Sean Spicer is everywhere these days: at the Emmys, on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and even in the crowd at a Sting concert. But the extroverted former White House press secretary suddenly clammed up when Axios co-founder Mike Allen asked about Spicer's note-taking habits.
Citing unnamed former colleagues of Spicer, Allen reported on Thursday that President Trump's ex-spokesman “filled 'notebook after notebook' during meetings at the Republican National Committee, later at the Trump campaign, and then at the White House.”
Before publishing his report, Allen sought comment from Spicer via email and text message. That's when things got strange.
This is what Spicer texted back, according to Allen: “Mike, please stop texting/emailing me unsolicited anymore.”
A second text went like this: “From a legal standpoint I want to be clear: Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities.”
Spicer then sent a similar message by email:
Per my text:
Please refrain from sending me unsolicited texts and emails
Should you not do so I will contact the appropriate legal authorities to address your harassment
What's up with Spicer's over-the-top reaction? A reporter's question certainly does not qualify as “harassment.”
And since when would a political operative prefer that a journalist not ask for comment before publishing a story?
Spicer complained that Allen's messages were “unsolicited,” which is a rather confusing gripe. How would a relationship in which Allen must be invited to contact Spicer even work? Spicer wouldn't know to give Allen permission to reach out, unless Allen were to first make it known that he wanted such permission, right?
My head hurts.
I asked a Spicer representative at the Worldwide Speakers Group, where Spicer signed on this month, whether there is more to the story — anything that would explain why Spicer felt harassed. I received no response.
Spicer's behavior makes no sense. Unless it does.
Notice that in all three messages to Allen, Spicer specifically asks Allen not to communicate through text or email. He doesn't tell Allen not to contact him at all. The medium seems important to Spicer.
If Spicer is worried about communicating in writing, his concern would be understandable. As Allen posited in his report, Spicer's notes could be a “honey pot” for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.
Maybe Mueller already knew about Spicer's notes and planned to subpoena them. But if he did not, all Mueller has to go on is an anonymously sourced report in Axios. Why would Spicer confirm the notes' existence in a text message or an email and create a digital paper trail that could potentially be used against him or Trump?
Could this kind of strategic thinking explain Spicer's brusqueness toward Allen? I asked Allen whether he has any sense of what Spicer was thinking. Allen said he does not and has not heard from Spicer again.