White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday defended President Donald Trump's tweets slamming Mika Brzezinski's appearance and mental stability – saying he "fights fire with fire."
"I don't think so," Sanders said in telling reporters at the daily briefing she did not believe Trump crossed the line with the posts.
"The president has been attacked mercilessly on personal accounts by members on that program – and he's been very clear that when he gets attacked, he's going to hit back.
"The American people elected somebody who's tough, who's smart, and who's a fighter – and that's Donald Trump.
"I don't think that it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire," Sanders said.
In a pair of tweets Thursday morning, President Trump attacked Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who have criticized Trump on their MSNBC show "Morning Joe."
Trump called Brzezinski "crazy" and said he had seen her "bleeding badly from a face-lift" on a recent visit to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The posts brought widespread condemnation from members of Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, but first lady Melania Trump backed the president.
Sanders told reporters the outrage over Trump's tweets smacked of hypocrisy in that news organizations do not attack those who criticize the president or his staff, including herself.
"The things that this show has called him — and not just him, but numerous members of his staff, including myself and many others — are very deeply personal.
"So, to then turn and pretend like this approach is — I guess it's kind of like we're living in 'The Twilight Zone,'" she said.
"They do this day after day after day — and then the president responds and defends himself, and everybody is appalled and blown away."
Sanders called the attacks "a war on this president and everybody that works for him."
"The president is pushing back against people who attack him day after day after day," she said. "Where is the outrage on that?"
She dismissed questions Trump was slamming Brzezinski because she was a woman, in light of his previous comments about comedian Rosie O'Donnell, TV host Megyn Kelly, and other women.
"Everybody wants to make this an attack on a woman," Sanders said. "What about the constant attacks that he receives or the rest of us?
"I'm a woman, and I've been attacked by this show multiple times, but I don't cry foul because of it.
"You want to create this false narrative: on one hand it's, like, let's treat everybody equally — and on the other hand, they attack, attack, attack.
"He responds and apparently that's wrong," she added. "I'm sorry, guys, I've answered this question."
However, Sanders continued to reiterate her position in response to other questions, saying that Trump's tweets did not advocate violence against the press nor would it impede his agenda.
She also ripped the media for devoting more time to Russia and other controversies instead of the administration's efforts.
"He's not going to sit back and be attacked by the liberal media, Hollywood elites," Sanders said. "When they hit him, he's going to hit back.
"The president in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence," she added. "If anything, quite the contrary.
"He was simply pushing back and defending himself."
In the last month, Sanders noted, evening newscasts devoted 353 minutes to "attacking the president and pushing a false narrative on Russia."
That compared with a minute on tax reform, three on infrastructure, five on the economy and jobs, and 17 on healthcare.
"If you guys want to talk about legislative agenda and focus on policy and priorities, you guys get to help set that table," Sanders told reporters. "The numbers don't lie.
"The media's focus on priorities, they don't line up with the rest of America.
"America is winning — and that's what we'd like to talk about," she said. "But you guys constantly ignore that narrative."
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