In a heated briefing, CNN’s Jim Acosta presses Press secretary Sarah Sanders to say whether or not the press is the ‘enemy of the people.’ USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Sarah Sanders, who as President Donald Trump’s press secretary became the public face of the White House through some of the administration’s most contentious chapters, is leaving her post.
Sanders worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign before she was elevated to press secretary in 2017. The president announced her departure in a tweet on Thursday.
“After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” he said, suggesting she might be considering a run for governor of Arkansas.
“She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job!” the president wrote. “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”
The daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders was the third woman to hold the role of White House press secretaryand the second person appointed to the job during Trump’s presidency, following Sean Spicer. Like other press secretaries, Sanders quickly became one of the most recognized names within the White House.
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Her departure comes months after the long-awaited Muellerreport, which found the president did not conspire with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. However, it detailed an effort by Trump to undermine the investigation and the extent to which aides sought to defend the president’s actions – sometimes by skewing the truth.
In the report, Mueller said Sanders admitted to making misleading statements to reporters when discussing Trump’s rationale for firing former FBI Director James Comey in 2017. At the time, Sanders told reporters that Comey wasfired because he’d lost the confidence of the president, the Department of Justice, members of both parties in Congress and “most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in Comey.”
A reporter challenged Sanders during that televised briefing. “Look,” Sanders chided the reporter, “we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.”
But Sanders told investigators that the comments were a “slip of the tongue” and said a similar claim during an interview was made “in the heat of the moment” and was not founded on anything.
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The incident was one of several throughout Sanders’ tenure that left some questioning her credibility. Sanders, who like past White House press secretaries had a combative relationship with reporters, drew attention for refusing to say whether she believes the press isthe “enemy of the people,” a line coined by Trump.
She also faced scrutiny last year when Trump’s lawyers acknowledged the president dictated a statement released by Donald Trump, Jr., about a controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower. Sanders months earlier explicitly denied that Trump dictated the statement.
Sanders, among the longest-serving members of Trump’s inner circle, oversaw a steady decline in the daily press briefing, a forum for reporters to press the White House for answers and for the administration to pitch its message to networks and newspapers.
As she became one of the most well-known figures of the White House, her controversial role stretched into her personal life. Last year, Sanders was refused service and told to leave the Red Hen restaurant, a small eatery in Lexington, Va., due to her role in defending the president. The incident sparked protests in the small mountain town that led to the eatery temporarily closing.
She was also the butt of several sharp jokes by comedian Michelle Wolf at the 2018 White House Correspondents Association dinner. The association, which represents the White House press corps, later said in a statement that the barbs were “not in the spirit of the mission” of the organization. This year’s dinner will feature a historian instead of a comedian, and White House aides will not attend.
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