January 30, 2017…. Day 11
Sally Yates, acting Attorney General, ordered the Department of Justice not to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees.
Sally Yates was fired.
Joe Manchin, most conservative Democrat as far as the eye can see, spoke out against the executive order.
Politico says Congressional staffers worked secretly with White House staff to draft the executive order, without their bosses on the Hill knowing.
Rex Tillerson reportedly baffled that he was not consulted about the executive order.
Over one thousand Democratic protesters outside Chuck Schumer’s apartment building in Park Slope today, demanding that he fight back harder, with more conviction, and stop voting for Trump’s cabinet nominees.
Someone says that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will be filibustered, but I can’t remember who said that.
Sean Spicer said a bunch of shitty stuff in his White House press briefing. He compared the experience of the people stopped at airports, to the ordinary inconvenience of travelers having to pass through security on an ordinary day. He also said over and over that it was commons sense measures, and he said over and over that all Trump cares about is the safety of the American people.
Sean Spicer was huffy about criticism regarding leaving any reference to Jews out of Trump’s Holocaust statement (which Priebus said yesterday was an intentional decision). Spicer suggested that Jews ought to be grateful that Trump went out of his way to mention the Holocaust at all. This is recognizable soft Holocaust denial.
No one in my workplace is talking about Trump. There are not even mumblings and grumblings. The markets fell today.
I overheard the women talking about protesters and traffic. They did not say, as they did right after the election, that the protesters were “a bunch of crybabies.”
A lot more happened. It’s getting hard to remember in one day what happened. Every day feels like ten days. That is today as well as I can remember it. Today is still happening. Waves of horror crashing in via Twitter as we go to press. The only way out of this situation might be to dose myself with NyQuil for the night.
P.S. Oh yeah, the State of Washington is suing Trump over the Muslim ban (I’m just going to go ahead and call it that).
Questions asked at the WH Daily Briefing (1/30/2018):
- (Trey Yingst, OAN) Over the weekend, President Trump requested that the king of Saudi Arabia join him by supporting safe zones in Syria. What type of support does President Trump intend to provide and when can Syrian civilians expect to receive this support?
- (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) The president said today in that on-camera session with the business leaders about how — talked about how the market has run up during his — over the last couple months. I want to ask you a question related to that. Today, coincidentally, happens to be the biggest market drop since October and one of the uncertainties for investors is that tax reform might not get done this year. So my question to you is, can the administration commit to major tax reform in 2017?
- (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sean, two questions. One, how important is national security information to you? How — you’re saying they’re at the table and they can come to the table if they want at some meetings.
- So you’re saying they’re at the table?
- Let me ask my question.
- They’re at the table, but how important are their suggestions or their statements to this administration?
- My second question, my last question, when you talk about these seven countries these Muslim-majority countries, talking to a former official from the Obama administration from Homeland Security, they’re saying that what you’re doing is very different from what they did and it’s much more restrictive. What do you say to that?
- (Major Garrett, CBS News) Sean, you suggested over the weekend, so did Stephen Miller, that the action taken on the executive order might have been related to some specific intelligence that it was necessary to prevent something from happening and any questions about why certain agencies may not have been as briefed up can be explained in part because it needed to happen right away. Can you explain what you were trying to get at there?
- In other words, it was not put in place in the timeline it was put in place, with the procedures to put it in place, because of SPECIFIC intelligence that was suggesting–
- OK, I just want to make sure on that–
- (John Roberts, Fox News) Just following up on that a little bit, I’ve got two questions unrelated so I’ll ask the second one. A number of legal challenges against this executive order. What’s your level of confidence that you will prevail legally and what’s the basis for that level of confidence?
- But Jeff Donnelly’s order is just one of a number.
- (Someone else, I think) Eighty-four, I believe, right?
- What’s the president’s response to Iran flagrantly thumbing its nose at the U.N. Security Council —
- And if I could just finish, Prime Minister Netanyahu who you mentioned will be coming here on the 15th is looking to the White House for more sanctions against Iran–
- (Jon Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you very much. Two brief questions. First, the president of ZOA, Zionists of America, put out a statement following the president’s proclamation on the Holocaust saying that the omission of Jews and what they experienced was quote, “painful,” unquote. Is the president aware of some criticism from the American Jewish community and does he plan to do anything about it? (Spicer says “by and large he’s been praised for it.” He also says, “the President went out of his way to acknowledge the Holocaust”)
- Second question was, thank you. Several NGOs that have helped people from the countries affected have said that they specifically are focused on people who interpreted for our military and say they would be affected by this, I believe Secretary Mattis said he hoped to specify that to give these people a better shot at it. Is there going to be any change…(Sean Spicer points out that an interpreter on television said “I love Donald Trump”)
- (Margaret Talev, Bloomberg) I’d like to ask you about Dodd-Frank. President Trump said this morning he’s gonna do a big number on Dodd-Frank, and I wanted to know what the time frame for the big number, is this legislation that you’re looking at teaming up with Republican lawmakers on or do you think that the big number can mostly be handled through an executive order?
