White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that the administration has no “regret” about sparking an international incident with the U.K. by surfacing bogus allegations that the British intelligence agency GCHQ eavesdropped on Donald Trump’s campaign.
Spicer’s unrepentant stance comes after reports in the British press that the White House made a formal apology to Britain after he publicly repeated Thursday a Fox News commentator’s claims that the agency was spying on Trump staffers on behalf of former President Barack Obama. GCHQ called the allegation “utterly ridiculous.”
Spicer did not seem particularly apologetic when asked about his claim before Trump’s Friday press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Do you regret making the allegations? Repeating them?” the reporter asked.
“I don’t think we regret anything,” Spicer replied. “We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain.”
“No, I don’t think we regret anything,” says White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer over GCHQ spying claims pic.twitter.com/0zCTsQgMDd
— Haris Iqbal (@harispk99) March 17, 2017
Under increasing pressure to provide any evidence for the President’s claims that Obama had his “wires tapped” during the election, the White House has turned to media reports that they say support the story. Yet they have also contended that sharing those stories does not mean they are affirming their accuracy.
In a statement circulated earlier Friday, the White House said that Spicer was “simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”
Trump similarly deflected responsibility during the presser with Merkel.
“I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox,” the President said of Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey judge who now works as a legal analyst for the network. “And so you shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox. Okay?”
Fox’s Shepard Smith said on air shortly after the press conference that the network “knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way.”