There is perhaps no one more qualified to speak on the unprecedented nature of the Donald Trump administration than journalists who have covered presidential administrations over long periods of time, making former ABC news anchor Sam Donaldson something of an expert on modern presidential history. Donaldson appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and his assessment of the Trump administration and its press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is sure to make waves at the White House.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders told investigators that she misled the press about the reason Donald Trump fired former FBI director James Comey in 2017 when she told reporters “countless” FBI agents had lost confidence in the agency’s leaderhttps://t.co/K0V8HpvtQA
— POLITICO (@politico) April 18, 2019
While most sane Americans knew well ahead of the Mueller report that Sanders routinely lies to reporters during White House press briefings, the hard and incontrovertible proof of those lies came upon its release. Sanders told the press that Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey because “countless” members of the FBI had expressed a loss of confidence in him. Under questioning by Mueller, Sanders admitted that her statements were “not based on anything,” prompting calls for her firing as an unreliable spokesperson.
Donaldson said that the level of dishonesty that comes from Sanders is absolutely unprecedented in his long experience covering presidential administrations.
‘Look, I’ve had the pleasure of working with almost every press secretary beginning with Pierre Salinger in John F. Kennedy’s administration, and except for Ron Ziegler, who lied for Richard Nixon, I’ve never seen anything like this with Sarah Sanders.’
Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the "sentiment" of her characterization of Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey as "100 percent accurate" — even though she conceded to Robert Mueller that her comments at the time were not based on any facts https://t.co/a4DWPqI994
— POLITICO (@politico) April 20, 2019
When caught in her lie, Sanders insisted that it was an off-hand remark and her only slip was in using the word “countless.” However, there’s no indication that any FBI agent expressed their loss of confidence in Comey and Sanders repeated the same lie multiple times over the following days after her initial remark. That isn’t off-the-cuff, that’s a planned deception.
Donaldson noted that Nixon’s press secretary certainly told lies about the Watergate scandal, but that Sanders lies about nearly everything she’s asked about.
‘And there’s a difference. Ziegler lied about one thing: the question of whether the president was covering up the Watergate burglary and all the questions that had to do with that…on the other hand, Sarah Sanders simply lies about everything, taking a cue from her boss. Not just one thing. I think she’s had a lifetime achievement Oscar for lying.’
New: @PressSec Sarah Sanders admitted to Mueller her public comments about FBI weren’t based in fact. Specifically, Sanders said her assertion in response to question about FBI agents supporting Comey wasn’t “founded on anything,” according to Mueller.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) April 18, 2019
Donaldson also said, though, that he doesn’t necessarily blame Sanders for the lies. Instead, he blames Trump, who puts her out in front of the press corps with either misinformation or a clear directive to just lie.
‘Let’s face it, I don’t’ know her. I feel a little sorry for her because it’s the boss who does it. She takes the cue from him. Leadership begins at the top, and so does all the bad things that happen in an administration.’
— JoeMyGod (@JoeMyGod) April 19, 2019
Cooper agreed that there are truths to which Sanders may be not privy, saying, “she may not even be on firm ground at times.” Donaldson agreed and said that Trump has to send out a liar to support his efforts to mislead the public, and “if you’re the top liar, you want people to support your lies and not argue against them.”
For the full video of Anderson Cooper 360 from Saturday night, see below. Donaldson’s appearance begins at 0:52.
Featured image screenshot via YouTube