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How does Trump feel about official statistics? 'They may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now'

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer rightly suspected that reporters might ask him Friday about President Trump's past comments questioning the accuracy of government data on employment.

So when a reporter asked whether Trump stood by his remarks that the data were "phony," Spicer had a ready answer — and used words that he said were the president's.

"They may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now," Spicer said. He also said Trump's instructions were to quote him "very clearly" on that point.

Spicer laughed as he shared the sentiments and elicited laughter from some reporters as well. But what Spicer, and Trump, were admitting to was a stark reality: that Trump appears content to undermine facts that don't serve his interests, but will not hesitate to embrace them when they do.

Spicer's comment came just days after he preemptively cast doubt on the validity of a cost estimate of the new Republican healthcare bill, expected soon from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. 

That so-called CBO score is tabulated for any legislation that would affect the federal budget — either adding to deficits or reducing them. The office also addresses other policy ramifications for legislation.

Republicans this week moved quickly to begin consideration of the health bill in key committees even without that figure available, drawing criticism from Democrats who say the estimate is likely to show the plan would significantly add to the national debt. 

"If you're looking to the CBO for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place," Spicer said Wednesday. "They were way, way off last time in every aspect of how they scored and projected Obamacare."

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