the only way out is through #16

February 1, 2017… Day 13

I’m discombobulated from losing my phone and then tearing my apartment apart looking for it, not finding it, losing everything else in the upheaval, being confronted by terrible spiders and dust bunnies, and then also raging at Twitter. So this is a perfunctory, disorganized list tonight and nothing more.

Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) introduces bill to keep Steve Bannon off of the National Security Council.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins will not vote for Betsy DeVos for education secretary. She will probably still be confirmed with Mike Pence acting as tie-breaker.

Trump at Black History Month breakfast. Chelsea Clinton tweets link to the video, captioning it “This is… this is…” Trump does not seem to know who Frederick Douglass was.Sean Spicer at press briefing doesn’t seem to know either. He also doesn’t seem to know about the dissent channel at the State Department. I didn’t know either until this last weekend, but I googled it. I googled it, Sean, and so should you.

One of the eight new “Skype seats” in the White House Briefing Room went to Lars Larson of the Lars Larson show. He called Sean Spicer “Commander Spicer” and promoted the selling off of federal lands before asking his question.

Mike Flynn put Iran on notice.

Elijah Cummings and other House Dems ask about Flynn-Russia connection

Trump suggests he might send the U.S. military into Mexico, on phone call to Mexican president. CNN transcript and article disputes tone and exact wording reported in AP article. AP made it sound like President was threatening to invade. CNN made it sound like an offer of help.

Trump insults Australian prime minister, saying he had four phone calls with foreign leaders that day and that one was by far the worst. The call was supposed to last one hour, but Trump hung up on the guy 25 minutes in.

My stepdad passed a group of No DAPL protesters in front of Wells Fargo as he walked over my office to say hi to me this morning. He joined in with them for half an hour, just because they were there and he thought he might as well.

Trump wants to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam and change the name to reflect that focus.

Highlight of the day was Senator Al Franken speaking in committee re: Jeff Sessions. It was an honor to watch him defend the importance of facts and integrity in real time on C-Span. There are so many ways we think we’d better just back away from media for awhile. But not in this case. After there was a party line vote to move the Sessions nomination out of committee, an old white woman in pink stood up and yelled “Shame! Shame! Jeff Sessions will not protect the vulnerable! That is the job of the attorney general! This body is SHAMEFUL!” and was removed by security.

Leaked draft of executive order granting “religious freedom” that would allow broad discriminations of LGBTQ and unmarried people having sex, among other things.

Anti-fascist protesters against Milo at UC Berkely hunkered down behind shields as police shoot “non-lethal bullets”

Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Dave Reichert co-sponsored a bill to protect children from deportation. They are both from Washington State, a Democrat and a Republican.

CNN Opinion headline from Ruth Ben Ghiat: “Donald Trump and Steve Bannon’s coup in the making”

Questions asked by reporters at the WH briefing (2/1/2017):

