Sarah Sanders is exiting the White House by the end of June, leaving her role as the combative and deceptive press secretary.
Her legacy may best be remembered for destroying the daily White House press briefing, events that she so thoroughly rendered useless with her lies and obfuscations that it almost seemed an act of mercy when she finally stopped holding them at all.
But her tenure is marked by many other disgraceful and outrageous moments. Here are just seven:
1. Mueller caught her lying.
One of the most vivid stains on Sanders’ reputation will certainly be her appearance in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which lays out a clear case that she lied to the American people. It’s best to just let Mueller’s words stand for themselves:
In the afternoon of May 10, 2017, deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders spoke to the President about his decision to fire Comey and then spoke to reporters in a televised press conference. Sanders told reporters that the President, the Department of Justice, and bipartisan members of Congress had lost confidence in Comey, “[a]nd most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director . . .
When a reporter indicated that the “vast majority” of FBI agents supported Comey, Sanders said, “Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.” Following the press conference, Sanders spoke to the President, who told her she did a good job and did not point out any inaccuracies in her comments. Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from “countless members of the FBI” was a “slip of the tongue.” She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made “in the heat of the moment” that was not founded on anything.
2. She told a lie about Stormy Daniels.
It often gets forgotten, but President Donald Trump has already been implicated in a criminal hush money scheme to pay porn stars for their silence — an effort the Southern District of New York said violated campaign finance laws. And when questions about these events first arose, Sanders was a key player in the White House cover-up. As White House press secretary, she denied any of the allegations related to Trump’s alleged affairs and the hush money.
Of course, it’s now clear that the reports were true — Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were paid for their silence in ways that violated campaign finance law. It’s not clear if Sanders knew she was lying at the time, but either way, she was a party to the cover-up. If she was simply used as Trump’s pawn to spread false information of this crime, then she should have resigned as soon as she found out. But she didn’t, so this series of events will likewise stain her reputation.
3. She lied about the Mueller report.
Many of Sanders’ lies weren’t like the two listed above, which were about private information the public couldn’t access. Often, she would just blatantly lie about verifiable facts that anyone with an internet connection should be able to uncover.
She recently demonstrated this habit after the Mueller report was released.
“The entire existence of the Special Counsel and this process was to determine whether or not there was collusion,” she said. “There was no question: He was explicitly clear in the fact that there was no collusion.”
None of this was true, of course. Mueller didn’t conduct an investigation of “collusion”; he was looking for conspiracy and obstruction of justice, as well as any other charges that arose from the investigation. Since he wasn’t looking for “collusion,” he certainly didn’t explicitly say “there was no collusion.” In fact, while he did not establish the existence of a conspiracy, the report left open the possibility that further information might uncover such a crime.
4. The fight with Jim Acosta
Sanders was often testy with reporters, but she seemed to have a special disdain for CNN’s Jim Acosta. This eventually led to the withdrawal of his press pass, which a court later overturned.
But during the fight, Sanders shared a manipulated video that made it appear as though Acosta had been aggressive with a White House intern, when, in fact, it had been the intern who had aggressively tried to take a microphone from the reporter’s hand.
5. The “mass purge”
As part of the White House aggressive and hostile stance toward the reporters, the press office oversaw a “mass purge” of journalists’ press passes. It then gave exceptions to some journalists, reinstating their passes, but essentially leaving them in a position where there access to the White House — and their ability to do their job — were dependent on Sanders’ whims.
6. Lying about Trump’s bigotry
Sanders has repeatedly been an apologist for the president’s worst bigotries. And back in March, she tried to deflect criticism for Trump’s failure to condemn racist GOP Rep. Steve King (R-IA) or the marchers in Charlottesville by claiming he was a stalwart opponent of hate.
“The president has been incredibly clear and consistently and repeatedly condemned hatred, bigotry, racism in all of its forms, whether it’s in America or anywhere else, and to say otherwise is simply untrue,” she said.
As I wrote at the time:
Of course, this defense was patently false. It’s true that Trump sometimes denounces the most extreme forms of racist violence, like the attack on theTree of Life synagogue. But other times he ignores the violence altogether — like the foiled plot of an alleged white supremacist terrorist who appeared to be a big fan of the president or the sprawling prosecution of a large white supremacist gang. At the same time, he endorses racist policies, such as his Muslim ban or immigration policies that restrict entry from countries he deems “sh*tholes,” and he stokes racist fears against Central American migrants.
7. Attacking Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers
During the debacle that was the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Sanders disparaged the women who had spoken out against him and accused him of sexual misconduct and assault. She said the accusers “were more than willing to give interviews to The Washington Post and The New Yorker, but refused to sit down with the Senate Judiciary Committee,” implying that they were simply attention-seekers. In fact, they were all willing to speak to the committee, but it only ever decided to hear from Christine Blasey Ford.