White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to downplay the importance of President Donald Trump’s tweets on Thursday by emphasizing how important Spicer’s own statements to the press are.
Spicer was attempting to explain to reporters at the daily press briefing why Trump did not use his massive Twitter reach to address last month’s mass shooting at a Quebec mosque. Earlier this week, White House aide Kellyanne Conway had defended Trump’s silence by saying, “The president doesn’t tweet about everything.”
But why, Sirius XM correspondent Jared Rizzi asked, was Trump so willing to use Twitter to launch an attack on Nordstrom ― over his daughter’s clothing line, no less ― when he didn’t use it to respond to the deadly Jan. 29 attack by a white supremacist?
The press secretary, who was already on the defensive, became irate.
“I stood at this podium and opened a briefing a couple days ago about the president expressing his condolences [for the mosque shooting],” Spicer said. “I opened the briefing about it. So for you to sit there and say ― why are you asking why [Trump] didn’t [tweet about it], when I stood here and did it? I don’t understand what you’re asking.”
“I came out here and actually spoke about it,” Spicer repeated. “What are you ― you’re equating me addressing the nation here, with a tweet? That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Indeed, Spicer said at a Jan. 30 briefing that Trump had spoken by phone with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and expressed his condolences.
The testy exchange on Thursday underscored the difficulty Trump’s aides are having as they try to defend the president’s choice to use his enormous platform on Twitter, where he has some 25 million followers, to rail about trivial things while ignoring major events like the Quebec shooting.
This story has been updated with the name of the reporter who questioned Spicer.