Daily Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer -- #51
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:11 P.M. EDT
MR. SPICER: Good afternoon. I hope you all had the opportunity to pay your respects to the yesterday on Memorial Day.
I want to begin by recapping the incredible, historic trip that the President and the First Lady have just concluded, because it truly was an extraordinary week for America and our people.
In just nine days, the President traveled across Europe and the Middle East and interacted with nearly 100 foreign leaders. It was an unprecedented first trip abroad, just four months into this administration, and it shows how quickly and decisively the President is acting to strengthen alliances, to form new partnerships, and to rebuild America’s standing in the world.
We’ve never seen before at this point in a presidency such sweeping reassurance of American interest, and the inauguration of a foreign policy strategy designed to bring back the world from growing dangers and perpetual disasters brought on by years of failed leadership.
President Trump started in Saudi Arabia, beginning his first foreign trip as President in the nation that’s the custodian to the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith. The President was greeted on the tarmac by the King of Saudi Arabia and received with incredible graciousness by the Kingdom and its leaders throughout his stay.
The President’s address to the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations was a historic turning point that people will be talking about for many years to come. He did exactly as he promised in his inaugural address, united the civilized world in the fight against terrorism and extremism. The President was very direct in calling on the leaders of the region to drive out the terrorists and the extremists from their midst, and to isolate the Iranian regime that supports so much of this violence.
He let American allies know exactly what they can expect from us going forward -- what he called “a principled realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.” He laid out the case in persuasive detail for why the Muslim world must take the lead in combatting radicalization. And he concluded by saying that if those nations go forward “unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens our world, then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have.”
The President’s historic speech was met with near universal praise. Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey called it “a courageous speech.” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in The Washington Post that we have to look back decades to “find a comparably dramatic moment in the history of U.S. foreign policy.” And former Democratic Representative Jane Harman said that she “loved the idea that he’s going to the fount of all three major religions.”
Countless Arab allies also praised the President’s leadership on this visit. President Al-Sisi of Egypt said President Trump is “a unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible.” The Saudi Foreign Minister said that “this is the beginning of a turning point in the relationship between the United States and the Arab and Islamic world.”
King Salman and other key allies also gave extraordinary praise -- extraordinary speeches at the summit, underscoring just how much President Trump has done to rally the world against terrorism.
We cannot overlook the significance of so many leaders of Muslim countries coming together to recognize the need to fight extremists. This was a historic event in that regard alone. King Salman said he shares the President’s determination to “renounce extremism and work on countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.” King Abdullah of Jordan agreed that “the grave challenges of terrorism and extremism… demands coordination and global action at every level.” He stated that “We are all accountable for our commitment to fight radicalization in all of its forms.”
The visit also included historic economic development deals for the United States, totaling well over half a trillion dollars and the creation of tens of thousands of American jobs. These deals included an immediate $110 billion investment, which will grow to $350 billion over the next 10 years in defense cooperation from Saudi Arabia that will further enable Muslim troops to take on a greater role in further fighting terrorism.
The President also participated in the launch of a new task force to block terror funding in the Gulf, the opening of a new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology, and more than 30 commercial deals that include companies like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, GE, Dow, Honeywell, Emerson, Alcoa and Cisco, among others, that will result in an additional $270 billion of Saudi investment in American businesses and American jobs.
The President then went to Israel, where he was received with incredible warmth. He strengthened America’s unbreakable bonds with Israel, made the first-ever visit by a sitting American President to the Western Wall, and gave a highly praised address at the Israel Museum as part of a continuing effort to rally nations together in the fight against terrorism and common enemies.
The moving address spoke of a future in which “children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence.” He said, “I ask this land of promise to join me and fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.”
The President also visited Yad Vashem to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and to pledge, Never Again.
The President Trump met with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas to advocate for a renewed push for peace -- which they both agreed they were prepared to work towards. He also discussed with both leaders how to increase cooperation against terrorism.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said “for the first time in my life I see a real hope for change.” And a correspondent in one of the leading Israel publications wrote that “In the short space of three days, Trump carried out a semi-revolution.”
From Israel, the President traveled to Rome, where he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. They had a very productive conversation about combatting ISIS and other terrorist groups, protecting religious liberty, and numerous other issues. The President and the First Lady were incredibly honored by the visit.
