Substituting for Sean Spicer, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answered questions about President Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. Jonathan Karl of ABC asked Sanders if it was inappropriate for Trump to ask Comey if he was under investigation. Sanders said she does not think it inappropriate. Sanders is the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Spicer was absent because he was serving duty in the Naval Reserve.
Karl then stated that one the conversations was held at a dinner where Comey asked to remain as the FBI director. Karl asked, “Don't you see how that is a conflict of interest?” Sanders responded, “I don't see that as a conflict of interest and neither do the many legal scholars and others that have been commenting on it for the last hour. So no, I don't see that as an issue.” She told Karl: "You want to create a false narrative."
Karl continued barraging Sanders with questions on Trump’s decision-making process regarding Comey’s dismissal. The White House had cited Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s recommendations as the reason Trump fired Comey. Since then, Trump told NBC's Lester Holt that he was going to remove Comey regardless of the DOJ recommendation. Karl asked if the White House staff was “in the dark” regarding Trump's decision.
“I think it's pretty simple, I hadn't had a chance to have the conversation directly with the president to say. I have had serval conversations with him, but I didn't ask that question directly [...] I went off the information that I had when I answered your question.”
Pressing on, Karl asked if Vice President Mike Pence was “in the dark” about the president's decision. Sanders pushed back, saying, “Nobody was in the dark, Jonathan. You want to create this false narrative. If we want to talk about contradicting statements and people that were maybe in the dark, how about the Democrats.” She then quoted statements made by Democrats who heavily criticized Comey prior to the dismissal. She cited statements by former Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and other members of the Democratic Party.
Sanders continued, saying:
“I think it is extremely clear, and frankly I think it's kind of sad. In Washington we finally had something that I think we should have all been able to agree on and that was that Director Comey shouldn't have been at the FBI, but the Democrats want to play partisan games.”
Sanders said the White House "expects changes" to come in the American Health Care Act. When asked about criticism of the House for passing the AHCA bill without a score from the Congressional Budget Office, Sanders said, "I know the gospel pretty well. The CBO is not the gospel. They've been wrong before, they could certainly be wrong again," she said.
When a reporter cited a new POLITICO report that the Trump administration would "gut" the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Sanders said, "Never use POLITICO for a source for your story." She asserted that the opioid crisis remains a "huge priority" for Trump.