Jul 22, 2018

Behind the podium: "He wanted me to repeat his answers verbatim"

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer approaches the podium to conduct a daily news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Here's a fresh window into his media mind, in this exclusive preview from Sean Spicer's book, The Briefing: Politics, The Press, and The President (Regnery), out July 24.

"[B]etween 10:00 a.m. and noon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and I would poke our heads into the Oval Office ... [Trump] was always full of questions, wanting background on where a story came from and, of course, curious to know what we were going to say about it. And he was never shy about giving us directions."

  • "I'd be peppered throughout the day with calls from the president as stories evolved. He was extremely engaged, very particular, and insistent about how he wanted his points delivered."
  • "The more time I spent with him, the more I came to understand that President Trump wanted me to repeat his answers to the press verbatim."

Spicer, calling Trump in the residence the evening before St. Patrick's Day, 2017:

  • Spicer: "Sir, just a reminder about the St. Patrick's Day event tomorrow — do you have a green tie?"
  • Trump: "Yeah! Of course I have a green tie."
  • Spicer: "For tomorrow?"
  • A long pause. "Well, I have one in New York, but I don't have one here."
  • Spicer: "I've got an extra green tie. Would you like me to bring it in?"
  • Trump: "Thanks, sure, but let me see what I can do. It'd be great to have a backup in case I can't find one. Let's touch base in the morning."
  • "First thing that day, I delivered the green tie to the Oval Office and set it on the Resolute desk.. ... The billionaire president wore my green tie that entire day ... He must have liked it because I've never seen that tie again."

Spicer's pre-briefing ritual:

  • "Before I walked out, I would try and have a moment of reflection and read a daily passage from the book Jesus Calling."
  • "Behind my desk was a wooden table with two drawers. On top of the table sat a box with a picture of St. Gabriel on if that [my wife] Rebecca had given me as a gift when I took the job. In the box, I had two medals that I would slip into my pocket: one of St. Michael in honor of my dad and another of Mother Teresa ... given to me early in my tenure by John Gizzi of Newsmax."

Go deeper

Tech can't remember what to do in a down market

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Wall Street's two-day-old coronavirus crash is a wakeup alarm for Silicon Valley.

The big picture: Tech has been booming for so long the industry barely remembers what a down market feels like — and most companies are ill-prepared for one.

Brace yourself for a coronavirus outbreak

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Public-health officials’ warnings about the coronavirus are sounding increasingly urgent, with one top CDC official asking the public yesterday "to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad."

Reality check: Other administration officials, including President Trump himself, were more subdued in their assessments. But underneath those tonal differences, the reality of the coronavirus is the same: It spreads quickly, and has already spread to many countries, making it likely to start spreading here, too.

Exclusive: Pro-Trump group plans post-Super Tuesday blitz on Democrats

Democratic presidential hopefuls take the debate stage in South Carolina. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Pro-Trump super PAC America First Action is preparing to unleash a series of targeted, swing-state attacks on the Democrats most likely to face President Trump after Super Tuesday, people familiar with the group's plans tell me in an exclusive preview of its strategy.

The state of play: The group has been tracking favorable/unfavorable ratings in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania for 2020 candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg — under the theory that if Trump wins each of these six states he would win re-election.