This time of year Manhattan’s 5th Avenue is teeming with tourists and holiday shoppers sharing the sidewalks with everyday New Yorkers going about their day. But since Nov. 9, the area around 57th Street has been a swarm of activity. Here sits Trump Tower, dubbed White House North, where the Pres.-elect is meeting with prospective members of his administration before he is sworn in 7 weeks from tomorrow.
Trump Tower’s lobby is a public space, with Tiffany on one side, Gucci on the other and Niketown in the rear. Tourists blend with journalists; the former looking for selfies, the latter scouring for news. TVNewser spent about 90 minutes at Trump Tower this morning.
Once you get past the barricades at the corner of 56th St., and a pat down, the NYPD officers armed with long guns at the front door direct you to a bag check inside.
When we arrived at 9:50 a.m., Trump’s longtime friend Larry King was passing through security. King checked in at the elevator bank, which has its own security checkpoint. But instead of heading upstairs, he and another man turned around and left. King briefly acknowledged the press pool, saying “Don’t worry guys, I’ll be back.”
Other notable figures we spotted: Trump transition communications director Jason Miller, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who Trump tapped as his National Security Adviser, and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Flynn and Gates arrived and left together. In September, in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Gates called Trump “unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.”
Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin also made an appearance. Each of the men headed up at approximately 10:15 a.m. ET and left the building shortly after 11 a.m. ET.
When you enter the building from 5th Avenue, the press pool is situated on the right-hand side of the lobby facing the elevator bank. There were approximately 10 still photographers and multiple video photographers inside an area cordoned off by a red velvet rope. The AP and Fox Business Network each had cameras on tripods facing the elevators. This is part of the #elevatorcam pool which C-SPAN has been broadcasting for close to 70 hours.
Tourists began to crowd the area as the morning continued. People from around the world stopped by with the hope of seeing Trump, including a married couple from Davenport, Iowa and a group of women visiting from Italy. They were hoping to not only see Trump, but also “other people we have been learning about and watching on the news channels,” said the woman from Iowa.
Tourists and the elevator bank press pool interacted sporadically over the duration of the two hours. Both sides were cordial towards one another, with a slight exception being a tall man in a camo “Make America Great Again” hat who stopped in front of the pool, stared at everyone for about 5 seconds without saying a word, then continued on his way.
At 11:30 a.m. we crossed over to the west side of 5th Avenue, where there is an enclosed area filled with television equipment and people. We noticed NBC’s Peter Alexander, head in his smartphone, waiting for his next MSNBC liveshot. CNBC’s Eamon Javers was also there. Not long after, a member of the production crew announced that Trump’s motorcade had left for LaGuardia Airport, and Indiana. Back at Trump Tower the news and the noise will continue.