Just four months after a radicalized Donald Trump supporter targeted several perceived White House foes with mail bombs, Americans learned of a suspected terrorist plot this week, planned by a Coast Guard lieutenant, who also planned to kill prominent journalists and Democratic officials.
To date, the president has not yet addressed the plot or the arrest, though he has published tweets condemning journalists as “the enemy of the people.” It led to an interesting exchange this morning between a reporter and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
REPORTER: A white nationalist, he was planning a plot against Democrats [and] against journalists. The president has tweeted the journalists and the media are ‘the enemy of the people.’ Is there any plan for the president to maybe tone down his rhetoric? Do you think this contributes to these kinds of extremists getting these ideas?
SANDERS: I certainly don’t think that the president, at any point, has done anything but condemn violence – against journalists or anyone else. In fact, every single time something like this happens, the president is typically one of the first people to condemn the violence, and the media is the first people to blame the president.
Sometimes, it seems as if Sarah Huckabee Sanders hasn’t even met Donald Trump.
If her comments this morning sound at all familiar, it’s because this morning wasn’t the first time. In June 2017, after Sanders argued that the president has never “promoted or encouraged violence,” the Washington Post noted that the claim was “laughable,” adding, “Even if you don’t believe Trump has technically incited violence (which he has been sued for), he clearly nodded toward violence at his campaign rallies. Sometimes it was veiled; other times it was unmistakable. Sometimes he was talking about self-defense, but it was clear he was advocating for a ‘form of violence.’”
For the president’s chief spokesperson to repeat the claim adds insult to injury. She’s obviously and demonstrably wrong, but just as importantly, Sanders really ought to know better.
For that matter, it’s hard to forget Trump’s pre-election rhetoric, when he frequently seemed to encourage violence toward protesters.
Are we to believe the White House press secretary simply has no memory of this?