White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated in no uncertain terms on Thursday that President Donald Trump and his campaign staff firmly believed he would win the 2016 presidential election.
Newsmax correspondent John Gizzi asked Sanders at the White House press briefing whether anyone on the campaign felt that Trump would win, referring to claims made in journalist Michael Wolff's forthcoming book that Trump and his team did not want nor expect him to be elected.
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Sanders called that idea "ridiculous" and said that Trump always ran with the intention of becoming president.
"It is absolutely laughable to think that somebody like this president would run for office with the purpose of losing," Sanders said. "If you guys know anything, you know that Donald Trump is a winner, and he's not going to do something for the purpose of not coming out on top and not coming out as a winner."
Gizzi asked specifically about who, besides Sanders, expected a Trump victory; in response, Sanders named then-campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and Trump's family, along with "other campaign officials."
"Go back and look at some of the interviews, specifically Kellyanne Conway—I know she did several leading up to the days just before the election, saying directly that the president can win and would win," Sanders told Gizzi. "I know there were a number of other campaign officials that echoed those same sentiments. The president, the first lady, his family: They wouldn't have put themselves through that process if, one, they didn't believe they could win, and, two, they didn't want to win."
Sanders said the idea that Trump did not intend to win is "one of the most ridiculous things" in Wolff's forthcoming book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The White House dismissed the book as "trashy tabloid fiction," and Trump's lawyers sent former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon a cease-and-desist letter threatening legal action against him for violating a nondisclosure agreement by speaking to Wolff.