Sarah Sanders Admitted to the Special Counsel That She Lied About Comey

She says her claims about the former FBI director were a “slip of the tongue.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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We’re still making our way through a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on the Russia investigation, but one of the early revelations that has emerged is the extent to which President Donald Trump’s officials have lied on his behalf. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders produced one sizable whopper in May 2017, in the aftermath of FBI Director James Comey’s firing, when she suggested that he was unpopular among the bureau’s rank and file.

After a reporter claimed that a “vast majority” of agents supported Comey, Sanders replied, “Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.”

That response was “not founded on anything,” Mueller’s office concluded after interviewing Sanders, who told special counsel staffers she had made a “slip of the tongue.” The report also says she spoke to the president after that press conference and he told her she did a “good job and did not point out any inaccuracies in her comments.”

The lack of evidence for this sentiment didn’t stop Trump from latching on to it in an interview with Lester Holt of NBC News a day later. He said the FBI was in “virtual turmoil” under Comey.

Andrew McCabe, then acting FBI director, defended the bureau’s ousted leader in a congressional hearing that week, telling lawmakers that Comey “enjoyed broad support in the FBI and he still does to this day.” A survey of FBI employees released a year later by Lawfare backed up McCabe’s description. “Morale at the FBI had in fact improved during Comey’s tenure, and the former director was widely admired among FBI personnel,” the site found. It was only under Christopher Wray, Comey’s successor, that morale plummeted and employees expressed “less confidence in the ethics and vision of the bureau’s new leadership,” the New York Times noted.


Listen to our DC bureau chief David Corn discuss Mueller’s findings on this special breaking news edition of the Mother Jones Podcast:

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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