White House press secretary Sarah Sanders admitted to federal investigators that she provided reporters baseless information related to former FBI Director James Comey’s dismissal, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report.
The report released Thursday stated that Sanders conceded to the special counsel’s office she had a “slip of the tongue” when she told the media that “countless members of the FBI” had lost faith in Comey.
“She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything,” the Mueller report stated.
Sanders did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, but later on Thursday defended herself in an interview on Fox News.
“Look, I acknowledged that I had a slip of the tongue when I used the word ‘countless,’ but it’s not untrue. And certainly, you just echoed the sentiment and the point I was making, is that a number of both current and former FBI agents agreed with the President,” she said. “James Comey was a disgraced leaker who tried to politicize and undermine the agency he was supposed to run. Firing James Comey remains one of the best decisions that the President made.”
During the White House press briefing on May 10, 2017, Sanders, who was then deputy press secretary, told reporters a day after Trump fired Comey that the “rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in Comey.”
“Accordingly, the President accepted the recommendation of his deputy attorney general to remove James Comey from his position,” Sanders said.
Sanders was later asked during the briefing what her response was to the rank-and-file FBI agents who “disagree with your contention that they lost faith in Director Comey.”
“Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things,” Sanders replied.