This briefing was longer than usual at 45 minutes. Sarah Sanders had five departments in to talk about election security. It’s a briefing that might have been more reassuring in another context. It should have happened in February 2017 and been headed by the President. The President was not there and contradicted the main points of the briefing that evening at one of his eerie self-rallies. He said again it’s all a hoax, all a witch hunt.
This briefing was also notable because at the end, after her special guests left, Sarah Sanders refused to say that the media is not the enemy of the people. She was given three chances to say something, anything—and she wouldn’t. Again, people on Twitter said all the reporters should stop going to the briefings. But like Brian Karem tweeted, the children don’t get to chase the adults away. And like someone else tweeted, there will still be propaganda news outlets there no matter what. So the reporters show up. They tether their questions to reality. They read their reality-tethered questions into the record.
Here are the questions asked by reporters at the August 2 briefing:
OK, this briefing was mostly nothing about that space force title, but I just enjoyed that question for absurdity reasons.
Nearly everyone called on in that room is named either John, Steven, or David by the way.
Also, this is not the briefing that happened the next night (I’m behind), where Sarah Sanders wouldn’t say that the press is NOT the enemy of the people and Acosta walked out. But this briefing really laid the groundwork for the next night. There was plenty of disrespect, animosity and bullshittery on display from the podium.
Today Sarah Sanders held the first White House Daily Briefing since July 2. It was 26 minutes long. On the White House Live stream, there were more viewers watching live than there have been for any briefing all year. It’s the top line in dashed light blue. The X-axis starts at the actual start time and continues out until the end of the briefing. Anyway, it was a shit show.
(Alex Amashkov, Interfax Information Agency) Good afternoon, my name is Alex Amashkov, Interfax Information Agency. I have a question to President Trump. During your recent European tour, you mentioned that implementation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline makes Europe a hostage of Russia, and you suggested that you could free Europe from this by supplying American LNG. But this cold winter actually showed that the current model — current mechanism — of supply of fuel to Europe is quite viable. At the same time, as far as I know, U.S. had to buy even Russian gas for Boston. I have a question: The implementation of your idea has a political tinge to it or is it a practical one? Because there will be a gap formed in the supply-and-demand mechanism and the first is the consuming countries who will fall into this gap.
And the second question, before the meeting with President Putin, you called him an adversary, a rival, and yet you expressed hope that you will be able to bring this relationship to a new level. Did you manage to do this?
(Jeff Mason, Reuters) Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s U.S. foolishness, stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you — what would you consider them — that they are responsible for?
For President Putin, if I could follow up as well, why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided? And will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury?
(Ilya Petrenko, Russia Today) Mr. President, would you please go into the details of possibly any specific arrangements for the U.S. to work together with Russia in Syria, if any of these kind of arrangements were made today or discussed?
And my question to President Putin in Russian. Since we — we brought up the issue of football several times, I ask — use the football language. Mr. Pompeo mentioned that when we talk about the Syrian cooperation, the ball is in the Syrian court. Mr. Putin — in the Russian court — is it true? And how would you use this fact, the — the — having the ball?
Excuse me, but for now, no specific agreements, for instance, between the militaries…
(Jonathan Lemire, AP) Thank you. A question for each president; President Trump, you first. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What — who — my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?
A question for President — for President Putin. Thank you. Two questions for you, sir. Can you tell me what President Trump may have indicated to you about officially recognizing Crimea as part of Russia? And then secondly, sir, do you, does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?
Sarah Sanders has these down to 20 minutes a week now. I’ve had a harder time forcing myself to re-listen on C-Span in the evening now that it’s a less regular thing. I’m just so sick of this administration. Nice pitch for my blog! No but seriously, I’m so tired of the friendly chuckling in the room with Sanders.
But here we go, belatedly. Sarah Sanders usually kicks off the briefing by calling on John Roberts from Fox News. Today there was someone new in the front row, John’s wife Kyra Phillips. Kyra left CNN this spring after 13 years to take a role at ABC News as a D.C.-based correspondent. At this briefing, Sarah called on Kyra first.
Today is another grim day. It’s been a week since the last press briefing. This one was 21 minutes long and started with Sarah Sanders reeling off a bit about civility. She was asked to leave a restaurant over the weekend. Now everyone is on Twitter talking about civility.
