Love her or hate her, Sarah Sanders has undoubtedly earned the distinction of helping change how Americans view the role of White House press secretary, at times replacing political spin with outright partisan combat to a degree seldom seen before.
After announcing her imminent departure on Thursday in a tweet, President Trump praised Sanders at a White House event as a “warrior.” Sanders herself said with a laugh that she would “try not to get emotional” because “crying can make us look weak.”
That battle-ready stance defined Sanders’s tenure, giving the president a “tough” press secretary whose fealty to her boss seemed to outweigh her commitment to the truth.
While a Google search for the words “Sarah Sanders lies” yields enough YouTube footage and articles to keep one busy for more than a single summer, some events stand out.
Here are the top five falsehoods.
March 5, 2017: Sanders appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” where she was asked about Trump’s claim that former President Barack Obama had ordered then-candidate Trump’s phones to be wiretapped.
“Everybody acts like President Trump is the one that came up with this idea,” Sanders said, adding that “there are multiple news outlets” that reported the claim.
While Sanders and her defenders can point to articles in right-wing media outlets to justify the claim that Trump wasn’t the only person to believe this conspiracy theory, multiple fact checks of the underlying allegation about Obama ordering that Trump’s phones be wiretapped have shown it to be false.
May 10, 2017: After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Sanders read a written statement in which she assured reporters in the White House Briefing Room that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”
“Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things,” Sanders added, when pressed by reporters.
When questioned under oath by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about this assertion, however, Sanders made clear that there was no basis for having made it. Her testimony is detailed in the Mueller report:
“Following the press conference, Sanders spoke to the President, who told her she did a good job and did not point out any inaccuracies in her comments. Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue.’ She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything.”
Aug. 1, 2017: As reporting by the New York Times and the Washington Post made clear that Donald Trump Jr. had offered a false accounting of the Trump campaign’s June 9, 2016, meeting in New York with Russian officials, Sanders assured reporters that the president had not personally dictated a misleading statement.
“He certainly didn’t dictate, but he, like I said, he weighed in and offered his suggestion, like any father would do,” Sanders said.
Trump, however, was involved with crafting a statement asserting that the meeting was to discuss an adoption program. In fact, as emails revealed, the president’s son had agreed to the meeting with the hope of obtaining political dirt on Trump’s presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton.
March 7, 2018: During a White House briefing, Sanders claimed that Trump had no knowledge of a $130,000 hush money payment made on his behalf to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
“I’ve had conversations with the president about this,” Sanders told reporters. “There was no knowledge of any payments from the president, and he’s denied all allegations.”
Sanders added,“This was information the president didn’t know at the time and eventually learned.”
Checks signed by the president and presented to Congress by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, as well as statements made by Trump’s current lawyer Rudy Giuliani, contradict Sanders’s claims.
Jan. 4, 2019: Having abandoned the Briefing Room in favor of appearances on Fox News, Sanders asserted on “Fox & Friends” that “last year alone, there were nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists arrested along the U.S.-Mexico border.”
After she repeated that claim on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace noted that the State Department had found no evidence of terrorists crossing the border with Mexico.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, herself under fire for multiple violations of the Hatch Act, corrected that statement a day later.
“That was an unfortunate misstatement, and everybody makes mistakes, all of us,” Conway told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
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