the only way out is through #8

January 24, 2017… Day 5

Radio alarm: coal miners will have a hard time getting treated for black lung when the ACA is repealed.

Facebook: commercial fishermen upset at news that Trump wants to push through the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay.

Huckabee, Ryan, and Graham all say that there’s no reason to think that Donald Trump’s voter fraud claims are true.Bernie Sanders says “regarding Mr. Trump’s delusional statement… he is sending a message to every Republican governor in the country to go ahead with voter suppression.”Then he suggested to Trump that he bring his three overseas manufacturing plants back to the U.S.

New York Post headline: Trump Brings Up Bogus Voter Fraud claims–Again. The New York Post is a Trump-friendly publication and were given the first question at Sean Spicer’s “first” press conference yesterday.

White house briefing: Reporters in the Whitehouse Press Corp today ask Sean Spicer why Trump wouldn’t want to investigate 3-5 million fraudulent votes. “That would be a scandal of huge proportions” said one. Eventually, after much dodging, Spicer said maybe it would be investigated in the future. One reporter said, “What do you think that means for democracy?” and Spicer said, “It means I already answered your question.”

At another point in the press conference Spicer said, “He has NO conflicts. By law he CAN’T have conflicts.”

NBC headline: What Happens When a President Can’t Handle Bad News?

On the highways and byways: A man walking across the U.S. barefoot to spread awareness of climate change, was killed on his 101st day of walking. An SUV swerved on to the shoulder and took him out.

Twitter: The twitter handle of the Badlands (part of the National Park Service) briefly went rogue, tweeting facts about climate change. Hailed as a hero. The tweets were deleted soon afterward

Many agencies, including the EPA and USDA, were silenced by the Trump administration, forbidden to make any blog posts or tweets or communicate with the public over social media at all. The administration calls it a “temporary media blackout”

The Guardian reports that four journalists were charged with felony incitement of riots because they were caught up by police while covering unrest on inauguration day. Usually reporters that are caught up with rioters are not charged once things are sorted out.

I policed myself once today–not wanting to sign a petition on the Whitehouse website because I didn’t want to give my name to a sinister organization. Never mind that this URL is my name and they have plenty of ways to know I’m not a supporter. It wasn’t rational. Just a really bad feeling.

Trump signed an executive order to get construction on the Dakota Access pipeline underway again. I felt sad and defeated over Standing Rock and DAPL. I am afraid those people are just going to break themselves against the rocks of the Trump administration. It is wrong to be defeatist at this point, and wrong not to rally to their side as this may be an important test case. But if it was so bad against Obama, I am afraid they will break themselves now under Trump.

Trump to sign an executive order targeting sanctuary cities.

Governor Jerry Brown says “California is not turning back. Not now, not ever.”

Subjective assessment: This is worse and going faster than I expected.

Questions reporters asked at the WH press briefing (1/24/2017):

  • (Jim Stinson, LifeZette) Today immigration enforcement organizations and activists expressed concern that they haven’t seen immediate action on DACA, and I was just wondering — that was a key campaign plan of President Trump on the campaign trail. When can it — when can the people expect action on — on that? It wouldn’t require — it would only require stopping renewing the applications. It wouldn’t actually be retroactive against anyone. So what’s the holdup? (LifeZette is a pretty trashy far-right Internet rag that got WH press credentials for the first time under Trump)
  • (David Jackson, USA Today) Sean, there’s a — there are stories out there that the EPA officials have been gagged from talking to the press, talking to the media. Basically it’s the gag order. It’s the same kind of thing we had from the interior department over the weekend. First of all, is that true? And secondly, why is that being done, if it is?
  • What about the Interior department? Did they have the same kind of thing over the weekend? Supposedly, they were banned from tweets?
  • (Steve Holland, Reuters) In signing the orders on Keystone and Dakota access this morning, he said he would like to renegotiate some of the terms. What exactly was he talking about there?
  • (Charlie Spiering, Brietbart) As you know, the March for Life is on Friday, and President George W. Bush had a tradition of addressing the marchers through a phone call on the mall. Will he be — will the president be continuing that tradition on Friday?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Does the president believe that millions voted illegally in this election? And what evidence do you have of widespread voter fraud in this election, if that’s the case?
  • But exactly what evidence?
  • Speaker Ryan said there’s no evidence. The National Association of Secretaries of State say that they don’t agree with the president’s assessment. What evidence do you have?
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) In the waning hours of the Obama administration, they quietly transferred a lot of money out of the country, including $221 million to the Palestinian Authority. Does the president — is the president OK with that transfer? And if he is not, would he seek to claw back some of that money?
  • Is he ok with that transfer?
  • (Margaret Brennan, CBS News) Sean, when you were talking about that voter fraud, are you going to ask for an investigation? Is the White House going to formally ask for a probe into —
  • It seems to trouble him if he’s bringing it up…
  • It’s not, but I think it’s worth clarifying were there illegal ballots or illegal…
  • It’s not that they were counted improperly, as Dick Durbin said the president personally told him last night. It was that the people who voted…
  • (Trey Yingst, OAN) Thanks, Sean. Following President Trump’s executive actions earlier today, is he concerned about large-scale protests around the construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, like we saw at Standing Rock? And how will he address the concerns of those who oppose those plans?
  • (Margaret Talev, Bloomberg) I’d like to ask you about Jim Comey, but I also very quickly want to follow up on (inaudible) question about the pipelines and the renegotiation. The president I think sort of suggested that some of those renegotiations might — renegotiations might already be happening or that they would start happening. And I’m just wondering if you can clarify, like, are the mechanisms for that set? Have those discussions already begun?
  • So the mechanisms are still being fleshed out and the negotiations have not started again?
  • What I wanted to ask was, could you make it official what has been reported by U.S. officials all day long, which is that the president has asked, has decided he wants Jim Comey to stay on and that Jim Comey has told him he WILL stay on. Did they discuss kind of the Russia investigation and the parameters of that?
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR News) OK. Just a question about the executive — the hiring freeze yesterday.
  • It doesn’t exempt the V.A. And there are 41,500 unfilled medical jobs at the V.A., which is really an extremely large number. The V.A. is one of his top priorities.
  • Just to follow up on Cecilia, if three to five million people voted illegally, that is a scandal of astronomical proportions. Doesn’t he want to restore American’s faith in their ballot system? Wouldn’t he want an investigation of this? I mean, this is a HUGE, HUGE scandal.
  • I’m asking you why not investigate something that is the biggest scandal in American electoral history; three to five million people voting illegally

(These reporters know the voter fraud claims aren’t real. They’re just taking Spicer and therefore Trump at face value in order to see what happens when these claims are taken to their logical conclusion under American norms. Not that anything matters anymore. Spicer just keeps answering with variations on the following two statements: “It’s a comment that he made based on a long-standing belief” and “He is very comfortable with his win.” Of course they can’t investigate voter fraud because they know they’re lying about it.) 

  • (Pretty woman in the back who seems excited about Muslims being banned. It’s hard to tell. She might be from the Daily Beast) During Mr. Trump’s campaign, he talked a lot about banning Muslims from coming into the country and extreme vetting in the process. When can we expect him to take action on this?
  • Do you think they’re doing it purposefully?
  • Do you have a message to those Democrats?
  • (Anthony Harper, Intermountain Christian Newspaper, who is sitting right in front of NBC’s Kristen Welker. She’s sort of looking at him like “who the fuck is this guy?” during his question) Israel leaders in the Knesset I’m aware of are concerned about the misuse of U.S. tax dollars going to U.N. schools that are inciting kids to violence against the Jews. What do you think President Trump — how would he respond to these Israel leaders? There are (inaudible) leaders, Sharon Hastil (ph), you know, (inaudible) and Dr. Liza Labi (ph) I met — recently had interviews with them. Their concerns are very serious, so want — they would want to know what President Trump — or how he would respond to the misuse of funds — 
  • (Tara Palmeri, ABC News) Is the president open to the idea of choosing a mainstream candidate, like some of the Democratic congressional leaders are urging him to do, today?
  • For a — sorry — a Supreme Court nominee.
  • (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sean, I want to ask you a couple of questions. One starting off with Sessions. This delay in a vote, primarily because of concerns about issues of civil rights with Sessions, as well as voting rights. Yesterday you talked about the issues of race, dealing with Congressman John Lewis and his statements, and also the bus. What do you say when people are once again bringing up the issue of race and voter fraud when it comes to Jeff Sessions, this man that President Trump has so much faith in to lead the Justice Department?
  • Remember I’ve got a couple questions.
  • OK. So, I know we’re new to this together. So on the issue of race, going back, because you made a — you talked a long time yesterday on the issue of race. And I wanted to ask you a couple of things. And I talked to former — well excuse me, the current head of the NAACP, who is accusing this administration of something called stereotyping by omission, saying that the president has met with athletes and entertainers, but yet has not met with civil rights leaders. And during his inauguration speech he talked about inner cities, urban areas being riddles with gang violence and drugs. What is the agenda? What are you planning when it comes to…

SPICER: Well, April, I mean, just the other day he sat down with Martin Luther King, Jr. I would call him a civil rights leader.

  • The Third.
  • So when will there be a rollout of a plan? I mean how (inaudible)…
  • 100 days — he made this statement during the inauguration.
  • (Dave Boyer, Washington Times) Sean, the CBO came out with a report this morning that said if the current spending levels stay as they are, the government’s going to spend about another — put the country in another $10 trillion of debt over the next 10 years. Does that reinforce for the president the need to cut spending? And if so I mean where in the government can he cut spending enough to make a dent on that?

(Spicer brags about Trump’s businesses and calls him the right man at the right time.)

  • (Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) Two questions, and both — I know you love us, but if there are protests again if this pipeline goes through — last time during the protests, there are infinite journalists that were arrested and detained. Same question I asked the Obama administration. Would this administration at least support reporters in trying to do their job in gathering facts?
  • And then number two, new Congressman Jamie Raskin out of Maryland is proposing — said he will sponsor legislation for a national shield law. Your vicepresident in the past has supported a national shield law for reporters. Would this administration support a national shield law for reporters?
  • (Richard Latendresse, TV Canada) Thank you very much — on Keystone, the initial process took up to 10 years. How fast does the president want this?
  • Prime Minister Trudeau — did they talk about Keystone?
  • Very last question, Sean — very, very last, promise. You know, there’s a tradition, very first trip outside of the country for the president, a new president is Mexico or Canada? Will this tradition be maintained?
  • (Andrei Sitov, Itar-Tass — a Russian news agency) A couple of follow-ups to yesterday. First, you said that the phone call between the leaders of Russia and U.S. is not scheduled yet. Has it been scheduled?
  • Secondly, you also were asked about the mil-to-mil cooperation in Syria and coordination. And you referred us to the Pentagon, which said there was no such cooperation.
  • Is there any new guidance to that?
  • My real — my real question is…my real question is a basic one. We know that — we know that the president — those were easy — the president has been what I can only describe as viciously — viciously attacked for his attitude to Russia by his opponents here. He has withstood those attacks. So — but I’m from Russia and — please — please explain to us why? What’s his logic? Why is he doing this? Why is he standing firm on — on wanting to improve — We are happy that he stands firm on that. But please explain to my audience his reasoning for believing that we can do it together? (Kind of amazing) 
  • (Jeff Zeleny, CNN) You said the president believes that there was voter fraud. I wonder if YOU believe that? You were at the Republican National Committee at the time and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was of the chairman of the RNC the time. Do you believe there was widespread voter fraud?
  • And do you — how could he be comfortable with his win if he believes…
  • … there was three million votes? Maybe he didn’t win.
  • What does that mean for democracy, though, Sean? What does that mean…
  • If he does believe that, what does that mean for democracy?

SPICER: It means that I’ve answered your question.

