President-elect Donald Trump emerged from his New York skyscraper Tuesday night for the first time in days, moving about the nation's largest city without a pool of journalists on hand. The president-elect spent about two hours dining with family at the 21 Club, a restaurant a few blocks from his Trump Tower residence, the AP reports. Journalists were only aware that Trump was leaving home when they spotted a large motorcade pulling away from the building, including an ambulance with lights flashing. The movement was a surprise given that Trump's campaign had already called a "lid"—a signal to journalists that he would not be venturing out for the rest of the day.
The practice is meant to ensure that journalists are on hand to witness, on behalf of the public, the activities of the president or president-elect, the AP notes. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks issued the lid at 6:14pm. But just over an hour later, Trump's motorcade left his residence. His whereabouts became clear only after a fellow diner tweeted a picture of him arriving at the restaurant. Hicks said she was unaware that Trump planned to leave his home and had not intended to leave the press in the dark. If this sounds like "a Beltway media thing," it's not, Rachel Maddow explained on MSNBC. "Once you are president, once you are president-elect, it is a matter of tradition, it is a matter of security, it is a matter of national interest that you don't go dark—you're not really allowed to be a private person anymore."