As I have mentioned before, I am so glad we are finally getting the government we paid for. That said, it’s time to turn our attention to one who daily puts service to the American public front and center on a daily basis.
On Wednesday CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, now moved to prime time, was down to the nation’s capital, and he interviewed White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She’s really just Sarah Sanders, being married to Mr. Bryan Sanders, but I like to insert her maiden name to remind us she is descended from former Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. My observation has been that in this case the apple did not fall far from the tree, but that’s a matter for another story.
Anyhow, Mrs. Sanders has done an admirable job of speaking on behalf of President Trump since last year, when she took over for Sean Spicer, who had a tendency to wilt under the pressure. Apparently you can stand only so long telling reporters that it is so when all the while they know that it is not so. Saying it is so when it is not seems to be built into Sanders’ DNA, a definite requirement for the job. Take the above screen shot from Cuomo’s Wednesday night show. Before getting around to talking with Mrs. Sanders he cruelly put up a video, apparently of remarks she made on Monday regarding the low esteem the administration holds for mainstream media. She is quoted as saying of these news hawkers, “My credibility is probably higher.”
See what I mean? Sean Spicer, the previous press secretary, was able to make such statements, to his credit, but there was the perception he was having difficulty keeping a straight face. And, as I have said, he soon wilted and had to be pulled. Historically, Mrs. Sanders has stood firm and unblinking going on for nearly a year. Pardon the expression, but the lady has balls. This is one of those cases that require further analysis.
To begin with, the statement, “My credibility is probably higher,” could be misinterpreted. Without forewarning, the casual listener would be tempted to fill out the unsaid portion. To give an example, listeners might presume to reconstruct the statement like this: “Compared to Willie Sutton, my credibility is probably higher.” That was the thought that came to my mind, along with the thought that the conclusion is debatable.
Anyhow, Chris Cuomo’s segment runs over 19 minutes on YouTube, and CNN has been kind to post a transcript on-line, saving my having to run the tape back and forth to pick up snatches of the conversation. It’s interesting to examine a few excerpts. Here is one:
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: The most visible member of the administration outside of the president himself is Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and she is here.
Sarah, it is good to see you.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE: Good to see you.
CUOMO: I respect you taking the opportunity.
SANDERS: Thank you. Thanks for being in D.C.
CUOMO: Well, I came for you.
What do you think about this as a positive pivot? Let’s take a look at this situation and see if we can get to a place, mutual respect, both sides think credibility counts, and we move forward. What do you say?
SANDERS: All right. We’ll give it a shot.
Yeah, and that just about does it for the pleasantries for much of the remainder.
They begin by talking about the meeting at Trump Tower in New York on 9 June 2016 between members of the Trump campaign team and a Russian lawyer who promised to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee. Trump campaign members attending included campaign manager Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr.
Records of the meeting preparations came to light, and there was an element of embarrassment. Trump Jr. attempted to put our minds at ease by asserting the meeting was not about Clinton, rather it concerned the adoption of Russian orphans. That was obviously a lie.
It was suspected that President Trump issued a statement for Trump Jr. to unload on pesky reporters. When these suspicions were voiced, the White House, in the person of Mrs. Sanders pushed back:
On August 1, at the next day’s White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that Trump “certainly didn’t dictate, but … he weighed in, offered suggestion, like any father would do”
As we now know, that didn’t wash, despite reassurances from President Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulov:
On July 16, 2017, in an NBC interview Donald Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulov again said that Donald Trump did not draft the response and was not involved in the drafting of the statement.
Rather than continuing to bore you with the lengthy history, the lie has now been put to rest:
(CNN) – In a confidential letter to special counsel Robert Mueller in January, President Donald Trump’s legal team acknowledged for the first time that Trump “dictated” the first misleading statement put out about his son’s controversial 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower.
And that’s the lead-in to the following exchange between Cuomo and Sanders:
CUOMO: All right. Where’s the sticking point? This meeting matters, you know it does. I understand the reference to counsel. I get it. Not just because I’m an attorney, but you don’t want to answer for the lawyers, you don’t want to answer for an operation that you’re not a part of. I get it.
But you can answer for what you said. You don’t have to refer to counsel for that. Sekulow is not your lawyer. He’s the president’s lawyer. You’re saying, he didn’t dictate this. He did what any father would do.
That turns out not to be true. You agree with that?
SANDERS: Once again, I know I answered this question on Monday. I answered it on Tuesday, and I’m going to answer it the same way today and you’re probably not going to like it anymore on Wednesday than it sounds like you liked it on Monday or Tuesday. But this is a legal matter and the appropriate individuals to answer questions on a legal matter are the outside counsel.
And I would direct you to them. And frankly, I did direct you to them. And you had them here on your set and asked them that question and I would refer you back to that statement.
See? That’s why Sanders makes the big bucks. She can stare a reporter in the face and say she already answered that question, which she did not do, and she will refer you back to an original statement in which she did not answer the question but instead referred back to another source, which source she observes is not covered by her job title, and that’s that, and you can take your silly questions and stick them where the sun does not shine.
There’s a lot more, and here’s a part of what gives me the most joy:
CUOMO: Let’s look at it a different way. Do you wish that the White House had corrected the error between where it started and where it wound up with Sekulow in this letter sooner?
SANDERS: I wish that we spent a lot less time focused on things the American people don’t care about. I wish we spent a lot less time talking about this witch hunt and that we talked about things that impact everyday Americans. I wish we spent a lot more time talking about the economy.
I wish that your network had spent a lot more time today covering a very important piece of legislation that the president signed when he spent a good bit of time this afternoon talking about the importance of Veterans Choice Act that he signed into law today. And your network didn’t even take that.
I wish those were the things that we spent time talking about that.
That’s right. We should be talking about the economy and the veterans bill just signed. Except that… Except, lady, your house is on fire! Don’t you think we should talk about that?
Truth be told, I do miss Sean Spicer. He squirmed so deliciously. Sanders, to my simultaneous dismay and wonder, pastes on that smile of self-righteous certitude and reminds us that we are wrong, and she is right. Move over, Willie Sutton.