  • Have you?
  • (Unseen woman with an Irish – ? – accent) The president’s been meeting with business leaders. Are there any plans to target U.S. multinationals that have significant operations abroad with more favorable tax (inaudible)?
  • Has the president issued his official invitation to the prime minister of Ireland to come here for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) So to piggyback off that, yesterday, the president met with CEOs — broad-based– met with union leaders — broad-based. Today, though, he specifically met with auto leaders. Why was that his choice as the first industry to meet with? And then taking it broader from that, what is the criteria or the policy that the president, the administration has or might develop that will determine which leaders are brought here to the White House to meet with the president?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Does the president have any plans to change U.S. policy towards Cuba? There were a lot of changes that took place in the last administration. Any executive orders that as it relates to U.S.-Cuba relations?
  • One more question, Sean.
  • Yeah, that’s right. Picking up on what April said, are there any plans in the near future for the president to meet with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus or the Congressional Hispanic Caucus?
  • (Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press) You had mentioned that the president is finishing a review of the Islamic State strategy. Can you just tell us who exactly is involved with that review? How long is it going to take? What are some options being considered?
  • (Hallie Jackson, NBC News) First one, and really not to belabor a point here, but you said that the president believes — his belief for a while that there is widespread voter fraud. But only four days ago did he get the power of the presidency to be able to DO something about it. So why not definitively say that he WILL investigate, IF he believes and the administration position is that there was massive voter fraud?
  • If he lost would he be upset?

SPICER: Of course he’d be upset. Who wouldn’t be upset if they lost?

  • But he’s not upset — I mean about the voter fraud.
  • Second topic just quickly on the pipelines if you don’t mind, Sean. On Keystone, when you look at the Dakota Access pipeline as well. Given the president’s former business ties, his last financial disclosure showed that he did have some stake in Energy Transfer Partners.
  • The CEO — he sold most of it. But there’s still, at least from his last disclosure, still thousands of dollars that he has. Can you just reassure the American people that there…
  • To those concerned about potential conflicts, what would you say?

SPICER: He has no conflicts. By law, he CAN’T have conflicts.

  • (Jerome Cartillier, AFP) The president recently said he thought NATO was obsolete. Does he share the view of Secretary of Defense James Mattis said yesterday Washington has “unshakeable commitment to the alliance?”
  • (Fred Lucas, Daily Signal) Thanks, Sean. Legislation from Sen. Collins, Sen. Cassidy would repeal Obamacare, but allow states that want to, to continue to have it. Would the president supportthat type of legislation? And if he did, would that go back on his promise to have a full repeal of the bill?
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sean, thank you. I just want to be clear about this investigation because you potentially opened the door for one. Have you discussed with the president how…
  • Possibly investigating this voter fraud…
  • But you said it’s possible.

SPICER: **sputtering**  ANYTHING is possible!  *sputtering*

  • Does he support the expansion of Israel has approved the settlement of 2,500…
  • Does he support the expansion of settlements?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sean. During the campaign, President Trump said he wanted to fill up the Guantanamo Bay prison with bad dudes, and I’m wondering if the White House is formulating a plan to do that? Has the president directed the armed forces to start arresting terrorists overseas and bringing them to the prison?
  • (Can’t tell who this is — is in either Chicago Tribune or ABC News Radio seat) Sean, thanks. I have two questions related to the Supreme Court and today’s meeting with Senate leadership. First, can you talk to us a little bit more about what the goal of the meeting is? It sounds like he’s closing in on a decision. Will he be sharing with them a short list of his final choices?
  • Sean, when Senate Democrats changed the filibuster rules in 2013, they specifically exempted the Supreme Court nominations from that. Would the president encourage Senate Republicans to consider lowering…
  • Given your frustration with the nomination process so far, is that something he would recommend to Republicans that they consider?

After Spicer leaves the podium, C-Span captures shouted questions about voter fraud and evidence as the reporters continue to try to chase this snippet with something like a logical framework of our democracy as it was before Trump, which would require claims to be substantiated, which would require the president to be circumspect in his speech, and which would definitely require an investigation if the president believed there had been massive voter fraud. There will be no investigation.

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