Acosta, Reid Throw Down with Sanders Over Comey Criticism ‘Unbecoming’ of WH

Friday’s White House briefing was raucous with James Comey’s liberal media-acclaimed book tour set to officially begin and, yes, CNN’s Jim Acosta played a prominent role tangling with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about whether criticizing Comey is “unbecoming of the presidency” and White House writ large.

Later, Acosta found help from CBS correspondent Paula Reid after he ran over the two question limit that Sanders graciously imposed on the egotistical CNN personality.

 

 

Acosta immediately got right to the point in his first question, seemingly forgetting or choosing not to care about the criticism the Clinton team leveled at former FBI Director Louis Freeh when his 2005 book came out:

Sarah, about the content of the President's attacks on Jim Comey, your attacks on Jim Comey, isn't all of that a bit unbecoming the presidency, of this White House to go after him in such a personal way like that? Calling him a slime ball and a liar and a leaker? 

Sanders didn’t waste time dismissing this question, telling him that “it's unbecoming for the person that is supposed to be the top law enforcement official in the United States, the person that is supposed to protect the people this country to lie and leak classified information, certainly to falsify documents.”

She argued that Comey’s the one who’s harmed his image and the White House wasn’t the one that put together Comey’s book tour: “I think if anybody created this problem, it's Jim Comey and he should be the one held responsible.”

The White House official tried to move on, but Acosta pled with her to give him a second chance. She acquiesced, telling him that it was “because it’s Friday....and you’d probably get upset...if I didn’t.”

In an attempt to trap her amidst the Mueller probe, Acosta’s second question was about a 2016 tweet Sanders sent about attacking FBI agents being something guilty people do. She replied that the administration has the utmost respect for “[t]he rank and file FBI” but not for some in leadership.

Reid picked up Acosta’s baton, complaining (while disguising it as a question) with Comey talking points that the President doesn’t respect the rule of law. Sanders didn’t take the bait, stating that Trump “has a lot of respect for the rule of law.”

The CBS liberal hit back by fretting:

But it isn’t just leakers. It’s his own attorney general, his deputy attorney general, its special counsel, its the FBI, it’s the judges who make decisions that he doesn't like....There’s a whole list of the federal law enforcement officials that he has undermined. It’s not just people who have proven leaked information. 

Clearly perturbed, Sanders called out the news media for “spend[ing] hours upon hours every single day praising Jim Comey, propping him up, giving him a big platform” and will continue to do so “endlessly all day today, all day tomorrow and my guess is every day next week with very little time given to the issues that the people care about” like the drug crisis, the economy, and Syria.

To see the relevant transcript from April’s White House press briefing, click “expand.”

White House press briefing
April 13, 2018
3:12 p.m. Eastern

JIM ACOSTA: Sarah, about the content of the President's attacks on Jim Comey, your attacks on Jim Comey, isn't all of that a bit unbecoming the presidency, of this White House to go after him in such a personal way like that? 

SARAH HUCAKBEE SANDERS: I think it —

ACOSTA: Calling him a slime ball and a liar and a leaker? 

SANDERS: — I think it's unbecoming for the person that is supposed to be the top law enforcement official in the United States, the person that is supposed to protect the people this country to lie and leak classified information, certainly to falsify documents. I think that's a very big problem and somebody who has created this problem for himself. I didn't encourage Jim Comey to go out and do a PR campaign. Congress has asked Jim Comey to come and testify multiple times multiple times of which he’s denied being able to do yet he sat down with George Stephanopoulos for five hours. I think if anybody created this problem, it's Jim Comey and he should be the one held responsible. 

ACOSTA: If I could just follow — 

SANDERS: Right here. I want to keep going. 

ACOSTA: — hey, Sarah, if I could just follow-up. 

SANDERS: I want to keep moving for the sake of time.

ACOSTS: Other folks got two questions, if I could ask a second follow-up question?

SANDERS: Sure because it's Friday. 

ACOSTA: Well, it’s Friday. Yeah and you’ve probably seen —

SANDERS: And you’d probably get upset, not only that if I didn’t — 

ACOSTA: No, no. Not at all. Not at all. No, but you’ve probably have seen this tweet. It was a tweet that you posted before the election in 2016 when you were attacking FBI agents because you’re under criminal and you are losing. What do you make of that now? Isn’t that — 

SANDERS: The rank and file FBI are some of the greatest people in this country. We’ve repeated that time and time again and certainly have the full support of this administration. I think that we’ve been very clear though how we feel about some of the leadership at the FBI the, particularly James Comey. Go ahead, sorry.

ACOSTA: But when you go after — when you go after over Comey and Rosenstein 

SANDERS: I did give you two, Jim. I’m going to keep moving.

ACOSTA: — and Mueller, doesn’t that mean you are losing?

PAULA REID: Following on that. It was one of the themes to Comey's book is the President's quote “disdain for the rule of law” and his continued efforts to publicly undermine federal law enforcement officials. So, how would you characterize the President's attitude toward the rule of law and the things that he said publicly about many of his law enforcement officials. 

SANDERS: The President has a lot of respect for the rule of law but the President does not a lot of suspect for people whose sole job is to carry out the law and then leak classified information and they lie to the American public about it. Charlie?

REID: But it isn’t just leakers. It’s his own attorney general, his deputy attorney general, its special counsel, its the FBI, it’s the judges who make decisions that he doesn't like. 

SANDERS: I'm sorry, I’m not — what was the question? 

REID: There’s a whole list of the federal law enforcement officials that he has undermined. It’s not just people who have proven leaked information. 

SANDERS; The President hasn't undermined them in any capacity, just because he calls out things he finds to be problematic or concerning, I think that he should do that. If the FBI is leaking out classified information, the President should absolutely call that to question. You guys spend hours upon hours every single day praising Jim Comey, propping him up, giving him a big platform. We shouldn't praising him, we should be taking him down, we taking him off of air instead of giving him minute after minute. This country has a lot of real problems. We should talk about the economy. We should talk about Syria. We should talk about the drug crisis. But instead, we’re going to talk about Jim Comey. You guys will cover it endlessly all day today, all day tomorrow and my guess is every day next week with very little time given to the issues that the people care about. So, the President has every right to call out that individual that you guys are propping up and say that there are problems and that we should be concerned about it. 

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