White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Monday continued to dance around questions of Russian meddling in U.S. elections and ties to the Trump campaign, even as he insisted that there was nothing left for anyone to investigate.
“I think Russia’s involvement in campaign activity has been investigated up and down,” Spicer said at his daily press briefing. “The question becomes, if there is nothing further to investigate, then what are you asking people to investigate?”
President Donald Trump has rejected the conclusion reached by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia hacked emails in order to wage an influence campaign in Trump’s favor.
“The president has said time and time again that he has no [business] interests in Russia, and hasn’t talked to people from Russia for years,” Spicer added.
Hours earlier, Trump had answered a question about his campaign’s ties to Russia by telling a group of insurance company CEOs, “I haven’t called Russia in 10 years.”
In fact, Trump traveled to Russia just four years ago, to host a Miss Universe beauty pageant. Meanwhile, the revelation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump’s former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, led to Flynn’s firing last week.
Despite these recent developments, Spicer insisted there was no need for any further investigation into the matter, and he rejected calls by some Republican lawmakers for a special prosecutor to look into the ties between the Trump administration and Russia.
“A special prosecutor for what?” Spicer shot back, when asked about the demands from Capitol Hill. “How many people have to say there is nothing there, before you realize that there is nothing there?”
But even as he insisted there was nothing to investigate, Spicer admitted he “can’t say unequivocally” that members of Trump’s campaign were not in contact with Russian officials.
He also admitted that the White House went to great lengths to discredit reporting on these contacts by journalists, including an effort to arrange calls earlier this month between journalists and top administration officials as well as members of Congress willing to knock down a New York Times story about contacts between the Trump campaign and senior Russian officials.
“We were pointing [the journalists] to subject matter experts who understood whether or not that story was accurate,” Spicer said Monday.
The arranged calls, which included Republicans in Congress and CIA director Mike Pompeo, were seen by critics as potentially improper White House interference with intelligence agencies and congressional intelligence committees.