White House press secretary Sean Spicer continued the administration’s refusal to confirm or deny the use of a recording system by President Trump during Monday’s briefing.
In a contentious briefing when he took just 22 minutes of questions, Spicer doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on his statement last week that Trump had “nothing further to add” on his threatening tweet to former FBI Director James Comey. The Friday morning missive suggested that Trump might have privately recorded his conversations with Comey, whom he fired last week:
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
First, reporter Alexis Simendinger asked if the White House would comply with the requests of lawmakers to preserve the recordings for a possible subpoena, if they actually exist.
“I think I’ve made it clear last week that the president has nothing further on that.”
Does that mean that the president would deny the request from Congress?
“I was clear the president would have nothing further on that last week.”
So the president would deny the legislative branch’s request?
“I made it clear what the president’s position was on that issue.”
NBC’s Hallie Jackson tried a different angle a few minutes later, asking why Spicer wouldn’t explain whether or not there are recordings.
“I think the president’s made it clear what his position is.”
Jackson then asked how senior officials would be able to feel comfortable having private conversations with Trump if it was possible that they were being secretly recorded.
“As I’ve said, the president’s made it clear what his position is,” said Spicer, adding, accurately, “I’ve answered the questions over and over again in the same way.”
Daily Caller reporter Kaitlan Collins made a third attempt, asking how exactly the president had made it clear what his position was by saying he had nothing further to add.
“I’ve answered that several times.”
“How has he made it clear?” asked Collins. “All I’ve seen is the tweet.”
“That’s his position; he has nothing further to add,” said Spicer, referencing the 109 characters sent out Friday morning.
Spicer’s nonanswer is in line with how the administration has dealt with similar controversies touched off by others of Trump’s tweets: by leaving it to his staff to clear it up, or wait for the press to lose interest and move on when the next tweetstorm erupts. It’s been a long time since Spicer was asked about Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by former President Barack Obama and even longer since the original tweet — but the world is still waiting for the evidence.
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