Spicer gets imaginative to defend White House’s aircraft carrier misinformation

Aaron Rupar

Aaron Rupar Journalist, Think Progress

Last week, the White House claimed that that an aircraft carrier strike group was on its way to the Korean peninsula from southern Asia, when in fact it was sailing in the opposite direction. Forced to defend that falsehood on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resorted to a little creative thinking.

“The president said that we have an armada going to the peninsula,” Spicer said, referring to a April 12 Fox Business interview where President Trump said, “We are sending an armada.”

But according to Spicer, Trump’s comments shouldn’t have been taken to mean the peninsula was the carrier group’s first stop. That’s convenient, because when Trump said that, the armada in question was actually sailing the opposite direction to the Indian Ocean for joint exercises — not toward North Korea to serve as a deterrent.

“That’s a fact. It happened,” Spicer said on Wednesday, before quickly correcting himself, “it is happening, rather.”

So even though Trump’s remarks and what Spicer himself suggested during his April 11 news conference weren’t true at the time — “I think when you see a carrier group steaming into an area like that, the forward presence of that is clearly, through almost every instance, a huge deterrence,” Spicer said that day — they were still ultimately validated as far as Spicer is concerned, because the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group is now (allegedly) headed toward the Korean peninsula.

“PACOM [United States Pacific Command] put out a release talking about what it’s ultimate destination was going to be and that’s where it ended up,” Spicer said. “The only question that we were asked was what signal it sends, and I think we answered that very question at the time.”

Spicer’s logic has counterintuitive implications.

And his explanation won’t reassure South Koreans concerned the White House lacks credibility when it comes to deterring North Korea.

Hong Joon-pyo, the presidential candidate from former leader Park Geun-hye’s ruling party, told the Wall Street Journal that “what [Trump] said was very important for the national security of South Korea. If that was a lie, then during Trump’s term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says.”

Even officials from Trump’s own party were perturbed. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), said the confusion over the carrier group’s destination was “troubling.”

“Every time I have seen that map that shows where our naval assets are, believe me, the Pentagon knows exactly where they are,” she said in a radio interview. “So I suspect there was some just terrible miscommunication, but it should not have occurred.”

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This was reposted from Think Progress.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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