President Trump on Thursday afternoon announced that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders would be departing her job at “the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas.”
But Sanders had unofficially left her job as White House press secretary earlier this year, when she allowed the tradition of frequent official White House briefings to lapse — and then, to die. When Trump announced Sanders’s departure, it had been 94 days since the last briefing.
For the rosiest possible spin on the news, we take you to Fox News, Sanders’s go-to network for disseminating her boss’s message. “She always kept her composure and she was always right on the money with what she said,” said the network’s Jesse Watters on the afternoon program “The Five.”
In fact: Sanders stood at the White House briefing room lectern and lied. That’s not a matter of opinion. That’s not a matter of bias. That’s not a matter of analysis. It’s a documented event. On Page 72 of Volume II of the Mueller report, there’s a rundown of how Sanders spun for President Trump upon his firing of then-FBI Director James B. Comey. Faced with questions about the prudence of the dismissal, Sanders argued that “countless” FBI officials had reached out with words of support. Mueller’s investigators questioned Sanders about those comments. As it turned out, Sanders said, “countless” was a “slip of the tongue.” Another line from the report: “She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything.”
That wasn’t a media outlet’s fact-check. It was a Justice Department fact-check. Though Sanders attempted to counter-spin the Mueller report — repeating her slip-of-the-tongue claim — there was nowhere for this Trump aide to move. In an administration full of liars, Sanders was a distinguished, acclaimed liar.
At a Thursday afternoon event at the White House, Trump feted Sanders as “tough, but she’s good. You also have tough and bad, right?” In her farewell, Sanders said, “This has been the honor of a lifetime, the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t be prouder to have the opportunity to serve my country, in particular this president. … I’ve loved every minute, even the hard minutes."She also noted that she’d have more time with her kids. “In the meantime, I’m going to continue to be one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the president and his agenda.”
Of course she is. Once you start covering for the president’s mendacity and perfidy, it’s impossible to stop — at least without admitting the entire fraud.
Last December, Sanders was asked what she wished for her legacy. “Transparent and honest,” she replied, in part. A wish it will remain.