When President Donald Trump this morning tweeted….
…he meant that “he would describe” his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “fairly unbelievable” and that he “has a lot of respect for her,” and continued to grow their bond during last week’s G7 meeting. That’s White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s story, as relayed during his first on-camera White House press briefing in two weeks, and he’s sticking to it.
Trump’s tweet had counter-punched Merkel, who had warned, post Trump’s NATO summit performance, what she had experienced in the past few days was that Europe could no longer rely on the United States under Trump.
During Tuesday’s press briefing, Spicer nimbly jumped out of the way of a question about Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner having allegedly tried to set up a backchannel with the Kremlin through the Russian embassy and whether Trump was aware of this effort. Spicer refused to comment on the report because, he said, it is “not a confirmed action” and cites anonymous sources. But Spicer got tripped up a bit when a reporter noted Trump had that very morning retweeted a Fox & Friends report refuting the other report that ALSO cited anonymous sources: “Jared Kushner didn’t suggest Russian communications channel in meeting, source says.”
Spicer spent much of the briefing defending Trump’s morning tweets – which may be the White House communications’ department’s new strategy. That also included the one in which POTUS urged the Senate to use the nuclear option on all matters, not just Supreme Court nominees:
“He wants action. This president was elected to get things done,” Spicer insisted.
Speaking of filibuster, Spicer ate up the first 10 minutes of his 40-minute briefing plowing through his copy of “Best Ever Adjectives” describing Trump’s overseas trip, in his first on-camera press briefing in two weeks.
As expected, he took a lot of incoming about reports Trump’s son-in-law/adviser attempted to establish backchannel communications with the Kremlin during the transition.
Spicer, a devout Catholic, did not, however, take a question about Trump having shut him out of the meeting with the pope during Trump’s European tour last week.
Spicer’s briefing came a few hours after word broke that White House Communications Director Mike Dubke had thrown in the towel after three months, citing personal reasons for stepping down from the job, in what is expected to be Step 1 in a major shake-up of Trump’s media message-massaging team. The resignation after just three months on the job was another indication how tough it has been to come up with a cohesive messaging strategy for a POTUS who has no coherent strategy.
Spicer previously had held Dubke’s job simultaneous to being White House press secretary. Spicer is expected to survive as press secretary in the Trump team’s latest shoot-the-messenger shake-up, but will play a diminished role, holding fewer of these on-camera briefings. Trump is said to want to play a larger role conveying his message to the press. Maybe not coincidentally, Trump recently boasted Spicer’s briefings were the most watched program in daytime TV.
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