Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was absent from Monday’s daily press briefing, and it was quickly noticed by reporters in the room. The absence was so notable that Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who briefed in Spicer’s place, was asked about it at the end of the briefing. It led to the following exchange between Sanders and April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks.
RYAN: Where is Sean?
SANDERS: He’s here today.
RYAN: Why didn’t he come out?
SANDERS: Uh, this is part of my job, as well. Did you guys ever ask any of the other deputy press secretaries when they filled in?
RYAN: Is he in a new position now or are you just …
SANDERS: I mean he is taking on a little bit of extra duty at this point, so I think it’s fairly …
RYAN: Has his position changed then?
SANDERS: Uh, it’s probably upgraded, at this point, given that we don’t have a communications director.
RYAN: So you will be the new press secretary here at the podium?
SANDERS: I did not say that at all.
While Sanders appeared very much in the know throughout most of the briefing, answering questions quickly and accurately, this question seemed to trip her up, as she struggled to articulate why Spicer was at the White House, but not doing the briefing.
This isn’t the first time that Sanders has filled in for Spicer, as last month she handled multiple briefings while Spicer was fulfilling his Naval Reserve Duty. She has also handled gaggles on Air Force One in place of Spicer.