You can read here about how Sean Spicer literally hid from reporters in bushes after President Trump fired his FBI director last night. The White House press secretary eventually agreed to give a brief interview in the dark, without cameras.
Spicer may have had good reason to be shy, as lower-ranking Trump surrogates discovered when they attempted to explain James Comey's sudden firing to some extraordinarily skeptical cable news hosts.
We collect those aides' explanations below — along with the eye rolls, lectures and open hostility with which they were met.
Kellyanne Conway gets eye-rolled by Anderson Cooper
To be fair, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper squinted before he eye-rolled Conway during her appearance Tuesday night.
He was grilling the presidential counselor on why Trump had suddenly turned against the FBI director — who was overseeing an investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russian operatives — after repeatedly praising Comey before the election.
“You're looking at the wrong set of facts here,” Conway told Cooper. “You're going back to the campaign. This man is the president of the United States, and he acted decisively today.”
Squint. “That makes no sense,” Cooper said.
here is anderson cooper rolling his eyes at kellyanne conway pic.twitter.com/duwZIfZ7VP
— keely flaherty (@flahertykeely) May 10, 2017
“It makes complete sense,” Conway replied. She kept trying to explain the decision in terms of simple chain of command — that firing Comey was the wish of the deputy attorney general, who had been on the job for two weeks and wrote down his recommendation the same day Trump acted on it.
None of this seemed to impress Anderson. After a few minutes, he announced he was going to play old clips of Trump praising Comey.
“Irrelevant — ” Conway began to say. But her image was replaced on the screen by candidate Trump telling crowds that Comey had “guts,” that the FBI director had “brought back his reputation” and had to “hang tough.”
“You're conflating two things that don't belong together,” Conway said afterward. “But thanks for the trip down memory lane.”
“So that person doesn't exist anymore?” he said. “Candidate Donald Trump — that's a fictional character we're not longer allowed to refer to?”
Kellyanne Conway gets berated by Chris Cuomo
Another CNN host, Chris Cuomo, may have lacked an amusing repertoire of facial expressions when he grilled Conway.
He made up for it with cold, cold severity.
“In terms of the timing, so rushed,” Cuomo told Conway. “All this is happening just as the Russian investigation is heating up. It seems very, very connected. Your take?”
“There's so much conjecture there,” Conway replied. “You've got Democrats saying they don't see any evidence of Russian collusion.”
“Kellyanne, look, I get the talking points on this.”
“It's not a talking point.”
“What I want is the truth. That's what we should all want here.”
“And what is the truth?” Conway asked.
Cuomo took the opening: “The idea that you should know the fruits of the investigation this many months in is naive and deceptive,” the anchor said. “You've been misrepresenting the White House, what James Clapper said. When he said he'd seen no collusion — proof — that's accurate; but he also said it's because he didn't know anything about the investigation. Comey had been quiet about it.”
“See that's very different,” Cuomo continued. “You don't like that part because you want, as the president said, for this to be a hoax. I get it.”
The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
Conway smiled. “Do you want me to ask the questions? Because you're giving all the answers.”
A deputy press secretary is accused of misquoting Joe Scarborough — to Joe Scarborough
Trump spox Sarah Huckabee Sanders explains why she said last night it's “time to move on” from Russia investigation https://t.co/qSh0jbQHUg
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 10, 2017
But enough Conway. Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn't fare any better when she went on MSNBC's “Morning Joe.”
The show's three hosts were quizzing Sanders about her suggestion that it was now time for the investigation of Trump's campaign to end.
“Do you know something the rest of us don't, about there being 'nothing there' in the Russia investigation?” co-host Willie Geist asked.
“I know that person after person, including your own Joe Scarborough, said that there's no evidence of collusion here,” Sanders said.
She was immediately interrupted.
“Wait wait wait wait wait,” Scarborough said.
“She's quoting you, Joe,” said Mika Brzezinski.
Sanders laughed, briefly.
“I said there's no obvious evidence of FBI collusion out there right now,” Scarborough said. “I also said I think there has to be in-depth investigations, because it may take, I think, probably an independent prosecutor to figure out the financial ties between Donald Trump and Russia.”
“I'm surprised that you're twisting my words,” he said.
It went better on Fox News
Sanders had an easier time on Fox News, hours after the firing, when she first made the suggestion that got her in trouble with Scarborough.
“The Russia investigation: How will the firing of Comey affect that?” Tucker Carlson asked her.
“I don't think it affects it at all, in any capacity whatsoever,” Sanders said. “You've still got the same people that would be carrying out that.”
The deputy press secretary moved on to “the bigger point.”
“My gosh, Tucker, when are they going to let that go? It's been going on for nearly a year. It's getting kind of absurd,” she said. “There is no there there.”
No one really cares about the Russia investigation anyway, Sanders said.
“They want to know about the economy. They want to know about education. They want to talk about national security.”
Unlike the other anchors, Carlson had listened to a White House explanation in near silence. Now the anchor gave his take.
“Right,” he said.