February 9, 2017… Day 21

Long, long day. I’m going to try to focus on the hopeful stuff as I wade through some of what happened.

Getting this out of the way: Virginia state Senate passes an anti-LGBTQ bill that legalizes discrimination.

Biggest news (I think–God, I don’t even know!) is that the 9th circuit panel of judges unanimously struck down the Trump administration’s appeal to reinstate the travel ban. This buys at least a couple weeks of time, and it strikes a legal blow to Trump. Hillary simply tweets “3-0”

This morning Kellyanne Conway shilled for Ivanka’s fashion line, with the seal of the White House behind her–it was an interview on Fox News. The website of the Office of Governmental Ethics crashed. Jason Chaffetz finally got off his ass and did something regarding the Trump White House and ethics. He issued a letter saying what Kellyanne did crossed the line and she needed to be disciplined. That was much too little, much too late to assuage Jason Chaffetz constituents. A thousand people who didn’t make it inside Jason Chaffetz’s town hall in Salt Lake City, Utah, outside chanting “Investigate Trump.” Inside the auditorium, hundreds boo as soon as the name “Trump” is mentioned, and chant “Do your job! Do your job!”

South Carolina stood up to Donald Trump by ruling that taxpayers would not clean up environmental damage at a property where he lied about his involvement with the previous (polluting) ownership. Previous owner was Donald Jr.

Protests tonight in L.A. to try to stop deportation of 20 detainees. Last night in Phoenix, protesters tried to stop a woman named Guadalupe (mom of two teenage U.S. citizens) from being deported after being in the U.S. since she was 14 years old. On Twitter, people are saying the deportation force is here, the ICE raids are now.

Liliana Segura wrote a piece in the Intercept about how resistance  to Trumpism is waking up and building in Red States.

Rowdy and raucous scene tonight outside healthcare town hall in  Murfreesboro, Tennessee: “If you want to represent us let us in!!”

Rosie O’Donnell changed her Twitter profile picture to a mash-up of herself and Steve Bannon (they look similar–it must be those stubborn Irish genes).

Late-breaking news that Mike Flynn did discuss Russian sanctions with Russian officials before Trump was sworn into office. This is something he had denied.

SIX Patriot players have said they will not go to the White House

John McCain clapped back hard at Sean Spicer, after Spicer said yesterday that he owed the Trump administration (the country? not sure) an apology for saying the Yemen raid was not a success.

Last night Rachel Maddow talked about how Chuck Cooper is probably going to be the solicitor general under Jeff Sessions, and just how racist COOPER is. She said the White House no longer cared about the optics of racism. Racism had become completely acceptable.

Chuck Schumer said the Republicans are afraid to break with Donald Trump. He said they knew in their hearts that some of these cabinet nominees were wrong, and they were displaying “a lack of courage, lack of strength, lack of conviction.”

Reporters in the White House Press Corps banded together to try to hold Sean Spicer to account. At issue was Trump’s attacks on a Democratic Senator who relayed Gorsuch’s feelings on Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. Gorsuch’s words had been confirmed by his own White-House-appointed spokesman, and two Republican Senators. The whole thing was so weird, part of the Internet wondered if it was all a political ruse the that had been set up by Bannon, and Trump hadn’t been let into the loop. The idea was, it would show Dems that Gorsuch would be independent by showing discord between him and the White House. It just all stopped making sense when Trump doubled down on vehement denials (with the help of Sean Spicer).

The Democrats are in their third all-nighter this week in the Senate, holding the floor through the night–this time to speak against the nomination of Tom Price for Health and Human Services. Democrats are dragging their heels on the confirmations in order to slow the train wreck down enough so that the American public can see some of the details. They know that the Republicans are in lockstep and that there’s no hope for the vote.

Late Update: Chuck Cooper asked to be withdrawn from consideration for solicitor general.

Postscript: China seems to be dodging our calls now

White House daily press briefing without Sean Spicer:

Thank you. Hundreds of bureaucrats at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau make more than members of Congress. Forty of them make more than Vice President Mike Pence. Does the President have plans to revamp this agency? And if so, does he feel that he should be able to fire the head of the agency at his will?


Sean, questions have been raised after Kellyanne Conway did an interview, I believe it was with Fox News this morning, where she appeared to, from the confines of the Brady Briefing room, promote the products of Ivanka Trump. Do you believe that she crossed an ethical line?


And could I ask a question. Reuters has a story out that includes a partial transcript of the President’s call with Vladimir Putin, in which he appears to express doubts about the New START Treaty. Does he indeed have doubts about the New START Treaty? Would he like to see that renegotiated?


On February 2nd, Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is a well-known filmmaker in Russia and was a close associate of the late Boris Nemtsov, the dissident, found himself in critical condition. His wife has since said she believes this is poisoning, very much like the conditions that almost took his life two years ago. And does the administration have any comment about that, or the frustration of Mr. Navalny, the opponent of President Putin to get on the ballot as a candidate?


Sean, the President said today in the airlines representative meeting that he hopes to have an announcement within the next two to three weeks about lowering the burden of taxes for businesses. At the Super Bowl interview, he was asked, can Americans expect a tax break in 2017, and he said, “I think so, yes. I would like to say yes.” It sounds like he’s a little bit more confident for the businesses than individual tax breaks for Americans. Is the business component at this point ahead of the individual component?


Can you say if this is going to be a mix between what he had put out there on the campaign and what House Republicans had put out there before? Because there’s some similarities but clearly some differences as well.


