Action News anchor Paul LaGrone attends White House regional press affiliates dinner with Trump

Posted at 4:55 PM, Feb 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 17:29:28-05

President Donald Trump held court with "regional press affiliates" in a private dinner on Monday, the White House said.

The meeting is comparable to the off-the-record lunch Trump will host Tuesday with major network anchors ahead of his first address to Congress.

ABC Action News anchor, Paul LaGrone attended Monday's dinner. Read his full account below: 

President Trump walked in the State Room of The West Wing with Melania Trump by his wife by his side. He was wearing a dark suit with his quintessential power red tie, the First Lady was in a white dress looking glamorous as usual.

The President and First Lady made the rounds shaking hands and introducing themselves to every single reporter in the room, and posed for pictures with the White House photographer.

Then it was down to business. And what ensued was a 90-minute dinner with the President. He talked about everything from the FBI leaks and Russia to Obama-care and the negative press coverage.

It was a very intimate gathering In the State Room with 20 local reporters, which has never been done before, and no topic was off the table - even though only certain portions were on the record.

The President did go on record hinting at what may be his over arching theme for Tuesday night's address to Congress; saying that the country has great problems but great potential. President Trump said, "We have a country with tremendous potential, but I inherited a country with tremendous problems," reiterating a point he has made recently.

He went on to describe North Korea as a world menace, a world problem, that must be dealt with. He also said the Middle East is a mess.

Monday's dinner was closed to the press. A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for more information on who was scheduled to attend, though we know E.W. Scripps Company reporters were invited.

Trump's lunch on Tuesday marks a continuation of a White House custom. Presidents have traditionally met with news anchors prior to delivering their State of the Union address. Trump's speech on Tuesday technically won't be a State of the Union, but it will be his first speech to a joint session of Congress.

Along with the off-the-record meetings, Trump has agreed to an interview this week with perhaps the friendliest outlet to his administration.

Fox & Friends, which Trump has hailed as "the most honest morning show," will air an interview with Trump on Tuesday.

This website is a product of the E.W. Scripps Company, which will have multiple reporters at tonight's dinner. Check tonight for coverage of the dinner, and preview coverage of Tuesday's address.