Spicer Denies Trump Tower Poll Watching Banned By Consent Decree

Andrew Harnik/AP

Former White House Communications Director Sean Spicer denied involvement in any sort of poll watching activities while he was a top RNC official — activities that would have been prohibited by a decades-old federal consent decree.

His denial came in a deposition last week that was released Thursday as part of the legal case surrounding the hotly contested consent decree.

“We, being not just the senior staff, but everyone down to the lowest levels at the RNC, had been conditioned repeatedly about the scope and extent of the Consent Decree and what was prohibited activities, and what could even be perceived as a prohibited activity with respect to poll watching, voter fraud, etc.,” Spicer said, according to a transcript of the deposition. “So not only did it not happen, but —  but I think there was a level of vigilance to ensure that — that it wasn’t even perceived to even — to — to — to come up.”

The consent decree —which stems from a 1981 lawsuit in which Democrats accused Republicans of voter intimidation tactics targeted at minorities — was set to expire on the Dec. 1. It has kept the RNC from engaging in poll-watching activities on election day for more than a generation. The RNC has been eager to get out from under the consent decree for years, but it continued to be extended after the court found additional violations. Democrats have closely monitored the RNC for potential violations in the hope of extending the consent decree yet again.

Dems have raised concerns about a GQ interview Spicer gave earlier this year in which he recalled being on the fifth floor of Trump Tower on election night where the campaign was said to be undertaking its poll-watching activities. A judge granted Democrats the opportunity to depose Spicer before he considers whether to let the decree expire or extend it.

In the deposition, Spicer rebutted a Politico report following up the GQ story that claimed that RNC employees had been explicitly banned from entering areas of Trump Tower where poll-monitoring operations were occurring.

“I was never told anything,” Spicer said, recalling that he saw no signs barring RNC employees from the area, as sources had told Politico.

Spicer said he had no conversations about poll-monitoring on Election Day, and said rather that he was on the floor in question to watch the election returns as they came in.

“It’s possible that I was in the same room as someone [who was discussing poll monitoring],” Spicer said. “But I was not actively in — part — part of any conversation that had to do with, in any way, shape, or form, poll monitoring.”

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, as most surveys predicted a major Trump defeat, the then-GOP nominee amped up warnings of mass voter fraud — even at times calling for his supporters to engage in vigilante poll watching.

The voter fraud talk caused the RNC lawyers a major headache, as they fought off legal claims by Democrats that this activity was in violation of the decree.

Even after his surprise win, President Trump has claimed without evidence that “millions” of people voted illegally in 2016.

Spicer, in his deposition, denied having any conversations with Trump about voter fraud during the 2016 campaign. He said he was unaware of anyone else at the RNC having such communications.

Even as he was willing to grant Dems the Spicer deposition, the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez, has appeared skeptical that Democrats had provided evidence that the RNC had violated the decree.

Read the deposition below: