Sarah Sanders Defended Trump's Russia Comments And It Was Pretty Darn Confusing
Adding more fuel to the fire over President Trump's controversial Russia comments, Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended President Trump at a press briefing on Wednesday in a way that raised further questions about his remarks. Earlier that day, Trump had responded "no" to a reporters question: "Is Russia still targeting the United States, Mr, President?" But the White House press secretary said at the briefing that Trump was saying "no" to answering that question, not "no" to possible Russian interference.
Soon after Sanders gave her version of the event, an ABC News video of Trump responding "no" made the rounds on Twitter. "Thank you very much," he says in the video, after the reporter asks the question. "No."
While speaking to the press, Sanders also touched upon the president's Tuesday clarification of his comments on Russia and Putin in Helsinki the day before. "The president saw a need to clarify the position. He saw how his comments were being interpreted, he looked at the transcript and clarified those comments," she said.
On Tuesday, as backlash over his comments during a Helsinki press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin grew, Trump attempted to walk back his remarks. "In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word would instead of wouldn't," Trump said. "The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.' Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things."
In spite of his supposed clarification, Trump maintained that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 election.
It was revealed later on that the reporter who asked Trump about Russian meddling was ABC News' Cecilia Vega. Vega, who covers the White House for ABC News, tweeted that she was "getting a lot of questions about my exchange with [Donald Trump] today. Yes, he was looking directly at me when he spoke. Yes, I believe he heard me clearly. He answered two of my questions." Vega than shared a screenshot of her exchange with the president.
In her exchange, Vega pressed upon the president and asked, "No? You don't believe that to be the case?" Trump said, "No." Vega then asked, "But can you just clarify, you don't believe that to be the case?" Trump, at this point, then turned to another reporter.
The White House presser touched upon other related subjects, including Trump's clarification that was issued more than 24 hours after the Helsinki conference. CNN's White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, tweeted, "Sarah Sanders said she didn't think it took that long for Trump to correct his statement about Russian meddling from would to wouldn't. It was over 24 hours."
It was a press briefing that became intense after Sanders refused to answer several reporters' questions. At one point, the White House press secretary also said that the media should "quit going after" the president on "every single thing." But it's unlikely that the press will hush up, especially considering the video clips of Trump seemingly contradicting what Sanders said today.