The President then attended the NATO Summit in Brussels, where he boldly stood up for American taxpayers and our common defense by calling on the other NATO countries to pay their fair share on a speech delivered with the leaders of NATO’s -- of all of NATO’s countries, all present. Hardworking Americans saw a leader representing them and their security on the international stage.
The President also urged NATO to adapt the Alliance to more effectively combat terrorism. Later in the meeting, the member states unanimously agreed on those two priorities, and the Secretary General was extremely complimentary of the President’s work to dramatically strengthen the Alliance by getting member states to increase their contributions.
Finally, the President traveled to the G7 Summit in Sicily, where he and other leaders discussed how to better promote prosperity and security for each of their countries. Those meetings were marked by outstanding success that we see reflected in the communiqué that was issued. They include a strong statement that G7 nations will stand against unfair trade practices, and a commitment to fostering a true level playing field.
The G7 leaders also endorsed the right of sovereign nations to control their borders, and endorsed in that communiqué the policy outlined by President Trump to seek resettlement of refugees as close as possible to their home countries so that they can be part of their eventual rebuilding. This language on migration and refugees was a major shift in policy toward the position of the President.
The G7 formally also condemned the use of chemical weapons. And needless to say, the President’s leadership was critical in setting those priorities for action.
In addition, the President also met with Prime Minister Abe of Japan. The two agreed on the need for enhanced sanctions with respect to North Korea.
The President concluded his trip with an address to the service members and their family at Naval Air Station Sigonella, to thank them for their service on Memorial Day weekend and to deliver another strong message about the unity in the fight against terrorism.
Then, yesterday, President Trump spoke at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day services and visited the gravestones of many of our fallen heroes.
This was an extraordinarily successful and historic nine-day trip the President took. He accomplished the return of a strong America to international affairs, rallied civilized nations of the world against terrorism, took real steps towards peace in the Middle East, and renewed our alliances on the basis of both shared interest and shared burdens. The trip sets the stage for a much more safe and more prosperous nation here at home and a more peaceful world for all.
We’re back at home now, and the President and his Cabinet are moving full-steam ahead on the President’s agenda. As the President noted this weekend, his plan for the most significant tax reform in decades continues to progress, led by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and NEC Director Cohn. While the President was away, the team here held several meetings with members and leadership. In particular, Secretary Mnuchin met separately with the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican and Democrat members; the Freedom Caucus; and the Republican Study Committee.
The Vice President also discussed tax reform with multiple members and with leadership during his regular visits to Capitol Hill.
We’ll begin holding industry listening sessions next week, providing an opportunity for business leaders and job creators to give us their inputs on what reforms are necessary to allow us to grow jobs and the economy.
This morning, the President met with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Pruitt. One of the topics that they discussed, of course, was the President’s upcoming decision on the Paris Climate Accords. As I told you overseas, this is the subject that the President is spending a great deal of time on, and one that he spoke to the G7 members about during their meetings. Ultimately he wants a fair deal for the American people and he will have an announcement coming on that shortly.
Also today, the President’s Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer is having several meetings with representatives from the Vietnamese government, including the Prime Minister and the Trade Minister, ahead of tomorrow’s visit between the President and the Prime Minister. The U.S. Trade Representative will have readouts on those meetings available for you this afternoon.
Ambassador Lighthizer will also be speaking at the Chamber of Commerce gala this evening for the Vietnamese Prime Minister. That speech should be available via the U.S. Chamber’s Facebook page. During his speech, Ambassador Lighthizer will highlight the developments of our bilateral relationships with Vietnam over the past two decades while underscoring the work ahead in addressing the challenges presented by the recent sharp increase in our trade deficit with Vietnam.
As the President has made abundantly clear, trade deficits and unfair trade practices have disproportionately hit American workers. Through a robust and varied trade agenda, this administration is strengthening our important relationships with partners like Vietnam by leveling the playing field with American -- for American businesses throughout the world.
And with that, I’ll take your questions.
Q Yes, so the issue with the Russia probe, I'm wondering, Sean, if you can tell us when the President knew --whether the President knew at the time that Jared Kushner was seeking to establish back-channel communications at the Russian embassy through the Russian government. And if he didn’t know at the time, when did he find out?
MR. SPICER: I think that assumes a lot. And I would just say that Mr. Kushner’s attorney has said that Mr. Kushner has volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings, and he will do the same if he’s contacted in or -- and connected with any other inquiry.
