Ep. 110 - Sean Spicer

Update: 2017-01-051


Sean Spicer, incoming White House Press Secretary and Communications Director for Donald Trump, talks with David Axelrod about what he hopes to achieve in his new job, Trump’s skepticism toward the intelligence community’s assessment of the Russian hacking issue, why Trump will govern with a mandate, and what to expect from the first 100 days of a Trump administration.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the board for the acts files comes from rockin' mortgage my Quicken loans lift the burden of getting a home loan with rockin' mortgage and get a secure transparent home loan approval in minutes skip the bank of the waiting then go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files This podcast is brought you by sixty DB listen to conversations that go beyond the headlines business sports politics today's news plus all of your favorite podcasts download the free sixty DB at Today the the the and now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN The X Files with your host David Axelrod the The the you may have the second most difficult job on the planet Sean Spicer the newly appointed press secretary and communications director for Donald Trump the incoming president has a rich history in politics and communications but now he's taking on the biggest job there is speaking for Prez in the United States who speaks for himself often in one hundred and forty characters Sean came by the Institute of Politics the other night to speak to our students and sat down with me for discussion about Donald Trump and where the country's going from the Sean Spicer welcome thank you for coming to the Institute of Politics and thanks for being here and you got a busy schedule I want to ask you before we get into sort of more contemporary things as a guy from Rhode up as a Republican I can I you know it's a great question I think of Rhode Island we actually elect a letter published the history of the world but very moderate mosque a PCV we had plenty Shire and run make Lee was gone up by the First District we had a lot of Republican governors over time and I you know the interesting thing is I didn't grow up in a political household my parents both voted but I think we didn't talk politics at the dinner table much we talk issues and I think as I got in high school there was this week I really kind of grew interested and excited about government and politics I think that that's one of those mom is ASU's in academics and academic at Brown University in near Eastern Studies or something East Asia Southeast Asia staff been consulting or lately going on over now so yes definitely and you know I got to get bitten By The Bug I actually went to college to college if you're from or island going to New London Connecticut which is over the borders a big deal you stay up I went to college with the intent of being a Japanese language majors for the first two years studying Japanese language and it was horrible at it but I grew up in a very at best middle class household and I was told a few connect college had one of the premier East Asian Studies programs I thought if I went to learn Japanese combined it with an interest in economics you know that I can make a ton of money in your can in Wall Street and so for two years like I did that and I frankly wasn't that good at it but also I was inspired by so I took a couple government classes in politics and and they were your typical sort of liberal government I felt challenged I wanted to know what I definitely wasn't some hard core conservative it was those kind of academic exchanges in the intellectual curiosity that really brought out a lot of philosophical understanding of where I wanted to go politically I got involved and started campaigning on race is high in turn the steel work on Reese's did you do so we had at the Connecticut Second District in nineteen eighty two was getting Ed Munster who had been a one term state senator worked for Pfizer in the Eastern Connecticut and ranking sand agents who have been times that institution on XM and literally I think we spent a total of fifty thousand dollars Second District was a fifty two towns and cities the third eastern third of Connecticut so it's very diverse rule in a lot of places and I wrote letters to the editor help to fieldwork in New London Connecticut we lost the race by three thousand votes with no money and any kind of it really was a shoe leather campaign and I said I'm going to go to Washington right after college in nineteen eighty three went down and immediately monster called saying one again would you come back and when my field directors and it just to do little of everything in those oh yeah these kids who ask me what have you become what you were and I mean I look so in New London Connecticut I lived in the attic of a townhouse for free in nineteen ninety five or ninety six I live literally in a trailer with no electricity New Jersey but ie I would go my first job managing the campaign was in nineteen ninety six at Western Pennsylvania Green Westmoreland counties I desperately want to get in the press and managing campaigns and aso I got a call from a pollster who had been involved with that appeal to the press side of it because I loved the I love the immediacy of it you either win a story comes up or an issue you either get the story out the way you want you to kill the story or you're dealing with and it's this adrenaline rush and all that ALL times are you getting your message out as a going out the way that you wanted to are you shaping in a way but that story happens or not you know usually on a daily basis and you wake up a new fighting in the next day and it's never boring