White House press secretary Sean Spicer complained at his first press briefing on Monday about unfair media coverage and denied that President Donald Trump stacked a CIA meeting with his supporters to cheer him on.
CNN’s Jim Acosta questioned why Spicer made an issue out of the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration and why Trump would bring it up during a meeting with CIA personnel last week. The reporter also asked about who was present in the first few rows of the CIA meeting — CBS News had reported that they were stacked with Trump supporters.
“No one in the front row was Trump,” Spicer said. “They were all CIA.”
Spicer said Trump was frustrated by the media claiming a rift between him and the intelligence community.
“He kept hearing about this rift that existed,” Spicer said. “He talked about it a couple weeks ago after his briefing how proud he is and how he respects the intelligence community.”
He said Trump denies that there’s a rift and wanted to make that clear to the CIA personnel he met with. Acosta then asked again why Trump would bring up the crowd size at his inauguration during that meeting.
“It’s not just about a crowd size,” Spicer said. “It’s about this constant, you know, ‘he’s not gonna run,’ then ‘if he runs he’s gonna drop out,’ then ‘if he runs, he can’t win,’ ‘there’s no way he can win Pennsylvania,’ ‘there’s no way he can win Michigan.'”
Spicer continued: “There is this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has. And I think it’s just unbelievably frustrating when you’re continually told it’s not big enough, it’s not good enough, you can’t win. I think it’s important. He’s gone out there and defied the odds over and over and over again, and he keeps getting told what he can’t do by this narrative that’s out there and he exceeds it every single time.”
Spicer also mentioned stories saying Trump’s inauguration was the first civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis had skipped, which turned out not to be true.
“Over and over again, the MLK bust,” Spicer said, referencing a false report that Trump had removed a bust of MLK from the Oval Office.
“Over and over again there’s this constant attempt to undermine his credibility and the movement that he represents, and it’s frustrating for not just him but I think so many of us that are trying to work to get this message out.”
Spicer then said it’s a “two-way street” between the White House and the press.
“We want to have a healthy dialogue, not just with you, but with the American people,” Spicer said. “… But when you’re constantly getting told, ‘that can’t be true,’ ‘we doubt that you can do this,’ ‘this won’t happen,’ and that’s the narrative when you turn on television every single day, that’s a little frustrating.”
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