Sean Spicer accused of hiding in bushes to avoid reporters following Comey firing
US President Donald Trump’s shock decision to fire FBI Director James Comey came as a major surprise to many – including Comey himself, who reportedly thought it was a joke as it flashed up on news screens while he was speaking to a group of staff.
But it also seems to have caught the White House’s own staff off-guard, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer huddling with staff behind a tall hedge on White House grounds to avoid reporters and work out a communications strategy, according to the Washington Post.
“White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrapped up his brief interview with Fox Business from the White House grounds late Tuesday night and then disappeared into the shadows, huddling with his staff near a clump of bushes and then behind a tall hedge,” the Post reported.
“To get back to his office, Spicer would have to pass a swarm of reporters wanting to know why President Trump suddenly decided to fire the FBI director.”
After several minutes, Mr Spicer emerged from the bushes to answer questions – on the condition cameras were turned off.
“Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
Mr Spicer had earlier attempted to email the announcement to the White House press corps, but when he encountered problems with the system he ended up shouting a statement to reporters who happened to be nearby. He also tweeted out the announcement.
Statement from @WhiteHouse @PressSec on @FBI Director pic.twitter.com/EdBRntMim5
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) May 9, 2017
Donald Trump’s surprise decision to fire the FBI Director, whose agency is investigating potential links between Russia and the Trump campaign, has drawn condemnation from many Democrats and some Republicans.
The White House explained the decision with reference to a memo drafted by the Deputy Attorney General, who criticised Comey for his handling of an investigation into former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
James Comey placed himself in the media spotlight last year when, days before the 2016 election, he advised congress of fresh investigations into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.
Nothing came of the new investigations, but Clinton later said the announcement was a significant factor in her surprise loss last November.
Mr Comey last week testified before a Senate committee, telling members the thought that he had influenced the election made him feel “nauseous”.
Following the sacking, Democrats have amplified calls for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s potential connections to Russia.