White House press secretary Sean Spicer returned to the briefing room Tuesday, taking questions on-camera for the first time since May 15.
The embattled spokesman and de facto interim communications director, who had a two-week reprieve from the spotlight while President Donald Trump traveled abroad, addressed the press with the prospect of a larger personnel shakeup and a growing number of questions about the Trump-Russia probes that have engulfed the administration.
Here are the highlights from Spicer’s briefing:
Spicer refuses to confirm or deny reports that Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner tried to establish a backchannel with the Russians during the transition. “I think that assumes a lot,” Spicer told a reporter, pointing to a statement from Kushner’s lawyer regarding Kushner’s willingness to share information with Congress. “Your question presupposes facts that have not been confirmed.”
Trump is “frustrated” by the pace of legislation, Spicer said, explaining why the president tweeted support for scrapping the Senate’s 60-vote threshold in order to enact his legislative agenda. The Trump spokesman conceded that Senate rules are up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell but suggested Trump is irked by Democratic obstruction and the slow movement of legislation. “I think he wants to see action done,” Spicer said. “That’s what the president wants.”
Trump is interviewing FBI director candidates John Pistole and Chris Wray, Spicer said. “When the president feels as though he’s met with the right candidate, he’ll let us know,” he added. “But he’ll meet with candidates today and continue to do so until he finds the right leader.”