By Dan Merica and Jim Acosta
President Donald Trump was “clearly joking” Monday when he accused stone-faced Democrats of treason for not standing and applauding during his State of the Union address, according to multiple White House spokespeople.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday the President was “clearly joking” when he made the comment.
“He was making the point that even when good things are happening they are still sitting there angry,” she said.
Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley added that the remark was “tongue-in-cheek.”
“The President was obviously joking,” he said. “But what’s serious is that the Democrats seem to consistently put their personal hatred for this President over their desire to see America succeed.”
The spin on the controversial comments fits a pattern: Trump — as president or candidate — says something that causes controversy and the people around him look to calm the brouhaha by claiming Trump was joking and the media needs to get a better sense of humor.
“They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, ‘Treasonous.’ I mean, yeah, I guess, why not,” Trump said to laughter during a speech outside Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday.
Describing the Democratic response, where many lawmakers sat and frowned as Trump spoke, the President added: “Can we call that treason? Why not.”
Democrats slammed the remark.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who served in the Iraq War, tweeted that she swore an oath to “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.”
The comment refers to Trump receiving a draft deferment for bone spurs in his foot during the Vietnam War.
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