25 Feb 2017

Blocked: US journalists protest briefing exclusion

11:52 am on 25 February 2017

The White House Correspondents Association has strongly protested against the exclusion of some journalists from a media briefing by Donald Trump's spokesperson.

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 24, 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland.

US President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington. Photo: AFP

Correspondents from the New York Times, CNN, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and other organisations were told they could not attend an off-camera briefing by the press secretary, Sean Spicer.

No reason was given, but Associated Press and Time boycotted the so-called gaggle in protest.

CNN and other media have been reporting that the FBI has refused a White House request for it to refute recent stories saying members of Mr Trump's team were in frequent contact with Russian intelligence agents during last year's presidential campaign.

Sean Spicer

Sean Spicer Photo: AFP

The briefing followed Mr Trump's address to the Conservative Political Action Congress at its annual forum in Maryland, near Washington.

The US president said in a matter of days he would take brand-new action to prevent potential terrorists from entering the country.

Although he did not specify what was coming, White House officials said details of a new immigration ban would be released shortly. The original ban was nullified by a federal court.

Mr Trump told the gathering of conservatives he would not be deterred from his course.

"We are going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country."

The president also said construction of the proposed wall on the Mexican border would begin "very soon ... way, way, way ahead of schedule".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met their Mexican counterparts in Mexico City yesterday - but neither mentioned the wall in a subsequent news conference.

The wall could cost up to $US21.5bn, according to Reuters, citing a Department of Homeland Security internal report - much higher than Mr Trump's estimated price tag of $US12bn.

Mr Trump, who has insisted Mexico would later pay for the wall, needs Congressional approval for funding before moving forward with construction.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said he would not finance Mr Trump's wall.

Mr Trump also vowed to carry out what he called one of the greatest military build-ups in American history.

- BBC / ABC / Reuters

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