Sanders Says It’s Not ‘Appropriate To Lie’ But Defends Bogus Trump Claims

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a reporters question during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, July 31, 2017. Sanders was asked about President Donald Trump's decision to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director after 11 days and other topics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh/AP

The White House press secretary Wednesday strongly condemned lying from the briefing room podium “or any other place,” but defended recent claims by President Donald Trump that have been thoroughly debunked.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to lie from the podium or any other place,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during her daily briefing. “Absolutely not.”

Asked about Trump’s claim that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called him to praise his border policy, a claim Peña Nieto disputed on Monday, Sanders said Trump was in fact referencing “a conversation that they had had at the G20 summit.”

Trump on Monday claimed specifically that Peña Nieto “called” to give him “the ultimate compliment” on his border policy.

Peña Nieto’s office on Monday said he had “not recently communicated with President Donald Trump by phone.”

Sanders also defended Trump’s claim that the Boy Scouts called him to praise a speech he made at the organization’s national jamboree.

“In terms of the Boy Scouts, multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership following his speech there that day congratulated him, praised him, and offered quite — I’m looking for the word — quite powerful compliments,” she said.

“I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful,” Trump claimed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal (Politico published the transcript).

The Boy Scouts told Time on Tuesday that they were not aware of any call from the organization’s leadership to the White House.

“But the President specifically said that he received a phone call from the President of Mexico and the leader of the Boy Scouts,” a reporter said to Sanders.

“They were direct conversations, not phone calls,” she replied.

“So he lied. He didn’t receive that’s a phone call,” the reporter pressed.

“That’s a pretty bold accusation. The conversations took place. They just simply didn’t take place over a phone call. He had them in person,” Sanders said. “I wouldn’t say it was a lie.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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