Return to Transcripts main page


White House Briefing with Sean Spicer. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 23, 2017 - 14:00   ET



SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, I -- I think this has been -- this was a -- a discussion the president continues to have. I think we have been very, very pleased with the direction it's going in and the number of members who have expressed their support for it. We'll continue that discussion with the Tuesday Group.

But we -- the number's growing, the number of members who have shared concerns. And I think that we have been very responsive, as well as Speaker Ryan, to the concerns and ideas that members have expressed from across the spectrum.

QUESTION: Two quick questions. You've said that there is no -- there's only plan A.

SPICER: Right.

QUESTION: At this point, is there an acknowledgement that perhaps there does need to be a plan B if this vote doesn't happen tonight?

SPICER: No. Plan A.

QUESTION: OK, then (inaudible) follow-up, the president has asked Speaker Ryan to delay this vote while he works with some of these members to try to convince to come on board?

SPICER: Sorry, what's that?

QUESTION: Did the president ask Speaker Ryan to delay the vote?



QUESTION: Hi. I was gonna offer you the opportunity to respond to what Leader Pelosi said today. She said that it's a rookie mistake to set a date for a bill before there's consensus in the Republican Caucus. What's your response to that?

SPICER: I -- thank you.

(LAUGHTER) I don't -- I appreciate that.

I think we have a pretty strong record on the Republican side of getting bills passed, getting things done. And so, I -- I know that they have a pretty strong record of passing things and telling people that they can read the bill afterwards. I think we've done this the right way, and -- and I think we know that we've done it with the support that -- that voters told members and the president they wanted (ph).


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) related, if I might?

SPICER: Yes, of course.

QUESTION: There are some former White House lawyers who served in a prior administration who say that by tweeting from his official POTUS account this morning a video that was put out on official social media channels, the president, the White House have violated the anti- lobbying law, because they're using money that's appropriated by Congress.

Is that a concern you guys appreciate? Is that something that's been talked about here?

SPICER: It is not. The president -- it doesn't -- that is not applicable to the president, no. So there is no -- I mean, I believe you're referring to 18 U.S. Code 1913, if I'm correct.


I think we're pretty good on it.


QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

The president wrote a book called "The Art of the Deal." He's considered the ultimate closer when it comes to negotiation. If this deal falls through, if this bill does not pass, would he accept the blame for its failure? And if not, who would?

SPICER: Let's -- let's get to the vote tonight. I'm not gonna start -- I think the president has done a phenomenal job, there's no question. I think when you look at the effort that he's put in, the number of meetings that he's had and the changes that have been to the bill, there's no question how hard the president and his team, the vice president, have worked to get this done.

And it's -- in response, at the end of the day, we can't force somebody to vote. But I think, as I mentioned to Hallie (ph) and several other folks, I like the direction that this thing is going. I think that we continue to see support go with us. We're not seeing people fall off. We're seeing people come on board. That's a great trajectory to have, and -- and so, I like where we're headed.

QUESTION: Two very quick clarifications on previous answers and then a real question. I think the issue was with the anti-lobbying law; not what the president had done but what White House staffers were doing with their official Twitter accounts.


QUESTION: So (inaudible) law does not apply to the president (inaudible) White House staffers?

SPICER: Right. OK, so do you want me to answer that one?


SPICER: Lemme read from you, from 18 U.S. Code 1913.

"The Department of Justice consistently has construed that the Anti- Lobbying Act as limiting the lobbying activities personally undertaken by the president, his aides and assistants within the Executive Office of the President, the vice president, Cabinet members within their areas of responsibility, and other Senate-confirmed officials appointed by the president responsibility." So there's clearly a carve-out there (ph).


QUESTION: When you're talking about the Byrd Rule earlier...


QUESTION: ... can we read from your answer that Vice President Pence does not at any point intend to overrule the Senate parliamentarian?

SPICER: It's not a question of overrule, you don't overrule. The Senate parliamentarian makes interpretation. It's up to the presiding officer, so...


