Friday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, veteran anchor and former President Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos grilled Sean Spicer over the newly released controversial White House book by journalist Michael Wolff. Repeatedly, Stephanopoulos demanded Spicer confirm the sleazy gossip as accurate, and accused Trump of violating the First Amendment by trying to halt its publication.
NBC’s Today show also highlighted the book, with anchor Savannah Guthrie interviewing its controversial author. Guthrie took the opposite approach of Stephanopoulos, repeatedly questioning the credibility of the book and demanding evidence from Wolff, whereas GMA seemed to presume the book’s claims were truth from the very beginning.
Stephanopoulos began the interview by quoting a section of the book that referenced Spicer and asked Spicer if the statements were accurate. While Spicer shot down the journalist’s insinuations, Stephanopoulos kept pressing, framing the book as “basically true”:
STEPHANOPOULOS: He says quite a bit about you in the book. Says your personal mantra at the time was “you can’t make this blank up,” something I can’t say on morning television. Is that true?
SPICER: He had asked me a question about whether or not some of these instances were — I said, you can’t make this up but, again, I think one of the problems that we’re seeing with this book and it’s not just Trump staffers and White House officials pushing back but seeing a lot of mainstream media members as well calling into question the sourcing, the sloppiness of how he attributes stuff and even the author’s note at the beginning of the book notes that in many cases he took anecdotes and sort of rephrased them. The sourcing as —
STEPHANOPOULOS: But basically, is the story that he writes a story that you think is basically true?
SPICER: No, I think there’s some anecdotes that may be true but the problem I have, George, is that with this book as with many stories is if you can’t — if it’s 10% or 20% or 50% or 70% that isn’t true, the reader is not left to know which is true and which is not.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the stuff he wrote about you is true.
SPICER: Some of the quotes he has but the context in which they’re given aren’t and I think that’s the problem. I can say something to you right now and you could weave it into a story in three weeks. Is the quote accurate, sure. Is the context in which I’m giving it in, accurate, no.
Stephanopoulos then shifted blame from Spicer to Trump, asking if the president attacking the book was “running against the First Amendment” and whether or not Trump was guilty of “obstruction of justice” because of the claims in the book:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were one of the sources. I guess my big question is now is it smart for the president to try to stop publication of this book? Doesn’t that run against the First Amendment?
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of focus also on the possibility of obstruction of justice. We learned from The New York Times again this morning that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating that in the White House…[T]here were some new details here where we see the president asking his counsel to try to stop Jeff Sessions from resigning, from recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Were you aware of that?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he really say, according to The New York Times, where is my Roy Cohen? Were you aware of that?
Like political ping-pong, Stephanopoulos went back to Spicer, demanding to know “what he knew” about the book’s salacious claims, while he was working in the White House:
STEPHANOPOULOS: What you do know, you know a fair amount about the firing of James Comey. You had to go out the night that happened. You laid it all on the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at that time…That turned out not to be true…Who gave you that information?
STEPHANOPOULOS: We now know for several days at least the president had been talking about firing James Comey, had talked to Reince Priebus your direct boss about that as well. You weren’t aware of that at all?
STEPHANOPOULOS: [I]t’s also been reported by Axios that you had several notebooks as well from your time in the RNC and the White House. Did you turn those over to the special counsel?
STEPHANOPOULOS: The book also gets into the episode in July when you were still at the White House where the president was working on a false statement about Don Junior’s meeting at Trump Tower and it talks about you being out of the loop on that and you being happy to be out of the loop so you knew nothing about that false statement when it was written?
The ABC anchor wrapped up his interview by putting the focus back on Trump, repeatedly demanding Spicer confirm or deny Trump did “anything wrong”:
STEPHANOPOULOS: It says that Mark Corolla, the president’s spokesperson, his personal spokesperson with his lawyers resigned at the time because he was concerned it could be seen as obstruction of justice. Are you confident that the president did nothing wrong?
SPICER: As far as what aspect? As far as the campaign and the collusion, absolutely. I was there for most of the end part of the campaign. I know that didn’t happen. There were several folks in the media that didn’t give us credit for colluding with ourselves never mind with any kind of foreign government. So to suggest that happened and the underlying premise of this whole thing I think is pretty clear that there was no collusion.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’re not confident the president did nothing wrong with respect to his actions in the White House, the firing of James Comey, the putting out of this —
SPICER: I think as far as the firing of James Comey, it’s been pretty clear the president has the authority to fire anyone within the federal government that he sees fit isn’t doing the duty that is appropriate for that job. So, I don’t think there’s any question about his ability to fire Jim Comey or anyone else in the federal government.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you think he did anything wrong?
SPICER: I don’t but, again, it’s not my job. There is an investigation. I’m not going to get in the way of it, but as far as I know and what I saw, no, there was nothing that was ever done that was inappropriate or illegal.
This content was originally published here.