Sarah Plain and Small
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee has been on a roll lately.
It began with with her comments on Monday about former FBI director James Comey, when she said, "I think if there's ever a moment where we feel someone's broken the law, particularly if they're the head of the FBI, I think that's something that certainly should be looked at." When asked if Mr. Comey should be prosecuted, however, she ran away from her charge -- "I'm not a lawyer," she said, and dumped it off on others. "That's the job of the Department of Justice, and something they should certainly look at."
So, let me get this straight. She believes herself knowledgeable enough as a legal expert to say that someone has broken the law, to stand there as the spokesperson of the president of the United States and say that someone has broken the law... but acknowledges she isn't actually a lawyer, so she can't say what that means.
This isn't merely the ultimate of passive-aggressive, this is gallingly disingenuous and shamefully cowardly. This is inflaming the crowd with cries of hell and damnation, and then running away after you've poured on the gasoline and lit the match. And since it's an expression of Trump's position, It may also be obstruction of justice, suggesting a potential witness be investigated.
And it was worse the next day, when she repeated her act and ratcheted it up several notches. That's when she threw in specific and extensive detail when putting on her prosector's hat as she laid out the Case Against James Comey by telling the press corps at the afternoon press briefing --
“The memos that Comey leaked were created on an FBI computer while he was the director. He claims they were private property, but they clearly followed the protocol of an official FBI document. Leaking FBI memos on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the Privacy Act, standard FBI employment agreement and nondisclosure agreement all personnel must sign. I think that's pretty clean and clear that that would be a violation,"
But when challenged about whether her charge about leaking the memo was actually...,oh, illegal -- she cowardly, disingenuously and shamefully scurried away again. "I'm not a lawyer," she once more tried to hide behind. "The Department of Justice has to look into any allegations of whether or not something's illegal or not. That's not up to me to decide."
No, it's not for her to decide. And no, she's not a lawyer. But dang, there she was, laying out the prosecution's case for illegal activity. Point by point. Pouring on the pseudo-legal gasoline...before admitting, well, gee, no, but I'm not a lawyer. Don't look at me. I'm just an innocent bystander. Before dropping the match and running away.
And then the very next day again, she was at it once more. But she moved on to a different subject.
It all began when ESPN host Jemele Hill posted a tweet where she called Donald Trump a "white supremacist." ESPN later released a statement that her comments did not reflect the position of ESPN, while adding, "We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate."
Personally, I think I would have understood if ESPN said that her tweet did reflect the position of the network, but given how subject the show harsh words are, it's reasonable that they answered how they did. And it's worth noting that Ms. Hill acknowledged her words were inappropriate -- as perhaps they may have been when you're a face of a network -- though not necessarily incorrect.
But that's when dear Ms. Huckabee Sanders stuck her foot in it once again. "I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make," she said in yesterday's press briefing, "and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN."
Honestly, given the charges being investigated against members of the Trump administration and actions taken that are on the record -- I would think the very last people who should throw around charges of what is a "fireable offense" would be anyone having anything to do with the White House. For the White House to chastise anyone for what they consider a "fireable offense" is not just the height of gall, but if you look up "hubris" in the dictionary, there's a good chance you'll see this.
Furthermore, given the whole, y'know, First Amendment thing, it seems a bit reprehensible for the office of the president to suggest a member of the news media should be fired.
But almost best of all, it's when challenged about her statement that Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed again what an empty vessel she is. Asked by the Washington Post's David Nakamura why an influential African American sportscaster, like Jamele Hill, might make such a comment about the president, Sanders replied, “I’m not going to speak for that individual, but I know that the president has met, again, with people like Senator [Tim] Scott, who are highly respected leaders in the African-American community.”
You have to love it. The old, "Some of my best friends are black" gambit. Though in this case, she didn't even say they were friends, just that Trump has met with them. Though she was at least able to name one. Of course, for all we know, the reason these "highly respected leaders in the African-American community" were meeting with Trump was to voice their disapproval of his actions.
And if Ms. Huckabee Sanders was looking for an actual answer to why an influential African American sportscaster might make such a comment about the president, charging him with being a white supremacist, she might want to look back as far as...the day before. That's when the House and Senate each UNANIMOUSLY passed resolutions that condemned white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis, and sent it to the White House. And when asked if Trump would sign it as well, the White House spokesperson answered, "No announcements at this time." Nor have there been since.
So...I don't know, maybe the fact that Trump is unwilling the join the House and Senate in UNANIMOUSLY condemning white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis may have at least something to do with it.
Besides, I can imagine few things worse for a press secretary to do than take a small issue under most peoples' radar and turn it in two full-blown national issues -- whether the president is violating the First Amendment and getting the public debating whether the president is, in fact, a white supremacist!
After all this -- and we've only just made it past half the week, so there are still three full days to go, I believe that the facts show Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be guilty of fraud, abuse of power, obstruction of justice, violation of civil rights and infringement of the First Amendment, for all these detailed reasons above. As for whether she could be prosecuted for them --
I'm not a lawyer. That's up to the Department of Justice.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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