SPICER: I do, I -- but I also understand how the Senate works. And the presiding officer determines -- the Senate parliamentarian asks for guidance.

QUESTION: Sure, and if the guidance from the Senate parliamentarian is that something would violate the Byrd Rule, would Vice President Pence...

SPICER: I'm not gonna answer hypotheticals about what he may, may not do, not on this bill or any one other (ph). You got one?

QUESTION: Just finally, CNN reported yesterday that U.S. officials believe that -- are -- are investigating that associates of President Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives...

SPICER: Right.

QUESTION: ... to coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign. I'm wondering if you could respond to that or say definitively that they (inaudible).


So -- so let's actually look at what CNN reported.

They reported that anonymous U.S. officials had told them that information indicates an association (sic) of the campaign and suspected operatives coordinated, which they admit is not conclusive of anything that's bordering on collusion. The last line of the thing said, quote, "The FBI can not yet prove that collusion took place."

I think there's more -- probably more evidence that CNN colluded with the Clinton campaign to give her debate questions than the Trump campaign gave any kind of collusion.

SPICER: So I think when it comes down to that reporting, it is filled with a bunch of subjective terms about this person may have done this, possibly could've done that. And at the end of the story, if you wade to the very bottom, it says, "The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place."

So I have addressed this type of reporting in the past and this fits right in.


QUESTION: Without getting too deep in the weeds on exactly what this strategy is in the Senate to get this amended bill through the (inaudible), is the president confident that the strategy that's being developed in the Senate will result in a bill that can pass muster?


QUESTION: And the president told us several weeks ago that if it looked like the Democrats were going to filibuster Judge Gorsuch, he would encourage Mitch McConnell to invoke the nuclear option. Has the president's position on that changed at all?

SPICER: The president has not spoken to Senator McConnell yet. I think Senator Schumer, as you know, within the last hour or so came out with his position. I'm sure that after we get through tonight, the president will have some kind of conversation with Senator McConnell and discuss Senate strategy. We're not there yet.

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

Following up on Jordan's question, and then I have a followup on Natalie's question.

How did Chairman Nunes...


QUESTION: How did Chairman Nunes end up at the White House yesterday? This morning, he said he invited himself here, but that's sort of an uncommon way to end up here. Can you take us through sort of the tick- tock of what happened?

SPICER: No. I don't know how he got here. I assume in a car.

(CROSSTALK) SPICER: I also don't track him. I think we've -- I don't keep his schedule either.


SPICER: No, I don't. He literally gave a press conference as we were starting, and saying I'm going to go down to the press -- down to the White House after he briefed the press.


QUESTION: ... the first time that the White House was made aware of this surveillance that he brought to the president yesterday?

SPICER: I believe that the information that he shared with the president was new.

QUESTION: And then the followup on health care. Is there any sort of plan if the bill does not pass tonight? What is the plan B?

SPICER: No, we're -- it's going to pass. So that's it.

Caitlyn (ph)?

QUESTION: Now that you've been briefed -- I know yesterday you hadn't been -- everything had just happened. Can you say if the information that Nunes had was -- is the same information that the president -- that he had that would be revealed this week?

SPICER: We're not going to -- there's -- the -- my understanding, because I was not briefed on the contents of that, was that he spoke generally about what he had seen in these reports that he had been made privy to. But that there was further details he wanted the president to know what he had seen, and that it wasn't related to Russia. But he's continuing as, again, all of his public comments are that he is going to continue to pursue this and offer further updates later.

But I'm not aware of the specific nature of it.

Cecilia (ph)? Yes?

QUESTION: What will the president's reaction be to Republicans who vote against the health care bill tonight? And are they being encouraged to vote their conscience?

