Trump spokesman defends spat with John Lewis, talks Obamacare replacement

Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday defended President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to hit back at Rep. John Lewis over the weekend and discussed an Obamacare replacement plan and press access to the White House.

In an interview on “CBS This Morning,” Spicer was asked if Mr. Trump’s behavior on Twitter toward Lewis was necessary.

“I think John Lewis is an icon in both civil and voting rights,” he said. “That’s why I think his comments were disappointing. John Lewis, more than anybody, understands the need to enfranchise people, to get them out to vote and when he makes a comment about the illegitimacy of an election and the illegitimacy of the president, I think that really undermines the work that John Lewis has done because he’s been such a champion and a hero of voting rights and working to get more people to vote.”

Spicer added, “The president-elect has a right, as he’s done over and over again, of fighting back and making sure that he shows that he’s not going to sit back and take attacks without responding.”

He was also asked to address Mr. Trump’s claim to The Washington Post that his plan to replace Obamacare will include “insurance for everybody.”

“His goal is to make sure that everybody’s got health care,” Spicer said, adding that the plan would provide greater accessibility to the marketplace, more competition and would drive costs down. “Not only are they going to have greater access, but they’re going to have greater choice.”

Mr. Trump, Spicer said, will “reinstill a sense of competition and choice in the marketplace,” but he declined to make clear whether the replacement plan would have government pay for everyone’s insurance or would have the government mandate that businesses cover it.

Asked why the president-elect hasn’t presented the details of his replacement plan yet, Spicer said, “Because he’s not president yet.”

Spicer confirmed that the Trump transition team is reviewing the idea of holding White House briefings in the Executive Office Building, which is outside and adjacent to the White House. He explained that the current briefing room has only 49 seats and they’re looking at the idea of a room that’s bigger that can hold more members of the press.

Asked if the press will still be able to have offices in the West Wing, Spicer said, “Yeah.”

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.