White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was tasked Monday with explaining President Trump's sympathetic comments about alleged spouse abuser Rob Porter. It went about as well as might be expected.
Sanders beat back one question after another about why Trump has suggested that Porter might be innocent but has said nothing about the domestic violence of which Porter stands accused. Then she was asked why Trump opted to go even a step further and wish Porter success in his career — a comment that seemed odd given that this is a man accused of horrible things.
Behold the spin:
“I think the president of the United States hopes that all Americans can be successful in whatever they do,” Sanders said. “And if they've had any issues in the past — I'm not confirming or denying one way or the other — but if they do, the president wants success for all Americans.”
She concluded: “He was elected to serve all Americans, and he hopes for the best for all American citizens across the country.”
By this logic, here is a list of people for whom Trump has only the best wishes:
- Larry Nassar
- Harvey Weinstein
- Bowe Bergdahl
- Bill Cosby
- Martin Shkreli
- Hillary Clinton
I'm being facetious here, but that is technically the argument that Sanders is making. She is arguing that Trump wants good things to happen to you — simply because you happen to be an American. It doesn't appear to matter whether you've inflicted horrible things upon people or might have committed crimes.
Porter has been convicted of no crimes, of course, but wishing someone well inherently suggests that you think they are worthy of good things in the future. Trump didn't say, “I wish Rob Porter well if he didn't actually beat his wives.” Instead, the president just came out and said he hoped Porter would find success. “Well, we wish him well,” Trump said Friday. “He worked very hard. I found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it. But we certainly wish him well.” Trump added of Porter that “hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.”
Trump then seemed to lament in a tweet over the weekend that people like Porter have their careers upended by “a mere allegation.”
The problem with Trump's comments here is that they seem to preclude the possibility that Porter may actually be guilty of what he's accused of. When Trump wishes Porter well, it sure seems as if he thinks this is all much ado about nothing.
And the idea that Trump — who ran as the law-and-order president — wants good things to happen even to bad people doesn't really add up. This is the guy who talked about putting his opponent in jail, after all. It's about as far from being on-brand as you can get.
But then, how else could you explain Trump's comments?