White House Defends Trump's Omarosa "Dog" Attack: "This Is Not About Race"

Omarosa And Sarah Huckabee Sanders  Split-Getty-H 2018
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused the press of obsessing over the ex-staffer's claims in a new book.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended her boss' right to call his former protege, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a "dog" on Twitter on Tuesday morning.

"I think the president is certainly voicing his frustration with the fact that this person has shown a complete lack of integrity, particularly by the actions following her time in the White House," Sanders said Tuesday afternoon in a press briefing.

She also said that Trump's usage of the word "dog" was not racial in nature. "This has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with the president calling out someone's lack of integrity," Sanders said.

Asked about the president's continued attacks on Manigault-Newman over the claims she makes in her new book Unhinged, which bowed Tuesday, Sanders blamed the press for over-covering the story.

"I think most of America would be happy to ignore it, but unfortunately the individuals in this room continue to create a large platform for somebody they know not to have a lot of credibility," she said. (Manigault-Newman has been interviewed so far by NBC News, MSNBC and CBS News.)

Continued Sanders: "It wasn't until this individual started to negatively attack this president and this administration and try to tear this entire place down that she received the type of platform and rollout that she's getting. ... If the media continues to give it wall-to-wall coverage, the administration in some cases will be forced to respond."

In her briefing on Tuesday, which was dominated by questions about Manigault-Newman, Sanders said that Trump's attack earlier in the day was in character. "The president is always somebody who's going to fight fire with fire," she said.

Sanders first attacked Manigault-Newman in a statement on Friday, four days before the book's publication. "Instead of telling the truth about all the good President Trump and his administration are doing to make America safe and prosperous, this book is riddled with lies and false accusations," she said. "It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the President during her time in the administration.”

Sanders attacked Manigault-Newman again on Sunday, after NBC News played a tape she had made of White House chief of staff General John Kelly firing her in the Situation Room. "The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room shows a blatant disregard for our national security — and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee,” she said in a statement.