Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer had no qualms with Jimmy Kimmel poking fun at his tenure at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue during an appearance Wednesday on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” marking his first post-White House interview.
“If I knew I’d get that kind of applause I would have left earlier,” Spicer said to Kimmel, in reference to the roaring applause he received when he walked on the ABC show’s stage.
Asked Kimmel, “Is it weird for you to be getting these types of applause?”
In a nod to his predominantly Democrat environs, Spicer shot back, “Yeah, especially in California.”
When asked by Kimmel if he is “distancing” himself from President Trump, Spicer said, “Absolutely not. No, I’m not.”
Spicer resigned from his position as White House press secretary in July, portraying the decision as one made to provide the communications department under then-incoming director Anthony Scaramucci, a “clean slate” and a “fresh start.” He was replaced as press secretary by Sarah Sanders and less than two weeks later, Scaramucci himself resigned.
In his six months as press secretary, Spicer garnered a reputation for verbal flubs and tense exchanges with journalists in the briefing room. In his first appearance on the job, the press secretary lambasted press coverage of Trump’s inauguration and decried images showing sparse crowds on the National Mall.
And Kimmel took the opportunity to rib Spicer about that first press briefing.
“You are charged with going in front of the press and saying the inauguration crowd is the biggest crowd ever,” Kimmel said.
Acknowledging that Kimmel was poking fun at the claim, Spicer said, “Yes, I’m aware of that. I appreciate the reminder of how it went down.”
Spicer did not outright slam the president’s request to go before reporters and make the aforementioned claim. Kimmel asked, “If it was up to you would it have even been a topic?”
Responded Spicer, acknowledging how his ill-fitting suit was panned on the Twittersphere, “You know, if it was up to me I probably would have worn a different suit … I thought I was going in on a Saturday morning to set up my office.”
Other notable moments during his tenure found Spicer comparing a Syrian chemical weapons attack to the actions of Adolf Hitler and admonishing a reporter for shaking her head in disagreement while he spoke. His White House appearances became fodder for parody on “Saturday Night Live” where actress Melissa McCarthy, as Spicer, employed a motorized lectern to fend off reporters and props to explain the administration’s positions.
Kimmel asked if that first press briefing in particular was responsible for casting a shadow on his stint as press secretary.
“When you brought that crowd size thing out, you like opened this terrible Pandora’s Box,” Kimmel said. “Do you think that is what got you off to kind of a bad start with the press corp?”
Spicer shot back, “I don’t think it was probably the best start.”
And one question that Kimmel couldn’t refrain from asking — considering it has provided fodder for many opening monologue jokes — was, “Why is [Trump] so concerned with size. Have you ever seen the president naked?”
“I have not,” Spicer said.
Earlier Wednesday, the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government announced Spicer would be would be joining the program as a visiting fellow for the 2017-18 academic year.