‘Unprecedented’: Sean Spicer Says Psaki’s Negotiations With MSNBC From The Podium Are ‘Unethical And Wrong’

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Sean Spicer said White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s reported negotiations with MSNBC from the podium are “unethical and wrong.”

Psaki will leave her current position on Friday, May 13, and reportedly host a show on NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, and regularly appear on the MSNBC’s programming, though she has not yet announced her official plans. Concerns arose about the ethics of negotiating her future employment from the podium.

Spicer, former White House press secretary for President Donald Trump, told the Daily Signal’s executive editor Bob Bluey that ethical standards bar her from continuing to serve in her current role.

“This is unprecedented. And with all due respect, look, I’m glad Jen’s got a new job. It’s a tough job being press secretary. I wish her all the best, and I’m glad she’s found a soft landing, and I think that that’s great,” Spicer said. “But you can’t then continue to serve. You can’t sit at that podium knowing that your future colleagues are sitting there [and] they can’t embarrass you, so they’re not going to ask you tough questions, you don’t want to do anything. I mean, this is so unethical and wrong. She is the first press secretary to ever go straight from the podium to hosting a show.”

“Even if she wanted to go straight from [the podium to a news network], again, God bless her, go for it,” he continued. “But then, step down. You can’t continue to do this and go on this farewell publicity tour as press secretary where you’re continuing to interact with the folks that are going to be your colleagues.” (RELATED: Media’s Biggest Acolytes Are Oddly Quiet About Psaki Doing Job Interviews From The Podium)

Spicer said he waited for over two years before hosting his current show, “Spicer & Co.,” on Newsmax.

White House reporters questioned Psaki on the ethics of negotiating with potential employers after reports circulated that she had been in contact with MSNBC executives. The press secretary said she has worked closely with compliance lawyers and White House counsel to ensure no ethical standards are violated.

“It is the policy of this White House that anyone who’s having conversations about future employment does so through consultation with the White House counsel’s office and ensuring they abide by ethics and legal requirements and those are conversations that I have taken very seriously and abided by every component of,” she said at an April 1 briefing.

Former Trump-era communications director Marc Lotter said ethical standards require White House officials to declare any discussions about possible employment and are not allowed to do business with them while still serving in their role.

Protect the Public’s Trust, a group consisting of retired and former public servants, urged the Office of Government Ethics and the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into Psaki’s alleged “conflict of interest” in an April 19 letter. The group demanded that any “recusals and negotiations” related to her potential employment be publicly released. (RELATED: CBS News Hires Mick Mulvaney As Contributor)

Ethics experts have raised concerns on the matter, also alleging the possibility of a conflict of interest. Walter Shaub, a former Obama-era ethics chief, also called on recusals to be released, the Washington Examiner reported.

“It bothered me when this sort of thing happened in the last administration and bothers me to see it happen in this administration,” Shaub said, according to the outlet. “I think the White House should take this opportunity to offer the public some transparency into its thinking. … The White House should tell the public what types of things they’re allowing her to do and what parts of her job she won’t be able to do as a result of this employment arrangement.”

Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust, warned Psaki continuing to do business with future colleagues at the briefings could lead to serious consequences, the Washington Examiner reported.

“A serious conflict of interest can arise when a sitting press secretary leverages her position to negotiate employment with a media outlet,” Sutherland said, according to the outlet. “Unless the White House takes strict, material steps to ensure Ms. Psaki is in full compliance with laws, a simple press conference could turn into serious legal and ethical consequences.”