UPDATED with more details from briefing: The White House will not attempt to block former FBI Director James Comey from testifying before the Senate Intel Committee on Thursday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at Monday’s White House press briefing.
Sanders made the major announcement when she got asked if President Donald Trump intended to invoke executive privilege to block Comey’s appearance before the committee. Comey is is expected to be asked about reports he wrote a memo saying Trump tried to pressure him into dropping the FBI’s probe of former NSA Mike Flynn and its Russia probe.
“The president’s power to exert exec privilege is very well established,” Sanders began. “However, in order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not exert executive privilege regarding James Comey’s scheduled testimony.”
In a raucous press briefing Sanders made another banner headline when she called Trump’s Twitter remarks “extremely important,” Sanders said. This, in marked contrast to POTUS surrogates’ talking points just a couple hours earlier.
Twitter, Sanders said, “gives him the ability to speak directly to the people without the bias of the media filtering those types of communications. He has, at this point, over 100-plus million contacts through social media and those platforms,” she said, adding, “I think it’s a very important tool for him to be able to utilize.”
Reporters in the briefing room seemed stunned by her response. That’s because, Team Trump, having failed entirely to control POTUS’s Twitter tirades, on Monday morning had unveiled a new campaign, in which they blast reporters for paying attention to tweets coming from the President of the United States.
Kellyanne Conway, for instance, visited NBC’s Today show to excoriate the press for covering Trump’ explosive weekend and Monday morning tweets, mocking “this obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as president.”
MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin, who was on Today, noted it is Trump’s “preferred method of communication with the American people.”
“Not true,” Conway shot back, though Trump’s Twitter activity indicated otherwise.
Joining Conway in launching this new campaign, Trump surrogate Sebastian Gorka scolded CNN’s Chris Cuomo for bringing up Trump’s recent tweetpocalypse. Gorka called it “really disappointing” Cuomo was bringing up Trump’s tweets, saying “let’s talk about policy.”
“His tweets are the policy,” Cuomo noted.
“It’s not policy. It’s social media,” Gorka responded dismissively.
In case you missed it, Trump went after the mayor of London hours after seven were killed on the London Bridge and in a pub stabbing. Trump misquoted London Mayor, who had told citizens not long after the attack that they should not be alarmed if they saw an increased presence of armed police in the area. Trump misquoted the mayor thusly:
Later, when the mayor addressed Trump’s mis-characterization of his remarks, Trump, in character, punched back:
Asked why Trump is “picking a fight with the mayor of London in the aftermath of the horrific attack, Sanders insisted, “I don’t see president picking a fight with the mayor of London at all. I think the president’s point is something he said almost two year ago…about how we have to be more committed to national security.”
Trump also went after his own Department of Justice in his Twitter tirade, and unraveled their best effort to convince people to stop saying that what Trump is proposing is a “travel ban”:
“I don’t think the president cares what you call it,” Sanders spun. “He cares that you call it national security. ..The bottom line is he’s trying to protect citizens of this country.”