White House press secretary Sean Spicer parried the press on Friday by declining to answer several questions, and instead saying he either hadn't talked to President Trump or other officials about the issue, or repeating other officials' prior comments.
Spicer's clipped answers came on the heels of reports that Trump is increasingly unhappy with how his press shop has operated, and in the same week that Spicer said he would refer all questions about Russia's meddling in the election to Trump's outside counsel.
Spicer had to remind reporters of that answer on Friday, after he was asked to clarify conversations between Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and a Russian banker in December. "Going forward, all questions on these matters will be referred to outside counsel," he said.
But Spicer evaded several other questions, including whether Trump believes that climate change is a hoax. "I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion," he said.
Asked if Trump believes Earth is warming, Spicer said: "As I mentioned … I have not had an opportunity to specifically talk to the president about that."
When a reporter asked Spicer if the president's decision this week to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement was an easy decision or a close decision, Spicer replied: "I honestly don't know."
Another reporter asked Spicer if Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a known supporter of the Paris deal, backed the president's plans to withdraw. But Spicer said, "I'm not privy to the conversations that individuals had with the president."
Asked if Trump is going to replace Tesla's Elon Musk and Disney's Bob Iger on a presidential advisory council, following their resignations after Trump's withdrawal from the Paris agreement, Spicer said: "I don't know."
Spicer was mum on other issues too. Asked if the White House is going to invoke executive privilege to prevent former FBI director James Comey from testifying before the Senate intelligence panel next week, Spicer said he didn't know.
"My understanding is the date for that hearing was just set," he said. "I have not spoken to counsel yet. I don't know how they're going to respond."
When he was asked for an update on the search for the FBI director, Spicer said: "As I mentioned yesterday, I guess, a couple days ago, the president continues to meet with candidates. When we have an update on that, we'll let you know."
Asked for an update on the XL pipeline's development, Spicer said: "Are you talking about in terms of production for Keystone? I don't have that at this time."
A reporter asked about the debt ceiling and whether the president wants a clean debt bill or riders attached, but Spicer said reporters should lean on answers from other officials. "I think [Secretary of the Treasury Steven] Mnuchin and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney weighed in on this," he said. "This is something that we're working with Congress on. We're not there yet."
Spicer was asked about Arizona Sen. John McCain's comment that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a greater threat to the United States to the security than ISIS. When asked if the president had any conversation with him about that comment, Spicer replied: "No, he hasn't."
At one point during the briefing, a reporter complained to Spicer that he wasn't answering questions.
"I don't know where you guys are in finding spokespeople or people who want to respond to those," the reporter said. "That would be helpful."