Sean Spicer: Mueller's investigation is not a witch hunt

"I think it's very important to be clear that Russia meddled in our election and there's no evidence of collusion," Spicer said.
by Dartunorro Clark /  / Updated 

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Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that he does not believe special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is a political witch hunt, contradicting a claim often repeated by President Donald Trump.

"As of now, I see no evidence that it is," Spicer said during an exclusive interview on "Today."

Spicer, however, also said that there has been "no evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

He added that he believes Russia meddled in the 2016 election but did not criticize his former boss for his widely condemned comments in Helsinki on Monday in which Trump appeared to say he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin's assertion that his country did not orchestrate a campaign to interfere in the presidential election.

"I think it's very important to be clear that Russia meddled in our election and there's no evidence of collusion," Spicer said.

Trump faced a groundswell of criticism from all sides for his performance in Helsinki, where he blamed the U.S. for hurting relations with Russia and contradicted American intelligence agencies' assessment that Russia interfered in the election.

Trump faced an additional backlash after attempting to clarify his remarks on Tuesday, when he said he had misspoken when he said he did not see a reason why it would have been Russia that meddled in the election. He said he meant to say he did not see any reason why it wouldn't have been Russia.

Then on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had to again clarify that the president agreed with the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia is looking to interfere with U.S. elections this year. The president had responded "no" earlier in the day when asked if Russia is continuing to meddle, but Sanders said that had been his way of indicating that he was not going to respond to questions from reporters.

In an interview conducted after his return from Helsinki, Trump was asked whether he held Putin personally responsible for meddling in the 2016 election. "Well, I would, because he's in charge of the country. Just like I consider myself to be responsible for things that happen in this country," he told CBS News. "So certainly as the leader of a country you would have to hold him responsible, yes."

Spicer also addressed his rocky six-month tenure in the White House, where he was often ridiculed online for his combative press briefings. His briefings spawned multiple scathing impersonations on "Saturday Night Live," where he was portrayed by comedian Melissa McCarthy.

Spicer discussed arguably his most notable briefing, in which he claimed a day after the inauguration, without evidence, that Trump's inauguration "was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe" after tweets and reporting suggested the size of the crowd was smaller than at past occasions.

"I screwed up that day," Spicer said. "Are there things that I wish I would have done differently? Absolutely."

He added, "The president wasn't happy either. ... The only two people who were happy with me that day were my wife and my mom."

Spicer also addressed the administration's "zero tolerance" policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border, calling the efforts "a mess." A federal judge has ordered more than 2,500 children to be returned to their parents.

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