State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday took on an RT reporter over the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons during the country's ongoing conflict.
The reporter, Caleb Maupin, brought up President Donald Trump's warning Monday to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons again. Top officials in the Trump administration said this week that they believe the White House warning deterred Assad from launching a chemical weapons attack.
"Are you concerned that that could have created an opening for terrorist groups to carry out a chemical attack?" Maupin asked Nauert during the State Department's press briefing.
Nauert gave Maupin a look of confusion for his question.
"No," Nauert said.
Maupin tried to argue that terrorist groups could use Trump's warning as an opportunity to use weapons while the Syrian government gets blamed for the attack. Nauert dismissed Maupin's argument.
"Do I have to do this again?" Nauert asked. "We know that Assad has used chemical weapons on his own people and he's done that repeatedly."
Maupin brought up the 2003 invasion of Iraq, citing the belief of many governments that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
"Didn't Assad give up his chemical weapons in 2013?" Maupin asked. "Didn't that happen?"
"No," Nauert replied.
Maupin later attempted to again bring up chemical weapons and terrorist groups. Nauert would not entertain Maupin's question.
"If you want to try to make excuses for the Assad regime, go right ahead," Nauert said. "You've got a lot of cameras on you right now."
Nauert said that she was not going to debate Maupin on the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. The United States and United Nations have both recognized the Assad regime as responsible for carrying out chemical weapons attacks on Syrian civilians.
RT, where Maupin works, is funded by the Russian government.
Trump ordered the U.S. military to launch 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian government airfield in April, days after the Assad regime, which Russia supports politically and militarily, used chemical weapons on civilians, killing dozens of people.
A website that appears to have been run by Maupin says that he "is an activist in Workers World Party." Maupin's bio page on RT's website describes him as a "radical journalist" who "was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement from its planning stages" and "works to promote revolutionary ideology, and to support all who fight against the global system of monopoly capitalist imperialism."