White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was peppered repeatedly with questions on Monday about Steve Bannon’s first televised interview since stepping down as White House chief strategist.
During a briefing, Sanders took almost a dozen questions on Bannon’s news-making interview with “60 Minutes,” dodging questions about President Donald Trump’s relationship with Republican leadership in Congress.
Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason first asked Sanders whether Trump agreed with Bannon that firing former FBI Director James Comey was the “biggest political mistake in modern history.”
“We’ve been pretty clear what our position is, and certainly I think it’s been shown in the days that followed that the president was right in firing Director Comey, since the director’s firing we’ve learned new information about his conduct that only provided further justification for that firing,” Sanders said.
Sanders repeatedly dodged questions over what Trump thought of the interview and whether she herself was disappointed by it.
“As a former colleague of yours who worked here at the White House, were you disappointed by any of his comments, were you surprised by any of his comments?” Fox News Radio correspondent John Decker asked. “Did you like the fact that a former staffer is speaking so openly about some of the inner workings of what happens here on a regular basis?”
“I’m sure it made for great TV and I’m sure CBS will be happy to put those ratings out, as for me I’m here to speak on behalf of the administration,” Sanders said.
Reporters also pressed Sanders over Bannon’s argument that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were attempting to nullify Trump’s election.
Sanders said that Trump did not agree with Bannon’s statement that Ryan and McConnell wanted to nullify 2016 election results, and told ABC News’ Jon Karl that Trump had spoken with Bannon only once since he left the White House late last month.
While Sanders dodged most questions about Bannon’s comments, she did contradict the former adviser on several occasions.
Asked whether Bannon was right that Trump was sparking a intraparty civil war over his decision to undo the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted by President Barack Obama, Sanders dismissed the former adviser’s rhetoric.
“Steve always likes to speak in kind of the most extreme measures, I’m not sure I agree with that,” Sanders said.
Sanders appeared eager to avoid questions about Bannon’s interview.
She joked that one reporter who said they wouldn’t mention “60 Minutes” would get two questions, quipping that she “may be answering more questions on Steve Bannon now that he’s not here than he was.”
“The press team will be here, and we’re happy to answer any questions, particularly if you have anything beyond Steve Bannon we’ll be even more happy to answer it,” Sanders said to end the briefing.
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