White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House, September 12, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

White House: Don’t blame Trump for his inaugural committee


The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/13/18, 9:26 PM ET

Trump inauguration finances under criminal investigation: WSJ

Rebecca Davis O’Brien, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, talks with Rachel Maddow about new reporting that federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into how the Trump inauguration committee raised and spent the record amounts of money
It’s easy to imagine White House officials showing up for work every day wondering what new scandal will unfold before they leave their desks. Yesterday, it was new reporting that Donald Trump’s inaugural committee is dealing with scrutiny from prosecutors – both over the money it received and the money it spent.

How would White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defend this? She doesn’t generally answer reporters’ questions anymore, but Sanders still talks to Fox News, telling the network this morning that Trump’s inaugural committee shouldn’t be seen as connected to Trump.

“This didn’t have anything to do with the president, he was focused on the transition and building out a new government and preparing to take office,” Sanders told Fox News Thursday night. “The role that the president had in the inauguration was to raise his hand and take the oath.”

“I think this is a perfect example of Democrats recognizing that all the accusations they made and the information that came out of the Michael Cohen case has nothing to do with the president,” she continued. “So now they’re going to – I would say plan B, but this is more like plan D or E or F to take this president down.”

I can appreciate how difficult it must be to serve as this president’s chief spokesperson, especially given the current circumstances, but Sanders is going to have to do better than this.

For example, if the White House press secretary believes possible crimes committed by the president’s inaugural committee won’t reflect poorly on the president, she’s mistaken.

What’s more, Sanders’ criticisms of Democrats in this case is odd: it’s federal prosecutors, not Dems, who are reportedly investigating the inaugural committee’s controversial finances.

Similarly, if Trump’s press secretary wants people to believe Michael Cohen’s felonies had “nothing to do with the president,” Sanders may need to take this up with the federal prosecutors who’ve directly implicated Trump in Cohen’s felonies.

But I especially liked Sanders’ idea that the president’s detractors, frustrated by the failures of their other lines of attack, keep scrambling to find new controversies. The trouble, of course, is that all of the controversies are both legitimate and ongoing.

This isn’t a dynamic in which discredited scandals are discarded to make room for baseless new allegations; it’s a situation in which the flood of real scandals never seems to stop.

If Sarah Huckabee Sanders has a defense that can explain all of this away, I’m eager to hear it.

Donald Trump, Scandals and White House

White House: Don't blame Trump for his inaugural committee