- The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, sparred with Savannah Guthrie of the “Today” show on Tuesday over President Donald Trump’s pattern of attacking key figures in the Russia investigation.
- Sanders bemoaned the media’s focus on the investigation, while Guthrie pressed her on Trump’s actions during it and his role in prolonging and widening its scope.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was grilled by Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday morning over President Donald Trump’s frequent attacks against key figures in the Russia investigation and whether there was anything to hide.
“One by one, he has gone after every single one of the Justice Department officials who is connected to this, whether it’s his own attorney general, whether it’s the former director of the FBI, James Comey, who he fired, whether it’s Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI – even saying he would fire Director Mueller,” Guthrie said. “If there’s nothing to see here and he’s innocent, why does he go after all the Justice Department officials connected to the Russia investigation? Doesn’t it, at a minimum, look bad?”
Sanders responded that Trump had not considered firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the Russia investigation.Trump last week dismissed a report in The New York Times that said he had ordered Mueller’s firing and reconsidered only after the White House counsel, Don McGahn, refused to direct the Justice Department to carry out the order and threatened to resign.
“We’ve been fully cooperative,” Sanders said. “We volunteered thousands and thousands of documents. Over 20 different individuals have done interviews – we’ve been as transparent as possible about this process.”
The interview came the morning after McCabe resigned as deputy director at the FBI amid repeated Trump criticism.
Guthrie again asserted that Trump had “gone after every single person at the top of this investigation,” then asking Sanders: “If there’s nothing to see here and he wants to cooperate, why does he continually go after people who are connected to the investigation?”
Sanders laid the blame on the investigators, suggesting some ulterior motives behind their actions.
“Frankly if some of these individuals were ‘just trying to do the investigation,’ they would have done it and it would have been wrapped up,” Sanders said.
Sanders said Americans were “sick and tired of being inundated with Russia fever,” but Guthrie pressed her on Trump’s role in continuing the story.
“Would you agree, though, that had the president not fired Director Comey, there wouldn’t be a special counsel and a special investigation and an obstruction-of-justice investigation that centres around him?” Guthrie asked. “Didn’t his own actions bring this upon himself?”
Sanders answered that the Trump administration had been finding “more and more reason” that Comey “shouldn’t have been the head of the FBI,” accusing him of leaking information, an apparent reference to memosdescribing his interactions with Trump. “The president made the right decision” in firing Comey, Sanders said.
Again trying to move the conversation past the Russia investigation and toward Trump’s first State of the Union address, scheduled for Tuesday evening, Sanders exhorted Guthrie to “imagine how many more good things for the country we would have been able to do this past year” without the focus on Russia.
Guthrie chuckled, closing out the segment by saying, “The press focuses on it, but that’s because the president’s focused on it and tweeting about it.”
Watch a clip of the interview below:
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