In the first business day at the White House since President Trump returned from a nine day foreign trip, Trump Administration officials rattled off a list of achievements from his stops in the Mideast and Europe, as the President once more used Twitter to take the press to task for writing more stories about ties between the 2016 Trump Campaign and Russia.
“Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News,” Mr. Trump tweeted this morning, as White House officials once more jabbed at the news media for using anonymous sources.
When reporters pointed out that a story tweeted out by Mr. Trump today used anonymous sources to bolster his own Russia response, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was having none of it.
“Your question supposes facts that have not been confirmed,” Spicer said, when asked about Trump’s son-in-law, top aide Jared Kushner, and whether he sought to coordinate secret discussions with Russian officials after the November elections.
Even as he did not directly answer questions from reporters, Spicer did not indicate any concern that Kushner had sought a secret communications channel with Moscow during the transition.
“In general terms, back channels are an appropriate part of diplomacy,” Spicer told reporters.
While the White House downplayed stories about the Russia investigation, officials did their best to tout the President’s recent trip to the Europe and the Middle East.
Spicer used the first eleven minutes of the daily White House briefing to tout Mr. Trump’s overseas trip, labeling it “extraordinarily successful.”
“He accomplished the return of a strong American to international affairs, rallied civilized nations of the world against terrorism, took real steps toward peace in the Middle East, and renewed our alliances on the basis of both shared interests and shared burdens,” Spicer said.
“Trump’s first foreign trip was a huge success,” tweeted White House spokesman Michael Short.
The White House was not the only part of the administration touting the trip, as the State Department briefing room was suddenly put to use for the first time in several weeks – in order to talk about the high points of Mr. Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel.
“The United States and Saudi Arabia affirmed a strategic partnership for the 21st Century,” said Acting Assistant Secretary Stuart Jones.
The State Department briefing had not been on the schedule for today, as reporters were given just over a 20 minute notice that it would happen.
In the past, briefings at the State Department were daily happenings, but that has changed dramatically under Mr. Trump, as this was the first meeting with reporters there in several weeks.
Back at the White House, Spicer was asked about reports that a big staff shakeup was imminent, as it was revealed earlier today that White House Communications Director Michael Dubke was stepping down.
Spicer said the President was not worried about his team.
“He’s very pleased with the work of his staff,” Spicer said of the President.
“He’s frustrated – like I am and like so many others – to see stories come out that are patently false, to see narratives that are wrong, to see quote-unquote, fake news.”