People stopped work and packed the bars to watch the fallout from the political super bowl of former FBI director, James Comey’s testimony to the senate last Thursday. The ‘he said, he said’ situation between Comey and President Trump is one of the many highlights (or lowlights, depending on how you look at it) of the complicated Russia investigation.
In this muddied world of the investigation into whether Russia intervened in the 2016 American election, all parties involved need clear communication that cuts through to the public. And White House spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, cut through the swamp in all the wrong ways.
Comey said “lies, plain and simple” were being spread about the reasons he was fired by President Trump, while during a press briefing Sanders insisted that “the president is not a liar… it’s frankly insulting that, that question would be asked”.
When I first heard her denial it made me think of some of politics greatest hits. From Nixon’s “I am not a crook” to Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman." My personal favourite, however, is 2010 Tea Party senate candidate, Christine O’Donnell’s “I am not a witch” campaign ad. She made this after saying that she ‘dabbled’ in witchcraft and Satanism. These all stand out, as we found out later on, that these politicians were lying about the allegations; well, except for O’Donnell… or is she a witch?!
For good reason, these lines have lived in infamy and shaped the way people think of these political figures. Denial and repeating the accusation only serve to make people associate them with an allegation. This is why Sanders’ comments have a detrimental effect for the Trump administration, during one of America’s most politically trying times. It’s like me saying “I’m not a murderer” – wait, why are we talking about murder? Her remarks have not just been criticised by the left, but by the right too for the same reason, you really don’t want both sides against you.
There are a lot of other ways to respond to Comey’s testimony, but this certainly wasn’t it. It’s too early to tell whether this could go down in infamy during an incredibly turbulent time in American politics. When communicating, it’s best to not to say you are not something, as the best way we can define ourselves is by saying what we are not.
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “the president is not a liar” after former FBI director James Comey blasted the White House for telling “lies, plain and simple” about the circumstances surrounding his firing last month. “No, I can definitively say the president is not a liar,” Sanders told reporters at the White House during an off-camera briefing Thursday. “It’s frankly insulting that that question would be asked.”