Sanders lashes out during briefing
SARAH Huckabee Sanders blew up at the White House press briefing overnight, lashing out at reporters for printing what she said were inaccurate reports on the President.
The White House press secretary went on the attack after she was questioned about Donald Trump's tweet earlier in the day threatening to "take away credentials" from "corrupt" media.
Ms Sanders insisted that "the fact that I'm standing here taking questions" was proof of the administration's commitment to a free press.
"At the same time, the press has a responsibility to put out accurate information," she added, citing recent negative reports about the President and wife Melania as an example of the media's failings.
She refused to answer questions about whether Mr Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen - responsible for the $130,000 Stormy Daniels payment - was paid by companies for access to the President.
Ms Sanders referred the question to outside lawyers, saying it had "nothing to do with the White House." The lawyers have also declined to comment on the allegations.
Asked whether Michael Cohen ever approached the White House as a representative of his clients, Ms Sanders replied: "I'm not aware."
Asked whether the US President still believed that torture worked, after his CIA nominee was interviewed today, she answered: "You know, honestly, I haven't had a conversation with him about that recently."
Questioned on an infrastructure bill that Mr Trump has promised, she again deflected: "I don't know that there will be one by the end of the year."
It was only when asked about criticism by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Kerry of Mr Trump pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal that she came back with a zinger, saying they would be the "last people" she would listen to on foreign policy.
The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 9 May 2018
All this came just a day after the Washington Post asked: "If Sarah Huckabee Sanders doesn't know anything, why keep asking her?"
But it is unlikely her packed briefings will get any less busy if Mr Trump's presidency continues to offer up so many shocking and unpredictable moments. She is, after all, often the public's best hope for interpretations of the President's bizarre tweets.
One reporter asked whether Mr Trump's newest and most outspoken lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, could attend the briefing to answer the questions she could not, at which point Ms Sanders smiled and said the lawyer was not a White House employee, but would no doubt be "happy" to give further interviews.
The White House press secretary recently came under fire after Mr Giuliani revealed Mr Trump did reimburse Mr Cohen for the payment to adult film star Ms Daniels, despite her repeated claims that the President knew nothing about it.
Ms Sanders has become a touchstone for the conflict over misleading or obstructive White House responses to the issues on which the public wants answers.
US comedian Michelle Wolf was slammed for roasting the press secretary as "Aunt Lydia" from The Handmaid's Tale while standing just metres away from her at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Journalist Matt Laslo tweeted: "Getting lectured about the "responsibility" of being a reporter is rich coming from Sanders who regularly either misleads or gives flawed information to the press corps."
Chrissy Jo said Ms Sanders had "never answers any questions", calling her out for "a fake press briefing" in response to Mr Trump's attacks on "fake news".
Sarah Huckabee Sanders has finally reached a point where she just replies, "I don't know" to every question.— Braylen's Daddy (@BraylenNapier) 9 May 2018
Avery Bullard said "Not aware" was "Sanders' new go-to reply when asked in order to cover her ass."
Others had more sympathy, however, with Tyler Dell commenting that "Sarah Sanders has the toughest job in America", and some calling her remarks "spot-on" and saying she handled the job with aplomb.
Ms Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti has said he has evidence of ties between a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the US and a payment to Mr Cohen, the President's personal lawyer.
Mr Avenatti also called for the release of bank records detailing hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to Cohen's Essential Consultants LLC made by AT&T, Novartis AG, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd and Columbus Nova LLC, a New York-based investment firm linked to businessman Viktor Vekselberg, who has ties to the Kremlin.
Ms Daniels, real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims Mr Cohen paid her $130,000 a month before the election to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Mr Trump.
.@PressSec Sarah Sanders on @realDonaldTrump suggestion of possibly revoking press credentials: "I'm standing up in front of you right now taking your questions," says she's "committed to a free press." pic.twitter.com/IGVA54Ty54— Sarah McCammon NPR (@sarahmccammon) 9 May 2018
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is terrible at her job. She is as big of liar as Trump.— Tim (@tim10bob) 9 May 2018