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White House Mum on Trump Accusers, But Not on Media

Democrats blamed for New York attack

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers a question during the daily briefing at the White House December 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers a question during the daily briefing at the White House December 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The president’s top spokeswoman lashed out at the media during a tense briefing Monday. The press corps wanted to know about resurfaced sexual misconduct accusations against the president. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wanted to talk about Democrats’ hand in a New York City bombing attack and news media’s loose relationships with facts.

President Donald Trump said NASA should hustle-up on getting the country to Mars.

The White House largely declined Monday to discuss sexual misconduct allegations against Trump dredged up anew by a television interview with three accusers. Instead, Sanders teed up on the attacker arrested by New York police Monday morning. She said 27-year-old bomber Akayed Ullah would never have been here without Democrats’ support for so-called “chain migration,” a term used by immigration hard-liners to refer to how new U.S. citizens can petition to sponsor family members to immigrate to the country.

Sanders told reporters “the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed, that the suspect was admitted to the United States after presenting a passport displaying an F43 Family Immigrant Visa in 2011.” A DHS spokesperson later tweeted as much.

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The Monday morning improvised bomb attack that left three bystanders (and Ullah) injured “underscores the need for Congress to work with the president” on immigration policy changes, including a move to a “merit-based system” for who is allowed to enter the country, Sanders said.

Reporters peppered the briefing with questions about Trump’s accusers. At several points, Sanders declined to discuss the nearly 20 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct — including three who appeared on NBC’s “Today” program Monday morning.

“The president has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations. And this took place long before he was elected to be president,” she said. “And the people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process.”

She pointed to unnamed eyewitnesses who support Trump’s denials. The president thinks it is a “good thing” that women are speaking up about times they have been assaulted, harassed or made to feel uncomfortable by men in a sexual manner, Sanders said.

Later, the press secretary kept some distance between herself and the allegations against her boss, saying she is “here to speak for the president” rather than share her personal opinions.

A reporter affiliated with Playboy asked Sanders if she had ever been sexually harassed. She declined to take the question.

The briefing grew raucous at times. Sanders said news outlets and individual reporters have intentionally posted articles or tweets multiple times in recent weeks attacking or criticizing the White House. When pressed, she pointed to the suspension by ABC News of reporter Brian Ross, who incorrectly reported Friday that during the 2016 campaign Trump ordered Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials.

“I’m not done,” Sanders said as reporters tried to interject on the subject.

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“You cannot say that it’s an honest mistake when you’re purposely putting out information you know is false, or when you’re taking information that hasn’t been validated, that hasn’t been offered any credibility, and that has been continually denied by multiple people, including people with direct knowledge of an incident,” she said.

Trump himself has a casual relationship with facts.

Remember he dove into the deep end of national politics by leading the charge on disputing whether former President Barack Obama was born on U.S. soil. Earlier this year he led the world to believe he recorded private conversations with then-FBI Director James Comey, only to later admit there were no tapes or audio files.

“When journalists make honest mistakes they should own up to them,” Sanders said.

In unison, Reporters said they do.

“Sometimes,” Sanders said.

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