August 2, 2017… Day 195
Hot and smoky here in Seattle. And most of us don’t have A/C.
Signs of hope:
Signs of shenanigans:
Trump wuz here:
I wouldn’t normally trust such a prolific author, but she’s right about this. What the hell, Missouri:
This is good:
Trump signs Russian sanctions bill, under protest. Writes in his signing statement that parts of it are obviously unconstitutional, and points out in that same official statement that he himself built up a great business worth billions of dollars.
Russia writes mean tweets. Then Ukraine trolls Russia:
Been down so long, it feels like Trump to me:
The White House unleashed Stephen Miller (C+ Santa Monica Fascist, h/t Jon Lovett) on the viewing public this afternoon.
Questions asked to Stephen Miller and SHS today:
- Thank you, Stephen. You talk about the President’s agenda and wanting to implement it. But obviously if this doesn’t become law, it won’t be implemented, and there’s already resistance in Congress, specifically from Republicans, even the day that you’re rolling out this plan. How do you plan to overcome that? Where are the compromise points for the President and this White House?
- So there’s room for change?
- How do you wedge this into an already jam-packed legislative calendar?
- Two quick questions. First of all, let’s have some statistics. There have been a lot of studies out there that don’t show a correlation between low-skilled immigration and the loss of jobs for native workers. Cite for me, if you could, one or two studies with specific numbers that prove the correlation between those two things — because your entire policy is based on that. And secondly, I have sources that told me, about a month ago, that you guys have sort of elbowed infrastructure out of the way to get immigration on the legislative queue. Tell me why this is more important than infrastructure.
- How about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine?
- Stephen, I’m not asking for common sense. I’m asking for specific statistical data.
- No, no, not common sense. Common sense is fungible. Statistics are not.
- Let me just finish the question. Tell me the specific–
- I asked you for a statistic. Can you tell me how many —
- Oh, I understand. I’m not questioning any of that. I’m asking for —
- I’m not asking them. I’m asking you for a number.
- Give me the number of low-skilled jobs that Americans might otherwise have —
- You brought up the African American male stats. Are you now targeting the black unemployment rate that is traditionally and historically higher than the average American? Is that what you’re looking at with this —
- Thanks very much. So one of the arguments made against this bill is that large-scale immigration will increase the total number of jobs. Senator Graham, for example, said he wants more immigration to bring in more restaurant jobs, more resort jobs, bed cleaning jobs, and such like. Is it better for this country to have more jobs or higher wages and higher productivity for Americans?
- Two questions. One, you did personalize it with the New York Times, so normally this wouldn’t be a question, but will the Trump organization stop bringing in foreign workers on visa programs to set an example for other businesses in the interim before this bill becomes law?
- My second question was —
- Thank you, Stephen. Just to take the question in another direction, USA Today and others have shown that over the last seven years, there’s been a negative flow of immigration across the southern border. And of course, unemployment is at, perhaps, a 10-year low right now. So will there be enough workers in the southwest states if this policy were to go into effect?
- Thank you, Stephen. Two questions for you. First, does the Trump administration plan to defend the DACA program that Texas and eight other states bring a lawsuit challenging the court?
- Stephen, Zoe Daniel from Australian Broadcasting. You’ve talked about the Australian policy. Can you speak more specifically about what the administration likes and also how that extends into things like family sponsorship? You mentioned bringing in elderly relatives, for example, who might not be productive. Yet in Australia, adult children can sponsor their parents to immigrate. So which elements of the policy are you choosing that you might liken to Australia’s?
- Thank you so much. Can you respond to some of the critics within your own party who say what we really should be focused on is comprehensive immigration reform in order to really tackle the problem in a serious way? And secondly, what do you say to those who say this just separates families and it’s effectively cutting an effective (inaudible)?
- My question about comprehensive immigration reform. Some Republicans are saying that you should be focused on comprehensive immigration reform instead of a sliver of the problem in order to really address the growing — problem of immigration. Why not tackle it from that stance?
- Follow-up on that Stephen?
- Thank you, Stephen. You mentioned lawmakers have a choice to make. Is President Trump going to make this a campaign issue next year?
