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The daily White House press briefings are back on camera, and Wednesday’s session provided another made-for-TV moment. Before handing the podium over to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller spoke to reporters about immigration and got into a shouting match with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who has emerged as a frequent administration critic.
Acosta, in response to Miller’s comments about a new piece of immigration legislation unveiled Wednesday, said: “What you’re proposing here, what the president’s proposing here, does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration.” He then read a quotation from the Statue of Liberty, and asked, “Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country, if you’re telling them they have to speak English?”
Miller and Acosta then had a lengthy back-and-forth about the Statue of Liberty, with Acosta saying that Miller was practicing “national park revisionism.”
At one point, Miller said, “I want to be serious, Jim. Do you at CNN really not know the difference between green card policy and illegal immigration? Do you really not know that?” Miller seized on a fairly innocuous comment by Acosta that Miller said “reveals [his] cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.” He continued: “Jim, that was one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you’ve ever said.”
Sanders, later in the briefing, said it’s “absolutely not” appropriate for her to lie when speaking to reporters “from the podium or any other place.”
Sanders was asked to describe how she conceives of her job, which she took over from Sean Spicer on July 21. “My job is to communicate the president’s agenda, the president’s message, and answer your questions on that as best that I can, as honestly as I can, and as transparent as I can possibly be at any given moment,” she said.
Spicer has said that he will stay in the White House through August, as part of a transition process, and Sanders confirmed that Spicer’s planned departure will not be affected by the bombshell news on Monday that Anthony Scaramucci had been dismissed as White House communications director. “Nothing has changed,” Sanders said.
Some had speculated that Spicer could step into the communications director vacancy, at least until the White House was able to find a permanent replacement.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that former Fox News executive Bill Shine had discussed a potential opportunity in the White House communications department, but an administration official told The Hollywood Reporter that there are no plans for him to do so.
Sanders, like her predecessor Spicer two weeks before her, appeared on the Christian Broadcasting Network Facebook show “Faith the Nation” Wednesday afternoon. Asked about her relationship with the press corps, Sanders said, “I’ve never seen the level of hostility that we have with today’s mainstream media.” She said the media was unfair to President Trump because they didn’t think he would be able to win the presidency.
CBN News chief political correspondent David Brody, after concluding the Sanders interview, mentioned to co-host Jenna Browder that Spicer lost his job two days after appearing on their show. “We didn’t tell her that,” Brody said. “Good luck, Sarah.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 2, 2017
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