White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had a hard time fending off questions her own false statements.
In 2017, after it was revealed President Donald Trump’s eldest son held a meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer at the Trump Tower, an initial statement claimed the meeting was about Russian adoptions. However, Donald Trump Jr. shortly released emails proving he, along with Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, actually met with the Russians to obtain dirt on then-Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
In August 2017, amid speculations if the president had anything to do with his son’s misleading statement, Sanders told the reporters that Trump “certainly didn’t dictate” it. In fact, she claimed the commander-in-chief just “weighed in, offered suggestions — as any father would do.”
Over the weekend, Trump’s own legal team contradicted that.
According to a January letter obtained by The New York Times, Trump’s lawyers told special counsel Robert Mueller the president “dictated a short but accurate response to The New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.”
Naturally, reporters did not waste much time asking Sanders about the discrepancies between her statement and that of the president’s legal team– and she definitely struggled to answer.
“You said last August that the president did not dictate the statement about the Trump Tower meeting during the campaign, but the lawyers wrote to the special counsel that the president did dictate the statement,” a reporter said during the recent White House press briefing. “What’s the reason for that discrepancy?”
Sanders response was clipped.
“This is from a letter from the outside counsel and I’d direct you to them to answer that question,” she said, quickly moving on to another reporter.
However, a similar question was soon posed by another journalist, who asked if her previous statement was “still operative,” to which the press secretary repeated her line from before.
“What was your basis for saying it in August then?” the reporter pressed.
“Once again, I’m not going to get into a back-and-forth, and I would encourage you to reach out to the outside counsel,” Sanders responded.
Third time around, it was Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey who asked the question – and he did not hold back.
“If you’re saying one thing from the podium — that it wasn’t dictated by the president — and his lawyers are saying something entirely different and contradict you, how are we supposed to know who to believe?” he asked. “How can we believe what you’re saying from the podium if his lawyers are saying it’s entirely inaccurate?”
Sanders, once again, referred the press to contact the president’s outside counsel.
“But Sarah, the words are literally, you say ‘he did not dictate,’ the lawyers said he did — what is it?” Dawsey followed up.
Sanders, however, refused to admit anything.
“I’m not going to respond to a letter from the president’s outside counsel, we’ve purposely walled off, and I’d refer you to them for comment,” she repeated.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Carlos Barria