and I find that exhilarating strikes me that you like reporters more than say Donald Trump goes well it's their part I think reporters who do due diligence to a good job to allow them to know I say there's a good amount of A but there's more and more you're seeing less reporters focus on good stories in depth stories factual story I've disagreed with the law to reporters a lot of story but I said You know what you gave us our due I think is balance I don't like the outcome of it but I think you get a good job and that's very different than their stories and I really liked where I think the reporter did a bad job and you can like a bad story because he came out in your favor but you look at and say that really what lousy reporting actually ended up with a good story I mean to take you away from your narrative so you and then you ended up in Washington D C are triple sci so I basically went down Budget Committee and I started in in I interned in the House Ways and Means Committee refuse to control Congress an eye for what for freshman congressman after that went out to campaign and frankly beyond his first campaign in New Jersey Second District which is the lower half of New Jersey and then you like the campaign's better than I ever there's a part I would say I'm house guy versus any guide the nice thing about House race in any House member is that you usually have a scrap for that story that you have to be created how do I get the media's got two senators who's got you know who are important by nature mean I sit center of your freshman congressman for the most part your scrap and your figure how to be creative how do I get the story at their reporters show up how to amplify this message and I think it instills a sense of creativity impress people I enjoyed the House side to the extent that I had members that I work for tough relax oh really wanted to engage and key issues and so it was a it daily well it's almost like a campaign which is what you know you know that from the White House you have issues or initiatives or policies that you're pushing and so everyday is like a campaign but instead of trying to win an election year when Ian idea you want to win a vote in Congress you want to get the American people on board on you with a policy I think that's a very unique and so that part of governing I like is when you're advancing an agenda item that you can see the fruits of and you did a couple of cycles at the our Triple C said the NRCC I was the I went down into a race in an RC that's where you get different nomenclature over the guilt we went to thousand Clay Shaw's race and I got sent down at the end he was in Florida said His twenty Second District it was probably the best just to America three miles wide like ninety miles long from Miami to Palm Beach even if you were on the beach you're out of the district and he faced a very tough election for the first time seeing that elected nineteen seventy eight I got sent down at the end this if he can help save this great but we think it's gone or when they're pulling out the vote by three hundred twenty one votes in two thousand our district with Broward Miami Dade and Palm Beach County which happened to be some very popular counties far Vice President Gore and Governor Governor Bush fighting out so we actually had a really really intense recount that was coupled by the current the recount for the presidential race to the Gray campaign after the race was done the folks at the NRCC which is our congressional committee that focuses on re elected House members in getting new ones on board Tom Davis from Virginia was the chair of the times i hate u want to head up call that an incumbent retention dam which met the guy who helped the members that were left is a brilliant guy but just as a political mind oh yeah and so I did that and then at the end of the cycle I got a call from Jim muscle and he had been one of our targets in Iowa they got re elected he said look I sit down talk with you know I assumed it was about getting ready for his next cycle if thou cast down to me will he offer me said I really enjoyed how you handled yourself the NRCC would you come over the the communications the House Budget Committee I did after three years there's been a year the House Republican Conference which is sort of the messaging office of our leadership in the house and then went and spent the last two years of Bush and the stations uses United States trade representative for Media and Public Affairs which is like one of those two line business card things this is um this is of interest of course because you were in the office of the Trade Representative the Bush administration was very active in pursuing trade agreements you're now working for a present or soon will be a president who is is is hostile to the agreement said I've been struck I want to get into semantics as to whether he's for good agreements are not bad but he's viewed as someone who is an opponent of some of these trade agreements and in fact there's a certain political logic to it in terms of driving a wedge among Democrats are a lot of Democrats were skeptical of trade of but had to you having devoted your several years of your life to making the case and you travel widely I think all over the world on this good deal time on that in different countries I mean what what is your fundamental view I think I think it's not that different in one of the things that if you go back to look at Reagan which is what a lot of talk but it is bilateral deals and making sure in what we had gotten into later the Bush years was multilateral agreements the Doha Agreement TPP was started back the Bush administration and I think that's where you start to it becomes a little bit more tricky crafting a deal because you're you've got so many countries involved in these and you've already got trade agreement with some of on you've got tariff barriers not airfares in some countries and so by nature of a multilateral agreement more people have to get on board and sometimes that may not fully benefit the US the same way I think that there's a degree to which currency manipulation and stand tariffs on steel and things like that probably be more prevail and in a Trump administration but he is a he believes in trade I think he just believes too often we've traded away the ability to maintain a manufacturing base and their workers have suffered because of of the trade rumors have it pass you believe that I think I I know it's coming from some of it I do believe I believe that some of our focus on multilateral agreements probably hasn't been to the best one of the things it's that we as a country and God remembers we have low tariffs to begin with and so we go negotiate these things because we're almost a tear free country for the most part a lot of goods and services and other countries have high chair height barriers of entry whether it's agriculture or manufacturing a lot of his services but we have a philosophy in this country if you come here to set up if you want them to a banker and insurance institutions as you abide by the rules the most part you can set up a lot of countries restrict that access if you're not a domestic based reason to have trade really is but remember what happened as we go into trade agreements with very little to bargain for and so to some degree sometimes we we give away because we we start at say zero and there at twenty and we don't have much to give away cars were already down to zero or one or two and they're saying okay I'll cut my tear from twenty eight and worries us we have to figure out something to give them were already carefree on a product or something and I think that's a that's a very complicated thing I think to some degree we've got if we calibrate where we go into some of these negotiations would you think of them based on your experience not asking you this as the spokesman for the president but of our tariffs desirable in your view high tariffs and he's talked about slapping thirty five percent of manufacturers would allow to cool and then want to sell back I think what we have to do is remember that right now we have a regulatory system in a tax system that almost benefits countries from leaving America going oversea setting up and coming back in selling their goods or services we have to look at the entire regulatory and tax system but I think one of the things that Trump is very clear at is that what he is talking to saying if your sole goal is to leave this country re establish yourself in another country and then come back and sell your goods and services the United States using non U S workers should be some kind of held in the first of the second step is an entire look at the regulatory process and system and figure out what we can do to be more favorable to business and what cities and states do already right now in our country is that you see ads for different states trying to compete with others and will offer tax free incentive for next year no property tax on that I think what we know that's been kind of a disaster in some states I mean our state has suffered were businesses take that for so you get into a kind of race that is expensive with other states secondly businesses often take those benefits at and and then don't fulfill the blinding me that doesn't mean right and I think that when those greens are put in place probably more scrutiny is what's what are they doing to make sure that they're offering workers the benefits they desire they staying for the amount of time that they were the making the infrastructure investment that they're committing to say that the state and the worker gets the benefit for giving him that the tax preference but you know um I'm interested to hear what conversations You Must Have within the Republican Party because just as there are divisions within the Democratic Party has the president's been a supporter of the TPP obviously there are avid opponents of that in the Democratic Party the Republican Party lot of leadership has been very very much in favor of such agreements and probably still are Paul Ryan Mitch McConnell being another what kind of conversations going on around about about this right now well I think that's one of several and that's happening with but the speaker members the Ways Means Committee and is trying to figure out what we can do I think will withdraw from TPP The Prez elect me that very clear he's looking to renegotiate parts of NAFTA but I think at the end of this what we want to go if the if the leadership opposed what he wanted to do with the goat do it anyway sure he's not look I think that you've seen this already he's not looking for permission he's going to do what he thinks the American people need to spur economic growth create jobs for the American worker first this isn't a guy who has spent the last year and a half asking people for permission to do things I think he wants input he values ideas opinions and analysis and facts and then he makes a decision he goes with it let me ask you a related question and I do want to get back to her two story home he one of them the election with less than and not just less the majority but less votes than Hillary Clinton by some three million and narrowly winning for the three states again the electoral margin he's elected Prez in the United States that's our system and I we all ought to respect that but given that and given the fact