TOWOIT #93

April 19, 2017… Day 90

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We’re doing good, everyone. We’re doing all right. (This is fine.)

  • Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox, after 70 advertisers dropped his show.
  • Jason Chaffetz says he won’t run for re-election in 2018
  • Atlantic headline: How did the Trump administration lose an aircraft carrier? (Kudos to me for sensing something fishy in the administration’s mixed messaging on the Carl Vinson and axing all mention of it from a report at work last Thursday)
  • Ijeoma Oluo knocked it out of the ballpark with her interview of Rachel Dolezal. It was also just a masterful piece of writing.
  • 7 Patriots (last I heard) skipped going to the White House today, including Tom Brady. He said it was family reasons, but I took a gander at Gisele Bundchen’s Twitter feed, and I’m hoping there could be more to the story.
  • Tillerson and Trump get their messages mixed on the Iran nuclear deal and how it’s going. It’s like this entire administration signed up for a three-legged race but they don’t know the rules and they tied their arms together instead of their legs and are just flopping around on the pavement like fish. But the good news is, the deal was renewed.
  • Dem women roll their eyes HARD at Bernie Sanders all over social media today after his latest downplaying of the importance of reproductive rights, among other things.
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Yeah, yeah, I searched for Bernie’s name and then liked every obscure tweet that insulted him in an enjoyable way. So sue me.
  • Sean Spicer said “peaceful transformation of power” instead of “peaceful transfer of power,” because of course, Sean Spicer can’t talk his way out of a paper bag. Still makes the whole shebang seem more than ever like a bloodless coup. I was going to check whether the whitehouse.gov transcriptionist quietly changed that to transfer, but for the first time there’s no transcript. I’ll check back tomorrow. Because I was kind of wondering if the transcripts would quietly disappear.

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What the reporters asked Sean Spicer at the WHPB today:

  • A couple on unrelated topics. First of all, Georgia’s 6th congressional district, the fact that Jon Ossoff pulled in five or six points more than most Republicans thought he would have, and Lindsey Graham saying this is a wake up call to the Republican party that there’s a lot of moderates starting to emerge in the South to a greater degree that the Republican party needs to pay attention to. I don’t imagine that the outcome of the run off is in that much question, but does Senator Graham have something there that the Republican party needs to pay attention to changing demographics, particularly in the South?
  • The fact that Ossoff came so close to 50% doesn’t concern you?
  • There was five.
  • Unrelated issue. Tillerson’s letter to Paul Ryan on the JCPOA in Iran. Is the United Nations basically saying there’s no evidence that Iran is cheating on the JCPOA?
  • Is the President concerned that Iran may be cheating on the JCPOA?
  • Sean, on the USS Carl Vinson, what happened? Can you take us through the events from the perspective of the White House that led to the miscommunication that the vessel was thousands of miles away from its actual location?
  • Does the President believe that he might have spoken too quickly on the location of the vessel?
  • Sean, I just want to follow up on that. Obviously when the President of the United States says there’s military hardware going somewhere in the middle of a crisis, the allies of the United States are encouraged. When that turns out not to be case, they can interpret that as false encouragement. So how is this White House explaining to South Korea and Japan that during the build up and the missile launch, there was no USS Carl Vinson?
  • It’s headed there now, it wasn’t headed there last week.
  • But wasn’t that the impression that allies had?
  • Why did the administration never clarify? Because it was the intent, and the media reports was that it was headed there now–
  • You yourself commented on it.
  • You don’t think it was a little misleading? No one found out about it until a picture was posted on a page.
  • What’s misleading was that people thought it was already headed there, not weeks later.
  • Earlier today China’s foreign ministry spokesman said that China is increasingly frustrated with North Korea. And North Korea put out a simulated video over the past 24 hours which shows its missiles attacking and destroying an American city. What’s the White House reaction to that video and the comments by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman?
  • How strong is that influence, though? If the foreign ministry spokesman for China, which the President is depending on, is saying that China itself is frustrated with the North Koreans–
  • Thank you, Sean. A few weeks ago I asked you about the President’s upcoming visit to Rome and whether or not he would have an audience with this pope, and I pointed out that this is part of modern history going back to 1959. You said it was something you’d definitely be in favor of. A few days ago, the Financial Times reported that sources within the administration said this was very unlikely to happen and the President would not have an audience with the pope. Why?
  • Are you in touch with the Holy See about it?
  • Thank you Sean. Back on Iran and the State Department’s letter to Congress. There’s been some talk about stricter sanctions on Iran for the ballistic missile tests it’s been conducting and state-sponsored terrorism. Are you concerned that sanctions on Iran would motivate it to violate the nuclear deal?
  • Sure, but in consideration of those potential sanctions–
  • The President has said though that he would like to see the nuclear deal renegotiated with Iran. How, specifically does he plan to get a new deal — is that still something that he wants to do?
  • Thanks Sean. Looking ahead to the hundred-day mark, setting aside executive orders, can you say the single piece of legislation that you are proudest of that you got through Congress, that the President has done?
  • First, on the potential for a government shutdown–is the president going to insist that the CR will include all of his budget priorities, or would he consider a flat CR?
  • Late last night, the Presidential inaugural committee released its list of donors–it included lots of money from corporate donors, many of whom have business before the administration. Is the president who ran on the drain the swamp slogan concerned by perception or the potential for any real conflict of interest?
  • I just want to go back to Wisconsin yesterday–the President said about the issues with the local dairy farmers, that the White House was going to work on that very hard, immediately, starting today, calling Canada and asking for a solution. Has the President been in contact with anyone in Ottawa?
  • He said that on NAFTA, he wants very big changes or we’re going to get rid of it once and for all — are we really at that point?
  • Thanks Sean, what’s the White House reaction to the deportation of Juan Montez? He’s a DREAMer from California, and kind of the first one to be sent back?
  • Is President Trump saying he doesn’t want–
  • I want to ask about Georgia 6–does the President plan to campaign in Georgia?
  • Is he expending too much political capital on a race that Republicans should be winning easily?
  • There’s still two months left though, right?
  • On deportations–and I’m not speaking specifically about this case, but there seems to be a little confusion. What is the President’s position on undocumented people in this country that have not committed serious crimes?
  • Those who have not posed a threat, or are not perceived to pose a threat–
  • but these cases have come up with people who have not posed a threat. Even Jeff Sessions said it was confusing today–
  • I just want to get a little more clarity on Iran. Is the President planning to pull out of this agreement, or will that be determined by this review?
  • So he might or might not decide to pull out? This decision has yet to be made?
  • Because that was a campaign promise.
  • Sean, two questions on one issue. My colleague who is currently in Colombia has learned that the President has met with two former presidents of Colombia last weekend at Mar-a-Lago. Two questions–first, some people there are saying it’s undermine the current president’s visit next month. One, why was that not released publicly to the press, to the pool, at that time? And what was the purpose of that visit?
  • Are you saying that didn’t happen?
  • Can you get back to me on the policy issue?
  • Why wouldn’t you release that information?

(afterward: Reporter 1 — “that was 27 minutes.” Reporter 2 — “It’s getting worse.”)

 

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