No matter what the current president has been accused of, his loyal press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been right there to spin it into something else. She is either part Tasmanian devil or tornado. I haven’t figured out which, but her spin is so swift and powerful as to blow everyone in the press room into silence—keeping them from asking further questions about things neither she nor the president wants to answer.
On Tuesday, however, that changed. Sanders found herself up against the indefensible, and for as much as she is willing to fall on her sword at any given moment, she would not do it at the latest White House press briefing.
News broke early in the day that former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman released a secret recording she made of two Trump campaign staffers—Katrina Pierson and Lynn Patton—discussing how to spin Trump’s use of a racial slur. Omarosa claims that slur was the n-word.
A reporter asked Sanders at Tuesday’s press briefing, “Sarah, have you asked the president if he’s ever used the n-word?”
Sanders initially tried to deflect and said, “The president addressed that question directly via Twitter. I’d refer you back to him. I can certainly say I’ve never heard him use that term or anything similar.”
The same reporter pushed back and asked, “But have you asked him directly, Sarah?”
“I didn’t have to because he addressed it to the American people all at one time,” Sanders replied.
Reporter: “Why haven’t you asked him directly?”
Sanders: “Again, the president answered that question directly on Twitter earlier today.”
Reporter: “Can you stand at the podium and guarantee the American people they’ll never hear Donald Trump utter the n-word on a recording in any context?”
Sanders: (voice shaking) “I can’t guarantee anything, but I can tell you that the president addressed this question directly. I can tell you that I’ve never heard it. I can also tell you that if myself or the people that are in this building serving this country every single day—doing our very best to help people all across this country and make it better—if at any point we felt that the president was who some of his critics claim him to be, we certainly wouldn’t be here. This is a president who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies in place that help all Americans—particularly African-Americans. Just look at the economy alone. This president since he took office—in the year-and-a-half that he’s been here—has created 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans. That’s 700,000 African-Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took place. When President Obama left after eight years in office—eight years in office—he had only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans. President Trump in his first year-and-a-half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years. Not only did he do that for African-Americans, but for Hispanics. 1.7 million more Hispanics are working now. This is a president who cares about all Americans, who is committed to helping them and is putting policies in place that actually do that.”
Sanders then tried to move on to a different reporter, but that reporter volleyed back to the reporter who was already grilling Sarah and had her voice shaking.
Reporter: “Just to be clear, you can’t guarantee it.”
Sanders: (again, her voice shaking)“Look, I haven’t been in every single room. I can tell you that the president has addressed this directly. He’s addressed it directly to the American people, and I can tell you what the focus and the heart of the president is—and that’s on helping all Americans. And certainly, this is somebody who has been in business for decades, and you’re just now hearing some of these outrageous accusations after the fact he’s dealt with people all over the world. It wasn’t until he became a candidate for president that you started to hear some of these salacious and ridiculous claims. And certainly, I think if you look at the actions that this president has taken—certainly the policies that he’s enacted—you can see the heart of who he is, and you can see exactly what he has done and the type of president and person that he is.”
Without going too deeply into the factual inaccuracies of Sarah’s cover-up story for the president, here are a few things she got wrong:
- It is inaccurate to say that allegations of racial bias never came out about Trump until the 2016 presidential election. In October 1973, the United States Department of Justice filed a civil rights case that accused Trump’s firm of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 on the basis of racial discrimination. At the time, it was one of the biggest federal housing discrimination suits.
- In a 1989 interview with CNN’s Larry King, Trump said that “maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done” in reference to the Central Park 5, all of whom were young men of color. He also took out a full-page ad calling for the death penalty to be reinstated in New York City. Basically, he called for children of color to be killed.
- As Bloomberg notes, Sanders gave numbers on Trump’s job creation record that are so far from the truth, they could accurately be described as a lie. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that while 700,000 more blacks have gained employment since Trump has been in office, during the Obama administration, three million African Americans gained employment.
But let’s stick to the matter at hand. In as much as Sanders was willing to use her best cry-voice to speak positively about the man she serves, she stopped short of saying the president has never said the n-word because she could not truthfully make that claim.
As much as Sanders wants us to believe that the president is a good man, his actions, policies and Twitter rants show him to be the exact opposite of what she claimed in her passionate speech at the podium Tuesday.
It was the lie she could not tell.
She has fallen on her sword for him so willingly in the past, but this was the one line she could not cross.
And I think all of us know why.