(CNSNews.com) – White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday clarified remarks that President Donald Trump made Friday regarding the jobs numbers being “very real now” after calling them “phony” on the campaign trail.
NBC News White House Correspondent Peter Alexander questioned whether the president should be trusted when he says something is phony or when he says something is real when making claims that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration during the election, regarding the Congressional Budget Office’s score on the health care bill, and the February unemployment numbers.
As CNSNews.com reported Friday, Spicer quoted Trump regarding the president’s past claims that the jobs numbers were “phony,” saying, “Yeah, I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly: ‘They may have been phony in the past but it’s very real now.’”
“The question – when should Americans trust the president. Should they trust the president— Is it phony or real when he says that President Obama was wiretapped?” Alexander asked.
Spicer said the president “doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally, but I think … there’s no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election. That is a widely reported activity that occurred back then,” Spicer said.
“The president used the word wiretap in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities,” Spicer said.
“It is interesting how many news outlets reported that this activity was taking place during the 2016 election cycle and now are wondering where the proof is. It is many of the same outlets in this room that talked about the activities that were going on back then,” he said.
“So on the same topic, on the CBO report, did the president think it was real then and is phony now?” Alexander asked, referring to comments Spicer made recently pointing out that the the Congressional Budget Office’s prediction about Obamacare being way off but that years earlier, the president said the CBO confirms that Obamacare was bad for the economy.
“It was bad for the economy,” Spicer said, adding that the CBO projected that there would be 24 million people on Obamacare in 2016, but “the actual figure is 10.4 million people – less than half the number of people that it predicted would be insured were on it, and it’s declining.
“So the only point, Peter, is to make sure people understand if you’re looking to get a bullseye accurate prediction as to where it’s going, the CBO was off by more than half last time. So this is not about what my understanding of, my belief of the CBO is,” Spicer said.
“The last time they did this, they were wildly off, and the number keeps declining, and so the question that needs to get asked right now, or frankly, the awareness that needs to be brought up right now is that if you’re going to look at a number tonight, I think you have to look through the scope of whether or not that number is,” Spicer said.
“Now, it was bad for the economy. That was right. You can glean that in terms of … the impact that it had, but as far as the numbers go, the number of people that they predicted back would be covered now, they were off by more than half,” he said.
“I guess the question is when can we trust the president – when he says something’s phony or when he says it’s real?” Alexander asked.
“That it’s real. Absolutely,” Spicer said.
“You told us on Friday that the president said…the numbers were phony then, but they’re very real now,” Alexander said.
“I think the difference is the president was talking then and now about job creation – the number of jobs. The issue that he brought up in the quote that you’re talking about was the percentage of people unemployed, and there is no question that no matter how you look at this– whether he’s talking about 4.7 or 4.8 or whatever the number is, that number fluctuates by how people calculate who’s in the workforce,” Spicer said.
“The bottom line is, the percentage of people who are unemployed varies widely by who you’re asking and the way you do the analysis of who’s actually in the workforce – the number of people who are working and receiving a paycheck is a number that we can look at,” he said.
“Secondly, when you’re asking about the validity of the CBO report. Again, I refer you to the CBO itself. The number that they issued that would be insured in 2016 was … 24 million – the actual number is 10.4 It’s not a question of our credibility. It’s a question of theirs,” Spicer said.
“The bottom line is the question that you still have not answered is can you say affirmatively that whenever the president says something, we can trust it to be real?” Alexander asked.
“If he’s not joking, of course, I mean but– you’re point is. Every time that he speaks authoritatively, that he speaks that he’s speaking as president of the United States,” Spicer said.
“More than 3 million Americans voted illegally. Was he joking or does he believe it?” Alexander asked.
“He does believe it,” Spicer said.