Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted in a private interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller that she lied to reporters about the firing of FBI Director James Comey, making what she knew to be an unfounded statement that he was not supported by members of the bureau.
Now removed from the White House and considering seeking her own political career, Sanders is hoping to shed the label of "liar" she gained during her time as White House press secretary. Sanders said in an interview with The New York Times that she was dismayed at the reputation she gained while serving as the tough spokesperson for the Trump administration.
"I don't like being called a liar," Sanders said.
But it has been a difficult reputation to shake. As The Guardian noted, Sanders came under considerable scrutiny after a transcript of her interview with Mueller revealed that she knowingly lied when trying to explain why Donald Trump fired Comey. Trump himself had offered a series of different rationale for the 2017 firing, with the White House saying it was related to his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation but Trump later saying it was in retaliation for the Russia investigation.
Sanders told Mueller's investigators that her statement to reporters that rank-and-file members of the FBI did not support Comey was said "in the heat of the moment" and not based on anything truthful. Sanders had already come under pressure when the transcript of her interview was released, with many noting how forcefully she had pushed back against assertions that she was not being truthful. At the time, Sanders got into a testy exchange with reporters who asked her for some kind of evidence to back up the statement, including how many FBI agents she had spoken to about Comey's firing. Sanders said she did not know an exact number, though her testimony to Mueller showed that the entire statement was not true.
Sanders also sparred with reporters a number of other times while defending Trump's controversial statements, including others later proven to be untruthful.