  • (Kim Kalunian, QPRI Rhode Island via Skype) Thank you.  Good afternoon.  Can you hear me okay?
  • Great. Just this week, the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island began calling our capital city a sanctuary city. As we know, President Trump’s executive order says the White House will begin publicizing a weekly list of these municipalities and pledges to withdraw federal grant money from them. What I’m wondering is, is how soon we can expect to see this list, and how soon should cities like Providence expect to see their federal funding cut?
  • (Mistaken for David Jackson) David isn’t here but I’ll ask a question. The President’s daily briefing has been renamed the daily intelligence briefing. Can you tell me how that differs at all from the PDB? Is the President receiving his intelligence briefing in writing or orally, and who is giving it to him?
  • Is there any sense that we should get out of the renaming of it from the PDB?
  • But the oral briefing does not necessarily happen every day?
  • Two quick questions. On Black History Month. Is President Obama being invited to any of the Black History Month celebrations?
  • And if I may —
  • And today he made the comment about Frederick Douglass being recognized more and more.  Do you have any idea what specifically he was referring to?
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Thank you. Very quickly, can you clarify what was meant by “we’re putting Iran on notice?”
  • Are you building the case to —
  • Okay, then let me ask you about — let me just ask you about the confirmation hearings. How does the President plan to get Chuck Schumer onboard with his pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, when he has referred to him as a “clown” and accused him of fake tears?
  •  But does the President think that by personally insulting Chuck Schumer that’s a way to get —
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sean, the President today invoked the possibility on the Supreme Court, Sean, of the possibility of going the route of the nuclear option.  If it gets to that point, is the White House comfortable with that path?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sean.  Just one question today.  Leading up to Judge Gorsuch’s announcement last night and him coming out after, there were still rumors that Judge Hardiman was going to be nominated and he, in fact, drove to Washington.
  • My question, Sean, my question is —
  • But I didn’t ask the question. My question is simply this:  With the support that he received, the people who called the President, would it be safe to say that Judge Hardiman will be on deck if there is another vacancy soon — say, Justice Kennedy retiring by the end of the term?
  • (Anita Kumar, McClatchy) I know you love when we say we have two questions. I do have two quick questions about something you mentioned at the top. First, you mentioned the three folks that are being nominated to the Department of Justice.  Why are they being nominated now, before Senator Sessions is there? Is it because there’s a lack of people? Was he consulted? Or is it just because of the whole issue this week with the acting attorney general?
  • So would then Senator Sessions — I mean, in speaking with him —
  •  Okay. And then the second question was, you mentioned tomorrow the meeting with the Harley Davidson executives. There’s reporting that he was supposed to go to Milwaukee tomorrow or he was supposed to. That was canceled because of the company. Can you talk about that?
  • Are you worried about protesting?
  • (Natalie Herbick from Fox 8 in Cleveland via Skype) Secretary Spicer, thank you so much for this rare opportunity. I appreciate it. And I’m learning the ropes. And I would like to quickly ask two questions, if I may. The first one being, President Trump has been quick to take action on several issues he’s addressed along the campaign trail.  And with that in mind, he made a stop here in Cleveland and he said that he would like to make cities like ours the economic envy of the world — a bold statement.  So our viewers would love to know an example, a specific example, as to how he plans to do this sooner than later.
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC) Thank you. And Steve Bannon can be heard on recording saying, “Islam is a dark religion, not a religion of peace, a religion of submission.” Does the President share his chief strategist’s apparent beliefs on Islam?
  • But nothing about his comment that the President wants to distance himself from or even elaborate on?
  • Thanks. There have been multiple reports of people landing Saturday in the U.S. with valid visas who were denied entry and placed on flights back out of the country.  So that’s in violation of at least five of these federal judges’ orders that came down.  Is the White House working to ensure that those people illegally deported can return to the U.S.?  And are these court orders causing any second thinking about certain aspects of the order?
  • On Glass-Steagall, the President during his campaign said that he supported a reestablishing of Glass-Steagall legislation, which would separate the investment banks from the commercial banks.  There’s legislation on both the House and the Senate side.  It’s in the Republican program.  Mr. Mnuchin when he was queried on the Hill by Senator Cantwell, who is the author of one of the bills, was a little bit more ambiguous on this issue.  And I wish you could say something on where this President stands on this.
  • But the President —
  • — still supports Glass-Steagall.
  • (Major Garrett, CBS News) Sean, a broad topic I’d like you to take on, which is dissent within the administration, and specifically related to the President’s lunch with Rex Tillerson today.  More than 1,000 employees at the State Department, Foreign Service officers and others, have signed this dissent-gape.  Is it the President’s position that Rex Tillerson, when he’s confirmed, should go through the formal process, meet with those people, and have a dialogue as previous Secretaries of State have? And is it the President’s point of view that when there is dissent, it can be rooted in a philosophical disagreement that’s not necessarily in defiance of his orders and that there can be a dialogue, and that it can maybe inform him differently about policy?
  • Because you said a couple days ago they should get out if they —
