Unlike his outspoken and short-lived successor Anthony Scaramucci, Sean Spicer has laid relatively low since leaving the White House — if you don’t count that unfortunate Emmy Awards cameo. But with Trump world’s palace intrigue back in the news in a big way, the former press secretary came out of the woodwork on Thursday to sit down with S.E. Cupp for a full hour on her HLN show Unfiltered.
Her first question: “Did you lie on behalf of the president?”
“No,” Spicer replied.
“You said a number of demonstrably proven false things, inaccurate things while you were press secretary,” Cupp added. “You are not the first to do that. But can you admit you said somethings that were not true?”
From there, they were off the races with Spicer hemming and hawing about “when you get up at that podium, your goal is to tell the media and the American people the best information you have at the time” and struggling to defend himself against individual claims of falsehoods about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd and electoral victory and other blatant exaggerations he delivered confidently from the podium.
Spicer did, however admit to Cupp that his own “credibility” was damaged due to his actions as Trump’s press secretary. “There were times where I screwed up, there is no question about it,” he said, citing, for instance, the time he appeared to defend Adolf Hitler in an attempt to condemn Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“I honestly went out every day to do the best job I could for the president of the United States, who gave me an unbelievable honor and to do the best job for the American people, because that's ultimately who you serve,” Spicer said. “And so when I screwed up, it felt really bad. Because you realize that you're tarnishing your personal reputation, your family's reputation, your friends who like you and support you, you know, some of your colleagues and ultimately again, this administration and the American people who I wanted to do my best job for every single day.”
Cupp may have had a lot of issues she wanted to talk address with Spicer, but the thing most viewers likely wanted to hear was his reaction to the many revelations in Michael Wolff’s bombshell new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. When the host finally brought up some of the more outrageous details in that book towards the end of the interview, Spicer was far from eager to disparage his former boss.
While he conceded, vaguely, that there are some “plausible” narratives in the excerpts from Wolff’s book, he also said, “There is a lot of things I know are attributed to myself and other people that frankly never happened,” Spicer said, alleging that Wolff “has a history of fabricating stuff.”
“There is no question the accuracy this book is definitely in question,” Spicer said, using the type of convoluted phrase he would regularly employ in the White House press room. “I know some of the things that were written that pertained to me definitely didn't happen,” he added, without going into specifics.
As for Steve Bannon’s broken relationship with Trump, Spicer said, “In terms of true professionalism and loyalty and decency you don't go after the president's family, you don't make up things about people.” Regarding Bannon’s “treasonous” claims about Donald Trump Jr., he added, “To make those kinds of allegations, which are very serious, about the president's son — it's out of bounds.”
Ultimately, after everything he went through as a spokesperson for Donald Trump, Spicer remains as loyal as ever.
“Here's what I know,” he told Cupp, who wanted to know if he thought Bannon might be positioning himself for an insurgent 2020 presidential campaign. “If Donald Trump runs for reelection he will be the nominee of the Republican Party and he will serve a second term. That's what I know.”
Why would he lie?