium chuckled and smiled at one moment when the President called reporters “fake news,” one of his go-to descriptions for the media.
Hope Hicks, considered one of the closest confidantes to Trump, stood placidly in the wings as well.
Nascent chief of staff John Kelly watched his new boss from high, blue curtains that were set up to the left of the President’s podium.
His face was stern as he watched the 15 or so minutes of back and forth with reporters, and he crossed and uncrossed his arms as he listened; he occasionally peeked his head out to get a clear look at reporters who were peppering the President with questions about white supremacy and the recent Charlottesville unrest.
A senior White House official said Kelly and other top advisers hoped Trump would turn a corner and talk about infrastructure, but concedes they were entirely wrong.
“That was all him – this wasn’t our plan,” the official said, speaking confidentially about internal deliberations.
One prominent staffer who was not present: Steve Bannon. The President was asked about the chief strategist and his job security, to which Trump responded, “We’ll see what happens.”