Administration

Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will depart her role as White House press secretary at the end of June, President Trump announced Thursday.

Her tenure, which officially began in July 2017, featured many controversial moments as she fiercely defended the president and frequently clashed with the press corps.

Over her tenure, she became a trusted aide to Trump and one of the most prominent faces of the White House. She also helped shape the White House's handling of the media.  

Here are five of the most memorable or important moments of her years as press secretary.

Press briefings disappear

The biggest effect Sanders had on the White House wasn't a moment but a series of them.

During her nearly two years as press secretary, regular press briefings all but disappeared.

The last press briefing Sanders held at the White House was nearly 100 days ago - on March 11 - and lasted just 14 minutes.

In total, she held just eight briefings over the last 300 days, according to a count compiled by CNN.

This was a shift from the early days of the Trump White House, when her predecessor, Sean Spicer, held regular briefings.

Trump and Sanders blamed the lack of briefings on an unfair press.

"The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the 'podium' much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press," the president tweeted in January.

Trump actually speaks to reporters more frequently than past presidents, regularly stopping to field questions from reporters at impromptu press conferences as he comes and goes from the White House.

But Trump himself also rarely holds formal press conferences.

Reporters have argued the lack of regular briefings by the press secretary are a loss, and the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) has repeatedly called for more frequent and lengthy briefings.

Sanders is asked to leave a Virginia restaurant

Sanders was in the headlines herself in July when she was asked to leave The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va.

Stephanie Wilkinson, The Red Hen's co-owner, said Sanders's support of the Trump administration's "no tolerance" immigration policy that separated children from their families at the border led her to ask Sanders to leave.

In the aftermath of the event, Sanders called for a respectful political discourse and was reportedly given increased Secret Service protection at her home.

The Red Hen episode highlighted the divisive feelings over Trump and how they were leading to public shaming incidents in public.

A pair of Trump administration officials involved in the separation policy - White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen - were confronted by protesters in separate instances while they dined at Mexican restaurants the week prior.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) escalated tensions with administration officials when she encouraged supporters to confront them in public places. She later defended her comments, saying she supports peaceful protest and noted that the president has made more explicit threats.

Michelle Wolf rips into Sanders

Comedian Michelle Wolf brutally roasted Sanders during the 2018 White House Correspondents' Association dinner - all while Sanders was on stage.

Trump skipped the event, and Sanders essentially represented the administration. That gave her a front-row seat for a series of insults from Wolf.

"I actually really like Sarah. I think she's very resourceful," Wolf said at one point. "But she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Like maybe she's born with it, maybe it's lies."

Comedians roasting presidents had long been a feature of the dinners, but Wolf's comments immediately drew the ire of conservative commentators, who felt the jokes crossed a line.

And the routine appeared to lead to changes at this year's dinner, where historian Ron Chernow was this year's guest instead of a comic.

WHCA President Olivier Knox said the change was intended to put the focus back on journalism.

Jim Acosta's credentials are revoked

Sanders had a few feuds as press secretary, and one of them was with Jim Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent.

After he engaged in a heated back-and-forth with Trump during a November news conference last year, Acosta's press credentials were revoked.

The incident was the boiling point of the Trump administration's feud with CNN and news organizations more broadly.

Shortly after the interaction, Sanders tweeted out a video she claimed showed Acosta becoming physical with a young female intern seeking to take back his microphone during his exchange with Trump.

Several reporters and analysts said the video was manipulated to make Acosta's actions appear more aggressive.

Sanders and Acosta frequently engaged in testy clashes during press briefings.

A federal judge later ordered the administration to reinstate Acosta's press credentials after a lawsuit from CNN.

Sanders is mentioned in Mueller report

While Sanders served as Spicer's top deputy in the press office, she handled a briefing for him when he was away.

During the May 2017 briefing, she claimed that "countless" FBI agents had reached out to voice their support for Trump's decision to fire James Comey as the bureau's director.

New York Times reporter Michael Shear skeptically questioned that statement, and Sanders doubled down.

"Between, like, email, text messages, absolutely. Yes," she said. "We're not going to get into a numbers game. I mean, I have heard from a large number of individuals that work at the FBI that said that they're very happy with the president's decision."

Special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election revealed two years after the incident that Sanders admitted she had misled reporters with the claim.

Sanders called her remark a "slip of the tongue" but insisted that her argument that FBI employees supported Comey's ouster was "not untrue." 

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