The White House Press Briefing this afternoon will again be conducted by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, not Press Secretary Sean Spicer. So where is Sean Spicer, exactly? Why hasn’t he been at the two most recent press briefings?
The official word from the White House on this is that Sean Spicer has become busier ever since the resignation of White House Communications Director Mike Dubke. The White House says that Spicer began to take on additional duties after Dubke’s resignation. This was Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ explanation when asked where Sean Spicer was earlier this month.
“I mean, he is taking on a little bit of extra duty at this point,” Sanders said of Spicer. “It’s probably upgraded at this point given that we don’t have a communications director.”
During that same briefing, Sanders was asked whether she might replace Sean Spicer permanently. She said that she would just be filling in for him for the day.
“I did not say that at all. I’m just filling in for the day,” she said. “There are a lot of demands on his schedule, particularly given the fact that there’s not a communications director, and this is part of my job as well and when I’m needed I’ll step in. Nothing other than that.”
She also clarified that Spicer has actually been at the White House during these recent briefings, so it’s not that he has Navy Reserve duty, as is sometimes the case.
“He’s here today,” Sanders told reporters at the June 5th press briefing. “This is part of my job as well. Did you guys ever ask any of the other deputy press secretaries when they filled in?”
Spicer did soon return to the podium, and he has held the majority of the press briefings during the month of June. Still, there have been reports that the White House is reevaluating Spicer’s role. Last week, CNN, Politico and Bloomberg all reported that the White House was considering a communications shake-up that would begin with a new job for Spicer. Politico in particular reported that Sean Spicer was actively searching for his own replacement.
Though one might assume Sarah Huckabee Sanders would get the job, Politico reported that the White House reached out to Laura Ingraham for the role of press secretary. Ingraham subsequently said that she thinks she would be good for the job and would consider taking it, although she was hardly enthusiastic in her response.
“I’ve always said that if it’s something that I think I could do well, and it would really advance the agenda of this administration at a time where I think there’s so much at stake for the country and for the future, you know, I would think about it,” Ingraham said on Fox News. “I’m not sure if that’s the role I would pick for myself, but I have a legal background, strategic, you know, political communications planning. I’m not sure the press secretary thing is something I’m dying to do.”
If it feels like you haven’t seen Sean Spicer on television as much this month, that’s not because he hasn’t been conducting any briefings. Rather, a lot of the press briefings have just been happening off camera.
When asked about these briefings not being on camera, Spicer recently said, “I think it’s great for us to come out here and have a substantive discussion about policies. I don’t think the be all and end all is whether it’s on television or not.”
Recently, after again being pressed about why the briefings are occurring with the cameras off, Spicer said, “Some days we will have them. Some days we won’t.”