White House Spokesman Sean Spicer made an apparent verbal slip on Monday when he said at the White House press briefing that a goal of the United States is “to make sure that we destabilize Syria.”
Spicer immediately followed this by saying the U.S. wanted to “destabilize the conflict there, reduce the threat of ISIS.”
Spicer’s statement was preserved on the official White House transcript of the press briefing and broadcast on video by CSPAN.
Here is video and the White House transcript of what Spicer said:
Q: And just to be clear, Secretary Tillerson, over the weekend, said we can navigate a political outcome in which the Syrian people will determine Bashar al-Assad’s fate and his legitimacy. Nikki Haley seemed to align more with what you were saying. She said, no way do we see peace in that area with Assad as the head of the Syrian government. So who better reflects the --
MR. SPICER: I don’t think that’s--I don’t think those are mutually exclusive statements.
Q: How so?
MR. SPICER: Because I don’t think--I think that you can--one of them is saying, we don’t see peace with him in charge. The other one is saying, we need to have him gone. I think that’s the point of both. The goal for both of them--the goal for the United States is twofold, as I’ve stated. It’s, one, to make sure that we destabilize Syria--destabilize the conflict there, reduce the threat of ISIS.
But then, secondly, is create the political environment not just within the Syrian people, but I think you can have--work with Russia, in particular, to make sure that they understand that Syria, backed up by Russia’s own accounting, should be held accountable for the agreements that it’s made with respect to its international agreements on chemical weapons alone.