The first big thing that happened today is that the new White House chief of staff, John Kelly, started work and immediately fired Anthony Scaramucci (on his 10th day on the job). The other big thing that happened was that the Washington Post published an involved article that peels away a lot of Donald Trump’s plausible deniability re: knowledge that his team took meetings with Russians. It’s pretty damning. But so many things have been damning that it is hard to get excited about any new damning thing. Still, as they say, “drip, drip, drip.”
Questions asked to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Steve Mnuchin, and General McMaster (who talked about sanctioning Venezuela):
Oh hi. Here we are, just grinding and lurching toward authoritarianism. Trump’s batshit tweets are getting boring.
Then we have this guy, posting this:
I’m pretty sure the subtext is how Nancy Pelosi is full of herself. Thanks for being part of the sexist air we breathe, Chris Cillizza. We should cherish the women who 1) slip through the cracks of the system that crushes our confidence at puberty 2) manage to build up their skills and strengths, 3) have a chance to use them in the big leagues, and 4) then don’t ERASE themselves and their strengths to be more palatable to asshats like this guy.
On the other side of the competency spectrum:
If only that were true.
Sometimes the NYT edit tweets feel more dramatic than others:
I love it that they still call the New York Times the Gray Lady. I had a paper route on the day in 1997 when the paper first featured color photographs. I remember heaving the big stack of papers out of the drop bin early in the morning, down at the bottom of campus by the playing fields, and feeling like I was in the know because I was seeing the front page before everyone else.
This doesn’t seem all that diplomatic either:
I’m not the only one who thinks this has been an especially crazy week.
I don’t tend to bang the Hillary drum on this blog, but a year ago she accepted the nomination. And she’s getting smeared by Trump now. I don’t think she deserves that at all. It’s been giving me the feminist angries, as has so much else lately.
So, let us focus on something positive and therapeutically celebrate women making a difference. Today, Representative Maxine Waters’s interrogation of Steve Mnuchin (from a few days ago) swept the inter webs and “reclaiming my time” became a thing. She kept cutting him off when he was rambling to eat up time. “Reclaiming my time… reclaiming myyy time…”
And then someone gave us this:
Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan that managed to be both an extended hand of bipartisanship and an act of very dry, shady trolling. The far left called it pandering and caving. They never miss an opportunity to say Pelosi is too old and has to go.
The women of the Senate:
And I know it might be a bit much to keep going on about Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins (when a squadron of Democratic women Senators, including Mazie Hirono, were also steadfast and resolute), but they give me so much hope. We need signs that we are standing on shared ground–that there are shared truths, accepted realities, acknowledged standards of compassion and decency. I need that right now.
And then there are these women:
For the whatabouters — does Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s utter unflappability and her willingness to stand up at the podium despite being large and average-looking (like most of us!) inspire me as a woman? YEAH. Kinda. But she has degraded and besmirched herself by working for the Trump White House so there’s no picture of her here.
But shout out to Scaramucci’s departing wife.
Don’t blame me for needing sparks of light in the darkness as we tumble downhill into autocracy.
Trump joked about police brutality not being such a bad thing, as he talked to a police department in New Jersey. It came across really racist and gross. And there was too much cheering, laughing and clapping in the audience of police officers. A couple officers were visible on camera looking disgusted. And a reporter in the room said it was much more awkward and less unanimous that it may have come across on camera.
So the police department had to issue a tweet:
And another one joined in:
Some people pointed out that the police department were just mad that he used the regular whistle and not the dog whistle.
Stephen Miller did a press gaggle on AirForce 1 — the same awkward flight that ended with a just-fired-by-tweet Priebus left alone on the tarmac. Anyway, so just imagine the chilling awkwardness of Stephen Miller, as he ended the gaggle this way:
Here are the questions he was asked leading up to that:
So, today, in Geneva, the International Organization for Migration held a briefing and said that the impact of this “get tough” approach, without deterrent measures, is pushing migrants, pushing illegal immigrants into more dangerous routes and actually fueling the coffers of gangs and transnational organizations. And I’m wondering if you’re concerned about that as well, and if there are, sort of, initiatives that you’re going to be taking that deal with deterrence in that aspect, as well.
