In the latest extraordinary exchange in the White House during Donald Trump’s brief tenure, new Press Secretary Sean Spicer has repeatedly denied his boss’s most controversial executive order is a Muslim “ban”.
This is despite the new US president and Spicer himself calling it just that a day earlier.
Little over a week after Spicer prompted global ridicule for suggesting Trump’s inauguration was the best-attended “period!”, he engaged in another aggressive face-off with reporters.
On Saturday, Trump told reporters that his executive order was “working out very nicely”, adding “we’re going to have a very, very strict ban”.
Facing growing criticism on Monday, Trump defended his decision not to give travelers any advance warning of the new restrictions ― which he again characterized as a “ban.”
The same day, Spicer told a group of George Washington University students that “the ban deals with seven countries”.
However, today he appeared to have changed his tune, insisting the President was merely “using the words the media is using”.
This was one exchange:
Reporter: “But those were his words.”
Spicer: “It can’t be a ban if you’re letting 1 million people, and if 325,000 people from another [Muslim] country can come in, then that is, by nature, not a ban.”
Reporter: “But the president himself called it a ban.”
Spicer: “I understand that.”
Reporter: “So is he confused, or you confused?”
Spicer: “I’m not confused. The words being used to describe it derive from what the media is calling this. [The president] has been clear it is ‘extreme vetting.’”
The executive order bars travelers from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Syria from entering the United States, suspends refugee resettlement for 120 days, and suspends the resettlement of refugees from Syria indefinitely.