Nothing is more sad and laughable than Trump calling Erdogan to encourage him to strengthen democracy in Turkey.
Questions the reporters asked Sarah Sanders today:
Tonight was the night Rachel Maddow cried on air after just reading breaking news from the AP about babies bussed to “tender age shelters” that are basically disorganized orphanages. No plan in place to reunite parents and children.
Last night was the night Kirstjen Nielsen flew in from New Orleans and said she wasn’t sure where the girls and toddlers were. We’ve only seen pictures of the older boys.
Here are the questions reporters asked Kirstjen Nielsen:
There’s no White House transcript up yet for today’s briefing. That’s not too surprising. That thing chased itself across the length of a long afternoon. First it was going to be at 1:15. Then at 3:30. The reporters waited for an hour, and then at 4:30, someone came in with a note saying the briefing would be at 5:00. Someone kept sighing in overheated distress off camera on c-span. Several minutes past five, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen came in.
Word is, Kirstjen flew in from New Orleans to be there short notice.
And in the words of my favorite Crooked Media man after Ira Madison:
Best Trump line from Friday morning: “When it’s my fault, I’ll tell you.”
Questions reporters asked Trump in that bananas press avail outside the White House on June 15:
Do you think James Comey’s actions were unfair to Hillary?
(can’t hear question)
Mr. President, there was a Fox news report this week that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is pushing back and threatening to investigate the congressional investigators who just want documents (hahaha — they just want to obstruct justice — that’s all!!). Do you think that that is appropriate
On North Korea —
Are you going to suspend Mueller? Are you thinking of suspending Mueller?
Mr. President, you have spoken so passionately about the circumstances that led to Otto Warmbier’s death.
In the same breath, you’re defending now Kim Jong Un’s human rights records. How can you do that?
By the way, you declared the nuclear threat from North Korea is over.
You say the threat is over. Is it over?
How can Kim love his people if he’s killing them?
Mr. President, why did you offer to halt the military exercises with South Korea?
That’s North Korea’s term. “War games.”
They use it too.
What did you mean just now when you said you wished Americans would sit up at attention when you spoke —
Mr. President —
So there’s some high-profile court cases going on. You’ve got a former campaign manager, your former lawyer. They’re all dealing with legal troubles. Are you paying close attention —
You say that you feel badly. Is there any consideration at any point of a pardon for any of the people that you —
What about those who don’t have a celebrity talking for them?
What about all those folks who don’t have Kim Kardashian speaking on their behalf?
Do you worry that Michael Cohen might flip?
Are you worried that Michael Cohen might flip?
Is Michael Cohen still your friend?
Is he still your friend?
Is he still your lawyer?
Your personal lawyer
Are you worried he will cooperate?
I just want to know if you’re worried —
I just want to know if you’re worried if he’s going to cooperate with federal investigators.
Got it. Got it.
Mr. President, did you tape that statement about Don Jr.? Did you dictate the statement about Donald Trump, Jr.?
But can you tell us?
Well, just to clear it up. To clear it up.
Did you dictate?
Thank you, sir. On the IG report, you’ve said TWICE now that it exonerated you and it proved there’s no collusion. The IG report —
It had nothing to do with collusion. It had nothing to do with that.
Sir, that has nothing to do with collusion. Why are you lying about it, sir? (I think this was Andrew Feinberg)
Should he be fired?
Mr. President, are you going to fire Scott Pruitt?
You don’t see any problems with his ethical —
Are you going to fire him?
Do you think he’s used his position for private gain?
Mr. President, do you agree with children being taken away from (inaudible)?
Sir, that’s your own policy. That’s your own policy. Why do you keep lying about it, sir?
You’re the President.
You can change it right now.
Jeff Sessions said —
Mr. President, you control both chambers of Congress. The Republicans do.
AND the White House–
What about executive action?
On North Korea, sir. On North Korea.
Mr. President, why —
Do you support the immigration compromise, Mr. President?
But then, Mr. President — but then why did Jeff Sessions announce a zero-tolerance policy at the border on May 7th? Is that not a Republican —
Is that not a Republican policy?
Is that not a Republican policy?
But that was a direct order to —
That’s not true, sir. That’s not true.
But there’s no law that says families have to separated at the border. There’s another way to go about it, Mr. President.
Mr. President, at the end of the “Fox & Friends” interview, you said that you were going to spend Father’s Day weekend doing work, and you said that you were going to have a call with North Korea. Who are you going to talk to in North Korea?
Can you tell us about the verification process?
What’s the verification process?
You told Americans that they can sleep well at night, and you declared there’s no more nuclear threat.
What’s verification process going to look like?
What’s it’s going to look like?
How long will you give Kim Jong Un to follow through on denuclearization before you —
Is he coming to the White House soon?
— before you put sanctions back on?
Is he visiting the White House, Mr. Trump?
Are you planning to meet with Putin this summer?
Is Crimea part of Russia? Do you —
So it’s his fault? (His = Obama’s)
How is it not Putin’s fault, sir?
How is it not Putin’s fault, sir? How is it not Putin’s fault? He invaded them.
At yesterday’s briefing, Brian Karem had an outburst. I appreciate it in this age of gaslighting and mindfuckery, when someone gets upset in a human way about basic decency. So I say thank you to Brian Karem. Also to Jim Acosta of CNN and Paula Reid of CBS, who both pushed back and said “No” when Sarah said something untrue.
Also a thank you to the White House transcriptionist who still faithfully records unflattering and sometimes aurally muddled cross-talk. I think this is a small act of integrity by someone I like to think is a holdover from previous administrations.
This might be a good time to add that I’m tired of hearing people on the left wring their hands about the nature of expression and tone — for instance, complaining about Robert De Niro saying “Fuck Donald Trump” at the Tonys. Who cares. Trump supporters hate our guts no matter WHAT we do. Let’s say Fuck Donald Trump while it’s still legal.
Here are the questions reporters asked Sanders at yesterday’s heated briefing:
The G7 and Singapore stuff has been so stupid and painful and full of moronic pageantry that I admit my brain just shut down a little over this last week. I’m meeting with Washington State Democrats tonight, i’m thinking about the midterms, I’m listening to political podcasts about the midterms and how to get out the vote. I haven’t abdicated my responsibility or my existential dread. I just can’t watch the towers go down in slow motion day after day.
This morning I flipped back through the news page on Whitehouse.gov to see if I had missed a press gaggle — I thought surely in all these days of flying around, there would have been a press gaggle. I had seen Sarah Huckabee Sanders looking dour and complicit on the edges of various Trumpian photographs from recent international events — but no, nothing. Nary a gaggle. Nothing on the docket yet for today either, but it’s early.
Trump himself gave press conferences in Quebec and Singapore, where he attacked the U.S. press. This falls in the zone of what I’ve been avoiding exposing myself to too much of. If I get up the gumption later, I’ll watch so I can identify which reporter asked which question in the transcript. In the meantime, here are the questions from the June 9 transcript: Continue reading TOWOIT #338: Attacking the U.S. press on foreign soil
April Ryan was incredible at yesterday’s briefing when she kept persistently asking about whether the president even understands that the players take a knee because of police-involved shootings. Get it all on the record, April. Sarah Sanders is the worst. She sounds like she’d love executing people who go back to fixing their bicycle too soon after the military parade passes.
C-span’s got its video frozen at quite a facial expression.
(Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, on the President’s decision to disinvite the Eagles, he’s suggesting this is about the National Anthem. Is the President aware that not a single player on the Eagles, through the entire season, knelt for the National Anthem?
But why is he acting like this is about the National Anthem? And is he concerned — we heard from Steph Curry and from LeBron James the suggestion that whoever wins the NBA Championship, they’re unlikely to be here. Is this about something more than the National Anthem? Something other than the National Anthem?
(Pamela Brown, CNN) To be clear on that point: This isn’t about the National Anthem; it’s about so few players coming in the end, correct?
Just to follow up, Sarah. Really important. The other day, on the statement that you made — (Sarah tries to cut her off but she keeps going)
— you referred us to the outside counsel on the Don Jr. statement that the President was involved in. The outside counsel did weigh in, saying that, yes, the President did dictate the statement. Rudy Giuliani was on CNN saying it was a mistake to say that the President didn’t dictate it. So do you want to correct the record on your statement from August when you said, “He certainly didn’t dictate”?
But you commented in August, and there was outside counsel in August, as well, but you still talked about it. So why can’t you correct the record now?
Are you being advised not to answer the question?
(Catherine Lucey, Associated Press) Sarah, President Trump won Pennsylvania by a narrow margin. The GOP is looking to pick up a Senate seat there. Does he risk alienating key voters in that state by disinviting the Eagles, but also by the statement that the team abandoned the fans?
(Sarah — I can’t tell who this is) Thank you, Sarah. On Thursday, Prime Minister Abe will be here to meet with the President. What will be on his agenda going into the meeting? Will they discuss trade issues? And the President said the other day that Japan, China, and South Korea can provide economic assistance to North Korea. And does the President plan to raise this issue with Prime Minister Abe?
And on the — (follow-up denied)
(Josh Dawsey, Washington Post) EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt asked an aide, we reported today, to help his wife get a Chick-fil-A franchise. Does the President think that’s ethical behavior?
One follow-up for you, Sarah. (He muscled through her calling on Matthew Nussbaum)Back to her question. We’re not asking really about the Special Counsel or the outside counsel. The only question is, do you think your statement in August was accurate? Your statement; not his. Was your statement accurate or inaccurate?
No, not a back-and-forth. You said something. We just want to know if it was accurate or not. Was the statement accurate?
But, Sarah, not about the outside counsel. You said something from the podium. Was it accurate or not? That’s all we want to know. (Defensive angry bullshit lies come out of Sarah’s mouth at this point)
(Justin Sink, Bloomberg) I wanted to ask about OMB. But just to follow on this quickly — and I think you were asked the question earlier — is the reason that you’re unwilling to engage on this because either you have already or you anticipate yourself having to talk to the Special Counsel about this statement?
So on OMB, they issued a revised rescission request today, and it withdrew the proposed cuts on Hurricane Sandy recovery funds and Ebola funding. I’m wondering if we should see those retreats as the administration inaccurately concluding at first that these were money that was no longer needing. And if that’s happened just in the last couple months, why that wouldn’t be true for other areas of the budget that the administration has targeted going forward.
(John Roberts, Fox News) Sarah, the President again took a stick to his favorite piñata, Jeff Sessions, today. (Laughter.) What is the President’s goal here? Is it just simply to remind the Attorney General that he’s really PO’ed at him and he’s not going to let him forget it?
Is he trying to get him to quit? Is he trying to emasculate him, holding him up? I mean, what is the President trying to do?
(Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller) Sarah, the President tweeted today that he was concerned that the FBI was weakening or slow walking the DOJ IT investigation into the Hillary Clinton email investigation handled by FBI Director James Comey. What is he basing that concern on? Is it based on conversations that he’s had with FBI personnel currently, or is it simply an observation based on the past?
Does he think it’s appropriate to encourage the Inspector General to release it based on his timeline rather than their own?
(Andrew Feinberg, Breakfast Media) Thanks, Sarah. I wanted to follow up on Josh’s question and Sarah’s question, but in a larger sense. The President, whether it’s on his Twitter account or otherwise, keeps saying things that are not borne out by the facts, whether it is the Eagles thing is about the National Anthem, or we’ve got $6 billion for opioids and getting rid of that scourge that’s taken over our country and the numbers are way down; we have thousands of immigration judges. And so the President keeps saying things that aren’t true. And this thing with dictating the statement —
MS. SANDERS: State the question. Sorry, Andrew. If you could get there.
Why, if things that you keep saying from the podium turn out to not be true, and things the President keeps saying in a number of venues keep saying — are turning out not to be true, why should we be able to trust that the information we’re getting from this administration is accurate? And more importantly, why should Americans be able to trust that what they hear from this White House is always the truth? (This is the part where Sarah says her credibility is higher than the media’s and that the reporters in the room spend all their time trying to tear her down)
Respectfully, I’m not trying to tear you down, and neither are any of us.
(Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Thanks a lot, Sarah. I just wanted to get your reaction, the administration’s reaction, to a statement that was put out by a player on the Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins. He’s a strong safety on the Philadelphia Eagles. Very well respected on the team and throughout the league. He put out a statement today in which he said that the decision that was made by the President to cancel this event celebrating the Super Bowl victory by the Eagles paints “the picture that these players are anti-America, anti-flag, and anti-military.” What is your response to what Malcolm Jenkins put out in a statement today?
(Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Are you saying the President bears zero responsibility in this cancellation? This is a President who called NFL players S.O.B.s, who implied that some players who don’t stand for the National Anthem do not belong in this country. Does he bear zero responsibility for players like the Warriors and the Cavs not wanting to come and the Eagles bailing on this?
(Steve Herman, VOA) Sarah, the President, last year, broke with recent tradition and did not host an Iftar dinner. Is the President hosting such a dinner this year? And can you tell us how the invitees were selected?
(Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, thank you. Let me ask you about two possible trade deals — the one involving the Chinese in which it would be $70 billion of buying American products. The United States would back off its threat of tariffs. Is that something that President Trump would support?
Real quick on NAFTA. Larry Kudlow said today — Eamon referenced it — that maybe the President wants to deal with Canada solely, with Mexico solely, and that the idea of negotiating NAFTA might be gone at this point. Is the possibility of getting to a NAFTA deal done as this administration sees it?
(John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. Back to the issue of presidential pardons. There’s been considerable furor in Illinois among Republicans, particularly supporters of the President and allies in Congress, such as Congressman Randy Hultgren, about him even suggesting commuting the sentence of former Governor Rob Blagojevich. Several party activists and colleagues of Congressmen Hultgren are becoming increasingly outspoken. Is he going to go ahead with the commutation, or is he backing down? And is he aware of the criticism from supporters of his?
(Dave) Thanks, Sarah. The President is also meeting with lawmakers here this afternoon. What’s on the agenda?
(Hunter Walker, Yahoo News) Thank you, Sarah. Does the President still think his response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico deserves a 10 out of 10 score now that estimates say almost 5,000 people died there?
Any concern about the massive volume of the death toll there? (He said this after Sarah called on someone else, muscling through but she ignored him)
(Peter Alexander, NBC News) Thanks, Sarah. The administration came out in support of the baker’s freedom of expression in yesterday’s Supreme Court case. I guess I’m asking, why are athletes’ rights to express themselves freely any different than the baker’s?
So I guess my question is simple: So if the White House supports the BAKER’S right of free speech, why doesn’t the White House support the PLAYERS’ right to free speech?
(April Ryan jumps in without being called on) It’s about police-involved shootings, Sarah. Why not deal with —
Sarah, why not deal with the underlying issue of police-involved shootings?
(Peter again) Sarah, this is — will he commit to a roundtable? Will he commit — will the President, then, if it is about free speech and he supports these ideas, will the President commit to a roundtable with America’s athletes on topics of social injustice?
(April again) Yes.
Has he not — just for clarity, has he not — is it not something that has had any discussion to this point, given all the division in this country over this topic of social justice?
(April Ryan, uncalled on) Why won’t you answer about police-involved shootings? Is the President aware that this is about police-involved shootings and not about disrespecting the flag?
MS. SANDERS: Sorry, Steven. Go ahead.
Is the President aware of that, Sarah, please?
MS. SANDERS: Steven, if you could go ahead.
Please answer that. Please answer that.
(April keeps fighting through it and Steven Portnoy doesn’t try to start talking so finally Sarah is quiet and lets April ask a question) I’m asking, this is — there’s an underlying issue and it just keeps going about disrespect of the flag and soldiers. There are black and brown soldiers that fight in the military, as well, who feel that taking a knee, bringing attention to police-involved shootings is something that this White House should deal with. Is the President aware that taking the knee is about police-involved shootings?
MS. SANDERS: The President has made his position crystal-clear. And that is about —
Is he aware that this is about police-involved shootings
MS. SANDERS: I let you rudely interrupt me and your colleague.
I’m sorry, but this is important that this question get answered.
MS. SANDERS: I’m going to ask that you allow me to finish my answer. I would be happy to answer it if you would stop talking long enough to let me do that.
(FUCK YOU, SARAH SANDERS)
(Sarah says regurgitory stuff about living in a great country but doesn’t answer the question, so April continues) but will he deal with the issue of police-involved shootings?
MS. SANDERS: April, I’ve addressed your question. I’m not going to continue to engage with you.
I understand. But people are now standing — the NFL is now telling people they have to stand. Will the President deal with the issue of police-involved shootings?
MS. SANDERS: I’m going to deal with the issue of addressing your colleague’s question.
But it’s a real question. Can you take it to the President and come back to us with it?
MS. SANDERS: Steven, go ahead.
(Steven Portnoy, CBS Radio) Always happy to yield to a colleague.
(April Ryan) Thank you.
(Steven) But let me ask you about Scott Pruitt, because the two Republicans who represent Iowa in the Senate have had it with the EPA Administrator. Chuck Grassley said that Pruitt has betrayed the President. Joni Ernst says that Pruitt is as swampy as you can get. Josh and his colleagues report in the Washington Post today new elements of just how swampy that is. So let me ask you how is it, in the face of ALL that we’ve learned, how is that President Trump continues to have confidence in the EPA Administrator, assuming that he still does?
Number of times in 19 minutes that Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the President has done nothing wrong: 9
The meeting was 19 minutes long and started 40 minutes past schedule. I think Sarah Huckabee Sanders is trolling reporters with her late start times. I have the chart of the last many briefings to show it.
(Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, just a short time ago, the President said that, “I have an [sic] absolute right to pardon myself.” Why does he think that? And does he also agree with Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer, that a pardon for himself would be unthinkable and would lead to immediate impeachment? (She’s about to say “the President has done nothing wrong” #1)
But does he absolutely rule out doing that? I mean, does he rule out ever issuing a pardon for himself? (Whoop, #2 is already fast upon us!)
(Steve) How does the President respond to this criticism from Republicans about these tariffs against the EU, Canada, and Mexico? How do you reassure these senators and various people who were complaining about this?
Sarah, what was the contents of Kim Jong Un’s letter to the President that he received last week? And what did the President take away from that? Is he more encouraged, based on receiving that letter?
There’s a separate report that Vladimir Putin has reached out to Kim Jong Un and wants to meet with him. Is that a meeting that the President thinks would be constructive to this process? Does the President support Vladimir Putin meeting with Kim Jong Un as well?
(Mara Liasson, NPR News) Sarah, the President tweeted that the Special Counsel law was totally unconstitutional. If that’s the case, why is he allowing his own Justice Department to abide by it?
This is something new. He’s never said the law itself was unconstitutional. How can he allow his own Justice Department to participate in something that’s unconstitutional?
(Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thank you, Sarah. I did want to follow up on that and try and figure out what exactly the basis was for the President’s claim that it is unconstitutional. But I wanted to ask you about something else, as well. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been accused of enlisting a taxpayer-funded staffer to not only shop for apartments around Washington, D.C. but also to shop for a used mattress from the President’s hotel just around the corner. And I wanted to know if any of that gives the President pause at this point, or causes his confidence in Scott Pruitt to waver. (Francesca’s questions are WAY better than her Daily Mail colleague David Martosko’s, but this is a wasted opportunity. All Sarah Sanders does is make a joke about furniture and move immediately to another person.)
SANDERS: Certainly looking into the matter. I couldn’t comment on the specifics of the furniture used in his apartment. (Laughter.)
(John) You said that significant progress is being made in the diplomatic talks at the DMZ between U.S. and North Korean officials. The big question here is denuclearization. The President would like it to happen all at once — he said that before — but that it could also be a phased-in process. I know that the meeting has yet to take place, but certainly they’re trying to iron out some details here. Does it look like it will be an all-at-once, or is the phase-in more likely?
(Steven) Sarah, no matter what you call it, is maximum pressure still the policy of the United States toward North Korea?
(Peter Alexander, NBC News) Sarah, let me ask you, if I can: Does the President believe that he is above the law?
SANDERS: Certainly not. The President hasn’t done anything wrong.
The question isn’t if he’s done anything wrong. I guess, the question is, does the President believe the Framers envisioned a system where the President can pardon himself, where the President could be above the law? (She says again that he hasn’t done anything wrong)
But you, just a moment ago, said it’s not that clear. So I guess, simply put, does the President believe he is above the law?
Let me ask you a question, if I can follow. Just because I haven’t been here in a while. (She says no and calls on someone else)
Sorry, I’m going to keep going. Right here.
I just want to ask, and this is an important one because it’s about —
I’ll just keep asking, if I can — (she says “No, you can’t actually”)
The President —
Well, Sarah — I’m going to, Sarah. I think this is important. I haven’t had a chance to ask this question — (she says “I’m going to continue to move on”)
( ) Sarah, what’s the status of the tariffs on China? Does the administration still plan to move ahead with the June 15th deadline, as they stated?
(Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) Thank you. Two quick questions. One, I’ve asked this before: Is there any chance we could ever see the President come out here and take some questions from us in this briefing room? (He hasn’t done this even one time. It’s a fairly normal thing for presidents to do) And secondly, has anyone in this administration ever asked the President — last week, you had, on your agenda — you had an agenda where you have more jobs coming out — I mean, lower unemployment coming, and you also had — the Second Chance Act, I think it was. And instead of those, we had to respond to presidential tweets. Has anybody ever in this administration asked him to back away from Twitter just for a day?
Extend him our invitation.
SANDERS: In terms of Twitter, the President uses Twitter to communicate directly to the American people. Frankly, you have the ability to choose what you want to write about, and you guys choose to write about things that the American people don’t care about —
(Wait did she just say the American people don’t care about his tweets?)
But we don’t have the ability to ask him a question in regards to that.
We do not have the opportunity to ask him a question about that, though, Sarah. (She ignores this and moves on)
Can we at least get an opportunity to ask him a question about what he tweets? (Still ignoring)
(Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. I want to ask you about the lawyer’s letter to the Special Counsel. You said, last August, that the President did not dictate a statement about the Trump Tower meeting during the campaign. But the lawyers wrote to the Special Counsel that the President did dictate that statement. What’s the reason for that discrepancy? (She refers him to outside counsel and ignores that she was caught in a big lie)
(Deborah) After Kim Kardashian’s visit, is President Trump considering a commutation for Alice Johnson, who already has served 21 years of a life-without-parole sentence?
(Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Since Robert Mueller was named the Special Counsel over a year ago, the President’s team, his legal team, the Justice Department has never challenged the constitutionality of the Special Counsel. Yet, the President today is doing just that. Why hasn’t either the Justice Department or the President’s legal team challenged the constitutionality? They have the right to do so in federal court, and yet they haven’t done so. (We all know the answer to this one)
(Inaudible) but specifically those two entities have not done it. The President’s own lawyers have not done it, Sarah, and they can do so. Why haven’t —
What about the Justice Department? Can you speak on behalf of the Justice Department? (nnnope, turns out she can’t)
(Steve) Yes, Sarah, I’m wondering if the White House stands by the comments that were made by the U.S. ambassador to Germany, who said that he was backing anti-establishment conservatives to take power in Europe. Seems like a very unusual thing for a U.S. diplomat to say towards friendly countries.
(Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, let me ask you — turn your attention back to trade. For the farmers out there who could care less about the politics, who have to run a business every day, there was a farmer in Iowa who told one of our crews out there this morning — he said, “It’s hard to know which way to jump right now.” As in, they don’t know what decisions they should make for their businesses because of what is playing out here in Washington, here in China, NAFTA negotiations as well. What would you tell those folks out there who are trying to run these businesses, who are trying to make a decision on which way to jump right now?
On the political front — (she shuts him down)
(Peter Baker, New York Times) Thanks, Sarah. I just want to come back to — in August, you said he certainly didn’t dictate the statement. I wonder if you could tell us the basis of your comment when you made that in August. And do you think that still stands? Is that still an operative statement? Or do you retract that? (She refuses to answer a question about her own statement)
But in August, you said it.(Refuses to answer)
What was your basis for saying it in August, though? (Refuses to answer)
(Jim Acosta, CNN) Sarah, Rudy Giuliani, the President’s outside lawyer, said to the Huffington Post, “In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted. I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is. If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to [do to] him.” Is that appropriate language coming from the President’s outside lawyer to be talking about the President shooting Jim Comey in that fashion? (Get ready for another the President has done nothing wrong)
If I could ask a follow-up question. (Fuck no you can’t, Jim)
Sarah, if I could ask a follow-up question. (Fuck off, Jim)
If I could ask a follow-up question. Who — (Fuck off, Jim)
Well, others have had follow-up questions, Sarah. If I could ask —
They have had follow-up questions. If I could ask who these legal scholars are that you are citing, that would be great.
