In an off-camera press briefing, the first since June 30, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was peppered with questions about the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia and the confirmed meeting between Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort with a Kremlin-linked lawyer. The question and answer session was tense, as usual, and Sanders was her usual, overly defensive, truth-spinning self.
Many of the questions focused on recent developments around the alleged Trump/Russia collusion story. Ben Jacobs of The Guardian reports that Sanders was asked about Putin’s statement that Trump accepted his denial that Russia committed cyberattacks during the 2016 presidential election in order to aid Trump’s win. Sanders deflected by answering that the most important thing “was that they were able to have that conversation.” She also contradicted Trump’s statement that sanctions were not discussed during his meeting with Putin by saying that they were discussed according to CNN’s Kaitlin Collins.
Buzzfeed reporter Adrian Carrasquillo said that Sanders deflected again on questions about Trump, Jr.’s meeting with the Kremlin-based lawyer, answering those questions by complaining about “leakers” giving the American public the truth through the mainstream media. She did state that President Trump knew nothing of the meeting and only learned of it “in the last couple of days,” according to NBC reporter Ali Vitali.
Time reporter Zeke Miller described Sanders’ answers to all questions related to Russian collusion by stating that the president has already said there was no collusion and then moving on without addressing the “shifting stories” from the White House around the reports. He also reported that Sanders did offer a full-throated denial of Trump Jr.’s intent to collude with Russia during the now-infamous meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.
Sanders defended Ivanka Trump’s seating at G20, saying that if she wasn’t Donald Trump’s daughter, everyone would be “celebrating” her every move. This ignores the fact that if she wasn’t Trump’s daughter, she would never have been invited to sit at that table without government experience or an election by the American people authorizing her to speak to world leaders on our behalf.
Sanders even managed to defend Trump’s ridiculous tweet about Chelsea Clinton by saying “in response to an outrageous attack” on Trump’s decision to have his unelected, inexperienced daughter sit in his place during meetings. At the time, however, Chelsea Clinton had not spoken about Ivanka Trump or her seating at the G20 summit.
In perhaps the most explosive portion of the press briefing, Sanders confirmed that Trump may still work with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a cybersecurity initiative despite Russia’s confirmed efforts to hack the elections and upend the democratic process, and when stunned reporters asked if Trump trusts Putin, Sanders said, “I haven’t asked him that question.”
For a brief portion of the audio-only press briefing and Sanders’ statements on the Trump/Russia scandal, see video below:
Sarah Huckabee Sanders on if Trump trusts Putin: “I haven’t asked him that question” https://t.co/zWJElfoWwo
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 10, 2017
Featured image via Getty/NurPhoto