CNN reporter Jim Acosta seemingly had a difficult time understanding what White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was trying to tell him on Monday.
Acosta — CNN’s chief White House correspondent — had a bevy of questions for Sanders over President Donald Trump’s response to the resignation of former White House aide Rob Porter, who stepped down last week following allegations of domestic violence from two of his ex-wives.
“What about the president’s tweet over the weekend?” Acosta asked during the daily news briefing, referring to Trump’s claim that “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”
“It seems like the president was believing Mr. Porter as opposed to his alleged victims,” Acosta asked.” Why did the president tweet that over the weekend?”
The CNN reporter then wondered aloud whether Trump’s response had anything to do with the allegations of sexual misconduct the president himself has faced.
“Why is he seemingly defending Mr. Porter publicly?” Acosta asked. “Is it because he has faced his own allegations? Is there some sensitivity there? Is that why that is?”
When Acosta was done, Sanders emphasized that the president does indeed take domestic violence seriously, but at the same time, he also believes in due process.
“Look, as I just said, and I’ll repeat it again, the president and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously, and believe all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly,” she said. “He certainly supports the victims of domestic violence above all else, and believes that everyone should be treated fairly and with due process.”
Acosta continued pressing, and asked, “Is there a tone deafness there? Is there just a being on the wrong side of things?”
“I don’t think the president … supporting due process for any allegation is not tone deaf. I think it is allowing things to be investigated, and a mere allegation not being the determining factor,” she replied.
“He’s not taking a side necessarily one way or the other on any specific issue here. He’s talking about mere allegations shouldn’t be the determining factor for any individual; that there should be due process. I think anybody here, if they were accused of something — ” she added, prompting Acosta to interrupt and start asking another question.
However, Sanders wasn’t going to be stopped mid-sentence.
“Hold on, Jim. I’m not finished,” she said. “Hold on. Jim, hold on,” Sander said again. “What I’m saying is, I think anybody here, if they were accused of something, would want the opportunity to go through due process. That’s all we’re saying.”
Another reporter then noted that Vice President Mike Pence said he was “appalled” by the allegations against Porter, and asked why the president himself didn’t make a similar statement, instead of using Sanders as a spokesperson.
“I’m the spokesperson for the White House and for the president, and I’m saying it to you right now,” Sanders replied.
When the reporter kept pressing the issue, she finally had enough.
“I’m not sure how I can be any more clear. I think the president has espoused his views on this, and I certainly have echoed and told them for everyone,” the press secretary said.
And Trump, she added, certainly has addressed the topic, despite the reporter’s claim to the contrary.
“That’s actually not true. If you were paying attention to what I just read to you, you would understand the opposite,” Sanders said. “He literally dictated that statement to me, and so I’m not really sure how that’s not the president speaking on that topic.”
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