- Two for you. First, following up on Noah’s question, the President has talked a lot about immigration reform — this has been held up in the past. He has the power today to take personal action on this by changing the way his Trump properties, Mar-a-Lago and others, bring in unskilled foreign workers, displacing, as you talked about, large numbers of Americans who are looking for work in these states. So is the President planning on taking that action? And secondly, does this signal that the White House does not believe that any sort of comprehensive action on immigration is possible with this Congress; that immigration needs to be tackled in a piecemeal fashion going forward?
- Can you say how close the President is to getting a nominee for DHS? And can you add — if this legislation is not moving by the end of the year, how much is it possible for you to do through executive action, if any?
- If this is so huge and major — you make it sound so enormously important — why did the senators who were with the President today call it modest and incremental? Is it modest and incremental? And aside from that, you seem to be suggesting this is immigration reform. Does this come even close to stemming illegal immigration for the President?
- So it’s modest and incremental?
- An incremental sea change? (Laughter.)
- Thank you. I appreciate it. And thank you very much for coming out here and talking to us on camera. But I’d like to ask you if you’ve recently spoken with your old boss and what you make of the rift between President Trump and the Attorney General. You worked for Jeff Sessions for many years.
- What you’re proposing, or what the President is proposing here does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. The Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer. Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them you have to speak English? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?
- You’re saying that that does not represent what the country —
- — has always thought of as immigration coming into this country?
- Stephen, I’m sorry, but that sounds like some —
- That sounds like some National Park revisionism. (Laughter.)
- The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country —
- — and they’re not always going to speak English, Stephen. They’re not always going to be highly skilled. They’re not always going to be somebody who can go to work at Silicon Valley right away.
- It was a modest and incremental speech.
- Was it violating the Statue of Liberty and the —
- (Inaudible) call for a deportation force?
- You’re sort of bringing a “press one for English” philosophy here to immigration, and that’s never been what the United States has been about, Stephen. I mean, that’s just the case —
- We’re in a low period of immigration right now. The President wants to build a wall and you want to bring about a sweeping change to the immigration system.
- The President was just with the new Chief of Staff on Monday talking about how border crossings were way down.
- Sir, my father was a Cuban immigrant. He came to this country in 1962 right before the Cuban Missile Crisis and obtained a Green Card. Yes, people who immigrate to this country can eventually — people who immigrate to this country not through Ellis Island, as your family may have, but in other ways, do obtain a Green Card at some point. They do it through a lot of hard work. And, yes, they may learn English as a second language later on in life. But this whole notion of “well, they have to learn English before they get to the United States,” are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?
- Sir, it’s not a “cosmopolitan —
- My father came to this country not speaking any English.
- Of course, there are people who come into this country from other parts of the world.
- It just sounds like you’re trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country through this policy.
- I didn’t say it was a racist bill.
- You’re saying that people have to be English speaking when they’re naturalized. What is this English-speaking component that you’ve inserted into this? I don’t understand.
- What policy am I advocating?
- (Inaudible) is for open borders. That’s the same tired thing that —
- Are you targeting the African American community? Now you brought it up again — you said you wanted to have a conversation and not target. Is it going to be a targeted effort? You keep using the African American community. Are you going to target? I’m not trying to be funny, but you keep saying this.
- Sir, I didn’t call you ignorant. You called me ignorant on national television. Honestly, I think that’s just inappropriate.
- I don’t know what you mean by “rough insinuations.” I don’t know what that means.
Questions asked of SHS:
- Does the President believe that white applicants to college are the victims of discrimination?
- Does the President believe that white applicants to college are the victims of discrimination?
- So can you explain why the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is devoting its limited time and resources to —
- Sarah, thank you. Why did the President say that he received a phone call from the leader of the Boy Scouts and the President of Mexico when he did not? Did he lie?
- But the President specifically said that he received a phone call from the President of Mexico and the leader of the —
- So he lied? He didn’t receive that phone call?
- How would you —
- Sarah, if I could ask a couple of questions about Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, the Prime Minister, has weighed in on the President’s signing of the sanctions, saying that this proves that the Trump administration is “utterly powerless” and ends hopes for better ties. What’s the White House response?
- One point on one of the finer aspects of the bill and the findings — it stated that Russia did, in fact, try to interfere in the U.S. election. In the President’s statement — on the signing statement, he did not quibble with that. Is that an indication that he does accept the finding that Russia interfered in our election?
- He’s also said that other actors may have been involved.
- One more. You said on Monday that, when you had something to say about the Russian action on the 755 diplomats, you would say something about it. Do you have anything to say about it today?
- Sarah, thanks. Did President Trump speak with Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, prior to signing the bill or at all today?
- That’s definitive? That’s confirmed? Let me just ask you something about North Korea. General McCaffrey said that, “I think at some point we are clearly going to take dramatic action short of war against North Korea.” Can you respond to that? Do you think that’s an accurate characterization? Can you tell us where the administration’s thinking is right now when it comes to taking some type of military action against North Korea to stop its provocations?
- Thank you. I’ll ask you the question I was going to ask Stephen. The President said in an Economist interview in May — he was asked whether he supports cutting the number of immigrants who can come here legally. He said, no. This bill today that he supports would cut the number of green cards issued by half. So when did the President have a change of heart on this issue?
- I mean, merit-based wouldn’t necessarily lead to the reduction of total green cards. So does he have a separate opinion about the number of green cards that —
- Thanks a lot, Sarah. The President, in signing this sanctions bill today, issued a signing statement. And in that signing statement, he said that the bill is significantly flawed. He said that there are provisions in this bill that are clearly unconstitutional. Why would he sign this bill if he felt so strongly that this bill inhibits his ability to act as the Commander-in-Chief and to carry out his duties as President?
- I’m sorry — does he also send a signal in signing this particular legislation that, if another bill comes before his desk that he also finds significantly flawed and clearly unconstitutional, that he’d sign that legislation as well?
- Sarah, can you clear up some confusion? There were almost simultaneously two signing statements that went out. They had slightly different language. Did you intend to send both out, or was that a mistake?
- I wanted to bring up some unfinished business. When you were named Press Secretary, because there was so much focus on the other announcement, that you only had a chance to talk about the job in one question. So I wanted to give you a chance to answer two questions that all of your predecessors faced. The first one is, what is your overall approach to the job, especially in terms of balancing whether you’re serving the President or serving the public? And secondly, do you see any circumstances where it’s appropriate to lie from the podium?
- Thank you, Sarah. Following up on the question about the position, what exactly is Sean Spicer’s role in this administration at this point? And how much longer do you expect him to stay on staff? And then something on the signing statement.
- So nothing changed because of Anthony Scaramucci leaving?
- Okay, and then on the signing statement, one of the things that it said was that it would drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together — these sanctions. Can you elaborate on that? Because yesterday you suggested that China was both an ally and a partner.
- Sarah, can I just follow up? Two questions. On DHS, should we expect that more into September, when Congress comes back, a nomination? Or is that possible soon? And the second question is, lots of lawmakers, Republicans on the Hill, and the business community have been concerned that the President won’t stay focused on tax reform, that this is something they really want him to talk about. And you just introduced immigration. You’ve got healthcare still hanging. Is the President going to focus on all of those issues in the weeks ahead, going into September? Or does he really want to showcase just one or two things?
- Yeah, thank you, Sarah. This morning, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, took a shot at Tom Homan, the head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On June the 28th, right from that podium, Mr. Homan said, and I quote, “Most law enforcement officials in cities work with us but many don’t in the largest cities. And that’s where criminal aliens and criminal gangs flourish.” Mayor Landrieu this morning said he’s wrong about that; that kind of rhetoric is not helpful. And he added that police officers keep the streets safe irrespective of immigration status, and do so all the time. Your response to Mayor Landrieu and his charge against someone who is mentioned frequently to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security?
- So then you would — you trust him more than you would Mayor Landrieu on that issue?
- Yes. Jeff Flake, in a Politico Magazine article, said the President was — he suggested the President was a carnival barker and had eroded conservatism. Is the President still thinking of helping to fund the $10 million challenge against Senator Flake? And does he have any response to Senator Flake’s comments?
- Two American soldiers were killed today in Afghanistan. That’s nine on the year. Does the President know about this? And does he feel any sense of urgency to implement a new plan in the conflict there?
- Thanks, Sarah. Did President Trump feel pressured into sign the Russia sanctions bill?
- I just wanted to follow up. You were asked yesterday by Jared Rizzi whether the President would weigh in on this question of cost-sharing payments. Can you put this to bed? Will the administration continue making these cost-sharing payments or not?