Among the string of explosive and damaging revelations that emerged from the Mueller report Thursday was White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ admission that she had lied to reporters in order to damage the reputation of former FBI Director James Comey.
After Trump abruptly fired Comey in 2017 the midst of the FBI’s Russia investigation, Sanders falsely claimed that the White House had been in communication with “countless” bureau employees who did not support Comey. Sanders ultimately acknowledged to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators that her claim was a fabrication. Her admission has prompted demands for her resignation.
But don’t expect Sanders to be heeding such calls. When asked about the bombshell revelation during an appearance on Sean Hannity late Thursday, the press secretary offered a defiant defense.
“Look, I acknowledged that I had a slip of the tongue when I used the word ‘countless’—but it’s not untrue,” she said. “Certainly you just echoed exactly the sentiment and the point that I was making, is that a number of both current and former FBI agents agreed with the president. James Comey was a disgraced leaker who tried to politicize and undermine the very agency he was supposed to run.”
Sanders repeated that same defense on Friday.
“That’s not a slip of the tongue, Sarah,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos said after playing the clip of the press secretary in May 2017 making the false claim to White House reporters. “That’s a deliberate false statement.”
“Actually, if you look at what I’ve said, I said the ‘slip of the tongue’ was in using the word countless,” Sanders responded. “But there were a number of FBI, both former and current, that agreed with the president’s decision. And they’ve continued to speak out and say that.”
Stephanopoulos then called Sanders out for admitting to lying while under the threat of criminal penalties but failing to do so otherwise.
“It was the heat of the moment, meaning that it wasn’t a scripted talking point,” Sanders shot back. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t a robot like the Democratic Party that went out for two and a half years and stated time and time again that there was definite Russian collusion between the president and his campaign.
Pressed repeatedly on her comments on FBI agents, Sarah Sanders tells @GStephanopoulos, "It was the heat of the moment, meaning that it wasn't a scripted talking point. I'm sorry that I wasn't a robot like the Democratic Party" was about Mueller probe. https://t.co/mOQZNKl1wy pic.twitter.com/y3xcNwVYHg
— ABC News (@ABC) April 19, 2019