With all this focus on measures that the administration can do — take towards immigration, has the President gotten closer to a decision on DACA?
Nikki Haley I think is traveling here. What is her role in this? Is she going to be giving any remarks ahead of the President? Or is she just here to, sort of, make a show about the U.N.’s role in migration?
Given the challenges of healthcare, trying to get legislation through, have you given any new thought to the strategy for how you’re going to get through funding for a wall, or money for new ICE agents, given that Democrats are united in opposition to that kind of legislation?
(UPDATED LATE AT NIGHT): It was *worth* staying up late watching C-Span and fretting and reading all the body language riffing on Twitter. THANK YOU to McCain, Collins, and Murkowski. Thank you.
It’s a sad and infuriating circus in the U.S. Senate tonight. Looks like the Skinny Repeal will pass. ETA for the vote, 2 am. I don’t understand the ins and outs at all. There are machinations involving texting House speaker Paul Ryan for promises about a post-passage “conference” between the House and Senate.
Basically they desperately want to pass something, but they don’t want this thing they are passing to actually become law because they know how misbegotten it is.
And then there was THIS business:
Infighting in the administration just… I don’t know… skyrocketed? Scaramucci saying shitty stuff on the phone to Ryan Lizza, who then put the WHOLE phone call in the New Yorker the next day. Then Scaramucci tweets that he’ll never trust a reporter again — like he has no idea how on the record, off the record works? Even though he’s the communications director.
Also, DOJ says LGBT people are not protected against workplace discrimination.
There’s A LOT of push back against the trigger-happy tweet about kicking transgender people out of the military. And the anti-Sessions talk.
The Russian sanctions bill will go to Donald Trump’s desk, with such a healthy margin that if Trump vetoes it, it’ll still go through.
Lindsey Graham and Cory Booker are writing a bill that would prevent Trump from removing the special counsel, according to The Hill.
There was an on-camera press briefing for the second day in a row. It was short (16 minutes of Q & A with Sarah Huckabee Sanders) and full of lying obfuscation, but it was on camera.
I liked this screenshot of these two reporters as the press corps waited for the briefing to begin:
A really bad part about the briefing was the sweaty acting ICE director bellowing at the room about criminal “aliens.” Who would ever, EVER, trust this agency? They’re saying undocumented victims of gangs should reach out to ICE, and they don’t need to worry that they’ll be targeted for deportation. Well, that’s gotta be bullshit. I’m skipping that whole part, and going to the questions they asked SHS:
Sarah, does the President have confidence in his Chief of Staff?
So you can’t say right now if the President has full confidence in Chief of Staff Reince Priebus?
But we’re talking about public humiliation of both the Attorney General and now the Chief of Staff, left to kind of wonder about their own fate and their own status within this administration.
Lindsay Graham says there will be “holy hell to pay” if Attorney General Sessions is fired. What does the President say to that?
Thanks, Sarah. The President — excuse me, the Pentagon has announced that the President’s statements via Twitter did not change the transgender policy in the military and that the White House actually has to issue a policy directive to the Secretary of Defense to make that change happen. So, two questions. Does the President plan to do so? And if so, how will that affect transgender troops that are currently serving?
But what is the policy? And was the President aware that he can’t make policy changes via statements on Twitter? Because the Pentagon is saying —
So the policy hasn’t yet been formulated?
Sarah, thank you. Moving on to healthcare, you talked about how Senate Republicans have the chance tonight to really undo Obamacare. But it seems like the thing that’s most likely to get through is the skinny repeal, and that would just kind of — that would maybe get rid of the mandate and some other things. But it’s not the massive overhaul that had been promised. So would the White House support just a skinny repeal, that being signed into law?
But does the White House believe that a skinny repeal on its own would be enough to address the issues of premiums — rising premiums and deductibles and things like that? Would the President sign just a skinny repeal?
Yes, Sarah. I want to ask two questions — one about the President’s management style and one about immigration enforcement.
On immigration — I had a question on immigration enforcement.
So this week when the President spoke in Ohio, he spoke about MS-13 and he gave a litany of the violence that they’re capable of. And then he said, “Our guys are rougher than their guys.” What did the President mean by that?
Is that a license for the use of more force when it comes to making arrests against MS-13?
Does he want the law enforcement agencies to change the rules of the use of force when it comes to making arrests against MS-13?
Thanks, Sarah. Anthony Scaramucci was on CNN today talking about Reince Priebus. He said, “If he wants to prove he’s not a leaker, let him do it.” I can’t imagine that you would speak on Anthony’s behalf, but if you would, does he think that Reince Priebus is a leaker? Or does the White House, does the President think that Reince is leaking?
I had a tax question, too, please. Does the President believe that tax overhaul should increase the budget deficit? Or should it be revenue neutral?
Sarah, can I ask you quickly about Anthony Scaramucci? A little bit of housekeeping. One —
Fine. Has he taken an oath of office?
Has Anthony Scaramucci taken an oath of office?
Have his security clearances gone through yet?
Is he an official member of the White House staff now? Initially it was announced that it would be in mid-August
So let me follow up on —
Let me ask you about the Boy Scouts then, if I can very quickly —
Thank you, Sarah. I do have to ask you about the healthcare bill. Many who are in the Freedom Caucus say that they would oppose the skinny repeal that was referred to earlier; that if a measure came out with just, oh, ending the mandates and ending the tax on medical devices, that that would — and not addressing anything else, they’d vote against it. Is the President aware of this? And is he making any calls for specific parts of the repeal effort?
Thanks, a lot, Sarah. Is the President — just to follow up on what John Gizzi just asked you; I don’t think you got to that particular part of the question.
Is the President picking up the phone? Is he calling those seven or eight Republican senators, making the case for them that this may be their last best hope for repealing and replacing Obamacare? And if he is, what’s his message to those particular senators?
He had all of those Republican senators here at the White House last week, Sarah.
Anthony Scaramucci said this morning that the President might veto the Russia sanctions bill, even though Senator Corker has now withdrawn his objection and that the same version that we’ve already seen from the House is going to be up for the Senate vote. Is that, in fact, possible? Would he veto that passed with just three negative votes in the House and two negative votes in the Senate?
In terms of working with the DOD on this new policy, how long is it going to be before you find out what the details are? Weeks, months?
Will it be this year?
Sarah, thanks. Several Senate Republicans have sent signals to this White House: One, don’t make a recess appointment because we’re not going to allow it; two, there’s not going to be a confirmation if there’s a new Attorney General nominated. There is a signal being sent: Don’t do what we fear you might be contemplating. Can you, for the betterment of the Senate Republicans who are working with this White House on a lot of issues, put to rest once and for all the status of the Attorney General — that he’s not going to be fired, there’s not going to be a need for a recess appointment, and this issue can be laid to rest, for the country and for Senate Republicans who appear, based on their public statements, to be anxious about this prospect?
But when you don’t say the President has confidence, and the President says “time will tell,” as he said earlier this week, I’m only telling you what Senate Republicans, who are in a position that have to deal with this, are saying.
Thanks, Sarah. This is a little — maybe just a little bit off topic. I want to run it by you anyway. Is the President aware of this story —
Yeah, why not — right? Is the President aware of the story of the IT staff — of the congressional IT staffer who most recently worked for Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Imran Awan, who was recently arrested attempting to leave the country, although he said he was not trying to flee the country? Is the President aware of that particular circumstance? And is he satisfied with the pace of the investigation?
Since we only have one question, I’m going to ask you about the Boy Scouts
Their chief wrote this to family members who were at the President’s event earlier this week: “I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who are offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.” Does the President owe the Boy Scouts an apology?
But the head of the Boy Scouts has acknowledged that there was a problem. A lot of parents have expressed frustration in the wake of those comments and felt the need to actually write a letter about it. So does the President owe them an apology?
Thanks, Sarah. I have two for you real quick, if you don’t mind.
I’m going to be quick First on Anthony Scaramucci on CNN this morning, he said he had a conversation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about these supposed leaks. That would appear to violate DOJ guidelines. So I was hoping you could provide some clarity on that front. And secondly, out of Alaska today, the local paper there is reporting the Senator Murkowski received a phone call from the Secretary of Interior Zinke, threatening the people of — essentially threatening the services and federal dollars that were spent — that the administration (inaudible) toward the people of Alaska if she voted a certain way on the healthcare bill. I was hoping if you could confirm that and discuss whether that sort of conversation, if it happened, would be appropriate.
Thank you, Sarah. You suggested that the President continues to have confidence in Reince Priebus based on the fact that he’s still in the position, and he’s a friend of Anthony Scaramucci who’s coming into the administration. At this point, based on what we’ve seen quite publicly playing out, though, does he think they at least need to sit down and talk, as House Speaker Paul Ryan said, and get whatever this is out of their system so that they can start off the one right foot here?
Seven Republicans killed straight repeal of the ACA. Next up is skinny repeal.
Trump tweeted that transgenders can’t be in the military anymore.
Scaramucci tweeted that his financial disclosures were leaked. He cc-ed the FBI and Reince Priebus on the tweet. Afterward a New Yorker writer tweeted that he could confirm that Scaramucci is accusing Reince of being a leaker.
Republican Senators rallied around Jeff Sessions. Someone on Twitter pointed out that that’s tantamount to daring Trump to fire Sessions.
Trump talked to American Legion boys and girls at the White House. Seriously. People. Stop going to the White House. Just don’t go.
I stayed up to late too be more than hurried and slapdash now. Today I started April Ryan’s book on the presidency and race. I worked on my essay assignment for my political essay class (my essay is about the White House Press Briefings, obviously). I mailed in my ballot. On a legal pad, I scribbled out an essay on the union construction worker from Chicago that I met this morning at the bus stop. I listened to Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts and then really wished I hadn’t.
It’s more sickening than you can imagine beforehand, hearing those boys chant U-S-A! when Trump talks about killing Obamacare. They booed Obama. They booed Hillary Clinton. They cheered huge swelling cheers for every stupid thing Trump said. I don’t let those boys off the hook. They are between the ages of 12 and 18 and they were present because they are serious Boy Scouts, who purport to seriously uphold a whole list of values. Instead they were collectively mannerless shits and I don’t absolve them. Their slavish joy, roaring their approval of Trump was gross. It was really really gross. And I’m not even getting into how inappropriate the content of his speech was to give to kids. The whole thing makes no sense and underscores what a national emergency we are living through. I’m not sure at what point it stops being a national emergency anymore though. At some point it’s just the shoddy country we live in.
Kushner testified behind closed doors and not under oath. Trump made it harder for Sessions to not just resign from Attorney General. Rex Tillerson might quit. Trump’s tweets were somehow more bananas than ever this morning. And tomorrow the Senate votes on a health care bill that no one’s seen yet.
It’s Sunday, and I’m finally contemplating my mail-in ballot for local elections. This makes it painfully obvious that I haven’t paid enough attention to local and state politics lately.
Pre-2016, I had a low-key method to decide who to vote for in the smaller elections. I absorbed some cursory sense of the candidates through half-listening to the radio, skimming the paper, and seeing what Facebook friends said. Then, close to the election, I went back and read the Stranger interviews and the Stranger round-up. Usually I would take the time to consider dissenting liberal/progressive opinions to the Stranger take. In times of great overwhelm, I have voted the straight Stranger ticket off the cheat sheet without knowing much about anything. I’m sorry. It seemed better than not voting at all.
Trump’s tweet storm this morning was a doozy, even by Trump standards.
Oh my gosh, Ben. I sort of *have* to lose sight of the prospect of war with Iran — I’m trying to live a life here. Get up and go to work. Sleep. Do my homework for class. Be nice to my mom. Be a girlfriend. Water the dang plants.
Well, this has really been the white guy tweet parade tonight.
End of a busy week at the office, and a busy week of watching ourselves careen toward authoritarianism, maybe, or maybe a presidency goes down in flames, or maybe we’re not hurtling but grinding slowly. I don’t know. Can we do this for three and a half more years?
We were blessed with an on-camera press briefing after Sean Spicer resigned today. It was the first one since June 29. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is now the official press secretary. But the briefing was the Anthony Scaramucci show. And that’s why it was on camera. For this confident little Wall Street dude’s song and dance. This guy is the new communications director and the reason Trump was fired. Since I don’t have TV, I’ve managed to pretty much avoid this guy until today. Boy what a slick son of a gun. I’ve never wanted to be a political cartoonist so badly. The man just spawns image after image.
Scaramucci said he wished Sean well, and the way he expressed this was to say, “…and I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money!” The unabashedness. He described the gap between how Trump loyalists see Trump and how the press sees Trump as “an arbitrage spread.” He said he didn’t want to go into an “advertisement or infomercial,” but there was the implication that he didn’t want to go into his spiel right then. Not that he never planned to get salesy.
When asked what he would do first to “right the ship,” Scaramucci said that the ship was “heading in the right direction.” Which just conjured the image of a badly listing ship, far out at sea, storm on the horizon–but with its bow heading in the right direction!
He also said that he learned at Goldman Sachs that if you need to eat an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time. Then he said that he and Sarah would be eating the elephant. There’s definitely a cartoon in that one, with Don Jr. holding the severed elephant tail as a trophy. And the GOP being the elephant. The only problem is that the cartoonist will probably use the eating megafauna angle to make Sarah Huckabee Sanders look fat and homely in a sexist way, and make her and little Scaramucci will be drawn as Jack Sprat to her Mrs. Sprat. I’m defensive on behalf large women with asymmetrical faces.
More great Scaramucci lines:
“I’m obviously committed to being transparent, because I’m standing here.”
And, when asked if he would be truthful, he said “I sort of feel like I don’t even have to answer that question.”
Before I round up the reporters’ questions, here are some other things that happened today:
(If this happens it won’t be a drill. I’ll walk out and consult Twitter and we will clump into groups and find each other like water coming together with other water).
Questions reporters asked at the Scaramucci show (featuring Sarah Sanders):
Wildest news day yet, in a long string of wild news days. Before plunging into the fray of headlines, I would just like to note that Mick Mulvaney brought visual aids to today’s off-camera press briefing.
Questions reporters asked Sarah H. Sanders today (off-camera, embargoed audio):
So, the New York Times published the transcript of a bananas interview with Donald Trump. As anti-Trump Twitter comes up for air from devouring the transcript tonight, it finds time to swipe Maggie Haberman for being a bad interviewer. Thing is, Trump being who he is — totally atypical as a politician and as a human being — why would typical interviewing techniques be the best strategy? Haberman draws so much out of him. It’s not her moment to grandstand or speak truth to power. There are other venues for that. If you’re going to get him into a flustered, uncooperative dudgeon then get it on live television at least. This is Haberman and two other reporters in the Oval Office, letting our wildebeest president talk. Also note: the two other reporters in the room were men. They don’t seem to be drawing fire for their interviewing skills.
People act like they know so much about journalism and interviewing. I doubt they do.
Questions that reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders (off-camera, but a reporter named Ksenija Pavlovic defied the rules and live-streamed it on Periscope):
Mitch McConnell said, “Ok, we’ll just vote on repeal then.” A critical handful of Republican senators said “nope.” I don’t remember it being this divided along gender lines–there must have been some men speaking too. But I like this tweet anyway:
Can we just stop and appreciate how well this headline encapsulates everything that is wrong with us?
In late-breaking news, the BRCA (Obamacare repeal/replace) is reportedly dead today, thanks to two more Republican defectors. All hail the non-craven decision-making. I hope they get some positive reinforcement and begin to like not being craven.
Apparently this is quite a blow to Mitch McConnell, who now says they’ll vote on just repeal.
Trump said this today
And then Sean Spicer massively contradicted it hours later, going back to a much earlier talking point. It was his first press briefing in three weeks. It was sort of like he was literally kept in the dark and they just bundled him out and didn’t give him enough time to catch up with the headlines before they sent him out there.
Press briefing off camera again.
This was from two months ago:
This is to counteract the first headline I put up, because these guys made me smile at the airport. They didn’t speak much English and wound up sitting next to a couple of little unaccompanied white kids at the back of the plane. By the end of the flight they all seemed to be pretty good friends.
White House press briefing. Questions for Sean.
Good to see you.
We miss you, Sean.
Sean, good to see you back here. Question for you. One on Iran. Will this administration certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal?
And secondly, your counterpart in Russia, Dmitry Peskov, who speaks for Vladimir Putin, said today that they expect their properties that were seized by the prior administration to be returned and without any stipulations or attachments to that. Was this discussed with the President? Does the President have a strong view? What is it that the President would like to see in return before handing these properties over?
But this came from Vladimir Putin’s office, not —
But did the President bring this up at all in his conversations in Hamburg with Vladimir Putin?
Thank you, Sean. The President tweeted earlier today that most politicians would have gone into the meeting like the one Don Jr. attended in order to get info on an opponent. He said that’s politics. His FBI Director nominee said that anyone who was approached by a hostile government for opposition research should contact the FBI rather than taking the meeting. Who’s right? And what’s the White House’s position on whether or not it’s okay to meet with a hostile government for opposition research?
And can I ask about counsel, about Marc Kasowitz? He was — reportedly, he exchanged emails with a private citizen with a number of threats and a profanity-laced set of comments. Does the White House and the President still have confidence in Mr. Kasowitz to speak for the administration on this Russia matter?
Sean, first a follow-up to his question there. The President’s tweet this morning regarding the Russia investigation — did Ty Cobb vet that? Can you talk a little bit about his role? Is his job here to manage the President’s personal response to the Russia investigation?
So in the case of the President’s tweet this morning, was that something that went through Mr. Cobb?
And once more, a follow on Made in America. You mentioned the Sikorsky helicopter parked on the South Lawn — that would be known as Marine One — who paid for that to fly here from, I guess, probably Quantico? And also, is it appropriate to use military resources for a political event?
Thank you, Sean. I’m wondering whether you can tell us if Made in America Week will include the Trump organization or Ivanka Trump brands committing to stop manufacturing wares abroad.
As part of Made in America Week, if the Trump Organization or Ivanka Trump’s brands will make any kind of commitment to stop manufacturing gifts, clothes, and other wares abroad?
Obviously, it might be a sacrifice, given certain questions about going rates and stuff, but wouldn’t it be sort of a way to show leadership?
Just a question about the DHS decision to allow 15,000 new temporary worker visas. How does that not conflict with the President’s Hire American message?
Sean, thanks. What’s the White House reaction to the government of Iran announcing that they’ve sentenced the Chinese-American student from Princeton to 10 years for espionage? And also, could you fill us in on any new sanctions on Iran?
Thanks, Sean. With regard — I wanted to ask you about steel tariffs. The President told reporters on the plane last week that he was considering tariffs and quotas with regard to foreign steel. This being Made in America Week, can we expect an announcement? Has the President made up his mind on whether he’s going to do tariffs, quotas, or both?
Thanks a lot, Sean. Is the President resigned to the idea that it seems unlikely that the Senate will vote on any type of repeal-and-replace bill anytime in the immediate future?
On Made in America, I just wanted a real quick question. I realize you can’t speak, as you said, specifically about the President Donald J. Trump organization’s companies, but I just wanted to get a view from you on what critics are saying about whether the President is the right vessel for this message. After all, he has shirts made in China and Bangladesh and India. Other products made — like Trump vodka made in the Netherlands. So give me a sense, if you could, about whether the President is the right vessel for the message that he’s going to deliver later today before the press?
Thank you, Sean. A couple of questions on the Voter Integrity Commission’s meeting on Wednesday. I wanted to ask you, without full cooperation of all the states, would the commission consider buying some of the registration information sort of the way campaigns do? Or using maybe a private organization like Aristotle International?
I’m sorry, I do have another. And that’s — there was hacking into voter registration rolls in Illinois and Arizona, and we found out recently South Carolina was reported. Is that going to be something the commission will look into at all?
Thanks, Sean. Two foreign policy questions for you. First, what steps is President Trump taking to ensure that the Israelis are comfortable with the U.S.-brokered ceasefire in Syria?
Thanks, Sean. With the healthcare bill in limbo, what’s the administration’s plan to move forward on tax reform? Can you do it without having moved on healthcare first?
Thanks, Sean. There’s concern among those who support the healthcare bill that this extension is going to give the opponents of the bill more traction. What specifically is President Trump going to do to try to get this bill over the finish line? What will the —
And who’s coming over tonight? Is it just —
And one quickly on Russia. President Trump has referred to the Russia investigation as a “hoax,” a “witch hunt.” Given the meeting that Donald Trump, Jr. had, does he now acknowledge that the special counsel is a legitimate investigation?
What would you say?
Sean, can you tell me how these products were selected from each of the 50 states? And do you know if most of the owners are Trump supporters?
Sean, since Friday the President has tweeted four times about healthcare, but he’s also tweeted six times about the U.S. Women’s Open, which was held at a private property that was owned by his company. So the question is: Is it appropriate for him to essentially advertise his private business using his Twitter feed and use of time, when comparatively less time is being spent on healthcare, an issue that, as you know, is the most important issue to Americans right now?
But he did spend a lot of his weekend at the U.S. Women’s Open. He seemed to be very engaged in it. I mean, the tweets are, perhaps, a second long, but it seems to indicate what the President is spending his time on. So how do you assure the country that he actually is, in fact, engaged on healthcare when we know where he was over the weekend — he’s been tweeting about it?
Can I ask you a Made in America question, Sean?
Just a quick one. Ivanka Trump’s — the head of Ivanka Trump’s business said that it is currently not possible to make her products here in the United States. So what is the White House’s or this administration’s policy remedy for companies like that who say there’s just no way to do it? How do they make their products here in America?
But is it appropriate, if there is no — in the case of Ivanka Trump’s businesses — handbags, shirts, purses, whatever — if there is no capacity, is it appropriate to make those things overseas?
Oh, thanks. It’s not my birthday but — (laughter) —
I’ll take a second question. (Laughter.)
Back to the JCPOA, I know you don’t want to get ahead of the announcement about the recertification, but the administration has been reviewing it for some time now, even though the President has already made definitive statements about what he thinks should be on the Iran deal. So did he make those statements without having sufficient information about the Iran deal? Or is the review ongoing because he’s open to changing his position on the Iran deal, if new information came to light?
Thank you, Sean. Two questions and a short follow-up. When the President took office, one of the things he ordered was a 90-day cybersecurity review. That deadline came and went. It’s been several months. Can you update us on where that report is? Has it been completed? And if it hasn’t been completed, why?
Last week there was a march online — day of action on net neutrality — organized and participated by many of the largest companies in America — Amazon, Apple, Facebook — a lot of the technology economy that’s been driving the U.S. economy. Granted, the FCC is an independent agency, but does the President believe that network neutrality is an important thing and an open Internet is important to the American economy?
I’m asking what the President believes.
Can you get back to me?
Thanks, Sean. The Ukraine government reportedly went into damage-control mode in an effort to make amends when President Trump won the election after working with DNC and administration officials to undermine his candidacy. Is this an issue that was discussed during President Poroshenko’s visit to the White House in June? And has the President discussed it with him?
Does what the DNC did have any impact on this administration’s policy towards Ukraine?
At a briefing last month, you said you didn’t believe the President factored in, when he made a trip, what his popularity is in that country. Now we have a report of a transcript of a conversation between Prime Minister May and the President in which he asked her to “fix” his popularity so he gets a better reception. Do you have any reason to doubt the accuracy of that transcript, that that conversation took place? And do you still believe that he doesn’t factor in his popularity?
On North Korea — South Korea has offered to hold talks with the North Koreans. What’s the President’s view of that? And are there certain conditions that the President would like to see met before those talks take place?
Sean, has the White House been monitoring the demonstrations in Venezuela, and do you have any reaction to that?
Just one follow-up on Iran. A senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said today that if the United States designated the group a terrorist organization and applied new sanctions, that it would be perilous for U.S. forces in the region. Do you have a reaction to that?