White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked on Wednesday about police killings of black people in America. Unsurprisingly, she did not handle the topic well, but it’s worth reading her comments in full to understand exactly how bad her answers were.
During the daily press briefing, reporter April Ryan asked Sanders to comment on Tuesday’s news that the police officers who shot and killed Alton Sterling would not face any charges, as well as the ongoing controversy around the police killing of Stephon Clark in California. This is what Sanders said in response:
Certainly a terrible incident, this is something that is a local matter, and that’s something that we feel should be left up to local authorities at this time.
Ryan followed up, asking what President Donald Trump’s thoughts were on making sure police did their jobs appropriately. Sanders replied:
Certainly we want to make sure that all law enforcement is carrying out the letter of the law. The president’s very supportive of law enforcement but at the same time in these specific cases, in these specific instances, those would be left up to local authorities and not something for the federal government to weigh into.
The notion that local criminal incidents are not appropriate for the White House to discuss would, of course, come as news to Donald Trump, who comments on local issues all the time when they involve people he doesn’t like, such as immigrants. But no matter.
A little later, NBC News’ Kristen Welker followed up, and it was here where Sanders’ obvious, mealy-mouthed discomfort with the subject truly came into its own.
Let’s just run the transcript in full:
WELKER: You said these are local issues. And with respect, this seems to be an issue that the entire country is grappling with...does the president not need to show leadership on this issue?
SANDERS: When the president has talked about a number of issues, we want to find ways to bring the country together. Certainly not looking for any place of division. I think you’ve seen that in the policies he’s put forward. He wants to grow the economy, he wants to do that for everybody. He wants a better America for every American and that’s been a repeated thing out of this White House. But when it comes to the authority to, uh, on the rulings that have taken place in the last few days, those are things that have to be done at a local level and they’re not federal decisions at this time.
WELKER: But Sarah, a lot of African American moms all across the country feel as though their sons are dying. So doesn’t the president feel like he needs to do something about that?
SANDERS: I think we should do every single thing we can every single day to protect the people of this country. I think the president, whether they’re black, white, Hispanic, male or female, rich or poor, we look for ways to protect the individuals in this country, particularly, uh, children. That’s why you’ve seen the president take an active role over the last several months in school safety and looking at ways—we want to do that across the board, whether a kid is in a school, whether they’re at home, no matter where they are in this country, kids should feel safe. And that’s why this president has focused on safety and security as a big part of the priorities of this administration both through securing our borders, and stopping the flow of drugs, stopping the flow of gangs, stopping, um, the number of school shootings by the Stop School Violence Act, the background system. I’m not saying it’s perfect, and until every child is safe we can always do more, and we’re going to show up every day for work trying to do exactly that.
Boy, that was a lot! If you thought to yourself, “isn’t it ‘interesting’ that Sarah Huckabee Sanders answered a question about racist police violence by going off on a wild, panicked tangent about the economy and border security?” you are definitely not alone.
It’s not a shocker that this White House cares so little about cops killing black people that it can’t even come up with a decent response to these kinds of obvious questions, but it’s good to be reminded of that fact as much as possible.