Sean Spicer on Friday resigned as White House press secretary after exactly six months on the job, in which time he racked up his fair share of memorable and meme-able moments from behind the podium in the White House briefing room.
Spicer had the difficult and unenviable task of defending President Donald Trump and explaining his often convoluted and controversial tweets and interviews. In doing so, Spicer ended up making bold declarations about the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration, making several horrifying slip-ups while referencing the Holocaust, and, in one instance, literally hiding from reporters in the bushes outside the White House.
Below are a few of the highlights from Spicer’s spin as press secretary:
The day after Trump’s inauguration, Spicer faced the media for the first time from the podium in the White House briefing room and reamed out reporters over their portrayal of the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration. Aerial photos of the crowds showed more open space at Trump’s in January 2017 compared to Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer huffed at the time. “Both in person and around the globe.”
He left the first briefing of his tenure without taking a single question.
After the President made confusing comments about Frederick Douglass that left it unclear whether he knew the black abolitionist leader had died in the 19th century, Spicer also came across as fuzzy on who Douglass was. He used the present tense while trying to explain Trump’s remarks.
“I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made,” Spicer said. “And I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he’s going to make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more.”
During a February briefing, SiriusXM White House correspondent Jared Rizzi pointed out that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway had said that Trump did not have time to tweet about everything, even though the President had just tweeted about his daughter Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.
During the subsequent heated exchange over Conway’s comments, Spicer told Rizzi, “What are you—you’re equating me addressing the nation here and a tweet? I don’t, I mean that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. OK. This is silly.”
During a March briefing, Spicer grew exasperated with American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan as she quizzed him about the White House’s image following a report that the Trump administration tried to keep former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying in Congress. He told Ryan to stop shaking her head.
“April, hold on, it seems like you’re hell-bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” he said. “I’m sorry, please stop shaking your head again.”
During an April briefing, Spicer took a wild stab at explaining why Russia might pull its support for Syrian president Bashar Assad following a reported poison gas attack.
“I think a couple things. You look—we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” Spicer said. “You had a—someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons. So you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself, is this a country that you—and a regime that you want to align yourself with?”
The remark was particularly tin-eared given that Hitler oversaw the execution of millions of Jews, many of them in gas chambers.
Spicer on Syria: “You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons…” pic.twitter.com/UN3JfRRg0w
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 11, 2017
Spicer proceeded to muck up his first attempt at clarifying his comments later in that same briefing, referring to concentration camps as “Holocaust centers.”
“I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no — he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” he said.
“There was not — he brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that,” Spicer added. “But I’m saying that in the way Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent — into the middle of towns. It was brought — the use of it. And I appreciate the clarification there, that was not the intent.”
In early May, Spicer got into a tense exchange with a Breitbart News reporter who suggested that Trump would put up fencing along the southern border before a wall could be built. Spicer protested this vehemently.
“No, what I’m telling anybody is that the President said he was going to build the wall and he’s doing it,” Spicer said. “That’s what I’m telling you.”
After Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, White House reporters relayed that Spicer literally hid in the bushes outside the White House following a television interview in order to avoid their questions. He eventually agreed to answer a few questions in the dark, but still refused to be filmed.