WASHINGTON – Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer blasted former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman for recording conversations with President Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and leaking them to the press.
“I’m not a lawyer but I think she violated trust at the very least. I’m not sure there is a law broken, but if there is she should be prosecuted,” Spicer told PJM after a discussion about his new book, The Briefing, at the National Press Club on Monday evening.
Manigault Newman, former assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, recorded Kelly inside the Situation Room when he fired her. Spicer called Manigault Newman’s actions “unpatriotic” and “disrespectful.”
“I think it is disgusting and reprehensible. I think the idea that you can sit in a room with an employer, never mind a government official, never mind the president of the United States, never mind the Situation Room and not think twice about recording is unpatriotic, disrespectful, wrong and, I mean, I am literally taken aback by the blatant level of disrespect, untrustworthiness and, frankly, the lack of security,” Spicer said. “I mean, the idea that somebody thinks that’s OK, to me, is not good and I hope that if they have violated any laws that they are prosecuted to the extent that the law allows.”
The moderator of the discussion asked Spicer if he was serving the president as press secretary or serving the people.
“You represent the people, you are paid by the people, but to some extent the people have elected Donald Trump to institute and enact policy, so I believe I served the American people. But also part of that was that they have, through our Republic, elected people to serve them and you are serving as an employee at will of them to enact, support and enunciate their policy agenda,” he responded.
Spicer said he did not view his press secretary position as a fact-checking role.
“Look, the tenure of a press secretary who gets up there and says ‘the president said this but he’s totally wrong’ is about eight seconds. I mean, you get up there and say ‘the president just said the following but I’m going to tell you why he’s wrong,’ you’re not going to last very long,” Spicer said.
“There are times when you can disagree with what he believes or why he said something, but my job to get up there was to say the president said that he believes the following,” he added. “Again, we can agree or disagree all day long, but I don’t believe the job is to get up there and be an interpreter or a fact-checker. That’s, frankly, the role that journalists play, which is to say ‘the president said this, however, contrary to these studies, this person,’ whatever.”
Spicer said there have been “plenty of times” where he did not share the same beliefs of the person for whom he was working over the course of his career.
“If I could have a do-over in life, that is day one, two and three, like, I make no bones about it – that was not the best performance I’ve ever had,” he said, before being asked what specifically he would do over. “Everything, want to start in the morning? When I watch that tape I look at it and go, ‘that’s not who I am.’ I am sitting there, like, yelling at people.”