Quick Takes: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Excels at Gaslighting

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* During today’s press briefing, this is what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said about the plea agreement the Mueller team reached with George Papadopolous:

“Papadopoulos is an example of actually somebody doing the wrong thing while the president’s campaign did the right thing,” Sanders said. “All of his emails were voluntarily provided to the special counsel by the campaign, and that is what led to the process and the place that we’re in right now is the campaign fully cooperating and helping with that. What Papadopoulos did was lie, and that’s on him and not on the campaign, and we can’t speak to that.”

Here is how Wikipedia defines gaslighting: “a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt…in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.” In other words, it goes beyond lying and becomes a form of manipulation.

Sanders wants us to believe that the Trump campaign should get credit for the arrest of Papadopoulos. She also suggests that his crime was to lie—something that had nothing to do with the campaign. Of course she didn’t mention that he lied to cover up his conversations with campaign officials about setting up meetings with Russian operatives, which actually has everything to do with the Trump campaign. Also, there’s this:

Papadopoulos was initially interviewed as part of the FBI’s probe into Russian election meddling on Jan. 27. He was arrested in July.

The Washington Post reported that Trump’s campaign handed over emails implicating Papadopoulos to the special counsel in August — after he had already been arrested.

I don’t usually have time to watch Sanders’ briefings live. Just getting bits and pieces like this tells me that avoiding them is good for my mental health.

* NPR has a very helpful timeline focused on all of the events outlined in the Papadopoulos plea agreement and Manafort/Gates indictments.

* When you hear Republicans dismiss Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election by pointing to the fact that they only spent $100,000 on Facebook ads, here is the response:

An estimated 126 million Americans, roughly one-third of the nation’s population, received Russian-backed content on Facebook during the 2016 campaign, according to prepared testimony the company submitted Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by NBC News.

Underscoring how widely content on the social media platform can spread, Facebook says in the testimony that while some 29 million Americans directly received material from 80,000 posts by 120 fake Russian-backed pages in their own news feeds, those posts were “shared, liked and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a story that originated from the Russian operation.”

* This story is still developing:

A man deliberately drove into bicyclists and pedestrians in a bike path in Lower Manhattan, killing at least eight people and injuring more than one dozen in an act of terrorism, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Tuesday.

“This is a very painful day in our city,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “Based on the information we had at this moment this was an act of terror, a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”

* Here’s one more reason why Roy Moore is unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate:

Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore said Monday night that the federal judge who issued an injunction against President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military “should be impeached.”

* Another one bites the dust.

U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling won’t run for re-election next year, a decision that continues the reshaping of Republican politics in North Texas…

Hensarling, 60, has represented Congressional District 5 in the Dallas area since he was elected in November 2002. He chairs the powerful Financial Services Committee and has been a strong voice in regulating the financial industry.

Cook Report rates the 5th Congressional District in Texas R+16, so it is clearly not ripe pickings for the Democrats. But I suspect that after the new year, we’ll see a lot more of these kinds of announcements.

* Finally, it’s Halloween. The evening is still young, but here’s my favorite costume so far:

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .