As White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer is a huffy disaster, but he shares Trump’s contempt for the media, so it’s easy to see why the president hired him. However, Spicey’s days in the job may be numbered if a new report from the Associated Press (via Axios) is true. The story details how Spicer allegedly was the administration member who called up the CIA and tried to arrange for pushback against the press for unfavorable stories about Russia. In particular, Spicer sought to discredit a New York Times report about Trump campaign aides making repeated contact with Russian intelligence.
In response, the FBI refused to bury the reports, and the refusal ended up leaking, which angered Trump into blocking multiple news outlets, including the New York Times, from a Friday press briefing. Clearly, this White House believes that “leaks” should be the focus rather than any potential wrongdoing when it comes to Russia, but they can’t stop the leaks! And now someone has leaked Spicer’s alleged attempt to sway U.S. intelligence:
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected outside officials with reporters to try to discredit a New York Times article about Trump campaign aides’ contact with Russia, then remained on the line for the brief conversations, Axios has learned … The officials reached by Spicer were CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C), according to a senior administration official. The reporters were from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the official said. Spicer provided reporters’ phone numbers to House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who offered to make the calls himself, according to the official: “He was in and out of an event.”
Lordy. There’s more to this report, but the above except reveals that Spicer attempted a major power move here. He told the CIA to tell certain mainstream news outlets to actively discredit the NY Times. In turn, Pompeo and Burr reportedly contacted reporters and told them that the NY Times story was fake, but these reporters didn’t take the bait. In fact, the Washington Post quickly reported on the pushback effort itself.
For Pompeo, Burr, and (especially) Spicer, this looks awful. As Axios notes, it’s extremely rare for the CIA to speak to a reporter unless the involved story might be a danger to national security. And even then, the agency usually interacts with the upper echelons of a publication. Here, this was Spicer trying to kill unsavory information about the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with a foreign power (and an often hostile one at that). Considering how General Michael Flynn recently resigned from the National Security Adviser position after he lied about his Russian connections, it seems odd that the White House would rather bury reports than confront any real danger.
As for Spicer, he’s apparently on quite the crusade right now and checking his staff’s cell phones, so it’s anyone’s guess how long he keeps his position. Neither Spicer nor the White House chose to comment on this report, but Trump was last seen tweeting on Sunday afternoon. He claimed, once again, that “Russia talk is FAKE NEWS,” and something about “leaks” and sad Dems.