(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)
Spicer dodges questions on why Trump cited anonymous Fox report after decrying anonymous sources
White House press secretary Sean Spicer ducked a series of questions on Tuesday about President Donald Trump’s promotion of a Fox News story based on a single anonymous source just days after blasting such stories as “made up.”
The Monday Fox News report that Trump retweeted lays blame on the Russians, rather than Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Kushner, for discussing the possibility of a communications back channel between the Trump administration and Moscow. The Fox report cited “a source familiar with the matter.”
That report followed a Friday report in The Washington Post that said Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak told Moscow that Kushner was the one who wanted a secret communications channel between the Trump team and the Kremlin. The Post’s story cited US officials who had been briefed on intelligence reports.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that “whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names … it is very possibly that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers.”
Both the Post and Fox relied on anonymous sources for their stories. Trump tried discrediting such sourcing in a series of Sunday-morning tweets, but retweeted the Fox News story anyway on Tuesday.
Spicer said during Tuesday’s press briefing — his first time back at the podium in weeks — that questions from a Post reporter about what Trump knew of the back channel discussion “assumes a lot,” adding that what the “question assumes is a lot of facts that are not substantiated by anything but anonymous sources that are so far being leaked out.”
“Your question presupposes facts that have not been confirmed,” he said.
Another reporter asked if Trump’s retweet of the Fox News story confirmed any of the facts that Spicer said had not been confirmed. The reporter then listed some of the main points from the Fox News story.
“Was the president not confirming that there was an effort in the facts that I just said?” she asked. “He retweeted that.”
“I think what I just said speaks for itself,” Spicer responded.
The reporter noted that Spicer was attempting to discredited the Post’s anonymous sources while Trump was at the same time promoting a Fox story based off a single anonymous source.
“Why are those sources, or this source rather, that they used, more credible than the ones in the Washington Post article?” she asked.
Spicer dodged the question and pivoted to talking about a statement provided by Kushner’s attorney that he had already referenced in the briefing and then mentioning the “dossier,” a document prepared by an ex-British spy that contained unverified claims about Trump’s ties to Russia.
“So again, I’m not going to get into confirming stuff,” Spicer said. “There is an ongoing investigation.”
The reports about the December meeting between Russians and Trump officials in Trump Tower, which had already been under scrutiny from investigators, have thrust Kushner into the center of the ongoing Russia investigations. The FBI is investigating whether any members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Earlier this month, Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, who was overseeing that investigation. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation.