‘Words matter’: Reporters slam Sarah Sanders for rationalizing and excusing Trump’s ‘madman’ behavior
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders caught hell from reporters during Friday’s press briefing when she blandly explained away President Donald Trump’s “madman” behavior in foreign policy.
“The president’s words matter,” said Margaret Brennan of CBS News. “The president can move markets and cause miscalculations when it comes to adversaries” like North Korea, Iran and Russia. The president seemed on Thursday night to be implying that military conflict is imminent.
Huckabee Sanders said, “I haven’t been specific about anything. I have also talked about the fact that we’re continuing to put maximum diplomatic pressure on countries like North Korea. I’m simply saying all options are on the table as they have been. And we’re not going to announce what actions we’ll be taking until that moment comes.”
“Getting back to these ‘calm before the storm’ comments,” CNN’s Jim Acosta said, “I wanted to ask you about that in a different way. There’s a theory in Washington…that the president subscribes to this ‘madman theory’ that if he makes a lot of unsettling, off-putting comments that sort of throw people off, that he likes to keep his adversaries guessing.”
Sanders said that the president has “addressed this before,” that he doesn’t want to “lay out his game plan for our enemies” to see.
“When people sort of catch their breath, when they hold their breath in this town when he says something…uh, you have a smile on your face,” Acosta said. “Is that somewhat satisfying?”
“Oh, I just pictured people in this town actually holding their breath,” Sanders replied. “That might be a welcome surprise for most of America.”
But the rest of the reporters in the room kept hammering at the “calm before the storm” comments, demanding an explanation when the president’s words can cause markets to move up or down or allies and foes alike can misinterpret the possibility of military conflict.
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