TOWOIT #224

September 1, 2017

I think it’s strange, dumb, and passive-aggressive that Sarah Huckabee Sanders keeps asking the White House Press Corps to tell her which charity the President should give money to in Texas. This is not their jobs. They are not your adjunct administrative assistants. They cover the White House, not non-profits in Texas. It’s reminiscent of Trump asking April Ryan to set something up with the Congressional Black Caucus.

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Questions they asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders today:

  • Sarah, you mentioned the supplemental.  Does the President feel that it would be helpful to tie the supplemental to the vote on raising the debt ceiling?  And do you have any details on the amount of the supplemental?  There have been reports that it would be about $5.9 billion.
  • What about the issue of tying the vote to the debt ceiling?
  • So the President said that he would have a decision on DACA in the next couple of days. Can you talk a little bit about what are the factors driving that decision? What is he weighing right now? And also, does he think that the program, as it is designed now — does he think it’s illegal?
  • Can I ask a question that might help us understand what informs this decision? Does the President feel that young people who came to this country illegally, who came of age here, who have jobs here, went to school here, are those people Americans or are they foreign (inaudible)?
  • How incumbent does this White House believe it is upon Congress to come up with a solution to the DREAMers issue?
  •  I asked that — if I could just follow up — I asked that question because Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina is introducing a conservative Dream Act. He is leading a group of conservatives in the Senate. Senator Jeff Flake says that it’s important for Congress to do this. Paul Ryan, while he said he doesn’t agree that the President should end DACA as we know it, does think there needs to be a legislative solution. Does the White House agree with what’s being said from Capitol Hill?
  • Sarah, the President said “we love DREAMers” today, and, in April, he said the DREAMers should “rest easy.” You know the President. Is it conceivable that he could end this program and send all these people out of the country after saying things like that?
  • That’s not a detail, that’s whether he ends the program.
  • But he must have made that fundamental decision.
  • Sarah, thanks. The President has said that if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall. Is he backing down from that threat now?
  • So there’s a report out, though, in the Washington Post that basically says he’s — you have a smile there on your face — that he’s backing away from this.
  • Well, is it wrong then?
  • Sarah, if I can ask you two questions, one about the ROK call that happened today:  Yonhap already has a readout of the conversation and, in it, the South Koreans are saying that the President of the United States promised more missile capabilities to Seoul. Can you confirm that? And do you have any sense of what we’re talking about there?
  • I have a question on NAFTA as well. The talks are going on now. Obviously, the President has made his feelings pretty clear, but he’s also talked several times about terminating the deal. Is that on the table as these talks go forward?
  • Shifting back onto Hurricane Harvey: Has the President made a decision on what charities he’s going to donate to? Do you know if that’s going to be coming from his own money or from the Trump Foundation?
  • But can you clarify whether it’s going to be his personal money or money from the Trump Foundation?
  • Thank you, Sarah. Yesterday, Sheriff Dave Clarke of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, announced his resignation effective immediately. This started a rush of speculation in the Badger State and in Washington that he would be appointed to a position at the Department of Homeland Security, possibly even the secretaryship, which is vacant. Now a lady at DHS said he’s not coming here, to reporters. Is former Sheriff Clarke under consideration for any position, particularly at the Department of Homeland Security?
  • A poll released by Fox News on Wednesday said that 56 percent of Americans think the President is tearing the country apart, and approval rating polls are usually in the 30s. How do these poll numbers affect how the President governs?
  • Thank you, Sarah. I want to switch to tax reform. We learned today that the President will be traveling to North Dakota next week. This week he was in Missouri. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate, and the Democratic senators from those states are ones that the White House is targeting. If the White House got those votes that would put you up to 54. Joe Donnelly and Joe Manchin are two other Democratic senators that the White House is looking to pick up. That would be 56. Where are the other four democratic votes that the White House and the President think they can get for tax reform?
  • So you don’t have four other states that you might be traveling to or four other names specifically?
  •  Sarah, my paper just published a story that Robert Mueller has obtained a copy of the letter drafted by President Trump and written, in part, by Stephen Miller and other aides around the time of the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey that enumerates a rationale for having him removed that focuses principally on the Russia investigation.  A couple of quick questions. First of all, can you confirm the existence of that letter?  Secondly, can that letter be made public? And thirdly, we report that Don McGahn thought it was inappropriate. Can you discuss whether or not you or the President believe that drafting a statement was appropriate at that time?
  • Can we get a copy of the letter?
