“The President had no knowledge of the story and it is completely untrue that there was White House involvement in the story,” asserted White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today of a new lawsuit that vehemently claims Donald Trump was personally involved in crafting a now retracted Fox News story about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich last year.
“Beyond that, this is on-going litigation and I refer you to the actual parties involved, which aren’t the White House,” the simultaneously assertive and defensive Sanders added Tuesday in what was a heated exchange with the media. Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer has already admitted today he did have a meeting with the Fox News reporter in question and a GOP donor about the story of 27-year old Rich – as the lawsuit by Rod Wheeler claims.
In what may have been one of the most bizarre press briefings in several months of bizarre press briefings, today centered on the new lawsuit, POTUS’ participation in a statement put out by one of his sons about meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton, Obamacare and more – and of course the media itself.
Even with retired General John Kelly taking over the helm as Chief of Staff yesterday, there has yet to be any calm seas for the good ship Trump. Tuesday’s on-camera briefing also comes as a Washington Post report swirls of President Trump himself crafting his son’s ultimately misleading response to meeting with a Russian lawyer last summer – a meeting that now turns out to have far more participants and far darker political motivations than initially disclosed.
“Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent,” said Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow Monday of the WaPo report and what Donald Trump Jr. first revealed.
Sanders had a very similar talking point Tuesday.
“The statement that Don Junior issued is true, there is no inaccuracy in the statement, the President weighed in as any father would based on the limited information that he had,” she told the press of the original statement that said the meeting was primarily about the Russian adoption program. “This is all discussion of frankly no consequence,” she added of the meeting the junior Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort had with Natalia Veselnitskaya and others that we now know started out with promises of potential dirt on the campaign of Hillary Clinton and, as the President called it, “opposition research” that anyone would want to sit down to learn about.
Then Sanders, who was in the fighting mood her boss seems to like in his staff, went on an attack.
“The Democrats want to continue to use this as a PR stunt and they are doing everything they can to keep this story alive and in the papers every single day,” the Press Secretary said, apparently reading from notes on the podium. “The President, the American people, they voted America first not Russia first and that’s the focus of our administration.”
“The only thing I see misleading is a year’s worth of stories that have been fueling a false narrative about this Russia collusion and a phony scandal based on anonymous sources,” Sanders then said and followed up with an accusation that the Democrats “colluded” with the government of the Ukraine and a list of Clinton connections to Russian money for speeches to banks and uranium reserves sales. The Press Secretary then hailed Trump’s tough stance on Russia, but admitted that he had not yet signed the bill of new sanctions on Russia that has been on his desk for several days.
Through moves like showing now ex-Communications director Anthony Scaramucci the door on Monday, Kelly is thought to be set on bringing a more disciplined state of affairs to the chaos that has hampered this White House since the beginning. However, Trump himself was still taking to social media last night and today just like when the ineffective Reince Priebus was Chief of Staff until he was tossed on July 28.
Only the Fake News Media and Trump enemies want me to stop using Social Media (110 million people). Only way for me to get the truth out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2017
A great day at the White House!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2017
Additionally and with more Russia connections, the lawsuit filed in federal court this morning that alleges the current POTUS and former Celebrity Apprentice host also had his hands directly in Fox News’ now retracted story about the 2016 killing of DNC staffer Seth Rich. In the article posted on FoxNews.com in May, Rich’s still unsolved death was linked to the emails from the Democratic National Committee that were dumped online during last year’s election.
With claims of “fake news” and coordination between Trump, FNC and a big GOP donor, the text and email heavy suit postulates an effort to use Rich’s death pull the spotlight away from the claims of influence of agents of Vladimir Putin to get the reality TV host elected to the White House. Countering that now admitted meeting with Spicer, correspondence to spin the tale to Fox & Friends hosts and more, FNC has called the complaint from former D.C. homicide detective and P.I. Rod Wheeler “completely erroneous.”
Unlike the most recent on-camera briefings, Tuesday’s White House spin in front of the media did not start out with cabinet officials taking the podium to talk about something other than the latest revelation or Trump tweet. Instead Sanders read a statement about incentives the administration is putting forward for small businesses and a meeting that the president will have on the topic.