TOWOIT #178

July 17, 2017… Day 179

Can we just stop and appreciate how well this headline encapsulates everything that is wrong with us?

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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.

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Trump said this today

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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.

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This was from two months ago:

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Other stuff:

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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.

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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?

 

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