Sean Spicer, Incoming Press Secretary, Says Trump Has Gone ‘Above and Beyond’ on Conflicts of Interest

Phil McCausland
Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer walks through the lobby at Trump Tower, December 14, 2016 in New York City.
Getty Images

The incoming White House press secretary gave few clarifications about the president-elect's plans to address his conflicts of interest or his agenda once he takes office — in a news conference that came only 24 hours before Donald Trump takes the oath of office.

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The Office of Government Ethics has said that Trump's plans to disentangle himself from his business is not nearly enough to distance himself from any possible conflicts, but Sean Spicer, Trump's appointed press secretary, dismissed the claims Thursday morning.

"The president-elect has no conflicts by law," Spicer said. "He has gone above and beyond in what he has done to make sure there are no conflicts."

He also defended Trump's decision to dine at his own Washington D.C. hotel on Thursday night, which some experts have flagged as a potential conflict.

"I don't think the idea that president-elect Trump is having a reception at Trump Hotel should be a shocker to anybody," he said.

But Spicer didn't provide specific answers to many of the questions asked at the press conference Thursday, and he answered critical queries with heat — especially when asked about the lack of diversity in Trump's cabinet.

"Americans should focus on whether he's hiring the best and the brightest," Spicer said, claiming that there will be more diversity in the thousands of positions the new government is expected to fill.

No Latino Americans are as yet represented in Trump's cabinet picks.

He also criticized Democrats in Congress for their lack of support of Trump's cabinet appointments, saying that Republicans had never been so partisan and unyielding when the roles have been reversed.

"There is really no excuse for the delay tactics and the partisanship displayed by the Democrats," he said.

"Why are they not moving on Elaine Chau (Transportation), Ben Carson (Housing) and Nikki Haley (UN)?" he asked.

Chao is Asian American, Carson is African American and Haley is Indian American.

Spicer again accused Democrats of holding up their nominations.

"Why are they not moving on Elaine Chau, Ben Carson and Nikki Haley?" he asked.

As for Trump's agenda and executive orders, Spicer only indicated that Trump would make large changes to Obamacare, the fight against ISIS and immigration. Greater specifics were not provided, as Spicer said the sequencing of these orders were of the utmost importance.

Spicer also said the president-elect's inaugural address will be a philosophical document rather than an exploration of Trump's agenda when he takes office.

"It's going to be a very personal and sincere statement about his vision for the country," said Spicer. "He will discuss what it means to be an American and the challenges that we face."

The speech, he added, will discuss the struggles of the middle class and the struggles of manufacturing in the United States.

Donald Trump highlighted that he was writing his own speech via a tweet on Wednesday.

@realdonaldtrump: Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday. #Inauguration

"Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday," Trump wrote alongside a photo of him holding a pad of paper.