WPRI’s Kalunian poses sanctuary city question during White House Skype

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Eyewitness News reporter Kim Kalunian Wednesday became the first reporter in the country to participate in the White House’s new initiative allowing reporters outside Washington to ask questions at the daily press briefing.

Of the four journalists who participated in the first-ever “Skype seats” group, Kalunian, an Eyewitness News reporter since 2015, got the first question. She asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer a question about sanctuary cities and the timeline of President Trump’s executive order regarding them.

“Just this week the mayor of Providence began calling our capital city a sanctuary city. As we know, President Trump’s executive order says the White House will begin publishing a weekly list of these municipalities and pledges to withdraw federal grant money from them. How soon we can expect to see this list and how soon should cities like Providence expect to see their federal funding cut,” Kalunian asked.

While he did not provide specifics on the timeline, Spicer said, “the president has been very clear through his executive order that federal funds, paid for by hard-working taxpayers, should not be used to help fund sanctuary cities.”

“As we continue to implement this executive order and fulfill the pledge that he made we’ll have further updates on how that list will come out and when it will come out,” added Spicer. “So I look forward to following up on that as well.”

Spicer announced what he’s calling the “Skype seats” program Tuesday. Selected reporters use the video service to remotely attend the briefing and pose a question to Spicer.

The Trump administration is the first to invite reporters from outside the White House press corps to participate in a briefing virtually.

The other inaugural panelists included Natalie Herbick from Fox 8 in Cleveland Ohio, Lars Larson of the Lars Larson Show, and Jeff Jobe from Jobe Publishing in south-central Kentucky.

Kalunian previously sat down with Spicer, a Barrington native, for an exclusive interview just days after Trump chose him as his press secretary in December.

Watch the full interview with White House Press Sec. Sean Spicer »
Watch the full interview with White House Press Sec. Sean Spicer »

Earlier in 2016 Spicer visited the Eyewitness News studios in East Providence to join Tim White and Ted Nesi for a half-hour interview on Newsmakers, the station’s weekend politics show. Spicer was the Republican National Committee’s communications director at the time.

Watch the full video of Kim Kalunian’s press briefing appearance below.