  • But I’m just talking about a particular process that has historically been (inaudible) in the State Department.
  • Thanks, Sean.  Senate Democrats have been described as “bitter” over the manner in which Judge Merrick Garland was treated when he was nominated for the Supreme Court.  Do you feel, does the President feel that that bitterness is well-founded?
  • I want to ask about Friday, and there’s been some reporting that there will be a meeting with President Trump and JP Morgan CEO and others.  Can you tell us a little bit more about who else will be there and where things are at on financial reform?  What message does the President have for bankers, specifically, on financial reform?  We’ve heard so much about Obamacare and tax reform, but it seems like financial reform has sort of fallen by the wayside.
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR News) Thank you, Sean.  I have question about foreign policy, but I wanted to follow up.  You said that LPRs no longer need a waiver, but you didn’t answer the question about what about the people who were put on planes, people who were LPRs but would put on planes back to where they came from.  What happens to them?
  • So they can come back again?
  •  Wait, my question is about the fighting in Ukraine and Russia-backed rebels are moving the lines forward.  And I’m wondering if the President feels that Russia is testing him because this is coming so early in his administration before he’s had a chance to fully assemble his team, and what he plans to do about it.
  • During the campaign last January, Donald Trump promised that on his first day in office he would get rid of gun-free zones in schools and on military bases.  When can we expect action on that?  And if so, can you share details of what we should expect?
  • (Lars Larson of the Lars Larson Show, via Skype) Commander Spicer, it’s a pleasure.  Thanks for your service to America, and thanks for the opportunity.  I’ve got a broad question.  The federal government is the biggest landlord in America.  It owns two-thirds of a billion acres of America.  I don’t think the Founders ever envisioned it that way.  Does President Trump want to start returning the people’s land to the people?  And in the meantime, for a second question — since that’s in fashion these days — can he tell the Forest Service to start logging our forests aggressively again to provide jobs for Americans, wealth for the Treasury, and not spend $3.5 billion a year fighting forest fires?
  • Daniel Happer (ph)  I was wondering about executive orders.  You haven’t really explained why the President is using the executive orders in the manner that he’s doing so.  Why not take this extreme vetting to Congress and have a congressional bill?  And why not — I mean, what is the philosophy behind —
  • (Toluse Olunaripa, Bloomberg) The President’s top trade advisor, Peter Navarro, told The Financial Times yesterday that he believes that the euro is grossly unvalued, and Germany is benefiting from that and that’s why we have a huge trade deficit with Germany and with Europe.  Does the President agree with that, that the euro is undervalued?  And if so, does he plan to do anything about it?
  • Sean, Dan Hausle, 7News of Boston.  I’d like to ask you about Kelly Ayotte’s role shepherding — Okay, I’ll get a second.  But can you talk about Kelly Ayotte’s role shepherding Justice Gorsuch around Capitol Hill?
  • Her relationship with President Trump was stranger in the campaign, and kind of —
  • As a follow-up — as an unbiased Rhode Island native, can you offer your Super Bowl pick?  And President Trump has also showed quite an affinity for Tom Brady and —
  •  Thanks, Sean.  Senators Murkowski and Collins both say they’re going to vote “no” on Betsy DeVos’s nomination.  That leaves zero votes to spare.  And Vice President Pence would have to cast the tie-breaking vote.  So my questions are, how confident are you that you have all of the other Republican senators locked down?  And what’s the level of concern in the White House that her nomination is going to fail?
  • (Sara Murray) In terms of both the two Republican senators who are voting no on Betsy DeVos and the outcry we saw from Republicans on the Hill last week — earlier this week about how you guys dealt with the travel ban.  First, is there more that the Trump administration and Trump himself should be doing to ensure that his party is on the same page with his priorities?  And secondly, on the Yemen raid, can you give us more of an understanding of was there a discussion about the risks involved in this?  Was it a straightforward decision?  And do you guys still view it to be a success in spite of the death of a Navy SEAL?
  • But two members of your own party disagree.
  • Jeff Jobe of South Central Kentucky — of the Jeff Jobe Publishing in South Central Kentucky.Thank you for allowing me to be part of today’s White House press briefing.  Clearly, anyone paying attention will see that President Trump is aggressively acting on his campaign promises.  This in itself gives hope to my state and particularly the region in which I grew up, Appalachia.  We’ve seen countless politicians make promises at both state and national levels, and not only forget us, but to turn on us.  So my question is, how soon or when will the roles restricting coal mining, coal burning and coal exports be reversed?
  • (Mike) Two questions for you.  After the primetime announcement last night, it seems like the numbers were good.  Do you have a sense that this President will be more aggressive than his predecessors on seeking primetime air play for his announcements?  And two, top Democrats are asking the Defense Department to investigate Michael Flynn’s possible violation of the Constitution.  Do you have a — it sounds like you saw that story.  Do you have a response to that?
  • The request from Democrats to investigate Flynn for a possible violation of the Emoluments Clause.
  • (Zeke Miller, AP) Thanks, Sean.  General Flynn, when he was up here, offered some criticism about the Obama administration’s handling of Iran in particular.  Is that something we should be expecting to hear more from this administration, whether it be on foreign policy or other issues — criticism of the previous administration going forward?



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