SPICER: Well, I think I've addressed this before. But I think the president's been very clear that Republicans in particular have made a commitment to constituents and to the American people that if given the opportunity to have a Republican president, a Republican Senate, and a Republican House, that they would enact a repeal and replace and put in to it a patient-centered health care. I mean, he believes, as he mentioned during when he met with the House

Conference, as he mentioned with the members of the Freedom Caucus today, and I think in several meetings that this is something that we've talked about. You've taken a bunch of these free votes when it didn't matter because you didn't have a Republican president. And you got to vote for repeal and go back and tell your constituents something like 50 times.

Well, this is a live -- this is a live ball now. And this is for real. And we're going to do what we pledged to the American people and keep our word. And he's made it very clear that part of the reason that he got elected is because he went out and made a series of bold pledges to the American people about what he would do if he were president.

And he's acting on those. And he's acting swiftly and boldly with respect to this in particular. And that he believes -- not just him, but the members of the House and the Senate have an obligation to fulfill the promise and the pledge that they made to the American people.

Cecilia (ph)?

QUESTION: Regardless of what happens tonight, will we hear from the president? Will he come out and make a statement?

SPICER: I think it's going to depend on what time the vote is. So I don't want to commit. I'm sure in some way, shape or form, he'll have some kind of comment.

QUESTION: And similar to the question you were asked here, but -- but is the president, no matter what happens, prepared to take responsibility for the outcome of this bill?

SPICER: In what way? I mean...

QUESTION: Whether it succeeds or fails, his name is on it. A lot of people think so.

SPICER: Well, I think that in the sense that we've been very clear about this is a priority of ours and we've worked with them. But again, I go back to -- at the end of the day, we can't make people vote. We've done everything we can to listen to them; to incorporate their thoughts; to incorporate their ideas; to make the bill as best we can.

SPICER: But it's a balancing act, make no mistake about it, that there's a full spectrum of folks in the House that have disparate desires. But I think we can all commit that this is the one vehicle that's going to repeal something that almost every single Republican that I'm aware of has pledged to do if they were reelected or elected.

And I think that there's a desire that, while we understand that not every member's gonna find this perfect. That's what happens when you need to get, in this case, 216 votes. But it's the best bill that takes into consideration all of the concerns and all of the goals and all of the values. And I understand that in a lot of cases, some of the -- some of it isn't a question of -- of the policy. It's a question of the timing and some of the things that people want that are happening in phase three and phase one.

But as we've addressed, the -- the Byrd Rule, which is, you know, to most people this arcane thing probably even in the House that don't have to deal with it in the Senate, that deals with whether or not and if -- and if there is a -- if it is loaded up with things that are stricken, then it doesn't serve us any good.

I think that we have put together a very comprehensive approach to addressing how to actually repeal and how to actually replace.

I think the president walked through with the House Freedom Caucus today several of the administrative acts that Secretary Price would be taking in accordance with the authority that was granted to him by the Obamacare legislation and by some of the actions that Secretary Sebelius took back in 2009.

There's a lot of concern among members about some of the sequencing on things. And I think that we have continued to not -- so this isn't just about policy. Some of it's about sequencing and timing, and I think the president and the vice president and the rest of the team have done a lot to reassure them on the sequencing and how this thing is gonna -- is gonna act.

So -- so that -- that discussion I think has continued to be very productive to reassure members how this thing is gonna -- is gonna happen and -- and take place.

Ayman (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. A moment ago, you said (inaudible) members of the House Freedom Caucus (inaudible) who were noes stood up and said...


QUESTION: ... "Mr. President, I'm with you." Can you tell us how many of those there were and what their names were?

SPICER: Not yet.


Not because -- I'm not trying to be cute about this.

I think as we do -- as we do the whip count, I think, as you can imagine, that we've gotta make sure that we don't -- that this balancing act, and you've gotta now make sure that certain people don't fall off the end as you pick up certain people.

And so, we're keeping that vote total rather tight right now, but I feel very buoyed by the direction that we're headed in. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) what specific offer was made? There's been reporting the final offer was put on the -- on the table for these guys. What specific changes has the president offered them to stay that were new that we haven't seen...

SPICER: It's not just changes, as I mentioned to Cecilia (ph).

