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Spicer talks ‘pro-life president,’ embassy move in first White House briefing

White House spokesman Sean Spicer holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

(RNS) In his first press briefing at the White House, President Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer spoke to two issues important to the conservative Christians who overwhelmingly voted for the president: opposition to abortion and support for moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

At the Monday (Jan. 23) briefing, CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) White House correspondent Jennifer Wishon was picked to ask the second question: What message was Trump  sending with his action earlier in the day to reinstate a rule banning U.S.-funded groups around the world from discussing abortion? The rule was created under President Ronald Reagan and has flip-flopped under Republican and Democratic presidents.

Spicer said the action echoed Trump’s values.

“The president, it’s no secret, has made it very clear he’s a pro-life president. He wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn,” he said.

Trump had supported abortion rights before he announced in 2015 he had “evolved” on the issue.

But the press secretary appeared to walk back an earlier pledge to move the U.S. embassy in Israel, saying the administration was “at the early stages in this decision-making process.”

“If it was already a decision, we wouldn’t be going through a decision-making process,” he said.

Trump had said in a March speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee he wanted to move the embassy to “the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” but said in a later interview that would happen “fairly quickly.”

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About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

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