Spicer Chastises Reporter for Repeating Same Question on NYT Intel Leaks Report

• March 30, 2017 4:00 pm


White House spokesman Sean Spicer chastised a reporter during Thursday's press briefing for asking the same question in different forms after other journalists had already pushed him on the issue.

CBS News correspondent Major Garrett pressed Spicer on a New York Times report published earlier in the day that said two White House officials provided Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with intelligence that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally surveilled during the Obama administration. The Times article cited anonymous officials.

Reporters had asked Spicer about the story, and the press secretary provided the same answers throughout the White House daily press briefing. But when Garrett kept pushing the issue, asking the same question multiple times, he and Spicer got into a heated exchange.

"Can't the process from your vantage point validate the importance of the substance?" Garrett asked.

"Well, I think there's a review that we've asked for–" Spicer said.

"And you told us that you're willing to look into and ask questions about the process and provide us answers–" Garrett said.

"Please don't put words into my mouth," Spicer responded. "I never said I would provide you answers. I said we would look into it."

Spicer then said to Garrett that the White House's goal is "to be as forthright as possible" in providing materials and information to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as they request it, not to "illegally leak out information to you."

"We are willing to provide them with the information, the materials that we have come across," Spicer said. "Our obligation is to ensure that a review is done both in the House and Senate as we asked for a few weeks ago, not to make sure that we illegally leak out information to you."

Garrett pressed Spicer on the topic, asking if the White House disputes the Times report. Spicer said he would not comment on the report before Garret pushed Spicer on the use of the word "we," wanting to know who specifically Spicer was referring to.

"No, we meaning the White House is not going to start commenting on one-off, anonymous sources that publications publish," Spicer responded.

Garrett would not let the issue go, asking if Spicer would tell the press if the report was wrong.

"I'm not going to get into it," Spicer responded. "As I just said, I get it how many times you can ask the same question."

Spicer then called on another reporter.