Part of this is -- is some of the administrative stuff and making sure that they have reassurances that certain things that -- that Secretary Sebelius enacted when she enrolled the bill -- or, excuse me, enacted the bill, that will be -- will be acted upon immediately.

And -- you know, and so there was an enumeration of some of those things, and a commitment on some of the other aspects of support that would be given for the phase three bills about, you know, buying across state lines, increasing HHS -- HSAs. There was a lot of talk about that.

And that's where I think a lot of this comes down to right now, especially among those members. They -- they feel very good about the changes that have been made in the managers' amendment and they feel very good.

There's some question about the commitment and changes that might take place in the Senate. And so, there was a lot of, you know, "Can we count on this when this happens?"

So, I just wanna -- you know, some of this is working that way.


QUESTION: Thank you very much, Sean.

Two questions please. One, as far as 68 countries that are presenting against terrorism or against ISIS at the State Department under the leadership of Secretary of State Tillerson, there was an adviser to the president of Afghanistan, Mr. Hamayu (ph), coming here speaking at CSIS and also, day before yesterday, at Atlantic Council. He was addressing Mr. Salahuddin Rabbani, who is the foreign minister of Afghanistan.

What the -- both (ph) were saying or addressing are (inaudible) at these two think tanks that unless we control two countries who are financing and training; Saudi Arabia is financing in the name of charities and Pakistan is training.

So what -- what is the president message to this group?

At the same time, there is a Mr. Abdul Saeed (ph) who is wanted by the U.S., $10 million there's a bounty on him. And he's openly spilling hatred against the U.S. and India and Pakistan, in Lahore (ph). So what -- where do we go from here?

SPICER: Yeah, so I -- look, Secretary Tillerson's in the meeting of -- or has been going through this meeting with 68 of those members that are committed to -- to addressing Syria and ISIS. I'm not gonna get ahead of the internal discussions that Secretary Tillerson's having related to the administration's review of Syria policy in particular. but I would stay in touch with the State Department on it.




QUESTION: As far as president's relationship with the Indian American communities (inaudible) goes back 40 years. It was 1976 when a spiritual leader came from -- all the way from India to New York City, and he wanted to have a (inaudible) India in New York. But they didn't have any resources or sources. But Mr. Trump at that time, Donald Trump came out helped the group to go on this (inaudible).

But now, can you just (inaudible) also Indian American communities celebrate (inaudible) in New Jersey, same group who had been now at the White House this weekend a peaceful prayer vigil. They're asking the president to come out or meet Indian American community against hate crime, or somebody from the White House.

SPICER: Well, I think we've discussed the nature of hate crimes in the past, and we've condemned the act that happened in Kansas earlier this year. Obviously, I'm sure that this is a very important issue for them. The president is right now focused in particular on getting Obamacare repealed and replaced, the issue in London.

There's a lot that's occupying his time, and I'm sure that we will continue to monitor that situation as well.



SPICER: Maybe someday. We'll see.




QUESTION: The president said to Tucker Carlson that he wasn't going to (inaudible) -- if his people weren't taken care of, he wasn't going to sign anything. And I'm wondering what he says to people who voted for him who relied on the positions for opioid addiction, things that were included in those essential health benefits, that they go away?

SPICER: But you're -- yeah, I -- respectfully, I think that's a false choice. Again, the problem with Obamacare is that it took all of these benefits, mandated that they had to be offered. And what happened is it spiked insurance rates. It spiked deductibles and choices went away.

And the point isn't making a benefit go away or not. And that's why I think it's, respectfully, a false choice. It's actually option offering -- offering options to people. It's literally like any other service or product that we have here in this country, where you can buy what you want. Sometimes it's at a lower price point because that's what you can afford. Sometimes you buy features on a -- on a product because you want those features. Sometimes you determine that you don't need.

But people should have choice in the health care market just the same way that they do in almost every other industry. I mean, that's the point. It's not about giving or taking. It's about the point that they are being mandated in a way. And that's the point is that people should buy what they want and what is appropriate for their -- themselves or their family.

