Sarah Huckabee Sanders made it clear on Fox News yesterday that Vladimir Putin’s attempts to meddle in our elections are not much of a concern to her or the Trump administration.
While everyone was talking about Deputy Press Secretary Sanders’ response to Trump’s Twitter attack on MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, some of her other comments got lost in the commotion. But her exchange with Fox News' Bill Hemmer about Russia was at least as disturbing as her defense of Trump.
First, Sanders refused to express certainty that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the Russian interference in the 2016 election. Hemmer played a clip of four witnesses telling the Senate Intelligence Committee that there is “no doubt” that the interference was “driven by Putin, himself.” But when asked if the White House concurred, Sanders hedged.
SANDERS: Look, the president said back in January that he thought that this was probably driven by the Russians. I don’t think that we’ve been quiet or inconsistent on that fact.
Then Sanders quickly changed the subject and ridiculously suggested that Trump’s “Election Integrity” Commission, which is all about (supposed) voter fraud, is in response to Russia. She also revealed that the administration is not focusing on Russia.
SANDERS: I think the bigger piece is protecting and making sure things like this don’t happen again. That’s where our focus is, is looking at how we can maintain voter integrity. Moving forward, it’s one of the reasons we support voter ID laws and protecting our system across the board.
In fact, the Russian interference was done through hacking, leaks and the dissemination of fake news. It had nothing to do with voter fraud.
Hemmer did not call B.S. outright. But he did press Sanders on administration's efforts about Russia. And she could not answer the question:
HEMMER: I get it on voter ID laws but this is Moscow and this is Putin and what are you prepared to say?
SANDERS: And, Bill, this is America. And anytime we get challenged by them, I think that it’s time for America to step up and say not here, not in our country and I think that is what we’re looking at, is how do we put safeguards in place to make sure things like this don’t happen again.
HEMMER: OK, I get it but what are you actively doing now to make sure that Putin doesn’t do it again?
SANDERS: I know that the Department of Homeland Security, with cybersecurity teams are looking at the best ways to prevent this every single day. And they’re dedicated and focused on nothing other than not just with the Russians but anybody. We want to make sure that we protect ourselves and that we’re not vulnerable as much as possible. And that’s certain people’s sole job, is to look at the best ways to do that.
HEMMER: The point being, it’s gonna happen again. If not here, then in other countries.
SANDERS: I think there’s always going to be people that are looking to attack Americans in that form and we have to constantly look for ways to protect ourselves whether it’s through a large number of different tactics on national security front.
Not only did Sanders have no idea what, if anything, the administration is doing to combat Russia's efforts, she didn’t seem to think it of particular importance.
This is just the latest sign of Trump indifference to Russia’s interference. As Mother Jones noted, Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified he never heard Trump show any interest in Russian hacking before the inauguration. Former FBI Director James Comey testified he never heard Trump show any interest in Russian hacking after the inauguration. Yesterday, Trump’s deputy press secretary signaled a lack of interest now.
Given that it was Fox News, I give Hemmer some props for challenging Sanders as much as he did. But it’s not nearly enough.
Watch the discussion above, from the June 29, 2017 America’s Newsroom.
Originally published at Newshounds.us