News broke today that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is stepping down from his position, although he will remain with the department until he is eligible for retirement with full benefits in March.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who lies almost as constantly as Donald Trump, fielded questions about his stepping down during a press briefing at the White House. As the line of questioning goes on, she steadily gets angrier and angrier, eventually cutting off reporters repeatedly before they are finished speaking.
“Sarah, the news came down in the last hour that Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe is stepping down. The president back at the end of December was tweeting about Andrew McCabe in a less than effusive praise manner. What’s he thinking about him stepping down?”
‘Uh, look. We’ve seen the numerous reports, as all of you have, and any specifics I can tell you none of this decision was made by that of the White House and any specifics I would refer you to the FBI who I believe will be making a statement later today.’
Next, she was asked about Trump’s misleading attacks just last month on Deputy Director McCabe, an Obama-era holdover that conservatives have fixated on to spin conspiracy theories about anti-Trump bias in the FBI.
“You say that the White House was not involved in the decision, but clearly the president seemed to be involved in a public relations campaign against McCabe.”
‘Uh, look. The president stands by his previous comments, but in terms of the situation today, as I just said, we’ve seen the reports just as all of you have. We don’t have any specific comments and I would refer you to the FBI for any specifics on the things that are taking place today.’
“So when you say that you’ve seen the reports, does that mean that the president was not informed by anyone at the FBI that this was happening, has he had any conversations with anybody there?”
‘Uh, no he hasn’t.’
The next question is interesting, because Sarah inadvertently and indirectly admits that Trump certainly did play a role. The only real question is the degree of role he played:
“Can you say definitively that the president did not play a role in Andrew McCabe stepping down?”
‘Yes, I can say that the president wasn’t part of this decision-making process, and we would refer you to the FBI where Christopher Wray serves as the Director, which as I said last week, and I’ll repeat again today, the president has full confidence in him and has put the decisions at the FBI in his hands.’
That answer reads like “he knew what he needed to do based on Trump’s public attacks against McCabe.”
“And did the president at any time convey that he wanted to fire Robert Mueller to anyone on staff here?”
‘Not that I’m aware of.’
This is a lie. It has been confirmed by many sources that Trump did indeed attempt to fire Robert Mueller, and has expressed that sentiment to many staff. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is trying to use plausible deniability by saying “Not that I’m aware of,” but in reality it’s just another lie from a lying liar.
“So no one at the White House contacted the FBI about McCabe? No one put any directives or even had any discussions about his tenure at the FBI? Did anyone at the White House?”
‘Not that I’m aware of. Nothing specific to McCabe and his stepping down as of today, if that is what is being reported.’
This answer is very cagey, and reporters should dig further. She said “nothing specific to McCabe and his stepping down as of today.” That could mean they didn’t say anything at all, or it could just mean they didn’t give a specific date for him to leave on.
The next question really set her off, and she cut the reporter off well before they were done speaking.
“What would you say to critics who believe that this White House and this president have had almost a sort of steady pressure put on the Justice Department, put on the FBI, since the president came into office, on this special counsel investigation? Whether it be conversations with Jeff Sessions’ office about recusal, whether it be about this desire for Robert Mueller to go away, and now with Andrew McCabe. There were even reports that Rod Rosenstein was also feeling pressure from the White House. It sounds like there was multiple officials at multiple levels who were being pressured by the White House, by the president. What would you say in response to that concern?”
‘I’d say what I’ve said probably a hundred times before and will continue to say I’m sure a hundred times today. The White House has been fully cooperative and is going to continue to be fully cooperative. In fact, we’ve gone above and beyond many times, and certainly done everything that we could. The White House has provided over 20 witnesses and tens of thousands of pages of documents to the Special Counsel. We’ve done everything we can to be fully transparent, and we’re going to continue to do that throughout the process.’
She’s so full of lies it’s hard to know where to start. First, nearly every witness and document the White House has offered have been compelled. Second, Trump has interfered with the investigation at virtually every step of the process. Even repeated public attacks against the investigation are a form of interference, as they’re not interested in what the investigation finds. They’re interested in turning public opinion against the investigation no matter the result.
Trump fired Comey expressly to try and stop the investigation. He has tried to fire Mueller. He has engaged in targeted, weaponized leaking using Republican allies in Congress to undermine the investigation. He’s engaged in attempted obstruction nearly two dozen times—and that’s just what’s available in public information. Considering that many stories don’t see the light of day for months, it’s likely that Trump’s true criminal behavior is far more wide-ranging and insidious.
Lyin’ Sarah didn’t even let the reporter finish this thought:
“So what about this notion that the president has been applying pressure for months, steady pressure…”
‘The only thing that the president has applied pressure to is to make sure that we get this resolved so that you guys and everyone else can focus on the things people actually care about.’
Sorry, Sarah, but Americans definitely want to see the criminal in the White House held accountable. Here’s the video:
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images