White House press secretary Sean Spicer spent nearly two minutes Thursday clarifying his remarks from the previous day that there was “no reason that we have to think that the President is the target of any investigation whatsoever,” and “no reason to believe that there is any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice.”
On Thursday, an unnamed Justice Department official told the New York Times that there was no indication anyone at DOJ had given the White House that assurance. The source had “no comment” when asked if Trump was the subject of an investigation.
“I’m not aware of it,” Spicer said, asked about the possibility of an investigation. “That’s my point, is that we’re not aware of anything.”
“You haven’t been told by the Justice Department that there is no investigation?” CBS’s Margaret Brennan followed up. “So there might be one? You just don’t know?”
“Right, I said I’m not aware,” Spicer said. “And that’s why we want the House and Senate to do what the President has asked of them, to look into this. But no, we’re not aware.”
He was referring to the White House’s requests to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to investigate Trump’s unsubstantiated claim on Twitter over the weekend that President Obama had ordered the phones tapped in Trump Tower.
Spicer and Brennan went back and forth on the definition of “not aware.” Spicer never explained why, at the end of Wednesday’s press briefing, he had changed his earlier statement about a potential investigation of the President from “I think that’s what we need to find out,” to “there’s no reason that we have to think that the President is the target of any investigation whatsoever.”
“When you said no reason to believe, it was I’m not aware there’s an investigation,” Brennan eventually asked.
“That’s right. I don’t know they are not interchangeable. I’m not aware, I don’t believe. Look up in a thesaurus and find other ways.”
Watch the exchange below via CBS News:
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 9, 2017