Q Did the President discuss this, though?
MR. SPICER: I'm not going to get into what the President did or did not discuss. But what your question assumes is a lot of facts that are not substantiated by anything but anonymous sources that are, so far, being leaked out.
Q Does he approve of that action?
MR. SPICER: You're asking if he approves of an action that is not a confirmed action. That being said, I think Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have both discussed that, in general terms, back channels are an appropriate part of diplomacy.
Q Does the White House dispute that that happened?
MR. SPICER: I'm not going to get into -- but your question presupposes facts that have not been confirmed.
Q Thank you, Sean. But the President retweeted this morning an article about that back channel that was based on an anonymous source that said that there was an effort to set up a back channel, that it was the Russians who suggested that, and that it was to talk about Syria. Was the President not confirming that that effort -- that there was an effort in the facts that I just said when he retweeted that?
MR. SPICER: I think what I just said speaks for itself.
Q But he was -- but you said that, first of all, that the article was based on anonymous sources --
MR. SPICER: Which it is.
Q But the Fox article that the President retweeted was also based on anonymous sources. Why are those sources -- or the source, rather, that they used more credible than the one in The Washington Post article?
MR. SPICER: Again, I don't think -- there’s two issues at hand. One is the statement that Jared’s attorney has provided. Second is whether or not -- the dossier that's largely the basis of this was largely discredited in the first place. Most of the publications here refused to even publish it in the first place. So, again, I'm not going to get into confirming stuff. There’s an ongoing investigation.
Q Which John?
MR. SPICER: I'm sorry -- Gizzi.
Q Thank you, Sean. I have two questions. First, the President, for the second time in a month, retweeted his desire for the Senate to reduce the votes to pass anything to 51, which would effectively scuttle the filibuster for legislation as it has been scuttled for nominations. Is this something he discussed with Majority Leader McConnell or any of the Senate leadership before he tweeted it?
MR. SPICER: I think the concerns that he’s had with the pace of the Senate has been longstanding. Obviously the use of the filibuster and the rules of the Senate are ultimately up to Senator McConnell. But I think that the frustration that he’s had with the pace of some of the legislation and some of the obstructionist tactics that Democrats have employed, whether it's Cabinet nominees or other pieces of legislation, has been well documented.
Q But he wants to scrap the filibuster entirely --
MR. SPICER: I think he wants to see action done, John. That's what the President wants. Whether it's the delays that Democrats posed to his Cabinet nominees, or pieces of legislation, he wants action. This President was elected to get things done. He wants to see things move through the House and the Senate, especially when you’ve got a majority of support, and people to stop playing games.
Q And my second question, I did want to mention that before he left to go abroad, the President praised Philippine President Duterte for his action against drug dealers and dealing with them. Various human rights groups have condemned President Duterte, saying that a lot of the executions of drug dealers have been done without trial. Does the President stand by his words of praise for the Philippine President?
MR. SPICER: I think the President recognizes the need to combat drugs, but he also believes in human rights. It's something that he’s worked with several countries -- it's one of the reasons that he’s reviewing the Cuba policy, et cetera. He wants -- human rights is something that’s very strong to him. It's something that he’s discussed in private with several countries.
Q Tomorrow is the deadline for the Jerusalem embassy act -- the last Obama waiver, six-month waiver. Has the President made a decision about whether or not he will sign another waiver?
MR. SPICER: No.
Q And so that decision will be made in the next 24 hours?
MR. SPICER: When the President has a decision to make we'll let you know.
Q And, secondly, we're also waiting on a few other reviews -- the ISIS review, as well as the Afghanistan review. What is the status of those? You mentioned that Paris -- we'll be hearing this week, the President said. What about the other two?
MR. SPICER: I think, on the Afghanistan review, he’s still reviewing that from the Department of Defense. When we have an announcement we'll let you know.
Q Thanks, Sean. The President tweeted on Sunday that he thinks Republicans should "add more dollars to healthcare and make it the best anywhere." What did he mean by that?
MR. SPICER: Well, there's a lot of savings that are coming out of the repeal and replace effort right now. I think we're at $119 billion that we saved through the President's efforts. And I think healthcare has been something that the President has been very clear on throughout his time as a candidate, through his presidency, to make sure that the American people get the care and the accessibility that they need. He understands how important healthcare is, and the bottom line is he's going to do whatever it takes to make sure that people have quality, accessible healthcare.
