Trump threatens to cancel press briefings, says Spicer 'gets beat up'

The comments, in an interview, are the second time he made the threat Friday.

ByABC News
May 14, 2017, 2:01 AM

— -- After an early-morning tweetstorm in which he addressed inconsistencies between his statements and those of his surrogates by suggesting the cancellation of "all future press briefings," President Donald Trump reiterated the threat in an interview Friday afternoon.

Asked by Fox News' Jeanine Pirro if the pace of his actions was to blame for the White House communication staff's difficulties -- which, this week, included offering contrasting accounts surrounding the firing of FBI Director James Comey -- Trump agreed. Pirro then asked what could be done to rectify the inaccuracies presented to the press.

"We don’t have press conferences," said Trump. "We just don’t have them. Unless I have them every two weeks and do it myself. We don’t have them. I think it's a good idea."

Friday morning, in the midst of a series of tweets in which Trump addressed the investigation into Russian collusion with his campaign to influence the presidential election and downplayed any role the probe played in his determination to fire Comey, the president raised the prospect of suspending the briefings.

"As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!" wrote Trump, referring to aides' claims that he took action on Comey based on the recommendation of Department of Justice officials. He later told NBC in an interview that the decision was his alone.

"Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???" added Trump on Twitter.

The comments also echo sentiments from associates of Trump during the transition, who reportedly considered whether the administration should hold fewer press briefings or move them out of the White House to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

During an interview Friday night with Fox News' Sean Hannity, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich urged the president to follow through on his threat.

"Ignore all of these reporters," Gingrich said. "Close down the press room. Send the reporters off. They can go to Starbucks across the street. I don't care where they go. These people are not committed to the truth. They're not committed to being neutral. Why would you hang out with a bunch of people who despise you?"

In Trump's Fox News interview, the president additionally commented upon the performance and treatment of his spokespeople, press secretary Sean Spicer and principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who conducted two briefings in Spicer's absence this week.

"You have a level of hostility that’s incredible and it's very unfair," said Trump. "Sarah Huckabee is a lovely young woman. You know Sean Spicer. He’s a wonderful human being. He’s a nice man."

Trump pushed back when Pirro suggested Spicer could be replaced, though the president did concede that the spokesman has faced difficulties.

"He’s doing a good job, but he gets beat up," said Trump.

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