I mean...

QUESTION: Right now, where do the essential health benefits stand? Are they going to be part of this bill or...


SPICER: I think -- my understanding is they're part of the House bill.

Yes? Alexis?

QUESTION: To follow up on Mara's question, I think part of the inherent question is a lot of people buy insurance not knowing what they're going to need. So Mara's...

SPICER: Well, I think if you're an older man, you can generally say that you're not going to need maternity care.

QUESTION: That -- that's possible, but here's the question Mara was suggesting. Opioid and drug addiction, you don't buy your insurance and say, "I really need that backup coverage because I think I'm going to get addicted to painkillers or opioid drugs." So the question is: Is the president confident that the kind of choice he has ambitions for would be offered by insurance companies on their own volition? SPICER: I think several plans I'm sure -- I mean, again, you ask -- I think there's a market for things. But like anything else, I don't think you buy insurance for anything, Alexis, guessing -- saying "Hey, I assume that my -- if my house burns down, I'm going to need to replace all these things." You buy insurance. That's the whole point of insurance.

And I think when people look at it, they're going to buy what they may not need, but they're going to evaluate it. And that's the same thing when you look at a retirement plan or car insurance or anything else. You evaluate what your needs are and then make the decision what's best for you or your family.


QUESTION: Sean, (inaudible) President Trump did not collude with (inaudible) Russian operatives and coordinate on the release (inaudible) information (inaudible) Hillary Clinton's campaign? SPICER: So, say the first part of it again?

QUESTION: Can you say unequivocally that associates of President Trump...


SPICER: See, I think this is, with all due -- again -- yes. And this is -- the way that the term "associates" has flown around, I don't understand what that means.

If you're talking about employees of the campaign, employees of the transition or in the White House, that's one thing. But the way that this term "associates" gets thrown out -- and again, we talked about this yesterday. You pull out a gentleman who was employed by someone for five months, and talk about a client that he had 10 years ago -- no, I can't unequivocally say nobody ever in his past who may or may not have come in contact with him, sat next to him on a plane, who grew up with him in grade school -- because that's a lot of times...


QUESTION: (inaudible) Paul Manafort (inaudible) campaign chairman (inaudible)...

SPICER: No, no. I get it, and you're...


SPICER: No, no. I understand who he is.


SPICER: Thank you.

I -- I'm well aware of Paul, as I read it out yesterday.

But the point that I'm making is, when you use a term like "associate," and you use all of these subjective terms, there's a reason you're doing it, which is because you don't have anything concrete.

If you do, come back to me and ask, "Does anyone in the White House...? Is anyone in the transition...?"

But when you throw out of a vague term like that, it's a catchall. Can you be certain that no one who works for Time Life Turner has ever done anything illegal? I think that's a pretty broad way of casting a net that -- or who has visited the building.

I mean, that's what you're equivocally (sic) saying.

QUESTION: And also on the question of anonymous sources, I mean, you clearly have an issue with the way that they have been used among...

(CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, I think a lot of...

QUESTION: ... intelligence officials, but people in this White House are often on background, they are often appearing as anonymous sources. Devin Nunes has used an anonymous source to...


SPICER: No, no.

QUESTION: So, why is it acceptable in that case but not in...


SPICER: First of all, there's -- there's two issues here.

Number one is what I have a problem with in -- and in specific with the reporting that your network did yesterday, is it was one subjective term after another. It was "associates that may or may not be there," all -- one subjective term after another, with no concrete proof that anything happened, no way -- when you use a term like "associates," you don't even put a timeframe around it.

It's a little bit nebulous at best to suggest that somebody over and over again making a claim the way you do and the narrative continues without any substantiation.

When you're talking about Nunes, I -- what he -- there's a reason that -- with someone who's dealing with classified information can't go out into public and -- and reveal certain things because...


QUESTION: (inaudible)

SPICER: No, no. No, that's not what he said. I don't think he ever said that anything wasn't classified.

But there are certain things that the methods...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) able to talk about it because it was not classified.

SPICER: No, no. He's able to talk about the subject. He cannot talk about the specifics, would be my suggestion, that you can't talk about specifics of a case in terms of the sources and methods and the individuals.

Because part of what's happened is that a lot of the individuals who've been masked -- or unmasked are supposed to be classified. So, just because something's gone into the public domain doesn't make it any less unclassified. That's the problem.


QUESTION: Yeah, Sean, the Nuclear Posture Review is commencing with this administration. Can you assure us that everything is on the table, including a -- lifting of a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing and also developing new nuclear warheads?

SPICER: I -- I -- I don't have a full readout on that at this point. I -- I'll...


SPICER: I'll either get back to your or I'll have someone from the NSC to get back to you.


QUESTION: Sean, you keep saying that there's not a plan B for health care. President Trump has repeatedly said that Republicans should just allow Obamacare to collapse because Democrats will own that...

SPICER: Well... QUESTION: ... and therefore maybe we shouldn't do anything about it. But it's not fair to the American people to do that.

SPICER: Right.

QUESTION: Is the reason there's not a plan B is because the president's plan is to allow Obamacare to collapse?


The president's plan is to pass the bill tonight, get in on to the Senate, and then sign a bill once it goes through conference.

That -- that's the president's plan. And that's why the president's been -- been fighting for it. That's why the president's been trying to make it stronger and stronger every day.

But I think he -- he's faced a very clear reality, which is -- and if it doesn't do this, that it is a false choice to compare what we're doing with Obamacare, because Obamacare is collapsing, the premiums are skyrocketing, the choices are going down, the deductibles are going up. There is no equivalency.

Something is failing and we're -- we're actually trying to get rid of it to help the American people.

And the point the president's making is the politically expedient answer is to do nothing. But I think for the sake of the American people and -- and the needs that they have in terms of health care, I think we owe it to them to do the right thing.

QUESTION: So, on the follow-up question, to -- who is the president holding accountable for the split in the Republican Party, not being able to get this bill done, the struggle that it's taking to get the votes at the last minute?

Is he holding Republican leadership, Paul Ryan, accountable for bringing a bill to the table without having consensus from the Freedom Caucus? Or is he holding the Freedom Caucus accountable for...


SPICER: I -- I think right now we're not focused on blaming. We're focused to -- we're focused on -- on getting it done and winning.

QUESTION: Sean, you've criticized President Obama for the way he sold Obamacare. And there may be some validity to that.

SPICER: Thank you.

QUESTION: But candidate Trump, President-elect Trump and now- President Trump have been selling this legislation as coverage for everybody, lower premiums, lower deductibles and better health care.

SPICER: Thank you. QUESTION: Hasn't he put Republicans on a -- on the spot with this legislation...


QUESTION: ... by telling it that way?

SPICER: But it is. So, yes, thank you for the -- for the advertisement. I appreciate it.

We -- I think that's what...

QUESTION: Can (ph) this bill do that (inaudible)?

SPICER: Of course it can. It will do that. And that's what the point is.

But I think that -- that there has been -- A, I think there is some concern, as I mentioned earlier, about the timing -- and I think we have continued to allay a lot of those concerns -- because of the rules that they are.

SPICER: And again, one of the things that is tough to explain to a lot -- or not tough to explain, but just the reality is that if we don't do it the way that we're gonna do it, we need 60 votes. And we're not gonna get 60 votes in the Senate for this bill. The Democrats are united in stopping any progress being made on this.

And so I think the point that we've had to make over and over again is I get it. You know, in a perfect world, if we had 60 votes, we could do this in a very, very different way and have a much more comprehensive legislative strategy.

But in the same way that the Democrats used reconciliation, as do we, to undo it. And the reason that it is a three-pronged, three- phased approach is because of the nature that it has to get dealt with. I -- and I think for a lot of folks, many of them are new to the process, many of whom want to see it done in a different way.

