For a White House press secretary to "spin" the news is one thing. It's expected. But what Sarah Huckabee Sanders has done, as starkly revealed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report, has crossed the line into outright, calculated lying. She lied to the news media and, by extension, to the nation.
Sanders owes an apology to America. Instead, she's doubling-down. As long as President Donald Trump keeps her around, Americans should treat everything Sanders says as suspect information from a source definitively shown to be untrustworthy.
From the start, Trump has used his press-office staff to perpetuate misinformation. Recall how Sean Spicer, Sanders' predecessor, in his first news conference, insultingly told journalists not to believe photos and their own lyin' eyes about the size of Trump's inauguration crowd.
A White House willing to lie about such a trivial issue raised justifiable fears that administration officials could not be trusted to be truthful about important ones. In Sanders, that fear has become real. Whether the topic is voter fraud, immigrants and crime, economic data or countless other sensitive issues, Sanders has always been there to obediently repeat Trump's lie du jour.
Among her most potently bogus claims was that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 because "countless" FBI staffers reported losing faith in Comey — and not (as Trump himself admitted) to end the Russia investigation. Sanders' story was important because it provided a legitimate rationale for a firing that otherwise bore all the hallmarks of obstruction of justice.
Under oath while speaking to Mueller's team, Sanders sang an entirely different tune. Asked about her FBI-disgruntlement assertion, Sanders admitted there was no basis for it.
She called it "a slip of the tongue" — as if she'd mispronounced a word. As Mueller's report put it, Sanders' story was "not founded on anything." In other words, she made it up while presenting it to the American public as factual.
Some people caught in such an outright fabrication would resign in disgrace, apologize, or at least keep her mouth shut and move on. But Sanders instead has taken to the talk shows to play the victim, claiming she didn't actually lie. Without proof, she accused journalists of advocating violence against her — ironic, given her ongoing lie that Trump has never "promoted or encouraged violence" when multiple rally videos show him doing just that.
Sanders marches in lock step with probably the most mendacious president ever to occupy the Oval Office. She could have served as a voice of integrity in this credibility-challenged administration, but instead she digs in. Those who cover this White House would do well to avoid using any information from her that isn't reliably confirmed elsewhere. Otherwise, they're in danger of doing exactly what she does: passing along lies.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH