US & Canada

Trump stuns diners and reporters with impromptu night out

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDonald Trump tells New York diners: 'We'll get your taxes down'

Diners at a Manhattan restaurant were left open-mouthed when in walked President-elect Donald Trump.

But they were not the only ones to be surprised by the arrival of the man of the moment and his family.

A group of reporters assigned to cover the president-elect's movements had been told they were not needed as he would be staying home for the evening.

Video showed Mr Trump greeting diners and telling them he would lower their taxes.

His arrival at the 21 Club only became known because a Bloomberg reporter, Taylor Riggs, happened to be dining there and tweeted his arrival, mistakenly giving the name of a different venue called Keene's.

Image copyright @RiggsReport
Image caption The Bloomberg reporter later clarified she had meant the restaurant was the 21 Club not Keene's

Video emerged of him greeting diners, telling them: "We'll get your taxes down, don't worry about it."

The press pool assigned to cover the president-elect was reportedly told by Mr Trump's spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, at 18:45 that he was calling it a night and they might as well go home.

Some 45 minutes later, a "massive motorcade" was seen leaving Trump Tower, reportedly with at least a dozen vehicles and an ambulance.

When Riggs' tweet emerged, reporters scrambled to Keene's before realising he was actually at the 21 Club.

They were kept away from the restaurant while the Trump family had their dinner before returning home at 21:41.

The decision to break with presidential protocol and not inform the press pool has alarmed many in the US media, already concerned by what they say is a lack of access and transparency from the incoming administration.

Ms Hicks later told reporters she had not been aware of Mr Trump's plans and promised reporters would have "all the access that they have ever had under any president".

The White House Correspondents' Association called it "unacceptable for the next president of the United States to travel without a regular pool to record his movements and inform the public about his whereabouts".

Association President Jeff Mason welcomed Ms Hicks' reassurances but said "the time to act on that promise is now", stressing "pool reporters are in place... to cover the president-elect as he assembles his new administration".

Read more:

What is a protective press pool?

US presidents - and presidential nominees - traditionally have a "protective pool" of journalists who cover their daily movements.

The pool is overseen by the White House Correspondents Association, and the reporters are rotated.

The aim of the pool is to ensure a reporter bears witness to everything the president does outside the White House.

Some of the details can be mundane but they are sent to news outlets via the White House Press Office.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton broke with tradition by not having a protective press pool on their campaign. Mr Trump went further by not allowing reporters to travel with him on his plane or as part of his motorcade.

Mr Trump at times during the campaign actively denied press credentials to some news outlets, including The Washington Post, the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico and Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the US.