AFTER TRUMP THREATENS TO STOP BRIEFINGS

by Sharon Rondeau

(May 15, 2017) — Monday’s White House press briefing began later than usual, at approximately 2:15 p.m., with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer introducing DHS spokesman Tom Bossert to speak about the “WannaCry” cyber attack launched against computer systems worldwide on Friday.

The daily press briefings normally begin at 1:30, although a White House announcement on Monday scheduled it for 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Bossert spoke for approximately ten minutes explaining the phishing scam on which the computer virus is predicated and steps which can be taken to prevent infection, after which Spicer returned to the podium.

Spicer moved the briefing along quickly.

Journalists were noticeably more subdued and businesslike than in briefings last week following the firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

During an interview with Judge Jeanine Pirro which was aired in full on Saturday evening but was previewed in short clips on Friday, Trump appeared to be seriously considering eliminating the daily briefings with the idea of replacing them with a biweekly press conference he would conduct himself.

A journalist Spicer called “Alexis” asked about the Trump administration’s alleged refusal to turn over any recordings of Trump and Comey that might exist to members of Congress.  When Spicer refused to comment, she suggested that the executive branch is “defying” the legislative branch.

Later, a reporter named “Allie” wanted to know whether or not the Trump administration is “denying” that “tapes” of recordings between Trump and Comey exist.  Spicer responded that “the president has made it very clear his position on this.”

On Friday, Trump issued a tweet suggesting that one or more recordings might exist of conversations he had with Comey in which Comey allegedly assured Trump that he personally is not under investigation for inappropriate dealings with the Russian government.

Spicer has said that Trump’s tweet “speaks for itself,” a fact on which the mainstream media has remained focused.

Allie then switched topics to ask if Trump would withdraw his “Muslim ban” in light of oral argument taking place in Hawaii today concerning the “travel ban” issued through an executive order in late January banning travel from six Middle Eastern countries and halting the refugee program temporarily.

There were a a large number of questions asked about foreign policy and a potential replacement for Comey.

Spicer clarified that the search is intended to select a permanent FBI director, not an “interim” one.

At present, Andrew McCabe, who was Comey’s second-in-charge, is Acting FBI Director.  McCabe is one of eight persons interviewed over the weekend for the Director’s position.

Two Fox News commentators, one Republican and one Democrat, afterward agreed that Spicer handled the session in a less combative manner than previous briefings.

Since Friday, rumors have arisen to the effect that Trump plans to fire Spicer, White House senior adviser Stephen Bannon, and chief of staff Reince Preibus.

This writer observes that reporters, also, were less combative on Monday, and very few asked for follow-up questions.

 

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