'Sure I have regrets', says Sean Spicer in wide-ranging Late Late Show interview

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said he has some regrets about his time representing US President Donald Trump, writes Cillian Sherlock.

"There's definitely cases that I've looked at that I could have done better. Sure I have some regrets in that sense, that I could have done some things better - but not on a macro sense," he said.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Late Late Show, Mr Spicer described his six-month tenure, in which he was responsible for defending and explaining the controversial politician's statements and actions during the Muslim travel ban and beginnings of the Russian collusion probe, as "demanding and intense".

"It felt a lot longer - like six dog years. Every day was an eternity," he said.

He said there were many aspects of the job he liked, including explaining policy on behalf of the American government, meeting the Pope and discussing his Irish heritage with then Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Communications expert Spicer was on the charm offensive from out the outset.

"Can I answer the sweepstakes question? I could use the €15,000. That's one question I can definitely answer," he joked at the top of the interview.

Throughout the interview, he played up his Irish heritage and Catholic ideology.

His jokes and measured openness swayed some viewers but did not land well with everyone - with mixed reaction visible on Twitter.

Mr Spicer offered a measured take on the "very polarising" US President, who he said added "an element of excitement" to the job.

"He's very straightforward. You know where you stand with him at all times - good or bad. There's no beating around the bush. He has very strong beliefs," he said.

"He's definitely a disruptor. He's not part of the status quo by any means. There's no question - love him or hate him, agree or disagree with his policies - things have changed," he said.

However, he said he did not always completely support everything Trump said.

"When you are someone's spokesperson you are not there to make policy," he said.

He said he will still "absolutely" vote for Trump, who he says he is still in contact with, in 2020.

"No question about it, absolutely. I've been a Republican my whole life," he added.

He suggested journalist Michael Wolff's new book Fire and Fury was largely discredited.

The book paints Mr Trump as a leader who does not understand the weight of his office and whose competence is questioned by aides.

Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy questioned the former White House Press Secretary on the latest in what has been a year of scandals from the Oval Office.

"When you look at the news today and it is reported that he referred to Haiti and various other African countries as 'shitholes', did you - " Tubridy began.

"I didn't know you could say that on television in Ireland," Spicer said, somewhat defusing the energy of the question.

"Isn't it disgraceful?" Tubridy asked.

In usual form, he raised dispute over the validity of the question - before bringing his Irish heritage into the conversation.

"As an Irish-American, someone who understands the trials and tribulations that so many Irish folks had coming to America. I'm very proud of America's history, welcoming immigrants...

"I would say that America is a great country that welcomes people who want to come and pursue the American dream and make it better. Immigrants have made [America] what it is," he said.

Pressed then by Tubridy on implied hypocrisy over the border wall issue, he said he agreed with the policy 90%.

"One of the things about the wall is it's also about human trafficking and drug trafficking. We need a strong border," Mr Spicer added.

He said it did not mean America would have no immigration.

"Every country needs to protect its borders. There's a difference. We're not talking about shutting down immigration, we're making sure it is safe and legal," he added.

He said Republicans and Democrats have already paid for border control issues in the past.

Tubridy turned the focus to the infamous Access Hollywood tape, a video, recorded in 2005, in which Donald Trump reportedly says: "When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."

Tubridy asked Spicer if he, as a husband, father, and "devout Catholic", had any reservations being a mouthpiece for Trump.

Clarifying he was a "practising Catholic", he said he did not agree with the comments made on the tape.

"I think we've all said or done things we regret. The president, then candidate, expressed remorse.

"As a Catholic, we're all thought about forgiveness. If we're going to ask for forgiveness for ourselves, sometimes we make mistakes - we're also thought to give forgiveness," he said.

"You've got to be willing to give forgiveness," he added.

Tubridy questioned some of the standout moments in Spicer's roughly six-month stint representing Trump, including the disputed size of the inauguration crowd.

He said he regretted the style of response.

"I wish we could have come out and focused on the agenda and the issues," he said, without making clear reference to the crowd size.

He said Trump was told repeatedly by the mainstream media that he would never accomplish the milestones on the campaign trail towards being nominated, let alone win the election.

"To wake up the morning after your inauguration and have people go 'Well, it wasn't even that big' - it's like, at some point you have to throw your hands up and go 'what do I have to do?'," he added.

The interview then turned to a moment last year when Spicer, whilst discussing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said: "Someone as despicable as Hitler didn't even sink to using Chemical weapons".

He faced immediate criticism for the comments and apologised.

"That was deeply painful for me," he said.

"My goal was to describe how heinous the actions Assad was doing were," he said.

He said it was a sincere and genuine mistake, especially considering it was the first day of Passover.

On a lighter note, the pair discussed American actor and comedian Melissa McCarthy's famous Saturday Night Live impression of Mr Spicer.

"The first one was funny, but like so many Saturday Night Live skits they don't know when to end and, frankly, got a bit mean. That's where Saturday Night Live have started to cross a line," he said.

Sean Spicer appeared on the show to plug his upcoming book, The Briefing, which will be available to pre-order on Amazon.


 

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