CNN’s April Ryan calls for Trump to fire Sarah Sanders

April 19, 2019

CNN political analyst April Ryan is calling for White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ immediate termination after insisting Sanders “lied” to reporters about former FBI director James Comey’s reputation with rank-and-file members of the bureau.

Ryan cited details unveiled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report to make the case that Sanders should get the ax.

“Fire me Good Friday”

“Not only does she not have any credibility left, she lied,” Ryan told CNN “OutFront” host Erin Burnett. “She outright lied and the people, the American people can’t trust her.”

However, Ryan is not just making a mountain out of a molehill. Her accusation that Sanders lied is over the top, and the press secretary had no reason to apologize to Mueller’s investigators for saying that Comey was disliked by a majority of FBI agents.

Sanders discussed Comey’s standing within the bureau during a May 2017 press conference, when she disputed a journalist’s contention that the “vast majority” of FBI personnel supported their former leader. Mueller’s 448-page report, released after months of anticipation on Thursday, details how Sanders told the special counsel that her statement suggesting that “countless” FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey’s leadership was a “slip of the tongue,” spoken “in the heat of the moment.”

Ryan seized on Sanders’ testimony, using the special counsel interview to argue that the press secretary should be pink-slipped immediately. “They can’t trust what’s said from the president’s mouthpiece, spokesperson, from the people’s house,” Ryan argued. “Therefore, she should be let go. She should be fired. End of story. When there is a lack of credibility there, you have to start and start lopping the heads off. It’s ‘Fire Me Thursday’ or ‘Fire Me Good Friday,’ she needs to go.”

Disgraced director

Sanders told special counsel investigators that her Comey description was “not founded on anything.” The word “countless” was obviously hyperbole, but Sanders’ point was justified, and there was no reason for the Trump spokeswoman to succumb to special counsel pressure by walking back her statement concerning the FBI’s morale under Comey.

James A. Gagliano, a 25-year FBI veteran, queried many of his former colleagues in December 2018 to get an impression of Comey’s stature among FBI field agents and middle management. Almost every agent, both within Gagliano’s inner circle and among colleagues he has never met, believed that Comey severely damaged the FBI’s reputation.

“James Comey has done irreparable damage to the bureau we love. His conduct, specifically his leaking, has divided the bureau, and it will take years to regain our hard-earned reputation,” retired FBI Special Agent Joaquin Garcia told Gagliano.

Retired FBI Hostage Rescue Team Unit Chief Dave Shellenberger agreed, saying he and other agents lost respect for Comey after the Hillary Clinton email investigation: “I wanted to believe Comey was doing the right thing, but then he stepped in front of those microphones on July 5, 2016, and uttered that infamous statement — ‘No reasonable prosecutor would bring these charges,’ and we all cringed and said, ‘Why is he announcing that?’ Hey, it wasn’t his place, and he damaged our reputation afterward by not accepting responsibility for his actions,” Shellenberger said.

“Comey’s book tour and in-your-face public persona since his firing has done irreparable damage to the FBI’s reputation,” said retired FBI dive team leader Bobby Chacon. Likewise, retired FBI counterterrorism section chief Stephen Bucar said Comey “played fast and loose with the strict rules that ensure an institution’s character remains intact and is forever respected by the American people.”

To demonstrate just how widespread the bureau’s disregard for the Comey’s leadership was, Gagliano spoke to former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, who told him about “his dealings with innumerable former FBI colleagues who share ‘overwhelming shame and disgust at the reports of misconduct and potentially illegal acts committed by then Director Comey, et al.”

Playing with fire

Therefore, Sanders’ explanation before special counsel interrogators was completely unnecessary, and Ryan’s subsequent tantrum calling the press secretary a liar was both offensive and unjustified. Nonetheless, the White House correspondent suggested during her CNN appearance that Sanders was responsible for death threats leveled at mainstream news reporters.

“Sarah plays a dangerous game in that room,” Ryan said. “The game is dangerous because she is lying to the American public. Then, on top of all that, she says the press is fake when she’s faking reports from the people’s house. She’s calling us fake? We’ve had colleagues who’ve had to move from their houses because of threats. I have to have security because of being called ‘fake’ and a ‘loser’ and all sorts of things from that White House. It’s time for her to go.”

Yet, if anyone understands the terrifying reality of being the subject of death threats, it is Sanders. As the spokeswoman famously explained to CNN’s Jim Acosta last year, the president’s enemies have said she “should be harassed as a life sentence,” and that she “should be choked.” Sanders has been called “’a traitor to [her] own gender,” and has received so many threats that she requires her own secret service detail — an unprecedented arrangement for a communications director.

Efforts to slander Sanders over the Mueller report are despicable and actually contribute to the dangerous conditions that she and other senior Trump officials endure. In fact, Ryan should be fired for pushing a false and unsupported narrative that grossly underestimated Comey’s disgraced reputation among the FBI’s rank-and-file. After all, it‘s still “Fire Me Friday.”

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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.