Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) believes President Trump got off to a "rocky start," after spats with members of the media over the crowd size at his inauguration derailed the new administration's messaging shortly after he was sworn in.
During a Monday appearance on CNN, Kinzinger pointed to Trump's Saturday speech at CIA headquarters, where the president accused media outlets of downplaying the crowd size at his inauguration.
"It's taking the message you want as a new president and derailing it. You are in front of the CIA, this hallowed ground honoring people who died on behalf of their country, and you barely mention it," Kinzinger said.
"I was disappointed in that."
Kinzinger then questioned why White House press secretary Sean Spicer continued the battle against the press in a statement from the briefing room, where he accused media outlets of using images from the inauguration "intentionally framed in a way to minimize support" for the new president.
Photographic evidence and official estimates show a smaller crowd at Trump's event than at former President Obama's inaugurations in both 2009 and 2013. And Nielsen television data shows Trump's inauguration trailing Obama's and Ronald Reagan's first-term inaugurations in viewership.
"I don't understand where he came from on that. I don't know if he had marching orders, if he came out with emotion," Kinzinger said of Spicer.
"I'm sure he know the boss was watching, but I wish he'd have pushed back."
Kinzinger went on to laud Trump as "impressive" for his conduct in signing executive orders after his inauguration on Friday, adding that he's excited for the chance to work with Trump to enact Republican policies.
But while he said he's hopeful that Spicer may get his "sea legs" under him after becoming more comfortable in the new office and that Trump could stick to the script, the lawmaker warned against continuing the distractions that could hurt the president's ability to move forward with a new agenda.
"There's a big danger, because there's one thing to push back against perceived media bias — as Republicans, we like to see that. It's another thing to come out and say that a fact is only a fact if it fits into your world view," Kinzinger said.
"The campaign way of doing things could get very old if, in fact, this becomes what the new president's team is. I would definitely discourage them from using the term 'alternative facts' again."