Former Obama administration press secretary Josh Earnest says Republican President Donald Trump is cynically using the press while also relying on it to boost his image and appeal to the public.
Earnest says he doesn't believe Trump wants to do away with the First Amendment but he wants the press to be nice to him. He says that's not the media's job.
Earnest made his comments Tuesday at a Harvard University forum.
He says a stark difference between Trump and Democratic former President Barack Obama is Obama relished the opportunity to marshal facts to make an argument. He says when Trump is under pressure his instinct is to create a distraction. He says that's what Trump did by accusing Obama of wiretapping his campaign.
“It is just not possible for any president of the United States, he doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally order the wiretap of an American citizen,” said Earnest. “The truth is we know this is a tried and true tactic of his to distract from the growing scandal. He’ll say something outrageous... the bigger the scandal, the more outrageous the claim.”
Earnest says even if there was a wiretap ordered on Trump, Earnest wouldn’t necessarily know about it.
“It’s not just because I’m no longer in government, because even when I was at the White House, independent investigations by the Department of Justice were conducted independently of any White House interference,” he said.
As for his successor, Sean Spicer, Earnest says he will have to know that it goes with the territory, and he’ll have to show he’s in on the joke.
“That’s not the kind of attention I was seeking in doing the job. What I found is that I got all the attention I could handle,” Earnest said.