Q But "add more dollars" -- did he mean to the high-risk pools? Did he mean to the cost-sharing reduction payments? Where did he want to add them?
MR. SPICER: I think this is -- the bill is in progress. Obviously it's in the Senate right now, and he's willing to work with them to do what it takes.
Q Thanks, Sean. Following on one of Zeke's questions, Afghanistan is now the country's longest war. How much more American blood and treasure is the President willing to expend? And does he think it's a winnable conflict?
MR. SPICER: I think the conflict that -- he wants to defeat ISIS. He wants to defeat al Qaeda. He wants to defeat threats -- to defeat terrorism. I think I just read to you -- throughout the trip, that was the common thread -- that uniting the Muslim world, talking about it with Prime Minister Netanyahu, talking about it even with the Pope, that wherever he went on this nine-day trip, protecting our country, protecting the world's people was at the front of that discussion. And I think he wants to do whatever he has to do to make sure that our country is safe and our people are safe. That's why he's asked for this review.
Q Sean, let me ask you a couple, if you don’t mind. First on tax reform. The President tweeted over the weekend that it was going "very well." You just used the word "progress." However, Republicans on the Hill still appear to be divided. The President tweeted today that maybe they should reverse the filibuster rule. So I'm wondering what the progress is and what is it that is going very well at this point in time.
MR. SPICER: I think the reception that Secretary Mnuchin and others on the staff have gotten from leadership and members from the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance, et cetera, has been very welcoming, as well as in the business community. But I think, obviously, as I just mentioned to the previous question, part of the reason that he is frustrated with the Senate rules is because when there is a majority of support on key issues or key people, as the case was in the confirmation process, he think it's standing in the way of progress that the American people have asked for.
Q And let me ask you about the FBI director. Before the foreign trip, Joe Lieberman was the leading candidate identified by the President. Mr. Lieberman is out. Where does the FBI director search stand? John Pistole -- he is at the White House interviewing today. Is he the leading candidate at this point?
MR. SPICER: The President will be meeting with two additional candidates this afternoon, both Chris Wray and John Pistole. When the President feels as though he's met with the right candidate, he'll let us know. But he'll meet with candidates today and continue to do so until he finds the right leader.
Q Are they the two finalists at this point, or two of --
MR. SPICER: The President is the ultimate decision-maker. And when he makes a decision as to who he believes is best to lead the FBI, he will let us know.
Q Thanks, Sean. The President tweeted that tax reform is going well, but you just said that he's actually very frustrated with the lack of progress in the Senate. So does the White House still stand by its August deadline for tax reform? And does the White House still believe that healthcare, tax reform, and infrastructure is going to get done this year?
MR. SPICER: So just so we're clear, there's two separate issues, right? One is, I think the talks that Secretary Mnuchin and other members of the staff have had and the reception that they've gotten to the President's bold tax reform proposal is extremely welcoming. I think the President in general finds it frustrating the way some of the -- how the Senate operates. And again, I'm dating this back to the holdup that they had on some of these unbelievably well-qualified nominees. So we don’t want to mix those two issues together.
But I think he feels very encouraged by the reception that he's gotten on tax reform. Secretary Mnuchin, who had made the comment about August, had talked about, while that was a goal, that we're going to continue to work as hard as we can to get it done. But we've got a pretty bold agenda. He's still pushing hard on healthcare. Infrastructure is a priority of his. So the President's legislative agenda is in full swing.
Q Sean, where do you see the state of the U.S.-German relationship right now? And how important is that relationship to the White House and the President and the American public?
MR. SPICER: I think the relationship that the President has had with Merkel he would describe as fairly unbelievable. They get along very well. He has a lot of respect for her. They continue to grow the bond that they had during their talks in the G7.
And he views not just Germany, but the rest of Europe, as an important American ally. During his conversations at NATO and at the G7, the President reaffirmed the need to deepen and improve our transatlantic relationship.
Q And how did he view her comments that she felt that Europe could no longer depend on the United States?
MR. SPICER: Well, respectfully, that's not what she said. So since you're misquoting the Chancellor, let me read what she actually said. She said: The times when Europe could rely solely on others is somewhat in the past. And as I have witnessed over the past few days, Europe must take its fate into its own hands. This means working in friendship with the U.S., the UK, and neighborly relations with Russia and other partners.
