The White House press briefing on Monday kicked off with a storytelling session from press secretary Sarah Sanders.
Sanders utilized the beginning of the press briefing to defend President Donald Trump’s tax plan, rather than immediately address news that his former aide, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, face indictments — and that a former policy adviser to Trump, George Papadopoulos, had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI.
“I want to start the briefing today by addressing a topic I know all of you are preparing to ask me about,” Sanders joked, “and that’s tax reform.”
She went on to tell an extended tax analogy — a story she said “has been floating around the Internet for a while” — about a group of 10 reporters who go out for beers.
Her story mirrored that of an Independent Journal Review article published three years ago titled “The Tax System Explained in Beer.”
“And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally benefit from a tax reduction, but not the largest percent benefit. Taxing them too much — attack them — and they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier. This is a silly story, of course, but it illustrates some very important points”
Sanders’ speech ignited some backlash on Twitter, with some pointing out her initial sidestep of Monday’s developments about Russian meddling in the election.
“Point is, never get a beer with Sarah Sanders,” wrote one Twitter user.
Even the press pool appeared confused.
“Sarah Sanders is trying to explain tax reform via a story about 10 reporters who go to a bar,” wrote CNBC reporter Christina Wilkie on Twitter. “Totally confusing and everyone’s baffled.”
This is not the first time Sanders has changed up the press briefing format.
In her first solo on-camera briefing, she read a letter to the President written by a 9-year-old nicknamed “Pickle.” The move sparked both confusion and curiosity, with many on Twitter mocking the letter and questioning whether it was real.
On Monday, Sanders eventually acknowledged the special counsel investigation.
“There is clear evidence of the Clinton campaign colluding to smear the president and influence the election,” she said. The comment echoed Trump’s reaction to the news, which he tweeted in the morning.
“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????,” he wrote.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump added: “….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”