Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, said White House press secretary Sean Spicer “blatantly mischaracterized” comments he had made to shield President Donald Trump from scrutiny into his campaign’s relationship with Russia.
FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, including whether any Trump aides colluded with the Russians as they attempted to disrupt the presidential election last year.
The White House has repeatedly denied any such wrongdoing. At Monday afternoon’s press briefing, Spicer reiterated that denial, and to make his point, he cited statements from officials, including Coons, who had said that they have not seen evidence that such collusion occurred.
In a statement later Monday afternoon, Coons said he is “disappointed” in the White House for citing his comments “misleadingly” to defend Trump. Coons reiterated that while he has not yet seen evidence proving any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, he has not ruled out the possibility that it happened.
Spicer selectively quoted him, Coons said, without crucial context.
“For Mr. Spicer’s sake, let me be clear once again,” Coons said. “Though I have not seen specific evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that suggests collusion may have occurred, including confirmation just this morning that the FBI is investigating potential collusion between the campaign and Russian officials.”