November 27, 2017… Day 312

SHS’s 35th briefing. Her first since November 20. That one was never transcribed on the White House web page, which is the first time that has happened. Is it a lapse, part of the big Orwellian slide, or both?

Here are the questions asked today:

  • Sarah, is Director Mulvaney firmly in charge of the Consumer Financial Protection agency today? Or is there still a back-and-forth between him and Leandra English on who’s actually the boss?
  • How did he handle that power struggle when he arrived there?
  • But why not just fire Leandra English?
  • And do you believe — does this White House agree with Mick Mulvaney when he called this agency a “joke”?
  • Thanks, Sarah. Does the President still accept the authenticity of the Access Hollywood tape that he apologized for during the campaign?
  • So he apologized for it, which would seem to acknowledge its authenticity. And that position hasn’t changed?
  • Thanks a lot, Sarah. Just two questions on the CFPB. The first one has to do with whether or not you would like the courts to clear up any confusion as to who is in control of the CFPB. Of course, the lawsuit has been filed. They’d like that case to be — a ruling on that case to be decided very quickly.
  • How do you envision the agency operating under Director Mulvaney?
  • In what way? What are the functions of the agency?
  • Thanks, Sarah. On the Senate race in Alabama. Does President Trump plan to campaign for Roy Moore?
  • Over the weekend, the President weighed in about this race on Twitter. Does the President continue — does he have plans to continue his campaign against the Democrat in Alabama, Doug Jones?
  • Sarah, at the event that the President just did with the Navajo Code Talkers, he referred to “Pocahontas” being in the Senate. Why did he feel the need to say something as offensive to many people while honoring the Navajo Code Talkers — these genuine, American heroes?
  • But she said it was a racial slur. She said it was a racial slur. What is your response to that?
  • If I could follow up with that, because the President was speaking at an event to honor members of the Greatest Generation — people who fought in World War II, who are in their eighties and nineties now. And the moment had many people online asking whether the President lacks decency. What’s your response to that notion?
  • Why is it appropriate for the President to use a racial slur in any context?
  • Well, a lot of people feel as though this is a racial slur. So why is it appropriate for him to use that?
  • Sarah, does he see —
  • Does he see political value in calling people out racially?
  • Does he see political value in calling people out racially? Why use that (inaudible)?
  • Two on Syria. First, on Friday, the President’s call with Erdoğan in Turkey, where he seemingly announced to him that he was not going to — the U.S. is not going to continue arming the Kurds — the Kurdish forces fighting ISIS. Can you address sort of concerns that the U.S. now seems to backing away from its previous support of a partner in the fight against ISIS?
  • And just quickly on Syria. Is it still a policy of the United States that Assad must go? Or is there sort of more of a containment policy, sort of, emerging at the White House?
  • Sarah, back to the Access Hollywood tape — you said that he made his position clear at the time. And he said — at the time, he said, “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” But you just said “the media’s reporting of its accuracy.” So can I ask again: Does the President acknowledge saying that — what was on the Access Hollywood tape last year?
  • What accounts are being reported now that weren’t reported last year? What accounts are you talking about?
  • Quick follow on Zeke’s question. So what is the official policy on Assad’s position? Should he stay or go?
  • Sarah, just a couple on the CFPB. Does the White House believe that Leandra English is unqualified for that position?
  • If you believe that he’s the right person, I guess the follow up then is, what is the White House — or what does the President have against Leandra English in that spot?
  • Thank you, Sarah. Two questions about personnel. The President’s appointment of Governor Brownback for the ambassador-at-large slot, dealing with religious liberty, has been stalled, and the Senate has yet confirm him or vote on his confirmation. Now, at the same time, National Security Council staff has a vacant slot with the same issue — religious liberty — that doesn’t require Senate confirmation. Is he going to fill that slot on the NSC?
  • Now, the other question is regarding the appointment of Director Mulvaney to a simultaneous presidential appointment. It seems a little odd because this has not been done, according to many accounts, since before World War I.
  • Well, you broke it. The last time was before World War I, when the Secretary of the Treasury was also the first chairman of the Fed. Whose idea was this? Or did the President decide to give the dual positions to director Mulvaney?
  • Thank you, Sarah. One on the CFPB. As far as reforms to the agency, the House has pressed the CHOICE Act. That’s still — no action on that in the Senate. Is this something — does the administration see this as an opportunity to try to push congressional reforms to the agency?
  • Speaker Ryan said the other say that DREAMers — the issue of the DREAMers would not be in the spending bill. We’re reaching the end of the year now and I’m wondering what the — you know, the President said that he would take this back up if Congress couldn’t act. Negotiations aren’t really going anywhere. What does the President propose to do? Does he see that happening in Congress in the next few weeks? Does he wish for a standalone bill?
  • DREAMers. What to do about DREAMers.
  • And if they don’t come up with anything?
  • Sarah, what would you say to consumers who are concerned about somebody who once called the agency that he’s now ostensibly leading — Mick Mulvaney calling the agency a sick, sad joke? What would you say to consumers who are concerned about somebody like that now ostensibly leading this agency that was designed to protect them?
  • Sarah, at this point, Senator Al Franken has allowed that there may be more women coming forward. He doesn’t know that there are, but he said there might be more women coming forward. At what point does the President condemn him? How many women does it take? How many accusations does it take before the President says Al Franken should resign? And is he holding back because of some unresolved accusations against himself?
  • You said with the Access Hollywood tape that the people have spoken, the President is president. So that’s kind of been litigated. Do you think the fact that —
  • Fair enough. Do you think the fact that the President has been elected — that that’s all been litigated — means that the public believes the women who have accused him in the past of sexual misconduct are wrong?
  • Thank you, Sarah. Just to follow up on you saying that the CFPB has not looked out for consumers, can you point to some specific cases where the CFPB did not act in the best interest of consumers?
  • Can you list them now?
  • And separately, over the weekend, the President went after CNN International. Today he called out CNN in a tweet. In the conversations that the President has had with Rupert Murdoch, has he ever brought up CNN or talked about the AT&T-Time Warner merger?
  • Sarah, thank you. The last time the President met with congressional leaders, he surprised a lot of people making this — the deal, if you will — with, he came out and said, “Chuck and Nancy.” It seemed to take Republicans by surprise. Should we expect something like that out of tomorrow? Should Republicans feel anxiety or concern leading into tomorrow’s meeting that he may, if you will, throw them under the bus, if you will, leading into tomorrow’s meeting?


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