Spicer On Carl Vinson Movement: ‘It Happened. It Is Happening, Rather’

MC2 Sean M. Castellano/Navy Office of Information (CHINFO)

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that neither the White House nor the military had put out any misleading information last week on the whereabouts of the Carl Vinson Strike Group.

On April 8, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) announced that the strike group would be changing its schedule and going to the Western Pacific. The same day, a spokesperson for the command said that “the number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea.”

However, an official Navy photo from Nov. 15 showed the USS Carl Vinson farther away from the Korean Peninsula than it was a week earlier. On Sunday, April 16, a North Korean missile test resulted in an explosion during launch, according to unnamed U.S. and South Korean officials speaking to AP.

PACOM put out a release talking about the group ultimately ending up in the Korean Peninsula,” Spicer said during his daily press briefing Wednesday, emphasizing that no specific schedule for the group had been announced. “That’s what it will do. I think we were asked very clearly about the use of a carrier group in terms of deterrence and foreign presence and what that meant. That’s what we discussed. I would refer you back to any other issues with that to the Department of Defense.”

Both a spokesperson for the U.S. Pacific Command, in a statement to TPM, and Defense Secretary James Mattis, in an interview Wednesday, did not acknowledge any misleading statements. 

On April 11, Spicer was asked about the Vinson’s “steaming up toward the Sea of Japan.”

He responded, in part: “When you see a carrier group steaming into an area like that, the forward presence of that is clearly, through almost every instance, a huge deterrence.”

April 11, Mattis said the Carl Vinson was “on her way up there.”

In an interview aired April 12, President Donald Trump said: “We are sending an armada, very powerful.”

The President said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula,” Spicer said Wednesday. “That’s a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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