TOWOIT #49

March 6, 2017… Day 46

This is going to be a blur. It’s Monday. A bunch of stuff happened. I can’t recount it all. Sean Spicer had an hour-long press gaggle off camera. His first audio-recorded press conference of any kind in seven days.

I went to Pramila Jayapal’s town hall after work and learned a bunch about how Congress works. Because I haven’t known what to do since the election, I try to just put my body places sometimes–marches, rallies, meetings. I also try to learn how things work, and sometimes those two things over lap like they did tonight. I learned what kind of things other people in the community are worried about, specifically. The place was packed with a big, vocal, boisterous crowd. It felt like church. It also felt like she was our gladiator. I remember criticism of her before the election. People said she wasn’t the real progressive in the race. She was faux-progressive, they said. Now she is this new congresswoman born unto these crazy times, and she seems to be rising to the challenge. I don’t think anyone is saying she’s not progressive enough now. Also, she talks like a regular person. I scribbled pages of handwritten notes throughout the town hall, so hopefully I will roust myself to backfill some highlights tomorrow (running on fumes).

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I was pleased when Jayapal staffers handed me Agree and Disagree signs. The line to get into the building was three or four abreast and went all the way around the block.
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Not far from where the Jayapal’s town hall was held, this was discovered on a fence and removed by police (this is still satire, for now).
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I’m exhausted, and this person already rounded up for me.

 

Listened to  Ana Marie Cox’s podcast interview with guest Ira Madison III. Ira is black, and he writes about film and television. It turns out I’ve been following him on Twitter for awhile. Ana Marie Cox is white. They seem to be friends in real life, and they had a long talk about race, inter-racial friendships, and what it’s like to be “the black friend.” Ira also touched on Get Out and “white liberal women,” and said something to the effect of how Hillary Clinton just needs to disappear forever, and reiterated a few times that 53% of white women voted for Trump. So this was no great reprieve for white women. But it was a good, warm conversation about uncomfortable things, and how it has to be ok to be called racist. It cannot be the end of the world. If you aren’t being called out for being racist now and again, you probably are too bottled up and not learning and not associating with anyone outside your own ethnicity bubble. And not having frank conversations about race.

I guess I just mention this to say, that it was somewhat cathartic after watching Get Out. 

Khizr Khan, a citizen for 30 years, canceled a trip to Toronto. He said his travel privileges were “under review.”

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Sean Spicer press gaggle, without Sean Spicer:

