Rankled that CNN thought it knew more about her thoughts and plans than she did, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders this week chided a CNN reporter for making false accusations about her.
Monday’s media briefing was conducted by Sanders along with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.
Word of Nielsen’s presence preceded the briefing, which led CNN’s media reporter Oliver Darcy to quote CNN’s Jeff Zeleny as saying Sanders did not want to conduct Monday’s briefing because it would involve the ongoing controversy over separating illegal immigrant children from parents who are being held for prosecution for illegal border-crossing, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
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
That led to a bit of testy dialogue when the briefing took place, as reported by the White House pool report.
“Jeff. And I’ll take your question since you and your network falsely accused me of not wanting to be here. So I’ll be glad to pass that question on to you now,” Sanders said.
SARAH SMACKDOWN: Huckabee Sanders RIPS CNN Reporter Over ‘FALSE ACCUSATIONS’ https://t.co/jfFzW91ONi
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) June 19, 2018
“Why did you decide to have Secretary Nielsen answer questions instead of you?” asked Zeleny, who spoke after Sanders had already answered one reporter’s question.
“I’m here answering questions as well. But I thought it was important for the secretary, one of the primary experts on this process and the things that are going on, to come out here and have the chance to speak to you and for you guys to be able to ask questions directly of her and the leaders in this administration. But I’m standing here in front of you,” she said.
“I have a real question, though,” Zeleny then said. “Would the president sign a bill that did not …”
Sanders cut him off by saying, “I wondered if you were going to throw it away.” She then let Zeleny answer the question.
During her part of the media briefing, Nielsen spoke at length about the rules that pre-dated the Trump administration that require the separation of children from parents in cases where parents enter the country illegally. She noted that the current situation is the result of actions by both Congress and the court system.
“And let’s be clear: If an American were to commit a crime anywhere in the United States, they would go to jail and they would be separated from their family. This is not a controversial idea,” she said.
She called Democrats’ allegations that children are being used as pawns a “very cowardly response. It’s clearly within their power to make the laws and change the laws. They should do so.”
Nielsen also schooled the media that family separation took place during the Obama administration.
“They absolutely did. They did — their rate was less than ours, but they absolutely did do this. This is not new,” she said.
Sanders later noted that for President Donald Trump, the issue goes beyond any one facet of immigration policy.
“The president doesn’t just want to see a Band-Aid put on this. He wants us to actually fix our immigration system. He’s tired of administrations claiming that they want to help the system and then just kicking the can down the road. He wants to actually fix the problems. He wants to secure our border. This isn’t just something we can tinker with. We have to actually fix the entire system, and he’s committed to doing that,” she said.
“There have been a number of individuals that are permanently separated from their families due to the illegal aliens that have come across this border and murdered and killed American citizens. Where is the outrage over that separation?” she she asked.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.