White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to the press. A lot.
Like her boss, Sanders’ relationship with the press was contentious at best and straight up confrontational at worst. Whether the issue at hand was the Russia investigation, President Trump’s inclination to incite violence at MAGA rallies, or how many “terrorists” had been apprehended at the southern border, Sanders had no trouble twisting the truth — even when her reputation took a hit for it.
To be fair, representing the Trump administration would put any press secretary in a tough spot. As of June 7, Trump had told 10,796 lies since the start of his presidency, according to the Washington Post. Sometimes Sanders got caught toeing the line for the administration. Other times, there seemed to be no good reason for lying at all. The lies have stopped in the past three months -- because she hasn't even held a press briefing in all that time.
As she gets ready to step down at the end of the month, here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the biggest whoppers from the White House briefing room:
She told the press that the FBI had “lost confidence” in Comey — and admitted she lied
Sanders got caught lying by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and his team documented it in their report.
Sanders said FBI Director James Comey’s firing in May 2017 was based primarily on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s recommendation to fire the him. Trump undercut that claim in his interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt a few days after the firing, where he said he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation and he would’ve done it anyway.
Sanders also said that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” That, she later told Mueller, was based on nothing, and was said in “the heat of the moment.” She then told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that what she told Mueller was “a slip of the tongue.”
She straight-up lied about lying about Trump’s hush-money payments
Asked during a press briefing about whether the president had any knowledge of the hush money payments Michael Cohen made to women to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump, Sanders said: “Look, the president has addressed these directly and made very well clear that none of these allegations are true.”
That wasn’t true. Trump did know, as his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and Trump himself both later admitted. When that info came out, Sanders was asked if she had lied on behalf of the president.
“We give the very best information that we have at the time,” Sanders said. “I do that every single day and will continue to do that every day I’m in this position.”
She tried to defend Trump’s alleged use of the n-word by lying about black employment
The former Trump adviser and "Apprentice" contestant Omarosa Manigault-Newman claimed in her memoir that Trump was a “racist, misogynist, and bigot” — and had repeatedly used the n-word backstage during the filming of the reality TV show.
Asked if she could guarantee that the president had never used the n-word said, Sanders, in short, said nope.
"I can't guarantee anything,” she said. “But I can tell you that the president addressed this question directly; I can tell you I've never heard it."
She went on to say that black employment had risen dramatically under Trump, way more than it did under former president Barack Obama. That was clearly wrong:
"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,” Sanders said. “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'd 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."
She was right about how much black employment had risen during Trump’s presidency; she was off by a factor of 15 on how many jobs for black people Obama had created during his presidency. Between 2009 and 2017, there were 2.9 million new jobs created for African Americans in the U.S.
She issued a half-hearted apology on Twitter.
She tweeted a doctored video of Jim Acosta allegedly accosting an intern
CNN’s Jim Acosta has become known for not backing off tough questions during Sanders’ press briefings, and he’s the only journalist from a major news organization who temporarily had his White House press credentials revoked.
The reason he lost access was based on this video, which Sanders tweeted out, that appeared to show Acosta physically brushing aside a White House intern, who was instructed to remove the microphone from Acosta.
Trouble is, that video was doctored. It was sped up in a way that made it appear that Acosta had been more forceful than he actually was. Here’s the original, alongside Sanders’ version:
“We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” Sanders said. “This conduct is absolutely unacceptable.”
Acosta had his press credentials restored less than two weeks later.
She said 4,000 suspected or known terrorists had tried to enter the country through the southern border
There were only six immigrants at ports of entry whose names were listed in the federal database of known or suspected terrorists who were apprehended at the southern border in the first half of 2018, Customs and Border Protection told NBC News.
By comparison, 41 immigrants on terror watch lists were picked up at the Canadian border.
She said Trump never encouraged violence at MAGA rallies
“The president in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence of anything,” Sanders told reporters in June of 2017. “Quite the contrary.”
Trump has, very clearly, encouraged violence. "I'd like to punch him in the face," Trump said of a rally protester in February 2016 from his soapbox during the presidential campaign. “In the old days, protesters would be carried out on stretchers.”
She peddled the claim that Obama wiretapped Trump campaign
Trump recently admitted that he basically made them up. When he said that Obama wiretapped his campaign, it was “a little bit of a hunch,” Trump told Fox’s Sean Hannity in April — but Sanders stuck with the line until the end.
In March of 2019, she accused Democrats of orchestrating the entire Mueller investigation, by means including the wiretapping of the Trump campaign, which didn’t happen.
“They were behind pushing a fake dossier, they were behind the wiretapping, they were behind spying on a U.S. campaign,” she said on CNN in March. “100 percent, they were behind it.”
She said Chicago has the “strictest gun laws in the country”
“One of the things that we don’t want to do is try to create laws that won’t stop these kinds of things from happening,” Sanders said during a press conference following the 2017 mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. “If you look to Chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year, they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.”
Chicago does not have the strictest gun laws in the country.
The city used to have a handgun ban; that was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2010. Chicago also used to punish violators of its gun policies more strictly than it does today.
Gun regulation advocates regularly call on the state of Illinois to increase the restrictiveness of its gun laws. “Illinois could further improve its grade by strengthening the regulation of gun dealers, limiting bulk firearm purchases, and restricting large-capacity magazines,” the Giffords Law Center noted in its annual report of states’ gun laws. It did note that the state has among the most restrictive gun laws in the country, but Illinois does not have the toughest gun laws in the country.
She said she was “thankful” for the press
During a briefing right before Thanksgiving of 2017, Sanders asked journalists in the White House briefing room to say something they're thankful for before asking a question. She started it off, saying, “Obviously, you probably know, and it’s no secret, that I’m clearly very thankful for all of you in the room. I think that goes without saying.”
The journalists in the room couldn’t contain their laughter.
Cover image: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)