TOWOIT #29

February 14, 2017… Day 26

“She speaks for the president. I speak for the president. All of us in this administration–all of the actions and all of the words in this administration are on the behalf of and at the direction of the president”

–Sean Spicer today, on why Nikki Haley’s tough words meant that Trump has been “incredibly tough” on Russia

Reuters says we have our first ICE arrest of a DREAMer today and its in Seattle. He’s 23 and his name is Daniel Ramirez. A lawsuit has been filed on his behalf by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

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Breaking news at 6:16 pm PST: New York Times: Intercepted calls show members of the Trump campaign had repeated contact with Russian intelligence before the election, officials said.  

Even the Go Fug Yourself girls (who are very clever but exist solely to say snarky things about what celebrities wear on the red carpet) retweeted the article in the minutes following the release of the news story.

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Earlier today, before the NYT story broke, the idea of investigating Flynn went around. Most Republican lawmakers were lukewarmly against the idea. There will be some sort of congressional investigation but not the independent, bipartisan commission that would have any teeth to it.

Trump tweets that it’s the White House LEAKS that are the real story. Which is interesting because those make him look bad and incompetent.

In the morning, Kellyanne made Flynn’s resignation sound like Flynn’s decision (makes Trump look loyal). In the afternoon, Sean Spicer strongly made it sound like Trump’s decision (makes Trump look like he’s in charge).

Guardian headline: The first 25 days of Trump have been a zoetrope of galloping despair.

 

White House Press Briefing without Sean Spicer (it’s a doozy today)

  • Back in January, the president said that nobody in his campaign had been in touch with the Russians. Now, today, can you still say definitively that nobody, not even General Flynn, had any contact with the Russians before the election?
  • I’m talking about during the campaign.
  • And why would the president, if he was notified 17 days ago, that Flynn had mislead the Vice President and that he was a potential threat to blackmail by the Russians, why would he be kept on for almost three weeks?
  • When the president was asked on AirForce One on Friday about reports, about conversations with the Russians, he said “I don’t know”… he said “I’ll look into that” — was he being truthful?
  • And his inquiry to the White House counsel was strictly about the legalities involved, not the propriety of the conversations—
  • Was it proper for an incoming national security advisor to be talking about something as sensitive as sanctions with the Russian ambassador?
  • Did the President instruct him to talk about sanctions?
  • So would he have preferred that he not comment?
  • So the issue is not the the had a conversation about sanctions?
  • Yesterday Kellyanne Conway said that the president continued to have trust in General Flynn—what happened between yesterday morning to yesterday evening that caused the president to lose trust in General Flynn?
  • He’s an extremely loyal person, General Flynn, was it a difficult decision for the president to let him go?
  • Does the president believe that anything he discussed with General Flynn might have been construed by the general as a request or instruction to speak to the ambassador?
  • Just to clarify—the president does not believe that any discussion that might have taken place—and we know from intel that it did—on sanctions—creates a problem for the president in any, in ANY way. That is not a problem? That General Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russians?
  • Lawmakers from Capitol Hill from both sides of the aisle would like to ask more questions about this. Would the president cooperate with those investigations? Would he instruct his staff to cooperate?
  • When do you expect to have a replacement in place? And separately on another topic—there was a report yesterday that the White House is keeping dossiers on its reporters. Is that true?
  • Thank you so much on behalf of our viewers in Nevada—as you know, Las Vegas has suffered terribly in the recession. As the administration moves forward on rolling back financial regulations, what guarantees can you make to Nevadans that those actions won’t lead banks to engage in the same risky behaviors that caused the economy to tank and left taxpayers on the hook to bail those banks out?
  • Let me go back to what you said at the beginning — you said that the White House counsel reviewed this — what evidence did they look at? And what did the president know about all of this and when was he aware of it? 
  • I understand. I’m speaking to the actual evidence. The FBI has transcripts of these intercepts which I assume were done by the NSA. Was there any communication between the White House counsel’s office and the FBI?
  • Why not dismiss the General on January 27? If the question was of trust. On January 15 Pence was on Face the Nation saying “this is what the General told us” and then January 26  you hear the opposite. Why not immediately act? Why wait another two and a half weeks?
  • But the president tweeted this morning that the REAL story is leaks?
  • I have a question but I want you to clarify something that you just said to John. Are you saying that nobody has read the transcripts of the calls or you just don’t want to tell us?
  • Ok, so my question is about sanctions. You were very specific talking about the sanctions about Crimea, but the sanctions Flynn was talking about were the sanctions for election hacking. Is the president committed to keeping THOSE?
  • The current story is LEAKS—what is the president willing to do to investigate further into where the leaks are coming from?
  • So he is going to take some kind of steps to investigate these leaks?
  • So, you mentioned time and time again that this is an issue of trust. You also said that it was an evolving issue and the issue Trump had with trust was about this deception but also a host of other issues. What were the other issues? And was the Vice President the only person who was mislead by Flynn? Were others misled as well?
  • Were there other issues outside of this call that led to the mistrust?
  • Thank you. What our readers at the Federalist Papers Project are most interested in is returning our country to the first principles of Republican government as intended by the founders. One of those principles in the Declaration of Independence, is the consent of the governed. So my question is this, what are the president’s future plans for rolling back the expensive and burdensome regulations of the administrative state, most of which are the product of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who never receive the consent of the governed to do anything, let alone make law?
  • You said earlier in your comments that the president has been “incredibly tough on Russia” — how is that possible? He has made comment after comment over the course of the campaign, the transition, where he defended Vladimir Putin. He had an interview with Bill O’Reilly — when he was asked— the said “American hasn’t been better in this regard.” To me and to a lot of Americans, this seems like a president who has NOT been tough on Russia
  • That was Ambassador Haley, not the President—
  • The other question is, just to get back to what was said a few minutes ago about trust—are you saying that General Flynn was intentionally misleading the Vice President?
  • Isn’t that kind of a weird thing to forget though?
  • On this issue of trust and the eroding of trust—last night in General Flynn’s resignation letter, he said he “inadvertently” briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information. Is the White House concerned he briefed the president with incomplete information on other issues?
  • Sean, you’ve been asked a couple times about these transcripts—will the White House declassify those and release them?
  • Are you open to it?
  • Thank you so much for this opportunity. I’m approximately six miles away from Mar-a-Lago right now. The President met with Prime Minister Abe of Japan at mar-a-lego this weekend, and besides giving us traffic and security nightmares, there were apparently conversations that took place on the phone and with the prime minister that were in a relatively insecure dining area. There’s already video surfacing. Will there be a SCIF put in place in these public places? And one last question—when he meets with Netanyahu tomorrow, will they be discussing moving the embassy and settlements?
  • Did President Trump know of General Flynn’s discussion of the sanctions when he was NSC designate, and if so — why was he ok with it? 
  • Is the administration undertaking any sort of effort to make sure that everyone comes forward who had any other communication with the Russians?
  • [Shouted as he leaves the room, and goes unanswered]: What are the consequences of leaks, Sean— WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF LEAKS??

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