On Tuesday, a federal jury convicted Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, on eight counts related to tax evasion and money laundering. Nearly simultaneously, Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws at the direction of Trump.
But when reporters asked if the extraordinary events spelled trouble for Trump, Huckabee Sanders trotted out the same talking point in response to a wide range of questions and provided few, if any, details.
“The president has done nothing wrong, and there are no charges against him,” she said at least six times during the briefing, including four times over the course of two minutes.
Huckabee Sanders also claimed that “just because Michael Cohen made a plea deal doesn’t mean that that implicates the president on anything.”
However, Cohen’s case does implicate Trump. The president’s former fixer and confidant admitted that he was acting at Trump’s direction when he paid off two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who have alleged extramarital affairs with Trump.
Huckabee Sanders would not address Trump’s changing explanations on whether he knew of Cohen’s payments, claiming that “the president has addressed it many times.”
Asked if Trump had lied about the payments, she called it “a ridiculous accusation.”
At one point, asked if Manafort and Cohen’s convictions disproved Trump’s claim that he hires “the best people,” Huckabee Sanders insisted that was not the case, because “the president has employed thousands of people in his lifetime and had incredible successes.”
Nina Golgowski contributed reporting.
This story has been updated with additional comments from the press briefing.