The White House pushed back on suggestions that the president, the prime minister of Japan and their aides were discussing national security matters during a public dinner at the president's Mar-a-Lago resort Saturday night after North Korea fired a ballistic missile.
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Instead, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that they were only "reviewing the logistics for the press conference" about the matter were discussed in view of the guests, some of whom were photographed at the president's table with documents.
The pictures, posted to social media, raised questions about what was being discussed and drew fire from Democrats, among others.
According to Spicer, the president was briefed on the details of the missile launch in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility ahead of the dinner and then again after the dinner and prior to the press conference.
"At the time they had suggested the press conference was going to be at the Hampton Inn, and so they were reviewing it, and the president was basically saying we're going to have it here," Spicer said.
Spicer did concede that there was an off-chance that someone present spoke about what should be said at the presser, but that the staff and the president only recalled logistics being discussed.
A White House official confirmed to ABC News around 8:40 p.m. ET that Trump had been briefed on the North Korea incident.
One guest, who had joined her friends for a birthday party there, took pictures as Trump and the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe -- who had gathered for dinner -- worked on the dimly lit outdoor patio.
The guest, who asked not to be named, told ABC News that she was sitting near Trump and Abe, and walked up to their roped off table to take photos at 10:17 p.m. Roughly 20 minutes later, Trump and Abe gave a brief joint statement from a gilded room inside Mar-a-Lago.
"I went up to the rope and he was more than happy to smile for a photo!" the guest wrote in a message to ABC News. "He just smiled when he saw I was taking a photo! He was also waving."
"There was a point after they finished eating when they were all standing behind Trump with papers in their hands," said the attendee.
Richard DeAgazio, another guest at Mar-a-Lago that night, also snapped photos of Trump and Abe. DeAgazio has since deleted his social media accounts.
President Obama’s ethics czar, Norm Eisen tweeted his disapproval. “Couldnt they go into side room 2do this? Nah--would have reduced free TV 4Mar-A-Lago dining room. Trump's greed an infomercial for spies!”
Couldnt they go into side room 2do this? Nah--would have reduced free TV 4Mar-A-Lago dining room. Trump's greed an infomercial for spies! https://t.co/ml8hu2F9wC— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) February 13, 2017
“I wonder if Director Comey would consider this careless,” tweeted Brian Fallon, former press secretary to Hillary Clinton, in a swipe at FBI Director James Comey, who criticized Clinton’s handling of classified information as careless, not criminal.
Former White House photographer Pete Souza, who has been critical of Trump, posted to Instagram on Monday a photo from 2011 of former President Obama holding a discussion in El Salvador following a call with his national security team.
“When we were on the road, national security discussions and head of state phone calls were conducted in a private, secure location set up onsite,” the caption read.
When we were on the road, national security discussions and head of state phone calls were conducted in a private, secure location set up onsite. Everyone had to leave their Blackberry outside the area. In this photo, which was taken in March 2011 and subsequently released, the President holds a discussion in El Salvador following a conference call with his full national security team.
And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted:
There's no excuse for letting an international crisis play out in front of a bunch of country club members like dinner theater. #FireFlynn— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) February 13, 2017
ABC News' Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.