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Sean Spicer on His Future as Press Secretary: ‘I’m Right Here’

Variety logo Variety 6/20/2017 Ted Johnson
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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to say whether he will be taking a new role in the Trump administration, even as speculation mounts that a shakeup is coming in the communications staff.

“I’m right here,” Spicer said at the White House press briefing on Tuesday, after he was asked about reports that his role is changing.

“So you can keep taking your selfies. Selfie folks.”

He added, “It’s no secret we have had a couple vacancies, including our communications director who has been gone for a while. We have been seeking input from individuals as far as ideas they have. We have been meeting with potential people who may be of service to this administration. I don’t think that should come as a surprise. But we are always looking for ways to do a better job of articulating the president’s message and his agenda.”

Spicer also defended the decision to hold off-camera, non-recorded briefings, as he did yesterday. CNN’s Jim Acosta chided the administration and Spicer himself for that decision, and accused the White House of “stonewalling” on answers to questions.

Spicer said that the daily briefing was “one aspect of what we do.”

“I think we have done a very good job of not just providing opportunities here at a daily briefing, but also making ourselves available as a staff almost 20, 24 hours a day when it comes down to it,” Spicer said. “When you look at the steps we have taken to give access to reporters … and I think it is pretty significant. I understand you will always have issues, you always want more, and that is fair.”

Reporters in recent months have been concerned about the frequency and nature of the daily press briefings, and recent decisions to restrict cameras and recording equipment triggered a new round of consternation over accessibility. A reporter for The Atlantic texted White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon over why the decision was made to go off-camera for more of the briefings, and he texted back, “Sean got fatter.” He didn’t respond to a followup question.

A number of news outlets reported on Monday that the White House is reviewing Spicer’s role, in a new position that would mean he would no longer preside over the daily press briefings. That  position has only gained in visibility since Trump took office, as Spicer has at times sparred with reporters and has often been in the position of defending or clarifying the president’s early morning tweets.

Spicer’s first TV appearance as press secretary came on Jan. 21, when he came to the press room to deliver a statement that chided reporters on the way that they characterized the size of the inauguration crowds. He very quickly became a late-night target, led by “Saturday Night Live,” which spoofed his press conferences by having him played by Melissa McCarthy.

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