WEST WING AFTER DARK

“Turn the lights off”: How the White House hides from a crisis, in photos

US president Donald Trump’s sudden dismissal of FBI director James Comey stunned lawmakers and political observers. It also seems to have stunned his staff, who scrambled to react and manage communications around the decision.

The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson has an almost unbelievable recounting (paywall) of chaos at the White House Tuesday evening (May 9), with press secretary Sean Spicer reportedly calling for the lights to be turned off.

After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the bushes behind these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so. Spicer then emerged.

“Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,” he ordered. “We’ll take care of this. … Can you just turn that light off?”

Spicer got his wish and was soon standing in near darkness between two tall hedges, with more than a dozen reporters closely gathered around him. For 10 minutes, he responded to a flurry of questions, vacillating between light-hearted asides and clear frustration with getting the same questions over and over again.

Photos of the impromptu press gaggles offer a glimpse into a White House in crisis mode.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to media outside the West Wing on May 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Kellyanne Conway
Counselor to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway speaks to media as she walks to the West Wing on May 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Sean Spicer
That’s all folks (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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