  • You told us many times that the President was going to continue with the case in Seattle Federal court. But the new EO evokes the old one. What changed?
  • DOJ has informed the 9th circuit of the existence of the executive order. Will they move to dismiss the 48 cases pending against that order?
  • I’d like to move away from this subject to the other subject. Is the President going to clarify what he meant when he accused President Obama and White House officials of doing wire taps. Is that what he meant, or does he mean the FBI did wire taps? And does he want to amend his statement?
  • Before we move on. So, for now, the President is not amending what he said. And Jim Comey in the meantime, wanted the Justice Department to knock it down–
  • So, explain this to me then. You’re talking about not using anonymous sources. What is then the sourcing for the President’s tweet? And does he believe it’s a FISA warrant?
  • But what source?
  • Which reports?
  • What reports?
  • Does he not know what kind of surveillance it was?
  • But when he published his tweet, did he know what kind of surveillance it was—
  • Has the President ever said there is hypocrisy and a double-standard on the reporting of things. For instance, alleged Russian involvement on the one hand and on the other hand, the leaking of conversations with world leaders that are classified?
  • I want to clarify some questions asked by my colleagues. Has the President spoken to the FBI director since Saturday morning, and does he have confidence in his FBI?
  • And the confidence question? Does he have confidence in the director?
  • You’re talking about the President wanting to go to Congress, specifically on the wire-tapping question. But this is information that is held by the executive branch. So why would the President—
  • But his tweets don’t interfere? Or saying this information exists does’t interfere—?
  • The President back in January tweeted about how a one-week delay in the travel ban would let bad dudes into the country. This particular revised order doesn’t go into effect for 10 days. So what changed? Doesn’t that undercut your argument?
  • So that’s what it was about? The element of surprise?
  • Going back to the previous topic. The President calling for Congress to investigate these specific issues. Does that mean the President is committing now to accepting the conclusions of these congressional investigations no matter what they say on anything?
  • If members of Congress pursue an investigation that looks into surveillance in the way that the President would like them to, and he believes that that surveillance that is potentially against the law, they would make recommendations to the executive branch to pursue whoever is responsible for that. So their recommendations would come back to the DOJ. So would the President accept the recommendations of the legislative branch that laws were broken and that those recommendations would come back to the Justice Department to investigate?
  • It was reported that the President was interested in having a White House Council pursue information that would help support the President’s argument that he may have been under surveillance. Is it the case that the President has asked Don McGahn to continue doing that, or has that been dropped—
  • And that was completed?
  • It was also reported that the President’s desire for speed with the administration’s healthcare plan has kicked the ball to the OMB director rather than HHS—who is in charge of that now? And is that still coming out this week?
  • I’m just wondering, when you said “it’s pretty clear” that there was some sort of surveillance or wire taps, was that based on people speaking on the record, or anonymous sources.
  • The President has yet to announce the vast majority of his sub-cabinet level nominations. Does the White House have a timetable for the rest of these nominations?
  • With the first executive order, there was a lot of fanfare. Today, not so much. No cameras, no pool. Why didn’t he want to show us him signing this executive order.
  • But that’s not—
  • That’s YOUR picture, that’s not—
  • The second one has to do with this idea of “element of surprise.” There’s a 90-day temporary ban on people entering this country from 6 predominantly Muslim countries. What’s to stop this so-called “bad dude” from coming in on the 91st day or the 92nd day?
  • So why doesn’t the order prevent people who didn’t have visas by the date of the first order into the country?
  • Does the President think that Barack Obama himself wire tapped him, or just someone in his administration?
  • Since the President contends that he and President Obama like each other, has he picked up the phone and called President Obama since the inauguration—has he thought of asking him directly before accusing him publicly?
  • Does the fact that you’re rescinding the first executive order, is it at all an admission that things just didn’t go right the first time around?
  • What about this issue of radicalization after people are here, which is what DHS raised in their report. One of the instances cited in the EO today is a Somali man who came as a child and was radicalized here. So what does this order do about THAT population?
  • The people who are here, which is the concern that DHS raised—
  • You mentioned a couple times, former DNI Clapper’s comments over the weekend about Russia and the Trump campaign. Are you encouraging people to take THOSE comments seriously, but not the comments where he said there wasn’t wire tapping?
  • What’s the White House’s reaction to North Korea firing four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan?
  • You said it could be FISA, it could be surveillance. So are you saying the administration is conceding that somewhere there was evidence presented before the judge that there was collusion during the campaign and that it was ok to surveil them?
  • On the new order, you had said that there were a hundred or so that had been inspected—but how many total?
  • Three hundred refugees. But how many total came in and how many did you detain?
  • The Israeli defense minister is in town tomorrow, will he meet with the President?
  • Can you flesh this notion of 300 refugees being investigated? What are they being investigated for, what’s the source—
  • The FBI. Three hundred refugees are being investigated on this soil for terrorist charges—
  • You were talking about Iraq and how they aren’t on the list anymore. So is this a message to the other six that they can also get removed from the list if they are “proactive”
  • But is it possible—