that the Senate is narrowly divided how much humility should there be in terms of policymaking knowing that the country's deeply divided and that he didn't he said that he's got a lot of persuasion to do I mean should that be at all the concern or do you feel like he had any election is a mandate should just go forward with the things that he campaigned I think you got to go forward things you can paint a look at it just to get back to be clear when you look at where President Obama leaves office versus where it comes from with what you knew that was lost over nine hundred seats at the local state and federal level this is if you look at this race there was every pundit assume that the Senate was gone just how by how much wit me a fairly significant majority considering where we thought were going to be when you think about what state he flipped Wisconsin Michigan Pennsylvania particular Maine to stay I was States that people talked about were were a Fool's errand and we took them all nine of thirteen battleground states I asking you know it's important to because I think we hear that a lot and I think the fact matters is that if we knew that the popular vote was part of who the campaign warned California Illinois but it needs to be it's literally like saying hey you do realize that the Bears caught more touchdowns and the team they're playing this weekend but the end the day because of field goals and safety are key one that's how the game having a credible analogy because the Bears don't get that that's right and their good points are Patriots fan but I think that that I would argue that given that the state city one in terms of if you think that nine of the thirteen battleground states with the landscape of this lecture was played he won I think he should get opinions and ideas and advice which he has been doing from his opponents from Democrats or independents from people inside now said the government but I think you have to pursue the agenda that you told people you're going to do and the other thing is I believe firmly that us as he continues to rack up successes both domestically and internationally bringing jobs home focusing on good people in the cabin and reforming things whether it's the VA or the IRS getting people to see that they may not always agree with Donald Trump but he's going to do was in the best interests is country at all times and he's going to have success and he's going to focus on job he's going to focus on bringing the manufacturing bases country back and I think that what I would hope is that if you were with him that you give them a chance and that you judge him on his success will take it in the spirit of bipartisanship and great American capitalism we can take a short break from our spot for sponsors eyes what that rocket mortgage by Quicken loans proudly supports the X Files when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust leisure best interests in mind with rockin' mortgage you'll get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the bank of the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files equal Housing lender license in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty Mike my question Sean was a slightly different though which is maybe you've answered by saying you think the way he governs will bring more people along the environment is very very raw and of the question is how given the rawness of the of the of the country in the and the fact that for whatever reason he didn't win the popular vote and he electoral vote um should I give many pause and I guess your answer is No no it shouldn't I think he's going to pursue now let me step back for second I think on election night you heard very clearly at least two thirty am that I want to be a present for all Americans I want to demonstrate that he understands at me I think what he wants to do is through action instead of just wording rhetoric show people that he's got a better way for this country that he can do what he said he was going to do that he's not going to have business as usual I think he's much more of a you were in a shower we had an interesting conversation in front of a crowd of students a couple of minutes ago and a lot of discussion about Twitter right of there's no doubt that if any president elect or any incoming president has pioneered a new medium and used it to his advantage style Trump it on TV right is definitely first before I forget to give a shout I want to say I I think that that the students here tonight I did a phenomenal job I was really impressed with the level of questioning the level of respect for this and a shout out and become as to both the pseudo politics and the university I think that's a red brick I know I appreciate but getting back to I think he is he is he is a very effective way of reaching its closing of fifty million people through the various social platforms and and I think even if you go back to a Kennedy did with TV there's still a filter I think what he's got is this direct line of communication the American people not just the American people frankly the world and he's used it very successfully to not only communicate messages I think what you get results and that's important you know of the filter I think is the question that comes up is isn't it good at some point I know your time at the filter the news media right but isn't there should there be some filter should be between some one's sort of thought a moment and what the world hears from the president I I don't mean today I'll give you an example today as we speak he sent out and tweet them essentially quoting Julie as saying that the edition that the DNC should done a better job on security that the Russians