In a series of interviews Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stood by her 2017 comments around the dismissal of FBI director James Comey despite telling special counsel Robert Mueller that her statements were made “’in the heat of the moment’” and “not founded on anything.”
During a news conference after Comey’s abrupt firing in May 2017, Huckabee Sanders told reporters the White House had “heard from countless members of the FBI” who had lost confidence in Comey. However, Mueller’s team found, “The evidence does not support those claims,” according to the special counsel’s report.
“Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue,’” investigators said in the Mueller report, which was redacted and released Thursday by U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told investigators she lied to the press after Comey firing pic.twitter.com/JNN9ObzKFd— Dorey Scheimer (@DoreyScheimer) April 18, 2019
Huckabee Sanders disputed the special counsel’s interpretation of her comments in an interview Friday with “CBS This Morning,” telling morning show anchors that she only meant to say the word “countless” was a slip of the tongue.
“The big takeaway here is that the sentiment is 100 percent accurate,” Huckabee Sanders said. “The FBI is a better place without James Comey.”
So you're saying the president has never asked you to say anything you knew not to be true? -- @JDickerson— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) April 19, 2019
"Correct and he's also never asked me to break the law." -- @PressSec Sanders pic.twitter.com/BBkLrIzyyc
In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Huckabee Sanders insisted “there were a number of FBI, both former (and) current), that agreed with the president’s decision.”
“I said that the word I used, countless … If you look (at) what’s in quotations from me, it’s that and it was ‘in the heat of the moment,’ meaning that it wasn’t a scripted talking point,” she said. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t a robot like the Democratic Party.”
“That’s not a slip of the tongue Sarah, that’s a deliberate false statement.”@GStephanopoulos presses @PressSec Sarah Sanders on the culture of lying, exposed by the #MuellerReport, in the White House. https://t.co/wBBIUQ2Xfo pic.twitter.com/d5A4MOgqi1— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 19, 2019
Despite her insistence that her comments about FBI support for Comey’s dismissal were “in the heat of the moment,” Politico noted she told reporters similar things on at least one other occasion, one day after making her initial comment about “countless members of the FBI.”
“I can speak to my own personal experience,” she said in 2017, according to Politico. “I’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the president’s decision.”