And I think we are trying to do it in the most responsible way, so that when it gets sent over to the Senate, we don't have to have a huge parliamentary fight about what's, quote-unquote, "Byrdable" or not. And that's -- while most people don't want to, you know, fully appreciate the nuances of that, it's a reality that we have to face if we actually want to get it done.

And I think that -- that makes a big, big difference.


QUESTION: Sean, yesterday when Chairman Nunes was here, we heard his comments. Today, behind closed doors, he apologized to the committee for not coming to them before he came to the president. He expressed regrets for the way he handled this, going public and going to the president before speaking to the members of his own committee.

So I guess my question is: Why was it appropriate? Why does the White House believe it was appropriate for Chairman Nunes to come and give this information to the president regarding an investigation about the president's own associates during the campaign?

SPICER: Well, two things. One is it wasn't -- as has been asked before -- to ask me why he did something. He made a decision. He briefed -- hold on.


SPICER: You were getting there. I've seen enough of you, Peter. I know where you're doing.


I know where you were going.

But the reality is is that -- that he made a decision. He briefed the press first. No one had a problem, by the way, in the press corps of getting briefed before everybody else. He went down -- he briefed your colleagues before he briefed anybody else. I don't hear too much crying about that.

The reality is -- and then he made a statement, said I'm going to come down to the White House and share -- share this information with the president. As has just been noted, he didn't give us a heads up. He told us -- he made an announcement. He said "I'm coming down to the White House"; asked for time to share this with the president.

And I think part of the reason, to be clear and to your question, is specifically to say that there is a big difference between any discussion about what's going on in Russia and why this intelligence was picked up. His comments yesterday were very clear. The -- the intelligence and the information that he picked up had nothing to do with Russia.

And I think he had -- he felt as though according to his own words, an obligation to make sure the president knew what he had discovered. That's it, plain and simple.

QUESTION: To be clear, though, just because appearances matter on this, doesn't the White House have a concern that it creates the appearance that there was potentially interference by the president, that he was included in conversations about the investigation before it was completed?

SPICER: My -- my concern, to be perfectly blunt with you, is that it's always -- you seem to have an obsession with the process and not the substance. At some point, isn't...


SPICER: No, no; hold on, hold on.

QUESTION: So the president (inaudible) conclusion. He asked for (inaudible).

SPICER: I understand that.


QUESTION: ... for details before it was completed?

SPICER: Because as Chairman Nunes said, and again I'm just going to make it clear. Because he said that he wanted to make it very clear that the discussion and the revelations that he had were not -- did not regard anything to do with Russia and he wanted the president to understand that. But there seems to be this obsession with the process. You know, how did he get here? When did he go? What was the reaction? At some point, there should be a concern about the substance -- that's a very serious revelation that he's made about what happened during the 2016 election with respect to our side, and some of the things that happened. And at some point, I would implore, urge, beg some of you to use some of your investigative skills to look into what actually did happen; why did it happen; what was going on back there; who knew what, when.

But I think that there should be a similar concern, as opposed to figuring out whether he took a skateboard or a car here, to exactly what happened and why it happened.

And the reality is that whether he briefed us first or he briefed the Democratic members, and that's up to him to decide, the substance of what he shared should be troubling to everybody. And that's -- that's what I think is the important thing.

QUESTION: To follow on this thought, I want to ask you, at CPAC, President Trump said people, quote, "shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use someone's name." He said it does, quote, "tremendous disservice," -- just following up the conversation you started with Sarah earlier.

So I guess the simple question is: Chairman Nunes came out; he noted sources that he couldn't create and provide publicly. So why when it's politically advantageous, is that use of sourcing OK? But when it's politically damaging, it's not OK?

SPICER: No, I think there's a difference. He came out and briefed people on what he knew at the time, and said he was literally going to get further briefed and would have further updates.


That's a big difference in reporting and making a serious allegation.