In a heated exchange with American Urban Radio Networks journalist April Ryan during Tuesday’s press briefing, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer denied that there were any connections between President Trump’s administration and Russia, implying that any appearance of a connection was merely the result of media speculation.
Then when Ryan continued to press him, Spicer told the reporter to “stop shaking your head.”
The back and forth started when Ryan asked what the White House planned to do about its negative image, mentioning the investigations into Russian interference in the election.
“If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russian connection,” Spicer said, later continuing: “The facts are that every single person who has been briefed on this subject has come away with the same conclusion. … I’m sorry that that disgusts you. You’re shaking your head, I appreciate it.”
Then Ryan continued to another question about Trump meeting with Condoleezza Rice, whom Trump called a “bitch” in 2006. Spicer accused Ryan of having an agenda: “It seems like you’re hell-bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays, because at the end of the day —” Ryan tried to interject. “You’re asking me a question; I’m going to answer it,” Spicer continued. “I’m sorry. Please stop shaking your head again.”
If you want to know why @AprilDRyan just tweeted “Lawd!!!!” — this is why. Watch the whole thing. pic.twitter.com/qIfXznVKL8— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 28, 2017
Spicer is often combative with reporters, but telling Ryan what body language was and wasn’t appropriate clearly hit a nerve in the briefing room:
"Stop shaking your head again," Spicer tells @AprilDRyan, who can do whatever she wants with her head— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) March 28, 2017
"Stop shaking your head again," Spicer lectures @AprilDRyan, who is a grown woman.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 28, 2017
This isn’t the first time Ryan has faced pushback from the Trump administration for asking a straightforward question. In a February press conference, Ryan, who is African-American, asked the president whether members of the Congressional Black Caucus would be included in upcoming meetings about Trump’s “urban agenda.”
“Do you want to set up the meeting?” Trump replied, later asking if members of the CBC were “friends of yours.”
Spicer and Ryan’s exchange in Tuesday’s briefing comes in the wake of a series of news stories that have raised more questions about the connection between Trump administration and Russian officials. Last week, CNN reported that FBI officials have information indicating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives during the 2016 election. House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes met with sources at the White House as a part of his committee’s investigation into Russian election interference, something that led many Democrats to call for his recusal.
As for Ryan’s response to her exchange with Spicer, she simply tweeted:
Lawd!!!!— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) March 28, 2017