After admitting to investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller that she delivered a false statement from the White House podium, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has defended herself saying she made the remark in “the heat of the moment”.
The redacted Mueller report that was released on Thursday revealed that Sanders had acknowledged that her repeated claim in 2017 that she had personally communicated with “countless” FBI officials who told her they were happy with President Donald Trump’s decision to fire James B. Comey as the agency’s director was a “slip of the tongue” and not founded on any facts, reports The New York Times.
Asked during a TV interview on Friday if the report had damaged her credibility, Sanders responded that she had made the statement in “the heat of the moment”, and that it was not “a scripted talking point”.
“I’m sorry that I wasn’t a robot like the Democrat Party that went out for two and a half years and repeated time and time again that there was definitely Russian collusion between the President and his campaign.”
She said the point she was making “is that a number of both current and former FBI agents agreed with the President. James Comey was a disgraced leader who tried to politicise and undermine the very agency he was supposed to run”.
Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, said of the development on Friday night: “The White House staff will never be lectured on truth-telling from the media that pushed a flat-out lie about Donald Trump for two years.”
Sanders, who has often accused news media outlets of spreading “fake news” about Trump, was just a footnote in Mueller’s 448-page report.
According to the report, the false statements that drew the Mueller team’s attention were made in May 2017, when Sanders sought to defend Trump’s firing of Comey, CNN reported.
On May 10, when a reporter pushed back on Sanders’ claim that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director,” and quoted an FBI special agent who said “the vast majority of the bureau is in favour of Director Comey”, she said: “Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.”
The report also said that Sanders spoke with Trump after the press briefing, and the President “told her she did a good job and did not point out any inaccuracies in her comments”.