On Wednesday night, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders sat down with CNN's Chris Cuomo. Cuomo started the interview with what seemed like a simple question. Here it is:
"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. (Jay) 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?"
And now for a quick bit of context: In August 2017, Sanders told the White House press corps that President Donald Trump had not dictated the statement from his son, Donald Trump Jr., to the New York Times regarding a June 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower. According to a 20-page memo sent by Trump's legal team to special counsel Robert Mueller's office in January, Trump did, in fact, dictate the Don Jr. statement.
Which puts Sanders in a, um, precarious position. She quite clearly didn't tell the truth -- for some reason. She was either misinformed by someone above her or she purposely misled the press. Which is it? We don't know. Because Sanders won't answer any questions -- despite being questioned about it repeatedly by the press corps -- about the clear contradiction between her past statement and, well, the truth.
So. Cuomo asks Sanders to explain. And asks. And asks. And asks. And asks. And asks.
Below are the 13(!) "answers" Sanders offered Cuomo, in chronological order. I've added a few thoughts (in the narrator voice of Ron Howard on "Arrested Development") in italics after Sanders' "answers."
- "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." (She didn't answer it. Not any of those times.)
- "This is a legal process and I would refer you to the appropriate venue to answer questions on a legal back-and-forth. And that is the President's outside counsel. And that's who you should ask those questions of." (But, if it is a legal process now, why wasn't it a legal process back in August 2017? The special counsel had already been formed!)
- "If you guys want to talk about questions that have to do with White House policy and substantive policy, I'm happy to try to answer those and do the best I can to provide you that information. If you want to talk about things that don't have anything to do with me." (This does have to do with the White House! This is about the fundamental credibility of the communications operation at the White House.)
- "I don't understand having to answer the same question over and over and over again." (She does understand. The reason is because she hasn't answered it. Not once.)
- "No, that's not true. I've answered it, you just didn't like the answer. There's a big difference between me answering it and you not liking the answer." (There would be -- if she had answered the question. Which she hasn't.)
- "I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth with you. I've addressed it. The outside counsel has addressed it. They've answered this question over the last couple of days and I would refer you back to those comments." (Please refer back to my past non-answers. Also, you're welcome.)
- "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." (This "witch hunt" has led to five guilty pleas, including from Trump's deputy campaign chairman and his national security adviser.)
- "I understand if you guys didn't want to put the veterans (on air) ... I think that's a sad decision you made." (Because you didn't run the entirety of an event featuring veterans, you are a) against Donald Trump b) sad.)
- "Again, that's a question you would have to ask the outside counsel. I'm not going to have a legal conversation with you here. If you want to talk about issues again that matter to the American people, I'm happy to do that." (Whether the White House can be trusted to, you know, tell the truth is something the American public is interested in.)
- "I've answered this question multiple times. And no matter how many times I answer it for you, it's not going to change. It's the same one." (She hasn't. And she won't.)
- "We are purposefully walling ourselves off and allowing the outside counsel to do their job. And we're doing ours." (But, but, but why then did she answer the question -- insisting Trump did not dictate the statement -- back in August 2017?)
- "I'm starting to regret sitting here, because I've answered the same question a million times." (But, well, you haven't answered it. Not even once.)
- "I'm very comfortable with my credibility and the fact that I think by sitting here right now and taking questions from you -- shows the type of person I am, shows my effort to provide information. And frankly, to be in an environment that's not exactly friendly, that's not exactly one that I think a lot of people in my position would come and sit in. And I think that speaks a lot to my credibility. And if you want to focus on my credibility, I think that's something you should certainly look at." (Credibility is premised on telling the truth. Sanders is not doing that. The end.)