"I believe he was making a joke at the time," she responded.
That explanation is in keeping with a broader strategy of this White House, that when Trump says or does something that causes controversy -- and which any other president would apologize for -- the explanation is always that he was joking.
Let's start with Trump's speech. Here are the lines in question: "When you see these thugs thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in, rough. I said, 'Please don't be too nice,'" Trump said.
It doesn't seem like Trump is joking -- especially because he's advocated for rough treatment of people before.
It's also far from the first time the White House has said Trump was joking when he made headlines with some comment or other.
* At the annual Boy Scouts Jamboree, Trump "joked" that if Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price didn't get the votes on the Senate health care bill, he'd get fired. (Price didn't. And he wasn't -- yet.) "Oh ... it was a humorous comment that the President made," Price explained in an interview on ABC.
That's a pattern of behavior. In each of those situations, Trump is joking -- but not really.
Hey, Heller, if you don't vote for this health care bill you are going to lose (and I will make sure it happens) ha ha ha. Hey, Russians, maybe you should hack into Clinton's emails ha ha ha.
Anyone who has said something impolitic in front of other people is familiar with this tactic. I was joking! Don't you get it!? Man, you don't have a sense of humor!
But, remember this old axiom: A joke is truth wrapped in a smile.
Trump utilizes the I'm-joking-but-not-really strategy all the time to keep people -- allies and opponents -- off balance. And to explain away things like seemingly advocating police to be more violent toward criminals.
Does he mean what he jokes about? Or is he actually joking? No one knows except Trump. Which is how he likes