- In the first hundred days–
- OK. I’m wondering — do you expect an E.O. on H1B’s as part of all this coming any time soon? And also I just wanted you to be aware that President Obama through his spokesman has now issued a statement on the executive order, over the weekend.
(Zeke Miller, who may have still been with Time but later worked for AP) Since we’re doing two, I got two for ya. On the NSC reorganization with regards to the president’s chief strategist being on the NSC, that wasn’t something that existed certainly in President Obama’s tenure. Can you just talk –what does that speak about Mr. Bannon’s role within the White House within the policy decision-making structure?
- Sorry, just on the Yemen strikes from over the weekend. Can you talk a little bit about the president’s personal involvement, I mean, this seems to be the first major order he’s given. And separately does he intend to speak with the family of the fallen serviceman?
- Thank you very much. North Korea announced that if the United States intercept ICBM it will be the war, how did you respond?
- Yesterday, President Trump spoke with the president of South Korea and also, they said that U.S. and South Korea strengthen joint defense capability, what is the opportunity —
- (“Mike” — possibly Bender of the WSJ based on the angle of Sean’s sight line) I want to ask about the Supreme Court pick. Can you tell us who the pick is? Is it a pick off the list he’s been using? Is he 100 percent sure this is the pick?
- You said he? You said he?
- You also said “he.” You said “he’s the one.”
- (Abby Phillip, Washington Post) Following up on the President comments last week that 3 million illegal immigrants voted in the election– you guys said that he would have an executive order on this. Is he still planning to do this or did he change his mind?
- And, then the second — I’d just like to follow up on your statement about the — the Holocaust statement –last night the Republican-Jewish Coalition called it an “unfortunate omission” that the White House did not acknowledge the Jewish people or —
SPICER: They weren’t in President Bush’s acknowledgment either.
- It was. President Bush did mention anti-Semitism. So could you explain why you decided to depart from the bipartisan tradition of — (so much indignant sputtering from Sean Spicer, who says the statement was written by a Jewish person and says that criticism of the statement is pathetic. Then he goes on to say it’s really Christians who should be offended and then a bunch about Israel and then says Obama was REALLY bad.)
- Did you say Jared Kushner wrote that statement?
- You mentioned a descendant of–
- (Mark Landler, New York Times) Sean, I’m sure you’re aware, there’s a dissent cable that’s being circulated inside the State Department and it takes issue with the executive order. Are you aware of it? What’s your reaction to it? And are you concerned that you are facing a bureaucracy at the State Department that may not be working in the same direction you are? And if — this is twofer Monday — the second thing is, if I could press you a little bit on the very first question you were asked on safe zones, President Trump said a couple of times before the election that he wanted Persian Gulf countries not only to be open to this, but to support it, to pay for it. Does the — is that the request he made of the king of Saudi Arabia in the phone call over the weekend?
SPICER: [blah blah blah…] “I think they can either get with the program or they can go.”
- (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Thank you, Sean. President Obama — the statement that was referenced earlier — said that he’s heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country. Does President Trump have a message for the protesters? And does he have a message for the 109 people that you just mentioned? And since it’s twofer Monday, on this memo about the plan to defeat ISIS, the President campaigned and said that he had a plan to defeat ISIS. Does he?
- And on the message to the protesters, and specifically to the families who this weekend were caught up in this?
SPICER: <blur blur blur…> Coming into this country is a privilege. We’re the greatest country on earth.
- (Maria Pena, La Opinion) Sean, follow-up on the extreme vetting. Advocacy groups are saying that we already have extreme vetting. It takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months for people applying for asylum or refugee status to through that vetting process. So how do you justify making it even more extreme? And also, do you plan to add more countries to the list…
- Saudi Arabia for instance?
- Some of the countries that have problems with terrorism are not on the list.
- And what about the vetting process? (Sean Spicer didn’t answer, but just ignored this and moved on)
- (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Last night, we were told by senior administration officials that top immigration staffers on Capitol Hill and other offices were involved in drafting the executive order. That doesn’t jive with the reporting that we have. We’re hearing from offices that they weren’t involved. So could you say which offices–
- We’re talking to many offices on Capitol Hill who–
- My question for you is which members were involved?
