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White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders admitted that her claim to a press briefing about 'countless members' of the FBI being behind the firing of James Comey was not based in fact, the Mueller report has revealed.
Lying to Mueller's investigators would have been a crime punishable by up to five years in federal prison. Lying to reporters is not a crime - although Sanders claimed to Mueller's agents that she did not intend to deceive.
Sanders - Claim - Press - May - Day
Sanders made the initial claim during a televised press briefing on May 10, 2017, one day after Comey was fired by President Donald Trump.
When asked about her comments by special counsel Robert Mueller's office, Sanders admitted that she'd made a 'slip of the tongue' in an apparent attempt to avoid potential perjury charges.
'Sanders - Reporters - President - Department - Justice
'Sanders told reporters that the President, the Department of Justice, and bipartisan members of Congress had lost confidence in Comey, "[a]nd most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director. Accordingly, the President accepted the recommendation of his Deputy Attorney General to remove James Comey from his position,"' the Mueller report states.
'In response to questions from reporters, Sanders said that Rosenstein decided "on his own" to review Comey's performance and that Rosenstein decided "on his own" to come to the President on Monday, May 8 to express his concerns about Comey.
Reporter - Majority - FBI - Agents - Comey
'When a reporter indicated that the "vast majority" of FBI agents supported Comey, Sanders said: "Look, we've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things."'
After the press conference Sanders was praised by Trump for her performance at the podium.
Counsel - Office - Comment - Members - FBI
She later told the special counsel's office that her comment about hearing from 'countless members of the FBI' was a 'slip of the tongue', according to the Mueller report.
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