White House press secretary Sean Spicer refused to comment on Tuesday on President Donald Trump's thoughts on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, a freaky move considering the issue's prominence in the news cycle for months.
Reminded by the questioner, Trey Yingst of One America News Network, that 16 USA intelligence agencies had concluded that Russian Federation did engage in cyberattacks to influence the election, Spicer said, "I understand". "Obviously we've been dealing with a lot of other issues today". Trump has previously said that hacking the intelligence community has pinned on the Russian government could have been perpetrated by China or others.
Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the intelligence community's conclusions, though he did concede in January that Russian Federation was likely responsible.
Asked about reports from 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that determined the Russians indeed meddled in the United States election, the press secretary emphasised he had not spoken with Trump about the topic.
"The nice thing about turning the cameras off sometimes, and I find this, is that it is not 'performance art, ' as you call it, that you end up having, I think sometimes, a more substantive discussion about actual issues because they're not trying to get their clip", Spicer opined.
He added that he's "OK with" the intelligence communities' conclusions, but questioned why the Federal Bureau of Investigation hadn't physically analyzed some of the Democratic servers that were hacked.
When asked Tuesday whether President Donald Trump believes that Russian Federation interfered in the presidential elections, Spicer said Tuesday that he hadn't talked to the president about it. Trump has said that the allegations are aimed at undermining his electoral victory in November.
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It came after his colleague, White House advisor Stephen Bannon, told a reporter the reason Spicer had stopped on-camera briefings was that "Sean has gotten fatter".
It also draws attention to the administration's lackluster response to the allegation of Russian meddling, contrasting with the sense of urgency that senior USA officials have called for in response to the interference.
Trump has been inconsistent in how he talks about Russia's interference in the election.
During his campaign, Mr Trump suggested that as president he would enact new restrictions on the First Amendment's guaranteed freedom of the press.
A number of news outlets reported on Monday that the White House is reviewing Spicer's role, in a new position that would mean he would no longer preside over the daily press briefings.
"I get in, essentially, around 6 a.m. until fairly late at night and we have an entire press staff that's totally accessible during those hours and on the weekends to the press", he said.
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