For the second day in a row, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders refused to explain why she denied a report that President Trump helped draft a misleading statement for Donald Trump Jr. about his son’s infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer.
At Tuesday’s press briefing, Sanders was again asked if she cared to revise her earlier remarks on the meeting given that Trump’s attorneys admitted this week that the president had, in fact, “dictated” his son’s response.
“I’m not going to go into detail and get into a back and forth,” Sanders responded. “I know that you guys would love to engage on matters of conversations between the special counsel and the outside counsel, but we’ve purposely walled off and I’m not going to comment.”
Last August, Sanders said that Trump “certainly didn’t dictate” the statement about the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting, which falsely asserted it was convened to discuss Russian adoption policy. The New York Times revealed that Trump Jr. arranged the sit-down with the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, because he was told she had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. For months, Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, insisted that the president had nothing to do with crafting Trump Jr.’s statement.
But in a letter to special counsel Robert Mueller revealed this week, Trump’s legal team said that the president “dictated a short” response to the Times report. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on Monday night that it was a “mistake” by Sekulow and Sanders to say otherwise.
During another exchange at Tuesday’s briefing, Sanders was asked whether she she thinks her statement from August was accurate.
“I think you all know I’m an honest person,” she replied.
The press secretary was then asked why the American people should trust the information coming from behind the White House briefing room podium.
“I work every single day to give you accurate and up-to-date information, and I’m going to continue to do that,” Sanders said, before launching into a lecture about press coverage. “Frankly, I think my credibility is probably higher than the media’s. I think in large part that’s because you guys spend more of your time focusing on attacking the president instead of reporting the news.”
She added: “I think that if you spent a little bit more time reporting the news instead of trying to tear me down, you might actually see that we’re working hard trying to provide you good information and trying to provide that same good information to the American people.”
Later in the briefing, Sanders clashed with CNN’s April Ryan, who asked whether Trump is aware that NFL players protesting during the national anthem are trying to raise awareness about police-involved shootings.
“The president has made his position crystal clear,” Sanders said, before interjecting as Ryan tried to asked a followup.
“I let you rudely interrupt me,” Sanders said. “I’m going to ask that you allow me to finish my answer. I would be happy to answer if you stopped talking long enough to let me do that.”