didn't supply him nobody said we would just be clear what he said was a science says that he didn't do it I think part of that with an exclamation point but I think the guy who's being accused of something has been very clear I think that partly missing from this session but I would go back a second say you don't want to hang your hat on Julian and no I'm not hanging my hat putting context I think that there's time he made very clear that this is a guy who's saying that this didn't happen and that's largely been absent from the discussion but one of the things I think people largely missing the media about Trump is that his tweets his phone calls he's mean he's a very very very strategic thinker he understands the outcome he wants to achieve a kind works backwards and uses the tools at his disposal to achieve that goal and he's done it with a huge success so interpret this one for me where's he going with this but that's not part of it is that's that's part of the strategic nature of this is that he's not here say here's where I'm headed but he understands but you know where his head is the guy in some cases yes we sat down and to walk from one end of this our way to do sometimes but it's not incumbent upon the president do on this on this I'm not going to get into the private conversations that you're happy with the Prez elect but I will tell you that time he shares it with myself or other members of the staff we tell them this is what I think a smart strategy is he seeks our opinion in the day he makes a decision sometimes he doesn't but that's the nature of being the president elect and to be president he's the ultimate desire well I don't know any president who has so consistently kind of gone you know I don't want to say road but because I think that one of the points I think is important is that people assume because he didn't broadcast it out because the have a press conference or meeting with people's ways of doing that it's Roque that there's there's a lot of times when there's a method or a decision made behind something and I think because people don't have full access to how it's done they assume it's row and I think in most cases there is a there's a deep strategy to this on to where he wants to end up and sometimes he saw a ton of input and sometimes he sought the input that he felt necessary but to assume that because people are privy to the decision making process that so called Going row is just not fair some fair analysis you're of a military guy one thing we didn't get into is that you're in the urine the Naval reserves and your Commander Naval Reserve so at first I had that come about and talk a little bit about your experiences there and welcome back to this discussion so as I mentioned earlier I grow trial and the Navy said water there lot of piracy Ocean State and I think while the Prez the Navy's presence largely pulled out leaving it with the prior was back in the forties and fifties and early sixties it's a big Navy town and to big media presence my father from Newport great grandfather is simpler than that of honor we have a long long history in the Navy family I got in the Navy and twenty nine fairly late as a young officer went on to Pensacola to what made you decide I really I never would have fraternities when I grew up when I went to school I I felt a sense of wanting to belong to something that gave back in a note not I don't mean to say that the Navy's a fraternity or that but there's a sense in the Navy that some of the friends and experiences that I had seen other people have in military service with something that I want I want to get back to the country and served in government but I think there's something very very unique about the military that I was drawn to you and I wanted to surf and had always held military in high esteem I really was enamored with the Navy and sell I work really hard to get a commission as a public affairs officer and did that I've kept a very very clean and distinct line between any political work and my navy work because I've served in the Navy and as a public affairs officer because of a desire to serve both the country and and when I think is is that S Navy in the world the US military in the world but it's been a very fine line and I've kept that if not because it's because a half to but because I want I serve because I want to serve and I don't want anyone in the Navy to ever think that there's this already when the country fact that I think there's a blurred line my Navy service my respect for our Constitution and our elected leaders second I put on that uniform is is unquestionable verses that some of the political work that I may have to come and presumably being part of the Navy and you've served to talk a few places where you I'm not starting the reserves nor focused on up towards the Pentagon done exercise in quantum Sweden why I spent toward an Antarctica and the officer charged in a public affairs unit I've been on the staff the secretary defense charity which uses staff so you have a great appreciation for this whole issue of intelligence as lives are at stake when presidents make decisions about where we're to put where and when they have to put people in harm's way of our members our service members home there's been this big back and forth between Donald Trump and the intelligence community largely over this issue of Russian hacking but there was a story that surfaced today that he's thinking of reworking the intelligence community and PA and there was a quote in there from a source saying that he feels that it's it's been too political explain there's there's two aspects of intelligence what is the raw data which is what a lot of the analysts
In Channel

