White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that leakers “should be fired” amid the ongoing controversy over an aide’s joke about Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) death.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to work for the president and to be part of his administration. And anybody who betrays that I think is a total and complete coward and they should be fired,” Sanders said on Fox. “We’ve fired people over leaking before.”
The White House has continually doubled down on its perspective that the leaking of aide Kelly Sadler’s comments — “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway” — was a graver offense than the remarks themselves.
Sanders echoed President Donald Trump, who tweeted that leakers were “traitors and cowards” even as he called the leaks exaggerated, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who said this week that she expected personnel changes as a result.
“Some of these leaks are made up and reporters search for validation for them,” said Sanders, who also chastised the press for focusing on the brouhaha. “But look, there’s definitely something that has to be addressed. We’re focused intensely on addressing it. And we take it extremely seriously.”
Pressed on why Sadler had not publicly apologized, Sanders conceded that “she’s personally apologized” but added that “I’m not going to get into the back and forth on this.”
Sadler phoned Meghan McCain to say sorry, and the senator’s daughter said afterward that Sadler promised to apologize publicly. But she and the White House have yet to issue any such mea culpa, despite public pressure from many congressional Republicans and others.