Sarah Sanders lashes out at Hillary Clinton after her comments are hopelessly distorted


Speaking with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Wednesday night, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton illustrated the absurdity of President Donald Trump's open solicitation of Russian government interference and hacking into the 2016 election with a simple analogy.

“Imagine, Rachel, that you had one of the Democratic nominees for 2020 on your show. And that person said, 'You know, the only other adversary of ours who is anywhere near as good as the Russians is China,'”  Clinton told the host. “So why should Russia have all the fun? And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don’t we ask China to back us?”

She added, explicitly mirroring Trump's call for the Russian to hack her own emails, that the candidate might say: “China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns?”

It was a good point, including her aside that the DOJ has apparently concluded that there is nothing it can do to stop this behavior. She noted that such a scenario would be absurd and unthinkable, showing how awful Trump's actual behavior was. But like almost anything that comes out of Clinton's mouth, it was almost immediately distorted.

When the Washington Post ran a story about it Thursday morning, it chose the wildly misleading headline: "Hillary Clinton: 'China, if you're listening, why don't you get Trump's tax returns.'"

Though technically accurate, it missed the entire point of her quote in context. It would be as if Trump said "I have never said I am a Russian agent" and the Post ran a headline reading, "Trump: 'I am a Russian agent.'"

Clinton's words were meant to demonstrate something she would never actually say in earnest because it would be wrong. The Post later updated its headline, without an official correction, to the somewhat-less-misleading: "Hillary Clinton mocks president: ‘China, if you’re listening, why don’t you get Trump’s tax returns?’"

But even this gets it wrong, as did The Hill, which claimed she was joking. Again, she wasn't making a joke. She was showing using the words as an example of something that would be unacceptable. This is important because Trump has unconvincingly claimed that his entreaty to Russia — followed up by an order to Michael Flynn to actually seek out people who might have Clinton's emails, as the Mueller report revealed — was simply a joke. Claiming Clinton was joking sets the stage for a false equivalency with no basis in reality.

With much of the press misreading the moment, it wasn't a surprise when the meaning of Clinton's words totally went over the head of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who has no interest in interpreting the former secretary correctly or fairly.

"I think it's hypocrisy at its best," Sanders said of Clinton's comments. "I think she's got herself confused with the previous administration; they actually didn't do anything to stop interference in the election. Honestly, I'm baffled by it and it's truly astonishing comments from Secretary Clinton." (Sanders, of course, lies here about the Obama administration — it did work to stop the interference, and some of its efforts to inform the public were stymied both by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and then-candidate Trump.)

Watch the clip below:

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