Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the elephant in the briefing room Monday: an absent Sean Spicer.
“He’s here today,” Sanders told reporters when asked where the press secretary was. “This is part of my job as well. Did you guys ever ask any of the other deputy press secretaries when they filled in?”
POLITICO reported last month that President Donald Trump was considering scaling back Spicer’s role as press secretary after Trump’s first foreign trip. The administration has cut back Spicer’s public appearances, holding an off-camera gaggle last week and having Sanders brief the press corps on Monday.
Asked if Spicer was taking on a new position, Sanders said: “I mean, he is taking on a little bit of extra duty at this point. It’s probably upgraded at this point given that we don’t have a communications director.”
White House communications director Mike Dubke resigned on May 18, which Trump immediately accepted, although Dubke continued to work through last week. In Dubke’s absence, Spicer was expected to return to his dual role as press secretary and communications director.
Sanders, who occasionally fills in for Spicer at daily briefings and Air Force One gaggles, dismissed the notion that she was replacing Spicer at the briefings.
“I did not say that at all. I’m just filling in for the day,” she said. “There are a lot of demands on his schedule, particularly given the fact that there’s not a communications director, and this is part of my job as well and when I’m needed I’ll step in. Nothing other than that.”