White House press secretary Sean Spicer battled with an NPR reporter on Friday when challenged over why the Trump administration is using recent comments from former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas to support President Donald Trump's allegation that former President Barack Obama spied on him.
Farkas became a controversial figure this week after a weeks-old MSNBC interview resurfaced where she talked about the Obama administration possibly preserving and disseminating intelligence that was unintentionally gathered on Michael Flynn. Farkas's comments came in response to a New York Times report that discussed the same subject.
"I was urging my former colleagues, and frankly speaking the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration," Farkas said on MSNBC, explaining that she and other Obama administration officials were “very worried” that Trump would bury intelligence gathered on his advisers as president.
However, she later claimed in an interview with The Daily Caller that she never handled any intelligence, given that she left the Obama administration in 2015.
Still, the Trump administration has said Farkas' comments support their theory they were spied on — and the press corps questioned Spicer Friday why Farkas' comments are relevant given that she wasn't part of the administration during the time in question.
"Farkas left the administration in 2015, so why is something she said in 2017 relevant to something that allegedly happened in 2016?" asked NRP reporter Tamara Keith.
Spicer was obviously prepared for such a question.
"The question I have for you is, exactly, why is it, what she said, in her things, ‘I’m urging my colleagues, I’m urging it to get to the Hill.' But it’s odd that the presumption is, 'Why is it interesting?'" Spicer shot back.
"Have you asked [Farkas]?" he asked Keith.
"No—" she said, before Spicer continued.
"No, no you haven't," he said, visibly frustrated.
"I would assume that as a reporter that actually is interested in the story, a senior Obama administration official that handled Russia," Spicer added, before being interrupted by another reporter who pointed out that Farkas wasn't a part of the administration in 2016.
"Thank you, I appreciate the timeline," Spicer said sarcastically.
He continued on, berating the press corps:
At some point she went on television and talked about actions that she and her colleagues took to spread classified information. Instead of defending her, it might be worth asking her what she’s talking about, who she spread it to, why she did it, was it appropriate, who cleared her to do it.
Maybe those are questions you can ask instead of asking me to defend why a former Obama administration official is revealing stuff that should be extremely concerning.
Keith later questioned Spicer over whether the Trump administration is more worried about allegations that the Obama administration spied on them or allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in last year's presidential election.
Watch the contentious exchange below: