White House Briefing Amid Reports Of Staff Changes, Russia Developments
- Author: Leroy Wright May 31, 2017,
May 31, 2017, 1:42
Reports continue to circle about other impending White House staff changes, and the briefing followed news Tuesday morning that communications director Michael Dubke had resigned. He left about 20 minutes for questions from reporters, who pressed him to elaborate on Trump's recent tweets and last week's reports that Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner had talked to Russian Federation previous year about the possibility of opening up a secret communication channel.
There was no firm denial by Spicer of the central allegation against Kushner: that he had sought to establish a private line of communication with the Kremlin before Trump took office.
"That is just fake".
His attempt to cast aspersions on the reporting while not directly contradicting it led to some of the most heated moments of the news conference - especially in Spicer's exchanges with his first two questioners, Philip Rucker of The Washington Post and Francesca Chambers of the Daily Mail. "You get to decide what's big and what's not?" he asked.
"It was an unprecedented first trip overseas, just four months into this administration, and it shows just how quickly and decisively the president is acting to strengthen alliances, form new partnerships and to rebuild America's standing in the world", Spicer said, before reading praise from Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich and former CIA Director Jim Woolsey. That disconnect only underlined that this storm likely won't blow over anytime soon.
Much of Spicer's performance seemed to be geared toward currying favor with his boss rather than answering reporters' questions or persuading skeptical voters.
But the real fun began when Spicer opened the session to questions.
Trump was wearing his earpiece later during Gentiloni's speech, though.
"Ultimately the best messenger is the President himself".
The overall impression was of a press secretary for whom only one person's opinion mattered.
After leaving the podium, Spicer was trending as number one on Twitter. He addressed the Times' Peter Baker, who would later argue that Trump's foreign trip had dominated the paper's front page.
Later in the briefing, Spicer said Trump "is frustrated, like I am and so many others, to see stories come out that are patently false, to see narratives that are wrong, to see quote-unquote 'fake news'".
It was then that CNN's Jim Acosta jumped in to ask for an example. And someone from the BBC and ultimately an incoming reporter from the The New York Times tweeted that the president was being rude by disrespecting the Italian prime minister.
The White House pushed back, noting that Trump was being fed a translation through a single earpiece that was not visible in some photographs. "You did it", Spicer said to a reporter. But it underlined the tension that bubbles up so often between the media and the White House communications team.
Spicer denied a diminished relationship with Germany when he was asked about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's comment that Germany could no longer "completely depend" on the United States.
"As I mentioned, you had over half a trillion dollars of investment that's coming in, that's going to grow jobs, grow our economy".
"The concerns that he's had with the pace of the Senate have been longstanding", Spicer said of Trump.
"I don't think so", Spicer said.
'You're asking if he approves of an action that is not a confirmed action, ' Spicer added.Your question presupposes facts that have not been confirmed'. No one in Trump's administration had made that argument before; the agreed-upon message was that back channels are totally fine.