Yes, the President this morning tweeted that our country is “bogged down in conflict all over the place.” Where are we bogged down?


What does he mean by that?


But “bogged down” suggests it’s something we can’t get out of?


Thank you. Regarding the very nice letter that President Trump sent to President Xi Jinping last night, I’m curious about the timing. And also in the letter, President Trump said he’s looking forward to the event of constructive relationship with China. So could you elaborate the importance of this bilateral relationship to the U.S.?


Sean, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said today that they could use a few thousand more troops in Afghanistan to help the coalition efforts there. Going off Mike’s question, if we’re trying to get out of conflicts like that, does the administration plan to send those additional forces to Afghanistan?


Sean, two questions for you. I want to get to one on immigration. But first on the comments from Judge Gorsuch that have been reported out, I just have a two-parter. But does the President still stand by his nomination?


Given where Gorsuch stands —


Given where —


Given Judge Gorsuch’s position on the President’s attitude toward the judiciary, and given that the President has praised Neil Gorsuch for his intellect and for his integrity, does the President have any regrets about the comments that he’s made about federal judges?


Now about the selection, but about the comments that he said, for example, about Judge —


On immigration, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos —


The President has no comment?


She’s in Mexico right now, though.


Sean, in that lunch meeting, the President said that — he basically said Senator Blumenthal’s comments were taken out of context, and that —


Judge Gorsuch, right. And that his relaying of Judge Gorsuch’s comments were taken out of context. However, Senator Ayotte, who is working with the White House to help shepherd Judge Gorsuch through the Hill, released a statement confirming those same remarks, “disheartening” and “demoralizing”


Is the President aware of that? Because she was in that meeting.


Right. And the judge’s comments as relayed through others were also in that context of the President’s attacks on the judiciary, which is what the senator you just read out was also talking about there.


Was the President aware of that? Because Senator Ayotte was sitting right across from him when he said that those comments were inaccurately reported or conveyed.


Is he to take that on board? I mean —


Is he taking that on board? I mean, you just said he doesn’t regret his past attacks on the judiciary.


But now you have these confirmed remarks, which you were saying were exactly what the judge was talking about.


And that’s not changing the President’s own —


In other words, the President will continue to speak like this.


Well, I guess the “so-called judge” portion of it, the personal attack.


I want to make sure I understand what you’re saying. Are you saying that “demoralizing” and “disheartening” was not specifically about the President’s comments and what he said? And if so, how does the President know that? Has he spoken to the Judge?


But three senators have come out and said that they corroborate that statement, and said that —


But three other senators have said, and the spokesman and for the Judge, on the record.


Sean, your answer about the context doesn’t make sense when you think about what Senator Ben Sasse said today and this morning on TV. He said that he asked Judge Gorsuch specifically about the President’s “so-called judge” tweet. And in response —


No, but this is a different context, Sean.


This is directly about the President’s tweet.


But her comment was only about Blumenthal.


Sean, I’m going to continue on this line, despite what was just happening there. Why isn’t the White House, why isn’t the President concerned about the influence or the appearance of the influence on the independent judiciary?


I’m not asking about the Obama administration or any previous administration, I’m talking about this President and this White House.


Yes, but you and me talking about it is not how the judicial process works.


One more I’d like to ask you. One more about a different set of comments.


About a different set of comments that have been made, Sean, also from Kellyanne Conway earlier this week—


No. Let him go. Let him go.


—You say the — this is in context of Nordstrom and not about what she was counseled about, but about something she said to CNN earlier this week, is that the President doesn’t comment on everything. And so I want to contrast the President’s repeated statements about Nordstrom with the lack of comments about some other things, including, for example, the attack on a Quebec mosque and other similar environments. Why is the President — when he chooses to —


I was here.


The President’s statement —


Kellyanne’s comments were about that the President doesn’t have time to tweet about everything.


He’s tweeting about this.


He’s not tweeting about something else.


I’m talking about the President’s time.


I’m talking about an attack on Nordstrom on —


— and an attack on people, and you’re equating —


Does that not diminish the language that you’re using?


Thank you, Sean. One of the criticisms leveled at President Trump’s predecessor, President Obama, by Republicans was his excessive use of executive orders. The President signed three more executive orders today. Why isn’t that criticism applicable to President Trump in the same manner that President Obama —


One of the criticisms in addition to that was that President Obama in using those EOs was governing by executive fiat, he wasn’t working with Congress. Does the President plan to use —


— Congress in a legislative manner?


Can I follow up on the tax question?


Because there are revenue elements of the Affordable Care Act, if it is repealed and replaced — there has been discussion on the Hill about what would be the appropriate track to get that into tax legislation or how to treat the tax legislation. If the President is interested in unveiling a tax package that is as comprehensive as you just described, would the revenue elements of the Affordable Care Act be on a separate track? Or is he talking about folding them into one reconciliation package?


You talked about the President’s tax reform plan in coming weeks. Is that something he’s talked about with leaders in both houses of Congress? And are they prepared for this?


Does the President believe that it’s possible to balance the budget without major entitlement reform? Any sort of House —


Yes, Sean, Monday, the House Oversight Committee is going to mark up Congressman Chaffetz’s bill to strike down the District of Columbia’s Death with Dignity Act, the assisted suicide law. It could soon come to the White House. Has the President articulated any thoughts on that or the other bills to strike down D.C.’s gun laws, marijuana, funding for federal — for abortions in the District? Any thoughts on all these things that are coming your way?


On Mar-a-Lago –One question. Come back.

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