After President Trump’s latest headline-grabbing tweet storm on everything from wiretaps to an erroneous claim on Gitmo detainees released by President Obama, the White House said Tuesday the president has no intention of backing off or backing down.
“I think the voters made it clear, one of the things that they appreciate about him is his ability to be authentic and speak very forcefully and very directly to the American people,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Mr. Trump began his day on Twitter at 7:04 a.m. Tuesday with this comment: “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!”
The tweet came a few minutes after a story on “Fox & Friends” about Gitmo detainees who returned to the fight. But the Fox story didn’t specify that 113 of the 122 prisoners who rejoined the fight had been released by the administration of George W. Bush, and nine had been released by Mr. Obama.
Mr. Spicer acknowledged the president’s tweet was in error. “Obviously the president meant in totality,” he said.
As a candidate last year, Mr. Trump pledged to keep open the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for terrorism suspects and to send more detainees there.
The president followed up that tweet with others about Obamacare (“imploding fast!”), a “new chapter of American Greatness” under his leadership, how Russia “ran over” Mr. Obama for eight years, and how “FAKE NEWS” was wrong about “big infighting” in his administration.
“We are getting along great, and getting major things done!” Mr. Trump tweeted at 10:16 a.m., the end of his three-hour tweet storm.
On Saturday, Mr. Trump had jolted Democrats, some Republicans and much of his staff by tweeting from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida about Mr. Obama allegedly having ordered wiretaps on the Trump campaign last year at its headquarters at Trump Tower. He offered no basis for his claim.
Those tweets generated two days’ worth of news coverage, and reporters still had questions for Mr. Spicer about it Tuesday.
Asked whether Mr. Trump should stop tweeting about wiretaps and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s poor ratings on “Celebrity Apprentice,” Mr. Spicer rejected the assertion that the White House isn’t focused on what’s important.
“I would say that we have been focused,” Mr. Spicer said. “We’re here talking about Obamacare, the need to drive down the cost and [increase] access for every American. That’s a pretty significant thing to be focused on.”
He noted that Monday was devoted mostly to Mr. Trump’s new immigration order on temporarily banning travelers from six predominantly Muslim nations. He said Mr. Trump’s first six weeks in office have been very productive.
“The president’s talked to almost 50 world leaders, he’s had 30-plus executive actions on all sorts of stuff from regulatory aspects to things that will create more jobs,” he said. “I think that’s a fairly focused effort.”
Another reporter asked Mr. Spicer whether the president would retract his claim of Mr. Obama wiretapping his campaign headquarters.
“Why would he withdraw it until it’s adjudicated [by Congress]?” Mr. Spicer replied. He said the president “absolutely” has no regrets about making the claim, which would be a felony by Mr. Obama if true.
Mr. Spicer also said the president isn’t likely to change his social media habits.
“That’s an aspect I think that was central to why he was elected,” Mr. Spicer said. “He’s not a canned politician that’s going to give the same staid answers over and over again.”
But even the president, who prides his status as an outsider who launched a movement, acknowledges from time to time that he’s a politician. During a strategy meeting Tuesday afternoon with House Republican lawmakers on repealing and replacing Obamacare, Mr. Trump said he wanted “no more excuses” for delaying legislative action.
“We’re all now — I can proudly say I’m a politician,” the president said to laughter. “I’m a politician. But we’re going to get it done and you’re the leaders that really will get it done for all of us and for the American people.”