Trump aides — even those who’ve left their posts — aren’t supposed to show vulnerability. The standard Trump response to being criticized as a liar, after all, is to attack the criticism as “fake news.”
This message from Sanders, however, speaks to the consequences of serving in the White House, where she lasted nearly 2½ years before departing in June. As Karni noted for the Times, Sanders distinguished herself by attempting to revoke the White House press pass of CNN’s Jim Acosta — a federal court reinstated it — as well as ending the tradition of holding daily briefings for the White House press corps. The job had become undoable, thanks to the lies coming from the Oval Office.
They trickled down, too. As Vice documented, Sanders lied “straight-up” at least nine consequential times while spinning for the president. Topics included Acosta, employment rates and terrorism. The big whopper, of course, surfaced in the report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which recounted Sanders’ claim in May 2017 to have heard from “countless” FBI officials supporting the president’s decision to fire then-FBI Director James B. Comey. The assertion amounted to a “slip of the tongue,” she told Mueller’s team. The report cited a second statement to similar effect: “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.”
No matter where Sanders goes from here — the Arkansas governor’s office, some other elected position or a continuation of her current job as a Fox News contributor — her prominent place in Mueller’s findings will follow her. Just after the report surfaced, Sanders offered this flimsy defense: "The big takeaway here is that the sentiment is 100 percent accurate,” she told CBS News. "The FBI is a better place without James Comey. He disgraced himself, and he undermined the agency that he was supposed to be in charge of.”
At least Sanders is willing to admit that her comeuppance for serving a liar has unsettled her. That’s the first step toward a reckoning and an apology. Not that she’ll ever consider taking the necessary subsequent steps.
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