TOWOIT #159

June 28, 2017…. Day 160

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List of possibly somewhat reassuring things:

  • Burr and Warner working together in the Senate
  • Sally Yates says we should have confidence in Robert Mueller
  • Jim Comey says we should have faith in Robert Mueller
  • Delay of healthcare vote; no one is letting up though
  • Keith Ellison — he just makes me feel better
  • 43% of Republicans think Trump’s Twitter practices are “distracting and reckless” (according to NPR this morning)
  • More GOP defecting from the bill than I expected. Non-craven.
  • Overheard Trump-voter at the office: “I’d rather there be NO healthcare bill than something that caters to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Anything that Ted Cruz thinks is acceptable, I don’t.”
  • Overheard Republican at the office: “I mean someone can go on TV and say out loud that the president is a moron, and it’s just the truth. It’s discouraging. It’s setting a whole new standard.”
  • Nicholas Burns and the other three panelists in front of Burr and Warner’s committee in the Senate today talking about Russia’s election-meddling. Burns had a lot of sharp words for Trump and the Trump administration. Risch and Cotton were garbagey to the panelists, but many of the Republicans were NOT.
  • 39% of Republicans say they don’t know enough about the health care bill to say whether they like it or not. Joy Reid cited this as a disturbing statistic, but if the approval rating for the bill is 17% with that many Republicans essentially in the dark about it, then this is even worse for the Senate Republicans than I thought. I need to know that some people are just really busy and preoccupied with their lives. It’s either that or they are all completely in the grip of Fox News, and I’ll take the blank slate over that.
  • Seen in Seattle:

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s off-camera press gaggle:

(Questions asked included; lying non-answers excluded)

  • Sarah, thanks so much. I want to just be clear on where the administration stands right now on Syria.  U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said earlier today, “I can tell you due to the President’s action, we did not see an incident.”
  • “We did not see an incident.” Is the sense that the threat from Bashar al Assad at least right now is over? That he’s no longer planning an imminent chemical weapons attack?
  • And did the President ever consider taking preemptive military action, or was that statement the only thing that was on the table this week?
  • Just one more quick follow-up. Is the use of chemical weapons the President’s only red line when it comes to Syria?
  • But he does see that as a red line, the use of chemical weapons?
  • Thank you, Sarah. I want to ask you about the Kate Steinle announcement here today. Is her father by chance going to be among the guests? I know that — at least when we came out here — I hadn’t seen a list. And secondarily, because you know that story very well, what does it mean to you to see the administration get to this point? And I’d like to ask you a follow-up.
  • And also, if I could ask you about — yesterday — you had a day to sort of look back.  Did you go to the gym and hit the heavy bag? Did you laugh it off? Many of us have covered multiple administrations and you hear worse, you see worse. I’m just wondering what you were thinking and feeling a day later.
  • Thank you. If the GOP healthcare plan fails, is the plan B really to let Obamacare implode? What’s plan B for you guys? 
  • And I know you’ve seen the criticisms — and part of the criticism that’s been out there is that the President has not been fully engaged on this one. Your response to that, and if you could detail his level of engagement for us.
  • Thanks a lot, Sarah. You said yesterday during the briefing that the President was optimistic about getting passage for the Senate healthcare bill. As you know, there are at least nine Republican senators that have come out opposed to the healthcare bill as it’s now structured. What gives the President reason for optimism given the way it looks to most people is perhaps a reason for pessimism?
  • During that Q&A session, that meeting with those Republican senators, did the President hear anything from those opposed to the Senate healthcare bill that leads him to believe that they will change their minds as it relates to this legislation?
  • Sarah, you mentioned the meeting yesterday with the 46 members of Congress.  I believe you said also yesterday that he talked to four on the telephone. We know that Rand Paul was here. He had a meeting with GOP leaders about this. Is there anything else that the President was doing? I ask this specifically because Susan Collins had mentioned that they — that she feels that there could have been more personal engagement before this point in time. And I’m wondering if the President could have done more, if you think the President could have done more, should have done more, and what he’s going to be doing moving forward to get this across the finish line?
  • Sure. On another topic, I want to ask you about an NPR and Marist poll that came out today. One of the questions they asked was about the President’s tweeting. Sixty-nine percent of Americans said that they found it distracting and it wasn’t helpful. I know that you guys have said repeatedly that you think that the President is the best, the most effective messenger, and that you think the tweeting helps. What do you — where are you guys getting that from when you see polls like this that say that a majority of Americans think that it’s a distraction?
  • The President, as we all know, is having an event tonight at his hotel. Is he running for reelection?
  • We’d appreciate it if you could open that event up to coverage tonight?
  • Thank you, Sarah. You’ve focused a lot on the problems in the Obamacare exchanges and said today again that this situation is unsustainable. Does the President believe that Medicaid in its current form is unsustainable?
  • In its current form?
  • But what about in the future? Because this plan drastically changes Medicaid, which actually is a bigger chunk of the healthcare delivery system than the Obamacare exchanges?
  • Does he want changes in the Medicaid portion of the bill?
  • Sarah, Paul Manafort, who was for a time the general chairman of the campaign, and Rick Gates who was a figure in the campaign and also the presidential inaugural committee, have registered retroactively as representatives of a foreign government to retroactively comply with a law which they were not in compliance with. Does the White House regret that they were not in compliance with the law when they were working on behalf of candidate Trump or the inaugural committee? Do you have any reaction to the fact that they’re now trying to retroactively do something they should have done long, long ago?
  • Let me ask you about healthcare. Yesterday, Senator Paul after his meeting with the President didn’t say directly, but he left the impression that part of their conversation was for Senator Paul to express that he didn’t believe the current draft fully repeals the Affordable Care Act, and that’s one of his grievances. And he left the impression that the President might agree with him on that. So I want to ask you directly: Does the President believe that one of the flaws with the current draft is that it does not go far enough to repeal the Affordable Care Act?
  • Thank you, Sarah. There’s a lot of changes being floated out there — changes to Medicaid, changes to U.S. coverage requirements. Is there a change that’s being proposed that would be a nonstarter for President Trump that would be a deal-breaker, that if it was included he wouldn’t put his signature on the bill?
  • Thank you. Sarah, at the State Department, the positions of Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism and the Ambassador for International Religious Freedom have — they remain vacant. It’s my understanding that the special envoy position is going to expire or be empty in a few days. This as anti-Semitism and religious persecution, of course, worldwide is on the rise. These are values the President routinely raises. Is this a missed opportunity? Does the White House or does the State Department plan to fill these positions? What’s going on here?
  • Two things — to follow up on a question earlier. Why is the White House choosing to keep the President’s remarks at the fundraiser tonight closed to the press?
  • Only in private homes.
  • But we go — the pool goes in at the time.
  • But what is this administration’s explanation for why that’s necessary?
  • And then I also wanted to ask you about one of the President’s tweets earlier today when he talked about The Washington Post and Amazon, referring to Amazon not paying Internet taxes, he says, which they should. What was the President referring to?
  • Thank you. I have two for you. One on healthcare, the President in the West Wing here was talking about Senator Chuck Schumer. He says that he’s done a lot of bad talking and doesn’t seem like a serious person. There’s some discussion on the Hill that there needs to be a bipartisan solution with healthcare. So given those comments about Senator Schumer, who presumably would have to come to the table, is the President abandoning Democratic cooperation?

 

 

 

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