January 31, 2017… Day 12
5:00. Though I’ve been enjoying watching things live on C-Span, when I get a nudge from the Washington Post on my phone to watch the Supreme Court nominee announcement live, I think “No thank you! I’ll have none of your folderol, DONALD.” And I became intensely interested in the hue and firmness of the bananas in the produce section of the grocery store. Because I don’t need to be a fucking reality television audience for him.
Supreme Court nominee is Neil Gorsuch. Democrats reiterate vow to filibuster Supreme Court nominee.
Over on C-Span: “We were told during the campaign not to take President Bannon literally. I’m sorry, I mean President Trump.” That’s what Congressman Joseph Crowley said today to a handful of reporters. He passed it off as a slip until about 10 minutes later, when he said, “I don’t think Donald Trump has the bandwidth to do this himself. That’s why I made a reference to President Bannon.” Being relatively new to C-Span, I don’t know whether congresspeople are just more balls to the wall than senators always, or whether this sort of talk is unusual. Crowley said that 24 Republicans had spoken out against the Muslim ban, but the vast majority had stayed silent. He said “President Trump is a coward… and anyone who stays silent joins the ranks of cowards.” Standing next to him, at about half his height, was Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. She said, “the only words that come to mind are ‘dumpster fire.’” She referred to Trump’s “dangerous and dictatorial missives” and said the world was watching and waiting for Congress to act.
GQ headline: In Case It Wasn’t Clear Yet, Steve Bannon Is Our President
USA TODAY runs story on dozens of hours of audio recordings from Bannon’s Breitbart News Daily radio show in 2015 and 2016, when Bannon said the U.S. was in a “global existential war,” and suggested Islamist sympathizers had infiltrated the U.S. government and news media.
Donald Trump tweets “Nancy Pelosi and Fake Tears Chuck Schumer held a rally at the steps of The Supreme Court and mic did not work ( a mess)-just like Dem party!”
Two Republican senators–Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski–signaled that they may not vote for Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. It would take one more Republican to prevent her nomination from being successful.
Democrats boycotted committee votes on nominations of Tom Price (HHS) and Steve Mnuchin (Treasury). This stalled the process.
Sean Spicer refers to Mar-a-lago as “The Winter Whitehouse,” as if that’s a thing.
White House press corps shows signs of being angry and sticking up for each other. One reporter asks Sean Spicer how Trump plans to bring the country together, if he’s using words like “betray” (reference to Sally Yates firing memo). Sean Spicer said “Well that’s a very one-sided way to look at it.” Reporter visibly snorts. This was follow up to a reporter who asked whether using words like “betray” might have a chilling effect on federal employees. After Sean Spicer ducked similar questions from two other reporters, a third reporter mentioned the predecessor questioners by name, and then said “Is the president willing to kill and target American citizens, even minors, if they’re related to a terrorist?” Sean Spicer dodges. There have been a lot of headlines about things going wrong on the recent mission (a Navy SEAL, an 8-year old American citizen, and several other civilians were killed).
Reporters try to get the story straight on who knew what when with the Muslim ban. Sean Spicer says at one point, scoffingly, “Well I’m sorry that NBC News is based on false New York Times reporting.” And a reporter from neither of those organizations yelled “That was good reporting!!” from somewhere in the room.
Sean Spicer snits about use of “ban” to describe the Muslim ban. Reporters ask why Trump used the word “ban” himself in a tweet, if he didn’t want people to use that word. Spicer said huffily that Trump used it because the media used it, but that’s not what it was. Another reporter asked about it. Finally after he said goodnight, a third reporter said, “The President called it ‘a very strict ban’ on Saturday. He called it a very strict ban–was the President wrong?” Sean Spicer just keeps walking out of the room. Another reporter says “LOUDER!” and the reporter who asked the question says just as the sound cuts out, “I mean–” and it sounds like he is about to say “What. The. Fuck.”
I saw a tweet tonight that White House staff won’t be appearing on CNN until future notice; Trump called it fake news. I wonder if that is related to Jake Tapper sardonically trolling Sean Spicer with clips of him (Sean) from just last night and the night before, repeatedly calling the executive order a ban.
I just read a long Twitter thread with links to a Trumpist blog, and it reminded me again that we are The Enemy. Not even Muslims or Mexicans or refugees. Liberals. They will hurt more marginalized targets to make us cry. Later, they will hurt us directly if they can get at us more easily. They don’t care about Donald Trump. They are bludgeoning us with Donald Trump. They want us to suffer because they hate us. More specifically, they hate me. They hate me because they are fucked in the head. It’s not fucking personal. So DON’T SHOW THEM ANY UNDERBELLY. Be ferociously cheerful, be righteous but flinty, be merciless, be this machine kills fascists.
Much is made of taking back the night, but I’m just trying to reclaim the late afternoon and early evening. These are day parts when things can be done! Like exercise, gardening, going places, or writing! For months now, I get home from work, close the apartment door behind me, breathe a sigh of relief, and climb into bed with my a) laptop, b) phone, c) a legal pad and pen, d) a book or two, and e) probably something kind of junky to eat. And then I’m there in bed, and it’s not all bad — there’s blogging, talking to my mom, educating myself, doing logistical online daily living crap, texting friends, reading, writing handwritten letters to nieces and aunts, listening to podcasts. It’s quite cozy. Also depressing!! Today I noticed tulip spears are coming up by my doorstep, and there are little leaf buds on my hydrangea bush. I tried to do a few things, like removing my mustache from my upper lip, hauling my recycling out to the dumpster, and corralling my dirty clothes into the actual hamper for future laundering (not doing laundry tonight — let’s not get TOO crazy.) It’s light just a little bit longer. If I put in a little effort, I might be able to shake off this low-grade hiding condition. Someone tell Marco Rubio there’s hope.
Everything is going to shit. Throw a blanket over the bird cage of your angst and try to sleep.
Questions for Spicer at the WH Daily Briefing (1/31/2017):
- (John Roberts, Fox News) The removal last night of Ms. Yates from her position has raised questions as to how this President will deal with dissent in the ranks currently and in the future. Does he see what she said yesterday as a difference of opinion, an active insubordination? How would he read it? And how will he act on similar things in the future?
- So is the President — so, sorry, can I just follow up on that? So is the President laying down a marker now to all of his Cabinet secretaries and all of his other officials to say, if I give you a directive and you do not follow it, you’re gone?
- But —
- (Trey Yingst, OAN) Thanks, Sean. As it relates to the executive order today, how will the Trump administration ensure the digital privacy of all Americans as the President looks to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity?
- (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Network) Sean, I have a couple of questions. I want to go back to the issue of this travel ban.
- Okay. But mind you, I have two questions. So with all of this happening, and as you’re trying to give specifics about what’s happening, what is the concern about the fallout from other countries who are viewing this still in a certain way? Have you looked at the fallout and how to counter it, and how to work with these other countries that may be allies, or even may not be allies, in order to prevent something from happening?
- So you’re doing outreach for that?
- One other — you said, two. Now, the President met with the pharmaceutical heads. When is this meeting scheduled for Congressman Elijah Cummings and President Trump, after that call that President Trump made —
- Would it be one on one? Not —
- (Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Thanks, a lot, Sean. Does the President anticipate a difficult confirmation fight for his nominee, whoever that is?
- Do you believe you can get nine Democrats to support this nominee?
- (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Sean, let me ask you the obvious follow-up question then. At least one Republican senator has said Democrats have removed the filibuster from just about every other appointment, aside from the Supreme Court. And he said several Republicans say they would have no hesitation about moving for another nuclear option if Democrats attempt a filibuster of any of the possible nominees. Is this something the President would support? And has he discussed it with members of the Senate?
- (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sean, thanks. We know that the list of 21 was put out during the campaign. We know that, at 8:02 tonight, the President is going to reveal his selection. Can you kind of fill the gap in between as to how often the President might have spoken with this person, whether there were any meetings here at the White House, just any of the — how he got there? And then the last hours or in the last days here, really, who has he leaned on to kind of narrow this down? And then a follow-up, if you don’t mind.
- Let me ask you about the news of the day. Prescription drug prices — the President met with the pharma leaders earlier today. What makes him so confident that he can drive down drug prices, whereas administrations past have tried to do the same but haven’t been able to? How is he going to go about it?
- (Hunter Walker, Yahoo! Finance) Thank you, Sean. The President is meeting with Mayor Giuliani today. What do you think of the mayor’s claim that the executive order on those seven countries evolved from the Muslim ban that the President proposed during the campaign? Is that accurate?
- Mayor Giuliani stressed that too, but he said that it came out of the desire to have a Muslim ban.
- (Zeke Miller, AP) Thanks, Sean. Just following up again about the strike over the weekend in Yemen. Can you confirm that the eight-year-old — the reports that the eight-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in that strike? And if you can address sort of the killing of the American citizen in this anti-terrorism operation.
- (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sean, thanks. You’re saying it’s not a ban. This was President Trump’s tweet yesterday: “If the ban were announced with a one-week notice, the ‘bad’ would rush into our country during that week.” So he says it’s a ban.
- Those aren’t our words, those are his words.
- (Jonathan Karl?) Those are HIS words
- (Kristen Welker) That’s his words, his tweet.
- I understand your point. But the President himself called it a ban.
- Is he confused or are you confused?
- It seems to fit into this broader point, Sean, which Paul Ryan said today: “I think it’s regrettable that there was some confusion on the rollout of this.” The House Speaker saying that. What do you say to Republicans who argue that this is a part of a broader issue with the President not enacting this policy smoothly?
- But do you dispute that there was confusion —
SPICER: You have been part of the confusion… YOU have helped cause that.
- I think there was a New York Times report that was cited —
SPICER: Oh, okay, so I apologize if NBC News’s reporting is based on The New York Times’s false reporting.
- (Glenn Thrush, New York Times) It was accurate reporting, Sean.
- (Kristen Welker) Both things can be true.
- It was accurate reporting, Sean.
- They can be true that he —
- He didn’t say he saw the specifics of the —
- No one is calling anyone a liar. I’m saying we —
- (Glenn Thrush) Sean, let me ask you a question.
- So a couple of minutes ago you stood at the podium and you reiterated something you said yesterday about anyone who doesn’t agree in terms of career bureaucracy should hit the road. I’m paraphrasing. You had a statement that President Trump made where he accused the acting Attorney General of “betraying” her own department by expressing a counter opinion. Don’t you think that kind of language has a chilling effect on the public statements that your officials make?
- (Someone else) Well, if she think it’s illegal —
- (David) But is this a betrayal, though?
- Is it a betrayal?
- That’s a very hard word.
- (Glenn) So why use the word “betrayal” —
- Let’s define the word “betrayal.”
- (Unidentified big guy, I think this is the NY Daily News seat) Sean, I think the New York Times report said that the Secretary did not receive a full briefing until the executive order was being signed. So my question is, can we expect that secretaries, agency heads, when there are future executive orders or changes of policy, may not receive full briefings before —
- Well, I’m just talking about a full briefing, which is what the New York Times reported.
- But you’re saying that he was not fully briefed–
- (Zoe Daniel, Australian Broadcasting) Thank you, Sean. Thanks for taking the question. The Australian government made a recent deal with the Obama administration whereby the U.S. would take refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centers. Now most of these people are from Iran, but also some are from Iraq and Somalia, among other places. Can you confirm that this deal is still on? Are those refugees exempt from what you describe as the extreme vetting? Or will that deal change or be delayed?
- (Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) The big question — looking at the bigger picture — this President, when he came in, said he was going to gather us all together, that he was going to bring us together. And the actions taken in the first 10 days seem to indicate otherwise from people in his own party — the use of the word “betrayal.” How is this President going to address the fact that people are looking to him to bring people together, and yet with his own words seems to be driving us apart?
- Enlighten me.
- I have one quick follow-up.
- The follow-up — I asked you about a shield law for journalists last week. You said you would get back to us?
- (Cheryl Bolen, Bloomberg BNA) If I could just ask real quick on trade. Now that notices have been given to the TPP countries, are you considering any changes in the roles of your three sort of official trade negotiators? And what area of the globe are you going to start first on negotiations?
- (Inaudible) negotiator —
- (Hallie Jackson, MSNBC News) Sean, the President has previously indicated that he would encourage the targeting of families of terror suspects. Is that still his current position?
- December 3rd, on Fox. He said, “The other thing with [the] terrorists is you have to take out their families.” Is that still his position?
- Even the families of terror suspects, civilian members of families, Sean?
- (First he called her Sarah and then he called her Rebecca–She’s standing up against the side wall) On Guantanamo, Sean. Thanks for taking this question. I know that you’ve indicated at that podium that there will be further action. What does this look like? And there are five detainees that have been cleared for transfer that are sitting at Guantanamo. Would this administration take action in the next coming months on those detainees?
- Is there a timeline for those actions–
- (Can’t see who this is) The Obama administration’s endangerment finding undergirds the Clean Power Plan. Does the President still plan to revoke the Clean Power Plan? And would he perhaps even go further and try and revoke the endangerment finding?
- (Matt — over on the side — asked kind of creepily) Sean, Sally Yates was obviously an Obama appointee, was holding it through the transition. How many more of them are there throughout the government at this time, as the transition and confirmation process plays out? And do you expect any more problems from any of the other ones?
- (Daniel — maybe in the New York Post seat?) Sean, yesterday you said 109 individuals were affected by this extreme vetting. DHS officials said that it was over 1,100 —
- (Not sure who this is) Sean, Hallie’s question was about civilians that are being targeted by the administration in anti-terror raids. And Zeke’s question was about al-Awlaki’s daughter. So let me ask you: Is the President willing to kill and target American citizens, even minors, just because their family members are terrorists?
- One more follow-up there. If you’re qualified for the position — you said earlier, if you’re qualified for the position, you should get confirmed. That’s not how Merrick Garland was treated in the previous administration. (Sean tried so hard to keep this question from being asked)
- (Another guy) Sean, if the President does get his pick on the bench, what are any specific cases that the administration hopes that the Court takes up in the near future–