The purpose of a White House press briefing is for the media to learn new information from a spokesperson with first-hand knowledge about the president.
But Sean Spicer’s press conference on Friday was much more useful for learning what Spicer does not know — or says he does not know — about President Donald Trump and the goings-on of the White House.
Here are nine questions that Spicer said he could not answer or directly address on Friday.
1) Did Trump record conversations with Comey?
Question: On Friday morning, President Trump tweeted out a wild claim suggesting that he may have “tapes” on FBI Director James Comey that he could release.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
It certainly seemed to raise the possibility that Trump had secretly recorded a video of the FBI director. Did he?
Spicer: “I assume you’re referring to the tweet. The president has nothing further to add on that."
2) Why did Trump tweet about “tapes” of Comey?
Question: So if Spicer can’t confirm that Trump has “tapes” of his conversations with the former FBI director, then what did Trump’s tweet mean?
Spicer: “As I said, the president has nothing to add on that.”
3) Is Trump secretly recording conversations in the Oval Office?
Question: The very next follow-up question was if Trump had installed any recording device in the Oval Office or private residence of the White House.
Spicer: "The president has nothing further to add."
4) Does Trump have confidence in the acting FBI director?
Question: Right now, the acting director of the FBI is Andrew McCabe. Given that Trump fired his predecessor, does the White House have confidence in his replacement?
Spicer: “I have not asked him about the deputy [laughter] — I generally do not go through the list of general employees, and I have not asked him about that.
5) Did Trump invite Comey to the White House before his firing?
Question: Several days after Trump’s inauguration, the president summoned Comey for a dinner on January 20 at the White House. How many times, if any, was Comey invited back to the White House before he was fired?
Spicer: “I don’t know. I’ll try to get back to you.”
6) Who will Trump consult for Comey’s replacement?
Question: One reporter asked if Trump would be in contact with congressional Democrats and Republicans before selecting his next FBI director.
Spicer: “I don’t know what specific conversations he’s had, so I’ll be glad to check on who he’s spoken to or who he may be speaking to.”
7) Is Trump meeting possible Comey replacements?
Question: There’s been speculation that Trump will tap former House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers as Comey’s replacement. Does Trump have plans to meet with Rogers anytime soon?
Spicer: “I’m not aware of anything of that nature on his schedule, but we’ll put out if there’s a meeting.”
8) Can Spicer explain Trump’s latest comments on Flynn?
Question: In an interview aired Thursday, Trump told NBC that he didn’t immediately fire embroiled former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn because the situation “did not sound like an emergency.” What did Trump mean by that?
Spicer: “I can’t specifically say what he meant by that.”
9) Does the White House have loyalty oaths?
Question: A recent report by CNN said that Comey was taken aback when Trump asked for something akin to a “loyalty pledge.” Do White House staffers routinely have to make loyalty pledges?
Spicer: The press secretary did say that he himself did not pledge a loyalty oath to the president, but didn’t rule out that others did. “I pledge my loyalty to the Constitution and the American people, as has everyone in the administration,” he said.