As the White House’s top spokesman, Sean Spicer is often left to clarify, elaborate or explain what President Trump's tweets mean.
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On several occasions, the press secretary has delivered the same line to skirt a question: “The tweet speaks for itself.”
Spicer repeated some variation of the line during the Trump transition phrase and has continued to find use for it during the Trump presidency.
Here are five times Spicer has used the phrase:
May 8: Sally Yates
Prior to former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ scheduled testimony on Capitol Hill Monday, Trump tweeted that the Senate Judiciary subcommittee conducting the hearing should ask Yates whether she knows how classified information was leaked to the media shortly after her meeting with White House counsel Don McGahn.
Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
When asked during Monday’s White House press briefing whether Trump believes Yates is behind the leaks to the media, Spicer said, “I think the tweet speaks for itself. Sometimes you don't have to read too much into it.”
“How did that information get out into the open like that?” Spicer said. “I think that is an equally important question that, frankly, isn't getting asked.”
Yates said during the hearing Monday that she has never leaked classified information to a reporter and she has never been an anonymous source in a news report about matters relating to Trump and his campaign associates.
Feb. 24: FBI
Trump criticized the FBI after news reports that chief of staff Reince Priebus reached out to the agency and requested that the FBI publicly refute a New York Times report about Trump campaign associates communicated with Russia.
“The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time,” Trump tweeted. “They can't even ...... find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW.”
The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security "leakers" that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
When asked whether Trump would fire FBI Director James Comey, Spicer did not elaborate.
“I will leave it at the president’s tweet speaks for itself. And the president’s comments on his concern for national security, yes, it’s concerning,” Spicer said during a press gaggle. “Overall it’s concerning.”
March 6: Obama wiretapping claim
On Saturday, March 4, Trump tweeted, without providing evidence, that his predecessor, President Obama, had Trump Tower in New York City wiretapped.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Two days after Trump’s tweets, Spicer deflected questions for more specifics and declined to clarify the president’s accusations during an off-camera press gaggle with reporters.
This answer from Spicer, repeated multiple times, pretty much summed up the White House's position for the day: "I'm just going to let the tweet speak for itself."
March 30: House Freedom Caucus
Trump sent several tweets that day aimed directly at House Freedom Caucus members who said they were not on board with the original Republican health care plan before the GOP’s push to bring the American Health Care Act to a vote on the House floor.
The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017
During the press briefing later that day, Spicer was asked whether Trump’s tweet could be interpreted to mean the president would back challengers to Freedom Caucus members in the 2018 midterm elections.
“I'm going to let the tweet speak for itself.” Spicer said.
Spicer added, “It would be improper of me to discuss the election or defeat of any candidate from this podium.”
March 22: President Obama
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
When asked a few weeks later whether Trump still stands by his tweet that President Obama is a "bad or sick guy," Spicer used the go-to phrase.
"I think the president's tweets stand for themselves," Spicer said.
Later in the press briefing, he reiterated again, "I think the President's tweets speak for themselves, as for the rest of the tweets" on Trump's allegations that Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower.