TOWOIT #271: Church and State

December 7, 2017… Day 322

This is not ok. This is so far beyond ok. This wasn’t just some off the cuff remark that Sarah Huckabee Sanders made on behalf of herself. It was her prepared remarks as part of her official statement from the White House. This is disgusting.

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Until she said the underlined part, I was just mildly annoyed that she was filling up precious questioning time with her moralizing, like this guy noted today:

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But I wasn’t mad. Not until she said to a captive room of reporters from diverse cultural backgrounds, there for their job, that the “savior” was the “greatest gift.” As a representative of the U.S. government. This is so wrong, I don’t even know where to begin. It didn’t so much offend me as it made me want to vomit.

So that’s where I’m at with all this.

  • (Kevin Corke, Fox News) Thank you, Sarah. I want to ask you about the possible government shutdown and the optimism that the President might have that he can avert a shutdown. And if I could follow up and ask about the California fires and the very latest the White House has on it.
  • On the fires, I’m sorry.
  • Yeah. Is the White House in coordination with the folks out in California in battling that wildfire? Is there more money to be made available, especially for the areas near Los Angeles, which are under siege right now by so many devastating fires?
  • (Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News) Can you say a little bit about why John Bolton was here at the White House today? And also, on taxes, we’re a little confused on whether the White House would support a 22 percent corporate tax rate. You had the White House economist, Kevin Hassett, talking about — saying it would be okay and it wouldn’t undermine the economy. And then, a few hours later, the Legislative Affairs Director, Marc Short, said something about it needs to be 20. So can you say —
  • And on John Bolton?
  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, Donald Trump, Jr. refused to talk about his conversations with the President, citing attorney-client privilege. Would the President release him from any such privilege and allow him to speak to the committee?
  • But can you explain to me how it could be attorney-client privilege when neither Donald Trump, Jr. nor President Trump are attorneys?
  • (Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thanks, Sarah. Senator Franken today, in announcing his resignation, said that he’s “aware that there is some irony in the fact that I’m leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” What’s the White House response to that?
  • Can you say anything more broadly about the differences in the way the two parties are handling these accusations of sexual misconduct?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thank you, Sarah. Have any of the President’s counterparts around the world contacted the President, contacted the White House to indicate that they too will follow the President’s lead in moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or acknowledging that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel?
  • Do you expect any? Do you expect that to happen? Do you expect that others will follow the President’s lead here?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. Last week, the President said that the U.S. would be imposing additional sanctions on North Korea today. Do you have an update on where that stands?
  • (Jennifer Wishon, Christian Broadcasting Network) Thanks, Sarah. What is the President’s reaction to some U.S. allies, particularly in Europe — notably in the United Kingdom — who had expressed opposition to this action recognizing Jerusalem? And also, does the fact that he kept his promise give him more credibility when negotiating in the Middle East?
  • (Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News) Thank you, Sarah. So, yesterday, you guys put out a statement under the President’s name, saying that he was directing other officials in the administration to reach out to Saudi Arabia and urge them to immediately allow the flow of humanitarian supplies into Yemen. I have two questions about that. The first is: Why isn’t the President himself working the phones? And the second is: Are there any consequences for Saudi Arabia if they don’t immediately allow this flow of goods?
  • Any consequences for Saudi if they don’t do this?
  • (Major Garrett, CBS News) Hallie asked on Monday when the President became aware that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. You referred her to John Dowd, those questions. We’ve tried. John Dowd is not engaging on that. That’s a knowable fact in this building; it’s not a legal matter — not for their attorney to say. Can you just tell us when the President became aware of that?
  • Why is it a legal question for them not about something the President knew and when he knew it?
  • One other question, Sarah. One other question.
  • I think you want to take this one. It’s real simple; it’s very simple. Today, the U.N. Ambassador said it’s an open question whether the United States will participate in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Is it an open question? Is that now in doubt?
