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‘Utter nonsense’: Spicer fires back at media over NSC, executive order coverage

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer accused the media Monday of overplaying and misreporting on a range of fresh administration controversies — specifically describing claims of a shakeup at the National Security Council as “utter nonsense.” 

“There’s been a lot of misreporting,” Spicer said.

The press briefing on Monday saw a return to a more combative style for Spicer. While he spent much of the briefing chiding the media over their description of President Trump’s executive order on immigration, he opened with a point-by-point rebuttal — complete with visual aids — to critical reports about a separate action signed Saturday that restructures the NSC, a key advisory body. 

Those reports claimed Trump had effectively downgraded the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence, while promoting adviser Steve Bannon to the principals committee – which is the National Security Council, only without the president.

The New York Times had labeled Bannon’s role “a startling elevation of a political adviser” and said it put him at the same level as National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. The Times also said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and DNI chief are only to join the principals committee when directly affected.

Spicer shot back, saying, “The idea that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and DNI are being downgraded or removed is utter nonsense.”

In making his point, he presented a related 2001 memo by President George W. Bush and a related 2009 memo by President Barack Obama, and argued the relevant passages were virtually the same. 

As for Bannon’s elevation, Spicer also downplayed its significance and noted that former Obama adviser David Axelrod had attended NSC meetings as well, though had not been given a formal promotion to the role.

“David Axelrod walked in and out of NSC meetings,” he said. “What this shows is that this administration is being rather transparent.”

He also suggested Bannon “won’t be at every meeting.” He added, “He’ll come in and out as needed, but we wanted to be up front about it.”

Spicer also reacted to a tweet by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who had asked where the role of the CIA was in the memo. Spicer noted there was no mention of the CIA in Obama’s 2009 memo either. However, he said Trump had decided to amend his memo to add CIA Director Mike Pompeo to the top circle of national security

Article source: News Source

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