The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, got into a heated exchange with a White House correspondent during Tuesday’s press briefing, telling the reporter to “stop shaking your head” and to “report the facts.”
April Ryan, of American Urban Radio Networks, asked Spicer near the tail end of his briefing what the White House was doing to try to repair its image as numerous controversies and investigations regarding Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s team’s potential cooperation with it were at center stage.
“You don’t seem so happy,” Ryan said in a joking manner to Spicer as she was prefacing her question. “With all of these investigations … questions of what is ‘is,’ how does this administration try to revamp its image, two and a half months in?”
She mentioned the Russia controversy as well as Trump’s unfounded claims that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before the election.
“I’ve said it from the day that I got here until whatever that there is no connection,” Spicer said. “You’ve got Russia!”
“If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russian connection,” he continued.
“I appreciate your agenda here,” he added. “Hold on. At some point, report the facts!”
Spicer said Republicans and Democrats alike had said there was not evidence pointing to the Trump team’s collusion with Russia in election meddling.
“I’m sorry that that disgusts you,” Spicer told Ryan. “You’re shaking your head.”
“Understand this: At some point, the facts are what they are,” he said. “And every single person who’s been briefed on this situation have all come to the same conclusion. At some point, April, you’re going to have to take ‘no’ for an answer with respect to whether or not there was collusion.”
Ryan went back to her original question, which was about how the administration hoped to change the perception of the White House. Spicer said it would keep “doing everything we are doing” with regard to carrying out the Trump agenda.
The reporter then followed up with a question about the president meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whom she pointed out Trump made a vulgar comment about in 2006 and whom she said did not support Trump in the run-up to the general election.
Spicer, dismayed, went back to lambasting Ryan.
“April, hold on, it seems like you’re hell-bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” he said, later adding, “Stop shaking your head again.”
He said Trump was continuing to reach out to people who had disagreed with him in the past, adding “we’re bringing groups together.”