(Josh Dawsey, Washington Post) If you say, though, one thing from the podium — that it wasn’t dictated by the President — and his lawyers are saying something entirely different, contradicting, how are we supposed to know what to believe? How can we believe what you’re saying from the podium if his lawyers are saying it’s entirely inaccurate? (Out of the frying pan and into the fire! Oh but don’t worry, she just won’t fucking answer)
But, Sarah, the words are literally — you said he did not dictate. The lawyer said he did. What is it? It’s either one or the other. (No answer)
(John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. A question about pardons. Eleven days ago, the President issued the posthumous pardon for boxing great Jack Johnson. The leading proponents of this for more than a decade have been Congressman Pete King in the House and Senator John McCain in the Senate, both big boxing fans. Senator McCain tweeted his support for the pardon. Will the President use this opportunity to call Senator McCain and try and patch things up with him at this moment of his life?
(Philip the Quebecois) Sarah, thank you. I just wanted to check something with you. What in tariffs that were imposed against Canada reinforce the U.S. national security? (She can never understand anyone with an accent, so she asks him to repeat)
What — you know the tariffs that were imposed against Canada — aluminum and steel. What in that reinforce the U.S. national security? In what form the U.S. feels more secure now that Canada has been targeted by tariffs? (There is like zero need for SHS to be polite to these fuckers)
(Hallie Jackson, MSNBC News) Sarah, thanks. The Special Counsel didn’t seem so unconstitutional when the President was calling on one to investigate his political opponent during the campaign. So is it only unconstitutional if the President doesn’t like it? (Sarah Sanders has nothing to add)
(Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg) A trade question for you, Sarah. Thank you. The President, on Friday, said that he’s open to bilateral deals with Mexico and Canada. Is he still leaning towards bilateral deals as he heads up to Canada at the end of this week? Or is he thinking that he’d like to save NAFTA and just renegotiate it?
Thanks, Sarah. Last week, Missouri Governor Greitens stepped down. Did President Trump or anyone at the White House ever reach out to encourage him to step down?
And if so, why not, considering he’s the leader of the party?
(April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, you said the President hasn’t done anything wrong and wouldn’t need a pardon. But he said in his tweet that he has the absolute right to pardon himself. Does he assume that the Special Counsel will find him guilty of something? (You can guess what Sarah says next…)
But he said in his tweet that he could pardon himself. So there seems to be an assumption that Mueller will find him wrong for something. And if so, what would it be?
I have two questions on the Justice Department and pardons. For example, the Office of Legal Counsel has said that the President can’t actually pardon himself. Has the President requested a new opinion that may inform his tweet today? And also, there are some concerns about whether the President is still fielding those traditional pardon recommendations from the Justice Department. Some people are concerned that instead of relying on the Justice Department, he’s relying on sort of rich and famous people to recommend pardons.
On OLC, has he asked for a new OLC opinion?
Has he asked for a new OLC opinion on the pardon power?
(Lalit Jha) Thank you. What does the President think is his top foreign policy achievement in the first 500 days? (Quit carrying water, Lalit)
(Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller) Sarah, can you give us a little bit more background on the pardon process? Is there a process in place at this White House to review pardons? And how did the pardon ideas of Rod Blagojevich and Martha Stewart come up? Is it simply a matter of who can gain the President’s ear in order to get a pardon process? Or is there an attorney here in the White House through which these requests are funneled through, which eventually make their way up to the President? (You’re too good for the racist zine you write for, Saagar. I know you can do better!)
(Eamon Javers, CNBC) Thanks, Sarah. I wanted to ask you about the President’s call today with Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who said that the President’s tariffs on the EU were, quote, “unjustified and deeply disappointing,” according to the British readout of their phone call today. That’s what she said to the President. How did the President respond to that? (Pretty sure he doesn’t give a fuck, Eamon. This is the Honey Badger White House after all.)