White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted that Donald Trump cannot weigh in on the United Airlines incident because it might "prejudice" legal outcomes. That rule, however, did not seem to apply when Trump declared Bill O'Reilly innocent of the sexual misconduct charges he is facing.
At his latest briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer managed to highlight a new key bit of hypocrisy regarding his boss.
Spicer was asked about the viral video showing a man being violently dragged off of a United Airlines flight, and initially said that while the video was “troubling,” the incident should remain a local matter.
But when NBC News’ Hallie Jackson then followed up by asking Spicer if Donald Trump had seen the video, and what his reaction was, Spicer gave a novel response for withholding Trump’s reaction to the incident:
JACKSON: Has the president seen that video?
SPICER: I’m sure he has.
JACKSON: And what’s the reaction?
SPICER: I don’t think anyone looks at that video and isn’t a little disturbed that another human being is treated that way. But again, I don’t — I think one of the things that people have to understand is that when there is a potential law enforcement matter, for a president to weigh in, pro or con, would prejudice a potential outcome.
Spicer’s response was fairly accurate, for a change, because the United Airlines incident is in fact currently under investigation.
But it was a curious statement in context, nonetheless — the sexual misconduct claims against Bill O’Reilly are also currently under investigation, yet Trump felt no need to restrain himself from weighing in on that topic last week, when he told The New York Times, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
Trump weighing in on a matter with a potential future legal outcome is indeed prejudicial, particularly in the case of O’Reilly. Not only did Trump prejudice any decision in the pending matters, he also delivered the message to every survivor of sexual violence, abuse, and harassment that they will not be believed, while encouraging authorities not to believe them.
Trump’s defense has not helped O’Reilly much, but it certainly has harmed people who encounter predators like him. If only he could extend to them the same restraint he showed toward United Airlines.