Ep. 192 - Donna Brazile


Ep. 191 - Tony Blair


Ep. 189 - Fred Hochberg


Ep. 188 - Susan E. Rice


Ep. 186 - Bakari Sellers


Ep. 185 - Karen Tumulty


Ep. 184 - David Miliband


Ep. 183 - Ta-Nehisi Coates


Ep. 181 - Rep. Nancy Pelosi


Ep. 180 - David Rubenstein


Ep. 179 - David Litt


Ep. 178 - Jason Kander


Ep. 177 - Jeff Roe


Ep. 176 - Jim Baker


Ep. 175 - Bill Bradley


Ep. 174 - Gayle King


Ep. 173 - Rep. Seth Moulton


Ep. 172 - Sen. Joe Donnelly


Ep. 171 - Gov. Jay Inslee


Ep. 170 - Sen. Patty Murray


Ep. 169 - Don Rose


Ep. 168 - Penny Pritzker


Ep. 167 - Rahm Emanuel


Ep. 165 - Gary Hart


Ep. 163 - Mitch Landrieu


Ep. 162 - Rep. John Lewis


Ep. 160 - Sen. Cory Booker


Ep. 159 - Dana Bash


Ep. 158 - Bill Daley


Ep. 157 - Steven Greenhouse


Ep. 156 - Bob Dold


Ep. 154 - Geoffrey Stone


Ep. 153 - Sen. Tom Cotton


Ep. 152 - Alfredo Corchado


Ep. 151 - Brian Deese


Ep. 150 - Grover Norquist


Ep. 148 - Tony Blinken


Ep. 147 - Gov. Jerry Brown


Ep. 146 - Chelsea Handler


Ep. 145 - Jennifer Granholm


Ep. 144 - Gov. John Kasich


Ep. 143 - Rep. Ro Khanna


Ep. 142 - Shailagh Murray


Ep. 141 - Dan Shapiro


Ep. 140 - Rep. Adam Schiff


Ep. 139 - Lisa Monaco


Ep. 138 - Jason Benetti


Ep. 137 - Jim Sciutto


Ep. 136 - Ben Smith


Ep. 135 - Sen. John McCain


Ep. 134 - Joe Maddon


Ep. 133 - Julián Castro


Ep. 132 - Wendy Sherman


Ep. 131 - Jackie Calmes


Ep. 130 - Michael Froman


Ep. 129 - Pete Buttigieg


Ep. 128 - Sen. Kamala Harris


Ep. 127 - Kasim Reed


Ep. 125 - Jeffrey Goldberg


Ep. 124 - Bill Kristol


Ep. 123 - Corey Lewandowski


Ep. 122 - Mike Leavitt


Ep. 121 - Nancy-Ann DeParle


Ep. 120 - J.D. Vance


Ep. 119 - Matt Bai


Ep. 118 - Carl Bernstein


Ep. 117 - Natalie Jaresko


Ep. 116 - Cody Keenan


Ep. 115 - Cecile Richards


Ep. 114 - Thomas Friedman


Ep. 113 - Theo Epstein


Ep. 112 - Chris Wallace


Ep. 111 - John Brennan


Ep. 110 - Sean Spicer


Ep. 109 - Mark Shriver


Ep. 107 - Eli Attie


Ep. 106 - Tammy Duckworth


Ep. 105 - Denis McDonough


Ep. 104 - Alex Castellanos


Ep. 103 - Sen. Harry Reid


Ep. 102 - Davis Guggenheim


Ep. 101 - Alex Wagner


Ep. 99 - Steve Kerr


Ep. 98 - Larry Summers


Ep. 97 - Douglas Alexander


Ep. 96 - Michael Morell


Ep. 95 - Van Jones


Ep. 94 - John Weaver


Download from Google Play
Download from App Store






Ep. 110 - Sean Spicer

The Axe Files with David Axelrod