Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump’s former press secretary, threatened legal action after the Associated Press picked up a Newport Daily New video of Boston-area man Alex Lombard accusing him on Friday of using a racial slur in the 1980s when the two men attended the same high school.
Breitbart News has learned that the viral video of Lombard confronting Spicer at a book signing that began the national media frenzy had its genesis when Lombard, a man with a history of trouble with the law, told the local paper he was planning the stunt.
Sources familiar with the matter told Breitbart News that a Newport Daily News representative admitted at least one of their employees was in contact with Lombard before the incident, setting up the filming with the expectation the incident would take place. The newspaper declined to comment on this, referring Breitbart News to their legal team.
The Associated Press quickly picked up the incident, providing no evidence of the accusation’s credibility beyond the word of Lombard, who, Breitbart News has since learned, spent nearly three years in a Georgia prison after multiple parole violations stemming from an arrest over crack cocaine possession. After his release in 2002, he entered a no contest plea to driving with a suspended license.
Lombard was quickly removed from the book signing, but not before he gave the gist of his accusation for the camera — that Spicer had called him the N-word while trying to instigate a fight. Lombard claimed to have been 14 at the time of the incident, which would place it circa 1987, when Spicer, who as an adult stands 5′ 6″, was 15 or 16.
A Twitter account with Lombard’s picture and only 16 followers has been making similar accusations since February 2017, shortly after Spicer joined the White House. In at least one instance he appears to be trying to get the attention of CNN:
No one has backed up Lombard’s story since, including the two alleged witnesses he cited in his rant, fellow Portsmouth Abbey School students Peter Healey and John Farley, neither of whom were questioned by the Associated Press or the Newport Daily News before the story was disseminated. Both men denied the incident emphatically in a Tuesday Washington Examiner report. “He would never pick a fight and he would never yell a racist remark in front of the entire school and faculty,” Farley, who like his late brother Chris, is a comic and actor, told the Washington Examiner. “I don’t think that happened, I really don’t. I would recall that.”
“I wasn’t present to anything like that,” Healey told the Washington Examiner. “I knew both Sean Spicer and Alex Lombard during my time at Portsmouth Abbey, and do not recall this incident ever happening or heard of this happening.”
J. Clifford Hobbins, a friend of Spicer’s who was a teacher at Portsmouth Abby at the time of the alleged incident and was at the Newport, Rhode Island, booksigning, said in the same report, “I know Sean Spicer, I know he’s not a racist and I think the whole thing was a set up. It really smells.”
The Newport Daily News, who originated the video that ignited the controversy, has since prominently featured these men’s rejections of Lombard’s accusation on their website.
It remains to be seen whether Spicer’s legal team will continue their pursuit of legal action against the Associated Press over their uncritical promotion of the incident.