July 12, 2017… Day 174
Today was dismal. Seeing Republican lawmakers act like everything is fine and normal. The shocking new news story already receding. Little belches of gross news returning to the fore.
I’ll add more post to this post tomorrow, including the briefing questions.
It’s been a big day! I started a political essay class, which means less time for blogging but also hopefully will mean that the blog starts to feel less like Grandma Lil’s Angry Vision Board and Scrapbook of Despair.
Update: Questions from reporters to SHS today:
- Sarah, thanks. Has President Trump had any communication with his son, Donald Trump, Jr., over the last several days? And was he involved in helping Donald Trump, Jr. craft his statement to the press over the weekend on Air Force One, as was reported in the New York Times?
- Has he helped him with his response?
- So is that not true?
- Okay. Can you find out?
- Thank you. You opened today by talking about the strong character and integrity of Christopher Wray. He said, during the hearing today, that he does not consider Mueller’s probe to be a witch hunt, neither do Republican leaders in Congress, neither does Rob Rosenstein at the Justice Department. So why does the President continue to call it a witch hunt, especially now that there’s hard evidence, released by his own son, that the campaign knew that Russia sought to interfere in the election?
- Can you reiterate then why he calls it a witch hunt?
- Does that include members of his campaign?
- So does the President support the three changes that the Senate Republicans have made in the healthcare bill to retain all of the tax increases on upper-income investment earner and healthcare CEOs? And if so, why?
- Would retaining those tax increases, which Republicans have criticized since their enactment, fulfill the President’s pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act when they are foundational tax increases of that very law?
- Can you do that and keep those tax increases?
- So let me just ask you one question on this issue of those within the administration who had to subsequently admit or concede contacts with Russians — Mike Flynn, Jared Kushner, the Attorney General, and now Don Jr. Can you explain to us why there’s this plague of amnesia that affects all these people associated with the campaign and one country, and one country only?
- What about this question?
- But my question was specifically about the need and the requirement to re-remember things that were not disclosed or forgotten. And I’m just trying to get your explanation as to why so many people can’t remember contacts with one nation, and the inquiries lead them to then remember and then subsequently disclose them. What accounts for this plague of amnesia?
- This doesn’t suggest to you a pattern of not trying to be transparent?
- But, Sarah, when it’s not at the forefront, when it has to be concealed and then security clearance forms, in the case of Jared Kushner, have to be amended and there’s re-remembering forced on them either by investigators or by journalists, how is that being at the forefront of transparency?
- And have you done that in this case?
- So just — I guess so we’re all on the same page, and now you’ve had time to look into all these various meetings and people can remember things, are there any other additional meetings members of the campaigns have had, advisors to the campaign have had during the campaign between any Russian nationals and members of the campaign or advisors to the campaign? Anything else that’s come to light that we should know about?
- Oh, can I just have one more follow-up?
- You’ve been doing a lot of briefings lately. Will you continue doing the briefings? Or can we expect Sean to be doing any briefings in the future?
- On the meeting with the Faith Advisory Board, someone tweeted out a picture of the meeting the other day, and there was a — the picture showed people, faith leaders laying their hands on the President as they were praying. And I think there was an inference or implication from that photo coverage that they were praying for him because of a political crisis. Could you explain a little bit more about how the meeting came about and what it meant to the President to have them there?
- How did the meeting come about? And what did it mean to the President?
- Thanks a lot, Sarah. Chris Wray was asked today in his confirmation hearing whether he believes Russia is a friend or a foe. And he said in his answer that he believes that Russia is a country that should be viewed, in his words, “warily.” I asked you this question on Monday, and I did not get an answer from you. I believe the same question was asked of you yesterday. You said you’d get back to us. And I think it’s a pretty basic question as to whether or not the President views Russia as a friend, a partner, an ally, or an adversary. Do you have an answer yet on that question?
- And another question as it relates to the Russia sanctions bill. You had Marc Short out here the other day talking about the need for a waiver on that bill. That’s what the administration would like to see. If there is no waiver attached to the bill, and it comes before the President’s desk, would the President veto this legislation?
- Sarah, following up on the Chris Wray testimony today, he also said that he would not pledge loyalty to President Trump. Is that something that the President expects of him?
- And one follow-up on just the general Russia question. Can you describe the President’s mood? Is he frustrated by these stories? Is frustrated by Donald Jr.? How is he feeling?
- Sarah, I want to ask you, the drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration. Do you perceive that?
- To be clear, that’s not me, that’s not the media saying that. This is Trey Gowdy, the Republican from the South Carolina, saying, this drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration. So what do you say to Congressman Gowdy?
- So let me ask you if I can separately, you said — being asked about the “witch hunt” a little bit earlier — you said, the President feels comfortable saying as he’s made clear that it’s a witch hunt, because — in your words — he knows any action or inaction that has taken. But given the fact that Jay Sekulow and you have conceded that the President — or the outside counsel has conceded that the President was not aware of Donald Trump Jr. — his own son’s meeting with someone who was representing — who was there under the guise of representing information from the Russian government, how can you say with certitude that the President does know any action that has taken place?
- So does that — but would you concede the President does not know? There may be actions that took place that the President does not know about?
- So, Sarah, just two things. One on the issue of transparency, we now have three straight weekdays when there hasn’t been any single, public event on the President’s schedule. That’s unusual for any President, especially this one who through the first months of his presidency was constantly bringing the pool in. We saw him doing a number of events a day. Why the sudden secrecy and hiding from the public that we’re seeing now? Why has the President not been visible to the public for the better part of a week?
- And then, on the Don Jr. emails, you’ve heard from a number of Democrats who have raised serious questions about the fact that Jared Kushner was also part of that meeting, he was part of that email chain, knew what that meeting was about, knew what was promised. What do you say to Democrats who say that Jared Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked?
- Is there any concern, though, that the top advisor to the President —
- Thank you, Sarah. You just said he’d much rather be talking about tax reform and healthcare and infrastructure. What has stopped him this week from talking about any of those things?
- To the American people.
- Right. But Jeff asked you how he’s feeling, and you said he was frustrated because he’d much rather be talking about these things. Now you’re saying he has been talking about these things.
- Two questions. First, thank you very much —
- Not three. First, thank you very much for getting back to me on the blue slip question. My other question you may recall was, would the administration itself take into account the recommendations of the American Bar Association on judicial appointments or not?
- My other question is: The President, today, had an interview with Reverend Robertson, and I wondered if this would lead to the opening of further interviews with some of us one-on-one with the President, or very possibly a news conference in the near future.
- Two healthcare questions. It looks like we may get some new version of the Senate bill tomorrow, perhaps, and some action maybe next week. As this heads towards what may be some kind of conclusion if it happens, how much credit does the White House think that it should take and that President Trump should get or receive for how that bill is shaped in the end?
- Is the White House actually actively participating, then? Is the President participating, helping to shape some of the stuff that —
- On that, President Trump is known for loving to put his name on the top of his buildings and everything else that he can get his name on. President Obama didn’t name Obamacare “Obamacare.” If —
- You’d have to ask him, I suppose. Does President Trump hope that whatever emerges from the process will ultimately be known as Trumpcare?
- Did the President watch, by the way, Mr. Wray today, by chance? I know he said in his tweet, I don’t even have time to watch TV. You think he had a chance to pick up some of that coverage?
- Sarah, I just wanted to give you a chance to respond to Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California. Today he entered an official bill, an article of impeachment. Any response?