That's great. That's what the President called for. He called for additional burden-sharing. The Secretary General of NATO said that the President's calls are what's moving them in the right direction. The President is getting results, and more countries are stepping up their burden-sharing. That is a good thing for them, it's a good thing for NATO, and it's a good thing for America.
MR. SPICER: Sean, has the President been meeting with lawyers specifically about defending himself in the special counsel investigation into Russia? And I'm sure you've probably seen the reports that Congressman Adam Schiff would like to see Jared Kushner before his committee, and possibly to go over his clearances.
MR. SPICER: I'm not going to dignify partisan accusations of anonymous sources and alleged -- unsubstantiated attacks. So I'm not even going to --
Q And about the President, whether or not he's had any meetings with --
MR. SPICER: The President has a lot of meetings. If the President has a decision on anything, we'll be sure to let you know.
Q Sean, a couple things. First, welcome back, by the way. Thanks. Two quick questions. This weekend, while you all were gone, someone shot up the Lexington Herald-Leader, and of course we understand what happened in Montana with now-Congressman Gianforte -- I think it's a misdemeanor charge of assault. Will this administration take a stand against violence aimed at reporters?
MR. SPICER: We'll take a stance against violence against any individual.
Q And so would you -- all right, second, let me follow that up with, would you support legislation -- you all have been the ones that have come out screaming against fake media -- would you support legislation that would support real reporting, such as this shield law? I've asked you before, such as --
MR. SPICER: We have a Constitution, Brian, that supports the First Amendment, which allows all Americans -- anyone in this country, frankly -- the freedom of expression. We support that full --
Q The second question: When you say that you're going to try to defeat ISIS and al Qaeda, what are you doing to eliminate the abject poverty that is the breeding ground for the terrorists?
MR. SPICER: As we mentioned before, his national security team is putting together a holistic solution to defeating ISIS. When that strategy is complete, we'll have something for you on it.
Q You said that a back channel is an appropriate part of diplomacy.
MR. SPICER: I didn’t say that. I said that Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have both commented on that.
Q Add more to that. How is it that it's appropriate for someone who's a private citizen, not sworn in as an official of the U.S. government, to conduct any kind of negotiation or diplomacy with a foreign official?
MR. SPICER: Again, I would just refer you to both the comments that Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have said about how they can be an important tool in diplomacy.
Q But, at the time, there was no one who was close to the President who was working in an official government capacity. How is that appropriate?
MR. SPICER: Again, I think that both of those individuals who are steeped in national security and foreign policy have said that that can be an effective tool, generally speaking, in diplomacy.
Q I know the President hasn’t made a public decision on the Paris agreement, and I know you don’t want to get out ahead of him, but on the more broad issue of climate change, can you say whether or not the President believes that human activity is contributing to the warming of the climate?
MR. SPICER: Honestly, I haven’t asked him.
MR. SPICER: I can get back to you.
Q And do you feel like that is a decision he’s still trying to make?
MR. SPICER: I don’t know. I honestly haven’t asked him that specific question, so I would feel --
Q And just real quick on healthcare, to follow up on question back there. So as part of the tweet about wanting to add more money to get better healthcare, would the President consider putting back some of the Obamacare taxes that were taken out of the health bill as it goes into the Senate? Would he be in support of keeping taxes in there to help pay for healthcare?
MR. SPICER: Again, that negotiation is ongoing with the Senate and I don’t want to presuppose what the President may or may not want to do.
Q Let me finish, please -- thank you, Sean, for calling on me -- Angela Merkel’s quote: “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands…” How did the President react to that? And will this have any effect on what he decides to do with Paris?
MR. SPICER: You know, I think he -- like I said a moment ago, the President believes that seeing Europe and other NATO countries increase their burden-sharing is a very positive thing for their own countries, for NATO as a whole, and for the United States -- to see these individuals heed the call that he has so eloquently put out over the last several -- well over a year.
But when you look at the comments that the Secretary General made, he recognizes that the President’s rhetoric has had an extremely positive effect on the strengthening of NATO and other countries stepping up the percent of their own GDP that they’re putting towards their common national defense. That benefits everybody. It benefits us, it benefits NATO, and it benefits themselves.
Q And will it affect his decision on Paris?
MR. SPICER: What? I’m sorry.
Q Will it have any effect on his decision on Paris?
MR. SPICER: I don’t -- obviously, that’s -- what he ultimately decides is up to him.
