TOWOIT #140

June 5, 2017… Day 137

Today I was squirrelly. Trump shenanigans, plus the nourishment of Wonder Woman (which just keeps on giving as more and more people see it and join the conversation), plus too much coffee, plus a small work kerfuffle that just seemed like ONE INDIGNITY TOO MANY. So I spent the whole day on edge and exuberant but irascible. It wasn’t comfortable at all. Now it’s late and I haven’t done this blog post yet. So I will at least get started tonight.

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The Intercept people had been pooh-poohing Democrats and the media for  the Trump-Russia story for AGES before this.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders just lies her face off up there, but she’s objectively better at it than Sean Spicer is. When asked why Sean wasn’t there, she said he was “probably upgraded.”

Questions they asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

  • Sarah, as you know, also on Wednesday, as the President heads to Ohio, James Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And there’s question as to whether or not the White House will allow him to testify — pardon me?
  • Thursday.  I’m still jetlagged.
  • He’s scheduled to testify on Thursday. And there’s a question as to whether or not you will invoke executive privilege, or if you will allow him to testify. And I have a second question.
  • I have a follow-up on that question. On the President’s tweets regarding the travel ban, Kellyanne Conway’s husband pointed out that such tweets are not helpful when it comes to the Solicitor General’s ability to make an effective argument before the Supreme Court. Is the President concerned that he may be tainting the waters of the legal system by issuing such tweets?
  • Thank you, Sarah. Why was the President picking a fight with the mayor of London right after his city was hit by a terrorist attack?
  • But the President is saying that the mayor said there is no reason to be alarmed by the terrorist attack. That is not what the mayor said. The mayor, in fact, said that the threat level remains severe, that the chances of another attack are highly likely.  He was saying don’t be alarmed by the armed police presence on the street. And the President directly misrepresented what the mayor of London said.
  • You think the mayor was saying there’s no reason to be alarmed by an attack on his city? Do you think that’s what he was saying?
  • Sarah, what was the President’s reaction to the move by several Middle Eastern allies to sever ties with Qatar?
  • Secondly, did the President get any word that this was going to happen when he was in Saudi Arabia a couple of weeks ago?
  • You just mentioned the word “ban.” The President, when he was tweeting earlier today, said, “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” But early on in the administration, when you were trying to justify, when this White House was trying to justify the executive order on extreme vetting and these travel restrictions, the White House was adamant that these were travel restrictions, that it was not a travel ban. Sean Spicer, from that podium, said it was not a travel ban.  Is it a travel ban?
  •  Sounds like he cares what you call it
  • And let me ask you to follow up on what Jon was asking about with respect to the mayor of London. There are going to be folks who are going to ask the question:  Was the President attacking the mayor of London because he’s Muslim?
  • Given the importance of Twitter —
  • Thank you. Given the importance of Twitter in the President’s communication strategy, can you tell us if his tweets are now being vetted by a lawyer or any other aide? And if not, why not? Or if so, when did that start?
  • Thanks, Sarah. So I have a question about those executive order comments the President made this morning. He said that he wishes that his Justice Department had stuck with the original executive order. DOJ, of course, is part of the executive branch. If he wanted to stick with the original EO, then why didn’t he order the Department of Justice to stick with that? Why did he even sign the revised one if he wanted to stick with the original?
  • If it is that important as national security, and he believed the first one was safer and constitutional, then why did he sign the second one, if now he’s coming out today saying, oh, we never should have done the second one?
  • Sarah, I just want to clarify that. So as it is currently written, given that he called it, as Matthew is pointing out, “politically correct” or (inaudible), does the President support his own travel ban as it is currently written?
  • Two questions. The original intent of the travel ban was to provide a temporary pause in order to review immigration policies and procedures of those coming into the United States. That was January 21st, 22nd. It has been nearly five months since then. What progress has the administration made looking and vetting and doing some of that while this travel ban is working its way through the court system?
  • So specifically, though, what has administration been working on when it comes to extreme vetting?
  • And then my last one for you. You just mentioned that the President’s tweets are —
  •   — essentially a way to get around the filter of the “biased media” when it comes to his tweets, that he sees them as an important way to get his message out.  Just this morning, another top advisor in this White House said that the media was obsessed with the President’s tweets, implying they didn’t matter. So I guess, just philosophically, which is it? Do the President’s tweets matter or are they just something that the media gets obsessed about?
  • But you’re not disputing these are presidential statements.
  • So to follow up on the whole travel ban thing, the President also said this morning he’d like the Department of Justice to ask the Supreme Court for an expedited hearing. Has he done that? Has he asked DOJ for an expedited hearing?
  • And then secondly, can you say, on the ambassador — the U.S. ambassador to the UK, can you say why we don’t have one yet? Is there a reason for the delay — something in particular?
  • Sarah, following up on that last question — in addition to seeking the expedited process, the President said, so we can seek a much tougher version. Is a third version of the travel ban in the works?
  • What should we take from that presidential statement?
  • Is it fair to interpret that he’s asked DOJ to contemplate a tougher version?
  • And, Sarah, from your vantage point then, based on the questions that Jonathan and Jim asked, what is the origin of this confusion or misunderstanding about what the President said about the mayor of London? Is it the mayor of London’s fault?
  • Well, the mayor of London and many there feel that the President not only took the comments that the mayor of London made out of context, but compounded an emotionally difficult experience for Londoners. Who’s to blame for that? Are they misinterpreting the President? Or did the President make a mistake?
  • How is this President not contradicting this administration when he tweets out “TRAVEL BAN” in caps? And when you’re talking about extreme vetting, how does he not contradict himself when he’s trying to get this thing to go through the Supreme Court?
  •  — he goes from one extreme to the next, and then goes back to the first in the Supreme Court —
  • But does he believe this could be a loss from him and this administration with this extreme vetting or travel ban, going from travel ban to extreme vetting, back to “TRAVEL BAN” on Twitter in extreme caps?
  • And MY last question, where is Sean?
  • Where is Sean?
  • Why didn’t he come out?
  • Yes, we asked them all.
  • We asked all of them.
  • Is he in a new position now or are you just —
  • Has his position changed then?
  • So you will be the new press secretary here?
  • One of the major stories this morning in Washington suggested that, in fact, in Brussels, the President was given a draft of his speech to the NATO partners that suggested that he would invoke or at least respect the Article 5 commitments. A senior administration official told us flatly that the President himself did not take the Article 5 reference out of the speech. So, Sarah, who did?

 

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