Trump has repeatedly defended abusers. No one is buying the latest White House spin.
The White House is still in damage control mode after Trump’s statement of support last week defending former aide Rob Porter over multiple allegations of domestic violence.
On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders briefed reporters for the first time since she defended Porter, and was immediately peppered with questions about the White House’s complete bungling of the scandal.
Sanders read a prepared statement, saying that “above all, the president supports victims of domestic violence, and believes everyone should be treated fairly and with due process.”
Several reporters asked why Trump would not make such a statement himself, after he publicly defended Porter and expressed sadness over his resignation and then expressed sympathy for people whose “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” Trump still has not expressed any sympathy for the victims of domestic violence.
On Monday, Sanders tried to claim that he had through the statements Sanders read out loud.
“It’s my job to speak on the behalf of the president,” Sanders said. “I spoke with him, and he related that message directly to me, and I’m relaying it directly to you.”
But CBS News correspondent Chip Reid pressed Sanders on Trump’s cowardly use of a spokesperson, in a testy exchange that left the press secretary impatiently snipping at Reid.
“The vice president said he was appalled by the allegations. Why didn’t he use it as an opportunity to say something like that?” Reid asked. “Why does he have to speak through that?”
“The president has been clear multiple times, through myself and others in the administration, that we condemn domestic violence in all forms,” Sanders replied.
“He has not said it,” Reid shot back. “Why has he not said it?”
“I’m the spokesman for the president and the White House, and I said it right now,” Sanders said.
“Why didn’t he say it?” Reid pressed.
“I’m not sure how I can be any more clear,” Sanders replied impatiently. “I think the president has espoused his viewed on this …”
“He said he wishes Porter well, and that he believes people should have due process,” Reid said. “But he hasn’t addressed the victims of domestic violence at all.”
“That’s not true,” Sanders said. “If you were paying attention to what I just read to you, you would understand the opposite. He literally dictated that statement to me. So I’m not sure how that’s not the president speaking on that topic.”
The statement that Trump supposedly dictated to Sanders doesn’t change his professed belief in Porter’s innocence, or his implication that the women are liars, but Reid’s grilling demonstrates that Trump is incapable of even managing the meager gesture of poor lip service to the victims of domestic violence.
And Sanders’ exasperated defense shows that there is nothing Trump’s flunkies won’t do to cover for him.