  • Earlier this week, the President tweeted that “talking is not the answer” in regards to the North Koreans. Today the South Korean President’s office says he and President Moon agreed to reaffirm that North Korea should be brought back for dialogue. So which is it on that —
  • This is a follow-up to the NAFTA question. Mexico has threatened to end the negotiations that are going on if the President initiates steps to pull out of NAFTA. Would the President view that as a positive outcome? And is there any concern overall in the White House that the escalation of the rhetoric will hurt the White House’s ability to craft a better deal, as the President has promised?
  • On the issue of DACA, the Vice President said that the President will use a big heart in making this decision. What is the definition of a big heart?
  •  I have one more on jobs. What is this White House saying about jobs, particularly as the unemployment rate is at 4.4 percent but you have a continuation, historically, of African-American and Latino rates that are higher? For August, the African-American unemployment rate, 7.7 percent; the Latino rate, 5.2 percent; the white rate, 3.9 percent. A few weeks ago, Stephen Miller was at this podium talking about the black unemployment rate versus that of the immigrants. Is there going to be a targeted approach?  I mean, these numbers bear to show that there is a difference when it comes to minority American unemployment versus mainstream America.
  • Thanks. Can you confirm that the President is meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday about tax reform? And, does that mean that the details are almost finished?
  • On Tuesday?
  • Does that mean the package is almost finished?
  • Thank you, Sarah. Two questions. The first one is on DACA. I know you’re not ready to make an announcement yet, but these people, these DREAMers came out of the shadows and they provided their personal information to the government for work permits. If the President does end DACA, will that information be used to round up and deport any of these people? That’s my first question. 
  • My second question is on infrastructure. Clearly, the devastation in Texas brings attention to problems with our infrastructure, and there’s going to be a need for massive rebuilding. I know tax reform is the focus right now but will there be a push for an infrastructure bill either after that or around the same time? And will that be coming from the White House or will the administration be letting Congress take the lead on infrastructure?
  • Hurricane Harvey — the President was in Texas on Tuesday, he’s going back tomorrow. I understand the exact schedule might not yet be set but can you give us any kind of idea of what kinds of things he’s going to be doing and what, thematically — what he’s going to be doing this weekend that he didn’t have a chance to do on Tuesday?
  • Are there any events on Sunday? Or is this all contained to Saturday?
  • Does he have any other weekend plans after that?
  •  If I can ask two questions on that. Given the President is going to be obviously pretty busy on Saturday, down in that region — you’ve said 19 times that he’s going to be finalizing the decision in the next three days. Can you specifically explain what is going to change between now and Tuesday, given that we heard the President talk in the Oval Office about a decision coming this weekend? What specifically is he doing in these next three days that he hasn’t done so far?
  • And given that it’s so important, I just want to kind of personalize a little.  There’s a guy in Texas right now, Jesus Contreras. He’s a paramedic. He’s been working since the storm hit to help people in the community, in and around Texas. He also happens to be a DREAMer. What’s the President’s message to Jesus?
  • New reports are detailing how the, under the Obama administration, the group Antifa was being watched and their activities were declared as “domestic terrorist violence.” My question is: Was the President or his Chief of Staff aware of those investigations and reports before Charlottesville?
  •  Is he tracking the rise of violence from this group going forward?
  •  Is he tracking the rise of violence from these groups going forward?
  • A follow-up to Hallie’s question for a moment. I think I read that there were 120,000 DREAMers in the state of Texas. Is that in any way weighing on the President’s decision about DACA and what the situation there is?
  • Is what’s happening in Texas and even Louisiana weighing on him at all?
  • Thanks, Sarah. I’ve got two. The first one is, coming back after Labor Day Weekend, there’s obviously a lot of stuff on the agenda. There were some tensions between the President and congressional Republicans over the summer, and I’m just wondering if he has a message for them that you would want to share about any reset that he hopes to effect in the next four days before he comes back? And I also wanted to ask you — with all the caveats that you’re loath to discuss — this letter that — this part of an investigation —
  • The letter, as reported, suggests that some of the rationale did have to do with Russia. But the President initially talked about Hillary Clinton, and I’m wondering whether you can square those two for us? Do you think his message — do you think there’s now an inconsistency that needs to be addressed? And would you like to address it from the podium?
  • Sarah, can I drill down on what is driving the DACA review and final decision? Is the President reviewing the merits of the DACA policy? Or is he reviewing the legality and validity of the process the Obama administration used to grant it? In other words, if Congress were to move to protect the DREAMers, would he be in support of that? Would he sign on to such an effort? There does seem to be interest there. What is he reviewing?

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