Trump press secretary defends claims inauguration was most-watched

  • 24/01/2017

White House spokesman Sean Spicer has defended his statement that President Donald Trump's inauguration was the most-watched ever, citing viewership on television and other media and insisting that "our intention is never to lie to you".

"I believe that we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts," Mr Spicer said at his first official White House press conference.

"I'm going to come out here and tell you the facts as I know them. And if we make a mistake, we'll do our best to correct it.

"It's a two way street ... the media makes mistakes all the time," he said.

Mr Spicer had been sharply criticised for his comments on Saturday by media, which noted photographs from former President Barack Obama's first inauguration showed much larger crowds than Mr Trump drew on Friday.

Mr Spicer appeared to be avoiding major media outlets at the press conference. He initially ignored the Associated Press, CNN and the Washington Post, and gave his first answers to the New York Post, Christian Broadcast Network, Univision and Fox.

On his first full day as President, Donald Trump said he had a "running war" with the media and accused journalists of underestimating the number of people who turned out on Friday for his swearing-in.

One interesting announcement Mr Spicer made at Monday's press conference was that four 'Skype seats' would be added to the White House press room.

"This will open up the briefing to journalists who live beyond 50 miles of the Washington, DC area and to organisations that don't currently have a hard pass," Mr Spicer said.

"I think this can benefit us all by giving a platform to voices that are not necessarily based here in the Beltway."

Supreme Court announcement

Mr Spicer answered a number of wide-ranging questions. He said Mr Trump will announce a nominee in the next couple of weeks to fill a vacancy on the US Supreme Court.

"He continues to make that a priority of his," Mr Spicer said.

South China Sea

Mr Spicer says Mr Trump has vowed the US will prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.

"I think the US is going to make sure that we protect our interests there," he said.

"It's a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we're going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country."

UK trade agreement

Mr Trump will discuss ways to expand trade with the United Kingdom when British Prime Minister Theresa May meets with him at the White House on Friday.

"I'm sure that there will be a discussion of trade ... the degree to which I don't know yet," Mr Spicer told reporters.

"He's going to have a great conversation about the potential for greater trade with the UK."

Newshub. / Reuters