White House press secretary Sean Spicer interrupted his own briefing Tuesday to scold a reporter about her body language.
Spicer was answering questions from April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, when he twice noted that she was shaking her head at him, eventually asking her to stop.
It was just the latest headline-grabbing encounter between Ryan and the Trump administration. In a February press conference, President Donald Trump asked Ryan, who is black, if any members of the Congressional Black Caucus were her friends. Former reality-show villain Omarosa Manigualt, who is now a White House communications aide, then allegedly threatened to blacklist Ryan and warned her the White House was keeping a dossier on her. (Manigualt told the New Yorker the story was “Fake news.”)
Tuesday’s dust-up occurred when Ryan asked Spicer about the recent barrage of negative stories concerning the administration. “You’ve got Russia, you’ve got wiretapping — ” she was saying when Spicer interrupted her.
“No, we don’t have that… you’ve got Russia,” Spicer said. “If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russian connection…. I appreciate your agenda here. At some point report the facts.”
Those facts, Spicer said, include bipartisan agreement that the Trump administration did not collude with the Russians. (Possible collusion with the Russians is something the FBI is currently investigating.) As he spoke, Spicer noted Ryan’s body language.
“I’m sorry that that disgusts you,” Spicer told her. “You’re shaking your head.”
Ryan and Spicer talked over each other briefly before he continued. “Understand this: At some point, the facts are what they are. And every single person who’s been briefed on this situation… have all come to the same conclusion. At some point, April, you’re going to have to take No for an answer with respect to whether or not there was collusion.”
When she asked a follow-up question about a lack of support from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Spicer once again criticized her body language.
“It’s interesting that you ask those two questions back to back,” he said. “On the one hand, you’re saying what are we doing to improve our image? And then here he is once again meeting somebody that hasn’t been a big supporter of his…. It seems like you’re hellbent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays…. I’m sorry, please stop shaking your head again.”