Sean Spicer Directed CIA and Nunes/Burr to Pushback on Russia Story
This is a new exclusive at Axios by Mike Allen.
It’s been a tough 24 hours for Sean Spicer. Yesterday his Evil, Genius plan to shutdown leaks from his own staff was leaked.
No doubt a big part of the leaks is Trump’s own people don’t like him. You can see this leak on Spicer as his own staff giving him a big ole middle finger.
I guess they didn't invite enough people to the meeting about not leaking anymore. https://t.co/aQs9KtZGz8
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 27, 2017
Alternative: inspire staff loyalty by calm, competence, integrity, kindness, and public spirit https://t.co/o67kcsmipw
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 26, 2017
Perhaps a dedicated team of "plumbers" working outside the formal government structure could plug the leaks.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 26, 2017
But this new Axios story is from the frying pan to the fire for Sean Spicer, whose credibility just keeps getting worse.
Trump's choice for Navy secretary has withdrawn, as CBS reported he would and Spicer said was totally false. https://t.co/qZ29si1f3m
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 27, 2017
And now this:
“White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected outside officials with reporters to try to discredit a New York Times article about Trump campaign aides’ contact with Russia, then remained on the line for the brief conversations, Axios has learned.”
“The officials reached by Spicer were CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C), according to a senior administration official. The reporters were from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the official said. Spicer provided reporters’ phone numbers to House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who offered to make the calls himself, according to the official: “He was in and out of an event.”
“On Feb. 15, when the two-column lead of the Times print edition, which Trump reads carefully, declared: “Trump Aides Had Contact With Russian Intelligence: U.S. Officials Tell of a Flurry of Phone Calls Intercepted Before the Election.” An FBI official had volunteered privately to the White House that the story was “B.S.” (but used the full word). When the FBI didn’t immediately agree to tell that to the press, the White House tried to find other officials who would convey that idea to inquiring reporters.”
The FBI official-McCabe?-also was wrong and James Comey later agreed that the Trump team could quote him on background. This from the group who hates leaks.
Spicer declined to comment. The official said Spicer didn’t know at the time whether an investigation of Trumpworld contacts with Russia was underway, and was trying to make sure the connections were made before evening deadlines. “We’d been getting incoming all day,” the official said. “Ironically, the White House was actually encouraging people with direct knowledge of the accuracy of the Times story to discuss it with other reporters.”
A characteristic feature of Spicer and the larger Administration is to say things ‘aren’t true’ but these denials are never backed by any facts. It’s just ‘take our word for it.’
And that is why it’s so costly to lie about crowd size & super-soakers. Someday, the admin will want that forfeited credibility back
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 27, 2017
Back to Axios:
“Pompeo and Burr told the journalists that the Times story wasn’t true but provided no details, frustrating the competing reporters, according to the official: “Both of them said: All I can tell you is the story is not accurate.”
“See same playbook-no details, no facts, just ‘take our word on it.’ But Trump has long destroyed whatever credibility he ever had. In truth he never had it-he got into our politics through the birther door.”
“Some Democrats were already arguing that Russian involvement in the election should be investigated by a special prosecutor or outside, 9/11-style commission, rather than the congressional intelligence committees. George Little, a top CIA and Pentagon spokesman under President Obama, told us: “It’s doubtful that Congress can conduct an objective and independent investigation into ties between this White House and the Russian government if it is collaborating so closely on media pushback with the White House press secretary.”
Certainly how do you trust Nunes and Burr, the GOPers ostensibly leading the investigation in Congress?
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