White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was apparently so unwilling to face reporters’ questions about the Trump administration’s migrant family separation policy alone that she requested backup, in the form of the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
CNN reported, based on a single unnamed White House official, that Sanders called in Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen from a conference in New Orleans to join her.
A White House official tells @jeffzeleny that @PressSec didn't want to do the briefing today amid questions on child separation policy, so @SecNielsen is being flown in from New Orleans to take questions.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 18, 2018
According to a pool report, Sanders said: “The briefing will be delayed until 5pm so that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen can join me and answer questions regarding immigration. Thank you for your patience.”
Monday’s White House press briefing was originally scheduled for 1:15 p.m. ET, according to a Monday morning email. Throughout the day, as protests grew over the Trump administration’s family separation policy, it was delayed several times.
It’s not clear that the briefing was delayed in order to wait for Nielsen. Sanders, in an email to TPM following the briefing, called the CNN report “laughable bc I took questions after.”
“It was never the intention to not take questions,” she said. “Also she was already here bc she had a meeting at the WH at 3:30.”
This post has been updated.