Oh, Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Trump White House just can't quit you.
At Tuesday's press briefing, reporters threw three questions at Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about Monday night's bombshell story claiming President Donald Trump dictated son Donald Trump Jr.'s initial statement about his Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, overruling the talking points crafted by his advisers:
“The statement that Don Jr. issued is true. There's no inaccuracy in the statement.”
That in no way explains why that statement was so vague that Trump Jr. had to issue a follow-up expanding on it, then release all the emails in which he set up the meeting, then go on Sean Hannity's show to further explain himself, and now will have to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee about it. That's an awful lot of explaining for someone who told the truth the first time.
Huckabee Sanders tried to soft-sell the president's actions as those of a dutiful dad:
“The president weighed in, as any father would based on the limited information that he had.”
The defense of “I did it because I love my son” does not excuse someone from legal liability if special counsel Robert Mueller ever finds a reason to bring charges against the Trumps in this case, but please do go on:
“You guys are focused on a meeting that Don Jr. had of no consequence.”
If it was so inconsequential, why not just come clean about it right off the bat instead of the pattern of lying about who was in the meeting and what the topic of it was, only to create a firestorm when more information trickles out?
Huckabee Sanders continued:
“When the Democrats actually colluded with a foreign government like Ukraine. The Democrat-linked firm Fusion GPS actually took money from the Russian government while it created the phony dossier that's been the basis for all of the Russia scandal fake news. And if you want to talk further about a relationship with Russia, look no further than the Clintons.”
Ah yes, the Trump bete noir that he just can't let go.
“Bill Clinton was paid half a million dollars to give a speech to a Russian bank and was personally thanked by Putin for it.”
“Hillary Clinton allowed one-fifth of America's uranium reserves to be sold to a Russian firm whose investors were Clinton Foundation donors.”
Debunked. But keep going, you're doing great:
“And the Clinton campaign chairman's brother lobbied against sanctions on Russia's largest bank and failed to report it.”
That's a bit of a simplistic explanation, and anyway, there is no evidence that it had anything to do with the Clintons, save for a web of flimsy ties between a handful of lobbying firms and other organizations.
The Trump-Russia connections, on the other hand, are numerous and well-documented. And in any case, Donald Trump is president. Hillary Clinton is not. That's why this is a story.
There are some awfully vigorous deflections coming from this White House for a story that is supposedly either made up or of little consequence, depending on which person is talking about it, which, of course, only makes journalists hungrier to dig out the truth.
The president may appreciate Huckabee Sanders's performance on Tuesday. But if he thinks it will work in turning reporters' attention elsewhere, then he knows less about the media than he thinks.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR