TOWOIT #141

June 6, 2017… Day 138

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Is everything accelerating or is my head just flying apart? The White House Press Briefing lived to see another day and the reporters’ questions are after my round-up of headlines and tweets. First, here’s some of the other stuff that happened today:

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(Oh good, I’m sure this will work out well for everyone.)

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Questions that reporters asked Sean Spicer in today’s 25 minute press briefing:

  • Sean, moments ago, Mitch McConnell reiterated that he is not a fan of the President’s tweets. We understand, you’ve said it several times, that the President likes to have his conduit to the American people. But does he sometimes cross the line, where his tweets become the news, become the agenda, and actually impede his ability to get things done?
  • But using it and using it wisely can be two different things.
  • Sean, let me ask you about health care. You mentioned the meetings that are taking place. Senator Lindsey Graham said “I don’t think there will be,” Senator Burr said he thought it would be unlikely that they get a health care deal. So are they just misinformed? What’s the difference between what Republican leadership in the White House is putting out and what Republicans in the Senate are saying?
  • Chuck Schumer said just a little while ago, called the infrastructure plan “an investment bank infrastructure plan, a Goldman Sachs plan.” He said “it’s a sure loser here in Congress.” His words. Are you guys willing to commit more than the $200 billion to potentially meet Democrats whenever the bill comes forward, to try to cross the finish line?
  • Jamie Dimon said today, quoting from him, “the urgency of tax reform cannot be overstated.” Here we are, in June, and we have nothing concrete at this point — where is the urgency?
  • Sean, thank you so much for taking the time here, we really appreciate it here in Philadelphia and the greater Delaware valley. We do have a question about the President’s budget proposal, specifically the proposal to eliminate the deductions for local and state taxes, property taxes. in New Jersey, folks reportedly pay the highest property taxes in the nation–so the question is, what do you say to the folks who are worried that they might take a hit?
  • Thanks Sean. Just moments ago, the U.S.-led coalition announced they struck pro-Assad forces in Syria. Has the President been briefed on the situation?
  • And a quick follow up question on the President’s tweets. Are President Trump’s tweets considered official White House statements?
  • If I could follow up on that — is President Trump at all concerned that his Tweets could be used against him at the level of the Supreme Court when the ACLU challenges his travel ban?
  • Could you tell us where the President is going to be on Thursday at 10 am? Is he going to watch the hearings with James Comey on Capital Hill?
  • Is he going to watch the testimony?
  • Hi, Sean. I host a radio show here and talk to listeners every day who are enormously frustrated with how Washington works. Like the President, they aren’t fond of the swamp. I’m curious if the infrastructure debate–does the President believe infrastructure is more than roads and bridges. Like drones, autonomous vehicles, pipelines, broadband, flood protection–which are all creating jobs here. Will the infrastructure debate be better received there than the healthcare and tax reform debates have been? Might it be his chance to start draining the swamp?
  • The President signed a lot of letters of intent with Saudi Arabia to sell American weapons. Have there been any actual contracts signed yet with Saudi Arabia, and if not, when will they be?
  • Actual contracts?
  • You’re saying there are actual contracts, right now.
  • I wanted to ask about the President’s tweets this morning on the Saudi-led isolation of Qatar. The President seemed to be taking credit for the action, so I’m wondering if the White House encouraged the rupture among the Gulf states — and did the President or anyone in the White House speak to the Saudis before it happened?
  • There’s a lot of concerns in Qatar that the move, especially with support from the President is aimed at removing the emir and his family from power. Considering that the President believes that the government there is financing terror groups, would regime change there be beneficial or detrimental?
  • So, you mentioned tax reform at the top. Mark Shore and a little bit of trouble yesterday trying to resolve what the administration’s position was on revenue neutrality–Mick Mulvaney last week was quoted as saying “several folks in the White House have said they are interested in a larger tax bill that would add to the budget.” Mark wasn’t really sure how to guide us yesterday on whether revenue neutrality was a key priority for the administration in the tax reform or not. Can you assist us?
  • So an increase in the deficit is something that the administration would find acceptable with this tax reform?
  • Sarah said yesterday in response to a question about who it was who changed the President’s NATO speech, taking out the Article 5 language--that she would get back to us–
  • Can you confirm to us that that is what happened? That there was one speech and that was replaced late in the progress and that speech did in fact take some of those who believed they were aware of the first speech, by surprise.
  • Would it be a “silly exercise” to find out exactly what happened?
  • We’ve been reporting that there was one version and then another version was used.
  • Last question. How would you describe the President’s level of confidence in the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions?
  • Last time you said that, there was a development. Last time you wouldn’t say —
  • You can’t say that he has confidence in his attorney general??
  • Sean, the Chinese government’s rejected a call from the state department to release three activists who were detained investigating a Chinese shoe company of Ivanka Trump and others. Does the President want to see them released?
  • Can we hear from the President or Ivanka Trump?
  • Can I just say the London mayor has said the President should no longer come on his state visit there. Are there any plans, has he been invited, is he still intending to visit?…
  • Thank you Sean, before the first foreign trip, senior officials were telling us you would unveil the results of the Afghan review after the foreign trip — do you have a timeline for us? When can we expect to see an announcement?
  • What does victory look like in Afghanistan?
  • Sean, yesterday, there was a first case of a leaker in this administration being arrested and it seems pretty clear from reading her social media posts that she is an opponent of the President and his policies. Does the President have a reaction to this?
  • You said on many occasions from he podium that the President’s tweets speak for themselves. Yesterday in a series of tweets, the President faulted the Department of Justice for its defense of the President’s executive order on immigration. Given that he’s faulted the DOJ, does he also fault the person who leads the DOJ? Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
  • Despite what you just said about the dispute in the Persian Gulf, it’s clear that the President is taking sides. Why?
  • First, is the President comfortable with Robert Mueller as the special prosecutor and does he believe that the President has the right to replace the special prosecutor if he exceeds his mandate?
  • On Sunday, the President put out a very forceful commemoration of the battle of midway 70 years ago. He did not note anything about the 25th anniversary of Tienenman Square in China. Is there going to be any statement on the brave uprising 25 years ago?

 

 

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