The idea that "CNN is in the pocket” of President Trump is “insane,” former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told “Mornings with Maria” on Wednesday, reacting to a spat over the coronavirus stimulus negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.
Continue Reading Below
Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Blitzer Tuesday of being "an apologist ... for the Republican position" during a stunning interview in which she grew visibly frustrated with "The Situation Room" anchor's questions.
“I’m just upset, six years at the RNC [Republican National Convention] and working with President Trump and I had no idea that I had Wolf Blitzer in my pocket the whole time,” Spicer told host Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday reacting to the heated exchange. “Give me a break that CNN is in the pocket of the president. That’s insane.”
The dispute was over Pelosi sharply rejecting the White House’s latest and most expensive -- $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief offer over the weekend, which garnered some pushback from Democrats, including former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
"Put politics aside, people are hurting," Yang tweeted on Saturday.
During a live interview on Tuesday, Blitzer asked Pelosi why she "won't accept the president's latest [coronavirus] stimulus offer."
"I hope you'll ask the same question of the Republicans on why they don't want to meet the needs of the American people," Pelosi responded. "But let me say to those people because all of my colleagues -- we represent these people ... and their needs are not addressed in the president's proposal. So when you say to me, 'Why don't you accept theirs?' Why don't they accept ours?"
Blitzer interjected, telling Pelosi that Americans "really need the money now" and quoted Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who tweeted on Sunday, "People in need can't wait until February. $1.8 trillion is significant & more than twice the Obama stimulus ... Make a deal & put the ball in [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell[’s] court."
"So what do you say to Ro Khanna?" Blitzer asked.
"What I say to you is I don't know why you're always an apologist -- and many of your colleagues [are] apologists for the Republican position," Pelosi fired back, adding, "Ro Khanna, that's nice, that isn't what we're going to do and nobody's waiting til February."
The contentious exchange continued when Blitzer pressed Pelosi again about Trump's $1.8 trillion proposal, asking her, "Why not work out a deal with him and don't let the perfect, as they say here in Washington, be the enemy of the good?"
"Well, I will not let the wrong be the enemy of the right," Pelosi fired back.
"What's wrong with $1.8 trillion?" Blitzer asked.
"You know what, do you have any idea what the difference is between the spending that they have in their bill and what we have in our bill?" Pelosi asked before ticking off a list of her issues with the proposal.
"That is precisely why, Madame Speaker ... it's so important right now," Blitzer responded "Yesterday, I spoke to [former Democratic presidential candidate] Andrew Yang, who says the same thing. It's not everything you want but there's a lot there."
"But you know what? Honest to God!" Pelosi complained. "You really — I cannot get over it because Andrew Yang, he's lovely. Ro Khanna, he's lovely. They are not negotiating this situation. They have no idea of the particulars. They have no idea of what the language is here."
Blitzer also asked, “Is that what this is all about, not allow[ing] the president to take the credit if there’s a deal that would help millions of Americans right now?”
“I don’t care about that,” Pelosi responded. “He’s not that important, but let me say this, with all due respect, with all due respect and you know we’ve known each other a long time, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The tension carried on until the very end, when Blitzer attempted to wrap up the interview after the speaker accused him of "defending the administration all this time."
Spicer told Bartiromo on Wednesday that Blitzer asked Pelosi “a legitimate question,” adding that $1.8 trillion “is something that shouldn’t be sneezed at.”
“She’s saying that the president’s not important in the negotiations? Give me a break. He’s got to sign any deal,” Spicer continued. “So this just shows you the insanity.”
Spicer also pointed out that “members are out there in her own caucus calling for them to take the $1.8 trillion” offer.
“People in America are hurting, they need help and the idea that $1.8 trillion isn’t enough money to start the ball rolling at the very least is insane,” Spicer said.
“So this tells you how crazy and political the situation has gotten, where Nancy Pelosi scoffs at the notion that $1.8 trillion isn’t worthy of starting the deal going forward and secondly is accusing CNN and Wolf Blitzer of being in the pocket of the president.”
The Trump administration's proposal – which came just a few days after the president abruptly called off negotiations before reversing course and pushing for a bipartisan agreement – drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, dimming the odds of another round of emergency aid before the Nov. 3 election. Earlier this month, House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which received severe Republican opposition.
The plan was expected to include a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits at $400 per week and additional funding for state and local governments.
For months, Congress has struggled to reach an agreement on additional stimulus. Negotiations first collapsed in early August, prompting Trump to sign four executive measures intended to provide relief to families still reeling from the virus-induced crisis, including temporarily extending supplemental jobless aid at $300 a week.
But that aid is beginning to expire, and lifelines that propped up the economy in the early weeks of the pandemic – like the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, a one-time $1,200 stimulus check and sweetened unemployment benefits – lapsed weeks ago.
Although Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that another bill is necessary to aid the economy's recovery, they sharply disagree over the size and scope of it.
FOX Business’ Megan Henney and Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.