White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Pres. Trump didn’t know about a Fox News story that is now at the center of a lawsuit against the network.
Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler filed suit against the network today, claiming it falsely attributed statements to him in a May FoxNews.com story that has since been retracted.
The lawsuit claims then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer met with Trump supporter Ed Butowsky before the story was published and that Butowsky later texted Wheeler that Pres. Trump “wants the article out immediately.” New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush asked Sanders about it at today’s briefing:
THRUSH: There’s a report out today based on a lawsuit that was filed which said that Sean Spicer met with a campaign donor and a journalist from Fox News where they were pushing around this story that said that Seth Rich, this low-ranking DNC staffer who was murdered was perhaps the one responsible for the WikiLeaks breach. Two questions: Sean put out a statement. He said it was just a brief meeting. He said the guy didn’t know the president. The lawsuit alleges that the president knew about it and had an influence on the story.
Did the president know about the story pre-publication and did he have an influence on the way that the story was written?
SANDERS: The president had no knowledge of the story and it is completely untrue that he, or the White House [had] involvement in the story. And beyond that, this is ongoing litigation and I’d refer you to the actual parties involved, which aren’t the White House.
THRUSH: Does it disturb you that the Press Secretary for the President of United States, you just gave this incredibly passionate push-back on us for focusing on Russia. Does it disturb you that there is an allegation out there and a lawsuit and Sean Spicer admitted meeting these individuals that this was discussed in your White House?
SANDERS: He met with members of the media. I don’t find that to be a strange thing. You guys are all members of the media.
THRUSH: Does it say anything about this White House that you would entertain that kind of story?
SANDERS: It doesn’t bother me that the Press Secretary would take a meeting with somebody involved in the media, about a story. None of that was disclosed. They had a conversation and that was the end of it. You guys come to us with stories all day. I’ve taken meetings with the majority of the people in this room. I don’t always know the nature of the story of what you are coming to talk to me about. But it’s my job to talk to you, to listen, and I’m responding. The president didn’t have knowledge of the story. The White House didn’t have any involvement in the story and beyond that, it’s ongoing litigation that doesn’t involve anybody in the building, and so I’d refer you to the parties that it does.