White House says Trump bears no responsibility for divisive tone in America


The White House claimed Donald Trump is setting an example for the country with his tone of unity. And then he took to Twitter to prove his White House wrong.

Donald Trump's reputation for inflammatory, divisive, hateful, and even dangerous rhetoric is indisputable. Unless you are Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his deputy press secretary.

During Thursday's White House press gaggle, Sanders was asked about Trump's comments following the shooting in which Rep. Steve Scalise and four others were injured at baseball practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game.

While Trump's initial prepared statement was uncontroversial, a White House correspondent noted, a day later, Trump "returned to the kind of divisiveness and tone that he normally does in the tweets this morning." For example:


The reporter then asked Sanders, "Does the White House feel like the president and the White House, more broadly, have any responsibility to adapt a kind of different tone going forward, the way that many of the members on both sides of the aisle are calling for in the last 24 hours?"

Sanders offered a stunning defense of Trump's standard tone of aggression and insults, saying, "I think the president was extremely clear yesterday where he thought the rhetoric should lie. And certainly, I — I'm not sure how you would say that he should own responsibility in any of that."

It would seem difficult to argue that Trump's rhetoric — which has included calling women dogs, calling Mexicans rapists, calling Muslims terrorists, referring to his political opponents with condescending nicknames, and of course perhaps most infamously bragging about sexual assault — has not played a role in the current tone in our nation's discourse.

So Sanders was pressed on her response:

Q: Well, I guess, when it comes to a tweet, and not on the substance of the Russia investigation -- but when you call people "bad people" and "witch hunt," and sort of attacking -- impugning motives of your adversaries, that's the kind of rhetoric I think that people are talking about.

MS. SANDERS: I think there's been quite a bit of attacking against the President. I think he was responding to those specific accusations. But I think, as a whole, our country certainly could bring the temperature down a little bit. I think that was the goal that the President laid out yesterday, and hopefully we can all see moving forward.

If it was Trump's goal to set a new tone for the country, someone in the White House failed to tell him. Because less than two hours after the press gaggle ended, Trump resumed his Twitter attacks:

Heated rhetoric, especially in politics, is nothing new. But Trump, despite the will of the majority of American voters, is the president now. And yet he is still using Twitter to propagate some of the most vile speech, attacking everything from the judicial system to the free press, in a manner so unprecedented that his own White House staff is now referring reporters to his personal attorney for explanation.

Sanders is not wrong in saying "our country certainly could bring the temperature down a little bit." But that's a conversation she should have with her boss.