After several weeks off, White House press secretary Sean Spicer returned to the podium on Monday for his first press briefing since June 26. On his first day back, Spicer made a couple of remarks during the off-camera briefing that could have serious ramifications for both the president and Donald Trump Jr.
Trump Jr. made headlines last week after it was revealed that he met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer, during his father’s campaign after being told that she could give him compromising information about Hillary Clinton.
Despite the fact that the subject line of one of the emails exchanged between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya literally says, “Russia – Clinton – private and confidential,” Spicer insisted on Monday that there is no reason to believe that Trump Jr. went to the meeting to try and gather dirt on his father’s former opponent.
When asked what the White House’s position is on Trump Jr. attending the meeting rather than reporting the email from Veselnitskaya, Spicer told the press, “There was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe” that the meeting was about anything “except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act.”
This statement from Spicer directly contradicts both the contents of the emails and a message from President Trump, who tweeted on Monday morning in defense of his son:
‘Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!’
Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2017
In addition to going against the president, Spicer might also be chastised later for a comment he made during the briefing about Trump’s latest tweet. When asked if special White House counsel Ty Cobb had signed off on the president’s tweet, Spicer simply said:
‘I don’t believe so.’
If Cobb — who was hired over the weekend specifically to handle the White House’s media responses to the ongoing Russia probe — did not approve the tweet, Trump may be in even more trouble than he was before.
A complete audio recording of the press briefing can be heard below, available via YouTube. The comments about Trump Jr.’s meeting begin around 3:30.
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.