White House press secretary Sean Spicer delivers his first statement in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, 2017. SHAWN THEW / EPA
SHAWN THEW / EPA

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the darndest things

Updated
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer twice seemed to describe the Republican health care plan, which his boss supported, as “a bad deal” the president decided to walk away from. Given Donald Trump’s work on the legislation, reporters were puzzled to hear the president’s spokesperson describe the GOP proposal this way.

A day later, Spicer insisted he “never said” the legislation was a “bad deal.” He encouraged everyone to “check the transcript.” So I did check the transcript, and he really did suggest the bill was a “bad deal” – twice.

I can appreciate the fact that “Sean Spicer says strange things that don’t appear to be true” isn’t exactly breaking news – the Republican’s reputation has struggled in recent months for a reason – but this has been an especially unflattering week for the press secretary, and the week’s not quite finished.

The day after the “bad deal” flap, for example, Spicer said in reference to the Russia scandal, “[E]very single person who has been briefed on this, as I’ve said ad nauseam from this podium, that they have been very clear that there is no connection between the president or the staff here and anyone doing anything with Russia.” That’s obviously not true: the matter is still the subject of an ongoing FBI counter-intelligence investigation, which hasn’t drawn that conclusion, at least not yet.

Yesterday, the day after an unfortunate “stop shaking your head” exchange, Spicer made the case that if journalists can cite anonymous sources in reporting the news, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) can do the same thing when lending credence to one of the president’s conspiracy theories. As the Washington Post explained, the comparison doesn’t make sense.

Spicer also said the idea that Nunes relied on White House sources “doesn’t really pass the smell test,” though the evidence now points in the opposite direction.

But my personal favorite was Spicer’s comments to reporters about a basic detail: identifying who at the White House signed in Devin Nunes when he made a secret trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue last week. Here was the exchange yesterday:
QUESTION: You’ve told us that you’re willing to look into and ask questions about the process and provide us answers. That’s all I’m trying to –

SPICER:  No, no, no – no, don’t – please don’t put words in my mouth. I never said I would provide you answers. I said we would look into it.
Hmm.

On Monday, a reporter asked who in the White House signed in the Intelligence Committee chairman. “I’ll be glad to check on that,” Spicer said, adding, “I will follow up on that point.”

On Wednesday, asked for the same information, Spicer said, “I have asked some preliminary questions. I have not gotten answers yet.

All of which led to yesterday’s conclusion: Spicer promised to look into the matter, not that he’d actually provide any answers.

He’s quite a press secretary, isn’t he?

White House

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the darndest things

Updated