Q Sean, does the departure of Michael Dubke signal some kind of broader reorganization in the West Wing? Obviously, we’re hearing that more campaign aides, like Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie might be returning; that there's a "war room" he might be setting up to deal with the Russian investigations.
MR. SPICER: I don’t think so. I think the President is very pleased with his team, and he has a robust agenda, as I’ve just outlined, that he looks forward to working with Congress to get done to achieve results for the American people.
Q Is the White House considering changing how you communicate the President’s message at all? I mean, be it him communicating directly more or different faces at the podium.
MR. SPICER: Well, I don’t think that there’s anything that we haven’t said before about how, you know, we’ve got to -- the President has an unbelievably qualified Cabinet, and we’ve utilized them a ton in the past. If we can continue to do that on key issues, we’re going to do that.
Ultimately, the best messenger is the President himself. He’s always proven that -- that he is the best messenger not just for what he wants to articulate, but that the American people resoundingly chose him as their President because he understands the frustrations and concerns and values of the American people, and he is probably the best person to communicate that.
Q But do you think that he is happy with the messaging that’s been done thus far?
MR. SPICER: I think he’s very pleased with the work of his staff. I think that he is frustrated, like I am and like so many others, to see stories come out that are patently false, to see narratives that are wrong, to see “fake news.” When you see stories get perpetrated that are absolutely false, that are not based in fact, that is troubling. And he’s rightly concerned.
Q Can you give an example of fake news, Sean? Could you give us an example?
MR. SPICER: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll give you an example.
MR. SPICER: Sure. Friday, the President was having a great discussion at the G7, and someone from the BBC -- and ultimately an incoming reporter from The New York Times -- retweeted that the President was being rude by disrespecting the Italian Prime Minister, when, in fact, you all, in every one of the meetings that we sit in, watch the President with that one earpiece that’s been used by other Presidents. And yet, the President did a great job at NATO, building stronger bonds, building stronger bonds at the G7, increasing America’s presence around the world.
And that’s the kind of thing that the BBC and, ultimately, a reporter who’s now joining The New York Times push out and perpetuate with no apology. What -- you’re shaking your head, Peter. I mean, it’s true. You did it. No, I -- and I’m answering Jim’s -- but I think --
Q Can't reporters make mistakes?
MR. SPICER: No, no. But that’s not -- but that’s just fake. That is a fake --
Q Sean, none of that was in the newspaper. None of that was on the front page. Your trip was all over the front page. You’re making something out of one tweet instead of the vast majority of the coverage.
MR. SPICER: But, again, you guys defend your mistakes like that.
Q Don’t you?
MR. SPICER: With all due respect, I was asked to give an
example, and I did it.
Q You gave it more prominence than anybody did originally.
MR. SPICER: I gave an answer to Jim. The problem is, is that I think the President -- to the question -- gets frustrated when he sees fake stories get published, things that aren’t based in fact, and a narrative gets pushed that --
Q That's something insignificant, though. That's just so minor.
MR. SPICER: So that’s just -- well, with all due respect, I think when you see instances like that get perpetrated over and over again, that is frustrating.
Q It's frustrating when you --
MR. SPICER: No, I’m not here -- I didn’t come here with a list of things. But I think that there is --
Q Something big.
MR. SPICER: Well, thank you, I appreciate it -- you get to decide what’s big and what’s not. I think there is a lot of this stuff that has gotten pushed out based on unnamed, unaccountable sources that is very troubling. And I think when you see the same kind of thing happen over and over again, it is concerning. And I think the President has fought very hard to bring back jobs. As I mentioned, you had over half a trillion dollars of investment that’s coming in that’s going to grow jobs, grow our economy. That should be a big story. The President’s results when it came to fighting terrorism was a big thing. The idea that we’re standing up a global center to fight extremism in Saudi Arabia that’s uniting Muslims countries -- that’s a big deal. I think --
Q Are you saying that reports that there’s going to be an overhaul of the communications operation are fake news? That’s the question --
MR. SPICER: I know. So now you want to come back to that. What I’m telling you is, is that the reason that the President is frustrated is because there’s a perpetuation of false narratives, a use of unnamed sources over and over again about things that are happening that don’t ultimately happen, and I think that is troubling.
Thank you guys very much.
Q Sean, we reported on the counterterrorism center.
Q Come on --
Q Is Kushner fake news?
2:41 P.M. EDT