SPICER: I don’t have an obligation, just because you called 535 offices, to tell you which ones we talked to.
- (Raghubir Goyal, India Globe) Thank you very much, Sean. Two questions, please. One, on behalf of the Indian-American community, we are thanking President Trump for the Cabinet-level post of Ambassador Nikki Haley. Question is that under President Trump administration, do you think India will be a member of the U.N. Security Council? And what changes do you think we can see at the United Nations?
- Thank you, sir. As far as President Trump and Prime Minister Modi, they spoke three times since President Trump’s victory to make America great again. (Ever the ass-kisser) My question is both leaders I understand are on the same boat because thinking is the same. My question, how vote will work as far as U.S.-India relations are concerned? And India is ready to welcome President Trump.
- (Face never shown) First one to follow up on Zeke’s question. My understanding is the wheels were already in motion on this raid over the weekend, but did the president specifically have to OK it?
- OK. And then there’s a report in the Independent — in the U.K. — that the president plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement within days. Can you confirm that or…
- (Victoria Jones, Talk Media News) Two on immigration. The first one is the president always says he’s a great counter-puncher, but he attacked Senator Schumer this morning over fake tears. He said it was 95 percent basically that he had shed fake tears over the weekend, but Senator Schumer did not attack President Trump. He went after his policy. Was this gracious of the president?
- My other question is you said it’s been 109 people. But the Associated Press is reporting that the congressionally-approved program by which 300 Iranian Christians, Jews and Bahai’s who were at threat of persecution in that country were coming to Austria as a way-station to come to the United States have been blocked from coming to Austria.
- But that’s another 300 who have been blocked from coming. So that’s 409.
- So I’m saying there’s an additional 300 people.
- (Scott Thuman, Sinclair Broadcast Group) Sean, what’s your level of concern about any kickback from some of these countries that are on that list of seven as far as how relations may work in the future? And some people obviously are critical of the fact that you have countries like for example mentioned, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan where we have had attacks on U.S. soil with connections to those countries. So do you foresee those being added?
- (Unseen reporter) Sean, the — the LGBT group, Human Rights Campaign, has issued a statement saying that — citing rumors that they’re — President Trump is about to sign a religious freedom executive order that would undermine LGBT rights. Is the President considering any kind of religious freedom order —
- (Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Any chance of the 90-day ban being extended indefinitely?
- And then on the Supreme Court, I don’t believe you answered this question earlier. What was the reason that President Trump decided to move up his announcement from Thursday night to tomorrow night?
- I mean was it a way to flip the script here…
- (Daniel — could be WaPo or CNN) The New York immigration coalition claims that a Syrian refugee with a visa was among the detainees released from custody at JFK airport. Why was that individual allowed to enter the country?
- But I thought you–
- (Unseen woman) The daily briefings were not on the President’s schedule Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday of last week. It’s not on there today either. Can you confirm that he has not received the daily briefing on those days?
- He gets it every day? Who does he get it from?
SPICER: He gets it every day. I just answered the question.
- (Kirsten Welker, NBC News) Sean, thank you. Jihadists celebrated news of the travel ban over the weekend, indicating that they see it as a recruiting tool. Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden, said that he believes this travel ban could make the U.S. less safe. So what do you say to those who argue this travel ban will make the country less safe?
- But they didn’t issue a ban.
- One of them was a five year old from Tehran and for five hours he was separated from his mother —
- Let me just ask you about the rollout as well. Did Secretary Kelly find out about the executive order as it was being signed and did Secretary Mattis find out only hours earlier?
- (Man who was not called on) Do you want to respond to the former president?
- (Vivian Salama, AP) On that note, and how much — how WELL were those departments briefed? I mean you just put it yourself that the President is willing to act very quickly when he has to keep the country safe and so, is there a lesson to be learned from what happened last week in terms of maybe better preparing the departments that are relevant–
- (Same man again) Sean, do you want to respond to the former president?
- (Franco Ordonez, McClatchy) Can you answer how many — I know you said 109 over the last 24 hours since the executive order, how many went through since that 24 hours have been detained for a number of hours?
- Just to clean up something you said earlier in the briefing, you said with respect to the career diplomats at the State Department who disagree and are signing this cable that “they should get with the program or they can go.” Are you suggesting they should resign their posts in the State Department?
- (David Brody, Christian Broadcasting Network) What’s the president’s message to send Democrats who have clearly signaled their intention to filibuster the Supreme Court nominee. What is the president’s thinking?