No misadventure for the Trump White House is complete, it seems, without something unintentionally humorous from Press Secretary Sean Spicer that underlines it, tops it, or distracts from it. Today after a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing produced testimony from FBI Director James Comey revealing there is an active investigation of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians, reporters peppered Spicer with various names, notably the much-discussed Russophiliac Paul Manafort. Spicer didn’t quite say: “Manafort? Who is that?” but came close:
“I think that when you read a lot of this activity about associates, there is a fine line between people who want to be part of something that they never had an official role and in people who actually played a role in the campaign or transition,” Spicer said. “Obviously there has been some discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”
Huh. Manafort was officially a top figure in the Trump campaign from March 29, 2016, when he was hired to head up the mogul’s delegate-hunting operation, until August 19, 2016, when he was shown the door after extensive publicity over his activities on behalf of a pro-Russian Ukranian pol. Personally, I would’t say four-and-a-half months of being at or near the top of a presidential campaign in the very heat of an unruly convention and a tough general election was “a very limited amount of time.” And the supreme campaign position he occupied for three-and-a-half months is not one that would normally be referred to as “a very limited role.” Even if you only view him as being the top dog for Trump from the time of Corey Lewandowski’s firing as “campaign manager” in June until his own resignation in August, it was a good run at the very top of Trumpland, not some consultant on the periphery of the operation.
This isn’t the first time that it seems Trump’s briefer needs a briefing, and it won’t be the last.