White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was widely criticized for her refusal to explain the inaccurate statements she made following the revelation that members of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had secretly met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.
On the set of CNN’s “New Day,” John Berman, the show’s new co-host, blasted the press secretary for spewing falsehoods about who authored the official White House response to the controversial Trump Tower meeting that included Donald Trump, Jr.
“Maybe she’s OK with lying. There’s no question that she spread lies at this point,” Berman said on Tuesday. “Whether or not she was told the truth, I guess we don’t know. But she spread a lie, and she is the White House press secretary. And she spread a lie – and allowed it to hang out there for months.”
Also on set was former President Bill Clinton’s press secretary Joe Lockhart, who said Sanders did not “have any usefulness now.” If he were in her position, he would resign.
On Monday, reporters grilled the press secretary about a contradictory statement she made over the intent of the meeting.
“How are we supposed to know what to believe?” Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post asked Sanders. “How can we believe what you’re saying from the podium if his [Trump’s] lawyers are saying it’s entirely inaccurate?”
After the New York Times reported about the June 2016 encounter, Donald Trump, Jr., insisted the primary objective of the meeting was to discuss adoption policies between Russia and the U.S. In fact, advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting later revealed that the president’s adult son was promised damaging information about presidential rival Hillary Clinton from the Russian lawyer before agreeing to the meeting.
Sanders and the president’s legal representatives have publicly denied that the president had anything to do with the misleading statement about the meeting. But, a confidential letter written by Trump’s attorneys and obtained by the New York Times states that the misleading statement was, in fact, “dictated” by the president.
In August, Sanders said the president “certainly didn’t dictate” the statement, and Jordan Fabian of The Hill asked Sanders to explain the discrepancy on Monday.
Sanders refused to defend her own previous comment. “This is from a letter from the outside counsel, and I’d direct you to them to answer that question,” she said.
Peter Baker of the New York Times also pressed the press secretary, asking if Sanders was retracting her previous statement.
“Once again, this is a reference back to a letter from the outside counsel,” she responded. “I can’t answer, and I would direct you to them.”
Dawsey continued to press Sanders. “Literally, you said he did not dictate. The lawyers say he did. What is it?”
Sanders, again, declined to answer the question.
On Monday, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani admitted that the White House and the president’s legal teams “got it wrong” when they initially declared that Trump wasn’t involved in the statement.
“You think Jay Sekulow lied?” Giuliani asked of another one of the president’s other attorneys. “Maybe he just got it wrong, like I got a few things wrong in the beginning of the investigation.”
Invoking God’s name, Giuliani swore to CNN’s Chris Cuomo that “a mistake” happened – but not a lie. The former mayor of New York City said the matter was “clarified in a letter, and that’s the final position,” seemingly indicating that the president did, in fact, draft the misleading statement.
But, on Sunday, Giuliani said the Trump team’s “recollection” of the statement made after the infamous Trump Tower “keeps changing.”
“This is the reason you don’t let this president testify in the special counsel’s Russia investigation,” Giuliani told ABC News. “Our recollection keeps changing.”