White House press secretary Sean Spicer grilled NBC News reporter Kristen Welker Tuesday over her network's coverage of President Donald Trump's executive action temporarily banning travel to the U.S. by people in seven countries in the Middle East.
Trump's order temporarily bars people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from traveling to the U.S. The Obama administration previously designated those Middle Eastern nations as “areas of concern” because of terrorist activity.
The implementation of the order was widely criticized by lawmakers in both parties, including Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.), especially on the question of whether those traveling with green cards were still allowed to come in to the U.S., which the White House had to clarify amid international consternation Friday.
The administration said it meant to allow travelers from the seven countries who had held green cards before the order was issued to be allowed in to the U.S. on a case-by-case basis. Meanwhile, all new visa issuances to travelers in those countries were temporarily suspended to allow time to review U.S. immigration vetting procedures, CNN reported.
According to the New York Times, the confusion was caused by insufficient briefing for those charged with helping to implement the president's order; however, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly denied those claims Tuesday during a press conference in Washington, D.C., the Daily Beast reported.
“We knew it was coming. It wasn’t a surprise it was coming. And then we implemented it," Kelly said.
Hours later, during the daily White House press briefing, Spicer blamed the media for all the immigration uncertainty.
"With all due respect, I think you have been part of the confusion," Spicer told Welker.
Spicer blasted the reporter for NBC and MSNBC's reporting — which was based on the Times' report — that Kelly and others within the administration were "left out of the loop" until Trump had already signed the order.
"Your network was one of the people that just hours ago told people that Kelly was unaware of what was going on, and then hours later he gets on air saying, 'Here's how many times I was briefed,'" Spicer charged.
When Welker pointed out that NBC's story was relying on the Times' report, Spicer replied, "So I apologize that NBC News's reporting is based on the Times' false reporting."
Spicer said Monday that "all appropriate agencies and individuals" that needed to be briefed were briefed, the Weekly Standard reported.