Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House deputy press secretary, directly contradicted President Trump on Monday saying that the president did discuss sanctions related to Russian election meddling when he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. President Trump said just the opposite a day earlier.
“I do know that it was mentioned, specifically,” Sanders said at an off-camera briefing with reporters. “There were sanctions specific to election meddling that I believe were discussed, but not beyond that.” When Sanders was asked if the president’s view of sanctions against Russia changed after the meeting with Putin, she said, “Not that I am aware of.”
President Trump had tweeted a contradictory statement the day before when he clearly said that sanctions were not discussed during his two-hour meeting with Putin at the G20 Summit in Germany on Friday.
“Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin. Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian & Syrian problems are solved!”
Later Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended her statement when asked for clarification, “My understanding is the President’s tweet was referencing sanctions regarding Ukraine and Syria. My comment was on sanctions regarding election meddling.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the only U.S. official in the room for the Trump/Putin meeting. He said that Trump told Putin how a member of Congress was pushing for more sanctions against Russia over the issue of meddling with the elections. “But I think what the two presidents, I think rightly, focused on is, how do we move forward? How do we move forward from here?” Tillerson said Monday during a separate briefing with reporters.
Former President Barack Obama previously sanctioned four Russian individuals and five Russian entities in January for their meddling in the 2016 election. Obama’s administration also expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and closed two Russian compounds that it said were being used for Russian intelligence activities.
This stands as a sharp contrast to any action that has been taken against the Russians since President Trump took office.
What do you think about the contradiction in stories regarding the conversation between Trump and Putin?