September 12, 2017 21:01 GMT by theguardian.com

White House calls Hillary Clinton's new memoir a 'sad' end to her career

White House calls Hillary Clinton's new memoir a 'sad' end to her career

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she wasn’t sure if Donald Trump would be reading the book, which condemned the president’s ‘war on truth’

The White House has dismissed criticisms in Hillary Clinton’s election memoir as an attempt to boost sales and a “sad” end to her political career.

The defeated Democratic nominee’s book, What Happened, went on sale on Tuesday and pulled no punches in its condemnation of Donald Trump.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said she was not sure if the president is going to read the book, adding: “I would think he’s pretty well-versed on what happened, and I think it’s pretty clear to all of America.”

Clinton’s book lambasts Trump for relentlessly stoking anger and resentment, waging a “war on truth” and delivering an inaugural address that was “a howl straight from the white nationalist gut”.

But at Tuesday’s press briefing, Sanders hit back: “I think it’s sad that after Hillary Clinton ran one of the most negative campaigns in history, and lost, and the last chapter of her public life is going to be now defined by propping up book sales with false and reckless attacks, and I think that that’s a sad way for her to continue in this form.”

The former first lady and secretary of state plans to travel to 15 cities in the US and Canada to promote her book, as well as a trip to the UK. Along with her scathing critique of Trump, and admission of her own mistakes, she singles out then FBI director James Comey for a late intervention that tilted the election in Trump’s favour.

Comey was subsequently fired by Trump in May, a decision that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has described as one of the worst mistakes in modern political history.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the daily briefing on 12 September.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders during the daily briefing on 12 September. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

But on Tuesday Sanders defended the move and argued that federal prosecutors should consider bringing a case against Comey, whom she said leaked memos to the New York Times and politicised the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server by signalling he would exonerate her before interviewing her or other key witnesses. CNN reported last week that Comey had drafted a statement clearing Comey while the investigation was still in progress, according to two Republican Senators.

“The president is proud of the decision that he made,” she insisted. “The president was 100% right in firing James Comey. He knew at the time that it could be bad for him politically but he also knew he had an obligation to do what was right and do what was right for the American people and certainly the men and women at the FBI.

“I think there’s no secret Comey, by his own self-admission, leaked privileged government information. Weeks before President Trump fired him, Comey testified that if an FBI agent engaged in the same practice they’d face serious repercussions. I think he set his own stage for himself on the front. His actions were improper and likely could have been illegal.”

Asked if Trump would encourage the justice department to prosecute Comey, Sanders replied: “That’s not the president’s role; that’s the job of the Department of Justice and something they should certainly look at. I’m not sure about that specifically but I think if there’s ever a moment where we feel someone’s broken the law, particularly if they’re the head of the FBI, I think that’s something that certainly should be looked at.”

But she denied that she was directing the justice department in its actions.

Comey’s dismissal is widely believed to have led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia. Mueller is investigating meetings and conversations between Trump associates including his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Russian officials and businessmen.

Asked if there has been any discussion of Kushner stepping aside, Sanders insisted: “No conversation that I’m aware of and certainly no presentation as both the president’s attorneys have gone on record to say.”

During the briefing, the White House denied having any influence on Malaysian prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s decision to stay at the Trump International Hotel while visiting the president. “I’m not sure about if that came up,” Sanders said. “I’m not aware that that was ever discussed. We certainly don’t book their hotel accommodations, so I couldn’t speak to the personal decision they made about where to stay here in DC.”

Najib has been under investigation by the justice department for more than a year for an alleged money-laundering scheme involving billions of dollars.

Trump’s ownership of the hotel, along Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, has become symbolic of what critics say is a fundamental conflict of interest for the businessman president.

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