Sean Spicer. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested he misspoke when he cited an Atlanta terror attack that never happened.
At least three times last month, Spicer mentioned a nonexistent Atlanta, Georgia, terror attack while defending Trump’s controversial travel ban. Spicer named Atlanta alongside the Boston Marathon bombings and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
In a statement to ABC News Wednesday night, Spicer said he “clearly meant Orlando,” apparently referring to the mass shooting in June at a gay nightclub in Florida.
The Daily Beast first caught Spicer’s misstatements on Tuesday.
On January 29, Spicer explained on ABC’s “This Week”:
“What do we say to the family who loses somebody over a terroristic [sic] — to whether it’s Atlanta or San Bernardino or the Boston bomber?”
The very next day, Spicer took to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to defend Trump’s travel ban again:
“What happened if we didn’t act and somebody was killed? … Too many of these cases that have happened — whether you’re talking about San Bernardino, Atlanta … would you wait until you do? The answer is we act now to protect the future.”
Finally, at a White House press briefing the same day, Spicer once again referenced Atlanta:
“But I don’t think you have to look any further than the families of the Boston Marathon, in Atlanta, in San Bernardino …”
Atlanta Police Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy said in a statement to CNN the department was unaware of any recent terrorist attacks. “From what we can recall, the last known terrorist attack in the state was 1996 in which Eric Rudolph was implicated,” she wrote, referring to a bombing that happened at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway last week was criticized for citing another terror attack that never happened — one she called the “Bowling Green Massacre.”
On Monday, the White House released a list of 78 terror attacks that it alleged went underreported by the media, ostensibly to support its argument for the travel ban. Several incidents on that list, however, were indeed widely reported by news organizations worldwide.
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