Sean Spicer sat down with Jimmy Kimmel for his first late-night interview after he stepped down as White House press secretary, which was often awkward and even got a bit contentious as Spicer seemed reluctant to criticize Donald Trump or admit to any falsehoods he told the press.
It’s not surprising that Spicer wouldn’t immediately throw his former boss under the bus after leaving his post, but he still defended Trump’s actions to Kimmel in a wide-ranging interview. That included Spicer’s now-infamous first press conference with the White House press corps where he told them that Trump had the largest inauguration crowd ever. (He didn’t.) After the fact, Spicer did say he regretted not wearing a different suit, although he didn’t expect that he would have to go on TV that day. The point with that, Spicer said, is that as press secretary you need to represent the president’s voice even if it’s something that’s easy to verify is false.
“Whether or not you agree or not isn’t your job. Your job is to give him advice, which is what we would do on a variety of issues all the time,” Spicer said. “But ultimately, he’s the president. He would say ‘I agree with you’ sometimes, or ‘That’s a good point, incorporate it.’ Or sometimes he would say, depending on the issue, ‘Look, I know what I believe, and this is what I think the right thing to do is.’”
Spicer admitted that he didn’t expect to have his integrity questioned on day one in a larger discussion about the press. Kimmel noted how dangerous it can be that Trump has lumped mainstream publications together as “fake news” because of unflattering coverage while believing more unreliable (and complimentary) publications.
They also touched on Melissa McCarthy’s Emmy Award-winning portrayal of him—which he now admits is “kinda funny”—and Anthony Scaramucci’s brief tenure as White House communications director, whose appointment directly led to Spicer’s resignation. Before resigning, Spicer made his opposition known to Trump. And later, he claimed he didn’t relish in Scaramucci’s now-infamous New Yorker interview.
“It wasn’t personal. It wasn’t that I had anything against Anthony,” Spicer said. “I didn’t feel—Anthony had been very successful in business, he’s made a ton of money—but I just didn’t feel as though he had the qualifications or the background to work in the communications office.”
You can watch Kimmel’s interview with Spicer in full below.