WASHINGTON-White House press secretary Sean Spicer returned to the briefing room on Tuesday to address reporters on-camera for the first time in eight days.
His on-camera return to the lectern came as frustrations about press access at the White House have come to a head. Spicer took questions for less than a half-hour on Monday, refusing to allow reporters to record audio or video of the briefing while rebuffing a series of questions about the most pressing topics of the day.
Tuesday’s briefing also comes as White House officials are mulling a new role for Spicer in the West Wing that might take him out of the briefing room for good.
Here are seven questions Spicer was facing:
1. Where have you been? Are you leaving your job as press secretary?
Spicer is reportedly being considered for a role overseeing the White House communications and press operations.
It would also take him away from the White House lectern, where his performance has been the subject of intense scrutiny.
Spicer is sure to face questions about the eight-day gap in any on-camera briefings from the White House — and whether this is a trend that will continue.
2. Why is the Ukrainian President getting the side-door treatment?
Foreign leaders arriving at the White House to visit the President almost always roll in through the front gate, their limousine driving down a White House driveway lined with military guard before stopping in front of the West Wing doors — President Donald Trump waiting with an outstretched hand.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko won’t get any of that, instead meeting with Vice President Mike Pence before dropping into the Oval Office for a brief visit. That’s raising a slew of questions, particularly in light of Trump’s adversity toward criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin, who annexed Ukrainian territory and continues to support Ukrainian separatists.
3. Where’s the Senate health care bill? And what’s Trump doing about it?
A select group of Senate Republicans are continuing to craft a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare behind closed doors and Democratic pressure is growing.
Spicer on Monday couldn’t say whether Trump or members of his legislative team had seen the text of the bill. Trump is scheduled to meet with his legislative team for lunch, before Spicer heads to the briefing room.
4. Does the President see the Georgia special election as a bellwether?
Voters are heading to the polls today in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, a historically Republican seat that Democrats are hoping to flip amid dissatisfaction with Trump and his policies.
The race is already tighter than it should be, and a Democrats are hoping to win will send shudders down the spines of Republicans up for reelection in 2018.
5. Is the situation in Syria escalating?
The US shot down a pro-Syrian regime drone in the Syrian skies on Monday, just days after the US shot down a Syrian government warplane.
The downings have been consistent with US policy, but have led to increased tensions in the region as Russia cut off a key military-diplomatic channel with the US and threatened to shoot down American planes over Syria.
Trump and his White House have refused for more than a month to confirm or deny whether the President in fact records conversations at the White House, as he suggested in a tweet in early May about former FBI Director James Comey.
Trump has teased an announcement soon — but the White House continues to stonewall reporters on the question. Spicer on Monday would only say “it’s possible that we have an answer to that by the end of the week.”
7. Is the President still weighing firing special counsel Robert Mueller and/or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein?
Spicer on Monday would only say that Trump “has confidence in everyone who serves him in this administration.”
That was off-camera, though, and reports continue to swirl that the President remains unhappy with the special counsel’s investigation.