One day after an ethics complaint was lodged against her, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that she didn't actually call for ESPN to fire a sportscaster who called the president a white supremacist.
"That's something for ESPN to decide," she said.
An anti-President Trump super PAC filed a complaint with the government ethics office after Sanders said an ESPN broadcaster's remarks would be a fireable offense.
Earlier in the week, Jemele Hill, who has worked for ESPN since 2006, said in a series of tweets that the president was the "direct result of white supremacy."
"Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists," Hill said in one tweet.
Hill has since said that the comments were her personal beliefs. "My regret is that my comments and the public way I made them painted ESPN in an unfair light," she said in a Wednesday tweet. "My respect for the company and my colleagues remains unconditional."
After Sanders initially called Hill's tweets "one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make," the Democratic Coalition filed an ethics complaint on Thursday against the Trump spokeswoman.
According to the super PAC, Sanders' "fireable offense" comments violated a law that prohibits federal employees from influencing a private employment decision. The group's complaint was filed with the Office of Government Ethics.
“This is yet another example of the Trump White House’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and its authoritarian efforts to quiet dissenters," coalition executive director Nate Lerner said. "It is of the utmost importance that we hold the Trump administration accountable for this illicit behavior and protect our democratic institutions."
Sanders addressed the complaint on Friday, saying that while she called the comments were a fireable offense, she was not specifically telling ESPN to fire Hill.
Sanders said it's ridiculous for the Democrats to focus on her rather than Hill.
"I'm not the one in the wrong here," she said. "I'm not the one making outrageous comments."
While Sanders is taking the heat, the president himself appeared to jump into the fray on Friday, when he targeted ESPN in a tweet.
"ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming)," Trump said. "People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth!"
Contributing: David Jackson