  • What was the President’s reaction to hearing about Vice President Pence’s email use—use of personal email for government purposes—and I ask because obviously he had so much to say about Hillary Clinton’s email use?
  • Part of the justification for the hurried roll out for the initial executive order was that if it wasn’t rolled out immediately (etc etc, she wasn’t here earlier when the other reporter asked).
  • President Trump accused President Obama of criminal conduct. One, can you tell us what his source was for that accusation. Two, can you tell us unequivocally that he was basing that on more than a talk radio report and a Breitbart article about that talk radio report.
  • So maybe it was just based on the talk radio report?
  • One, on the EO that maybe is coming later this week—will you have an EO reversing President Obama’s fuel economy standards? And will that also negate California’s waiver?
  • One more question on the other topic—you pointed rightly to Clapper’s comments that nothing that he knows of suggests there was any collusion between the campaign and Russia. But he also said that he didn’t know of any wiretap FISA order—why are you willing to accept—
  • I guess what I’m asking is, the President has unilateral authority to declassify anything he wants. He said in his tweet, “I just learned of this,” so he obviously had some kind of evidence. Why not declassify it?
  • He’s afraid it would look like interference?
  • This morning Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News and said “He’s the President of the United States. He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not.” That seemed to be referring to specific, tangible evidence. If he has this evidence, why is he asking Congress to investigate?
  • Did the President mean in any way to suggest the FBI broke the law, or any other intelligence agency, with this allegation of wire tapping?
  • Yes [in the tweet]
  • But that’s why I’m asking—
  • You said you didn’t really want to get into what the triggering event was for the tweet in the first place. But I want you to address this part if you would. The allegation has been raised that the President was simply trying to change the topic from an unfortunate news cycle that week. Can you address that portion of the question, that this was deliberately about changing the media narrative—
  • Let’s remind everyone what the President did tweet Saturday morning [reads tweet]. He later called Obama a bad or sick guy. Are the American people supposed to pull back and not think that this is the President of the United States accusing his predecessor of committing a crime?
  • In light of the fact that there were previously undisclosed communications between the Russian ambassador and Mike Flynn and Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner, has the White House council done anything proactively to try to go to senior staff or cabinet officials and say, “Hey, if you’ve had any contact with Russians–“–
  • But there were clearly a number of instances where members fo the administration…misled you guys about the amount of contact, leading to a number of unflattering news cycles—
  • I think the other question is whether there have been more instances of this that are going to catch you guys by surprise (she says a bunch more).. and then there was this meeting with Jared Kushner and Mike Flynn that was not previously disclosed.
  • But that sounds like you’re saying you’re not concerned
  • Yeah, I mean, I think that that was the backdrop, and—
  • Back on this, following up, so the question is – under what capacity was he when he met with the ambassador—
  • Sessions—
  • And then when he was under oath, he said he didn’t do it, but then we find out later— so what do you say to that?
  • On the leak issue, you’re talking about Congress doing an investigation. But some of these leaks are coming from top officials, people who know insider information. What has the president said to his staff as it relates to the leaks, what has he said about trying to stop it or trying to find out what’s happening?
  • So other links don’t matter–
  • This President reached out to former President Obama several times when he was still President. They started building something. It was a bridge. Now some people in the Obama camp are calling these tweets crazy. The question is now, with this divide between the two–and President Trump may need to one day reach out again to President Obama. How do you think that will play out? Do you think these two will never come back together again? Is this something he could have talked to him about before he went on Twitter? There is a chasm between these two now.
  • Ten years ago, Bob Levinson disappeared in Iran, and I know the President talked about this on the campaign trail. Any updates on that?
  • The call to Netanyahu — what prompted that?
  • As you might know, the prime minister is meeting later this week with Vladimir Putin. Did the prime minister and the president talk about Syria at all?
  • Come did tell people this weekend that President Obama did not order these wire taps and he thought the DOJ should put out a statement. Does President Trump believe Comey when he says President Obama did not authorize these wire taps?
  • Well, we trust that he told us that he didn’t.
  • Sean to be clear, you said earlier that as an on-the-record source for the President’s wire-tapping claims, he referred to Michael Mukasey. Mukasey said he based HIS information on “news reports.”
  • But you were being asked, was there an on-rhe-record comment in advance of the President’s tweets on which he was basing his comments?
  • On a past comment the President had made that there were 3-5 million people who voted illegally–you said this a month ago–I just wanted to get an update on an investigation or where this stands given the explosive nature of this claim.
  • Does the task force exist yet?
  • It hasn’t convened yet but he’s been talking to folks about it?
  • Stepping away from what the President knew, how appropriate is it for a president to make an explosive charge as fact, and then send you folks out to say “this maybe happened, and we should investigate.”
  • You said there’d be some clarification on another of questions today, are you going to do this through the pool?
  • Will we be hearing from the president this week since we didn’t today?
  • It’s unusual —
  • Everything is closed today, normally we have a photo–
  • It’s not about us, it’s about the American public seeing their President.
  • He’s signing executive orders. You had us last time–

 

 

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