  • So it is in doubt?
  • By whom?
  • And it’s all about security?
  • (Mara Liaison, NPR) I just have two government funding questions. First, does he want S-CHIP reauthorized?
  • Okay. The bipartisan leadership is coming up in a much different atmosphere than the last meeting where he tweeted about how he didn’t think a deal was possible because the Democrats were so bad on illegal immigrants pouring over the border. I’m wondering, has the President changed his mind about that? And also, specifically, what was he referring to since, in a government shutdown, ICE and the Border Patrol aren’t affected?
  • But do you think a deal can be reached with the Democrats?
  • (Josh Dawsey, Washington Post) On the Hill today, Chris Wray praised the FBI and said it was the finest law enforcement force in the world. The President said, you know, it’s “in tatters” and it’s at its worst place in history. Can you explain that discrepancy?
  • When he undermines —
  • When he undermines the FBI and says it’s in tatters, does the White House fear that that could create ramifications that people won’t trust law enforcement; that people will say —
  • — why should we interact with the FBI when it’s in tatters?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, thank you. Two quick ones about a government shutdown. Chuck Schumer, on the Senate floor, said today of the President: His party controls the Senate, the House, and the presidency — speaking of Republicans, rather. And he said a shutdown would fall on his shoulders. How is that not just a reflection — an accurate reflection — of the political realities that Republicans control Washington at this point?
  • nd you said you want a clear CR. At some point, though, DACA is going to have to be brought up, or potentially be brought up. Is the White House willing to mix, at one point, a DACA fix with government spending? And if so, when would that be the case?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax)  Yeah, thank you, Sarah. From that podium, Secretary Mnuchin and Gary Cohn both assured us that, when a final tax reform bill is passed, the alternate minimum tax would disappear immediately. Now, of course, recent statements by the President, as the conference is about to begin, indicate it might not completely disappear and not immediately, certainly. Is the administration still committed to ending the AMT right away?
  • (Charlie Spiering, Breitbart News) A lot of attention on sexual misconduct and harassment by members of Congress. Is the President confident that Congress and its leaders can police and investigate themselves on this issue?
  • (Hallie Jackson, NBC News) Thank you, Sarah. I just have one question, but I need to clarify something that you said from the podium here on taxes. You said, I think to Matt, on Tuesday, that as long as his taxes are under audit, he’s not going to release them. His 2016 taxes, to our knowledge, are not under audit, unless they are. Can you —
  • Will you get back to us on that? So my question to you, then, more broadly, is on this moment that we find ourselves in, frankly, of a national reckoning when it comes to sexual harassment. And so in, again, a broad 30,000-foot way, does the President believe that he has a credible role in leading this conversation? And can you speak to the specific steps this White House has taken to make sure the women who work here feel like they are in a comfortable environment to talk about these things?
  • A lot of workplaces are having sessions, they’re having seminars. Are you guys doing that here? Are you talking about, in recent days, what people in this work environment can do? Are you taking —
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) A follow-up: We’ve seen Democrats forcefully call for John Conyers’s resignation, and Al Franken’s resignation, which happened today. Do Republicans, and does this President, risk losing their moral authority on this issue — which is a huge issue right now — by endorsing a candidate like Roy Moore, which has now been backed by the RNC as well?
  • Why not call for him to drop out of the race, or a write-in candidate? Sarah, is the President failing to lead at this critical moment?
  • But just a quick follow. Is he failing to lead on this issue?
  • (Unknown man who trampled over Kristen’s attempt to follow up) Was the President’s proclamation on Jerusalem delayed because of concerns expressed by the Secretaries of Defense and State, about security they wanted to get — adequate security in place for U.S. embassies around the world?
  • (Steve Holland, Reuters) The Palestinians are under the impression that the President pulled out of the peace process yesterday based on the Jerusalem decision. How do you correct that? Did he do that?
  • (Someone named David) Sarah, thank you. Given the recent revelations that at least one prosecutor on Robert Mueller’s team was sending anti-Trump texts to another DOJ lawyer, and given the revelation that yet another one was congratulating Sally Yates for refusing to uphold and defend the President’s travel ban, Chairman Goodlatte, at the hearing this morning, said that even the appearance of impropriety would devastate the FBI’s reputation. So the question is: Does the White House believe that the fix was in that Robert Mueller’s probe was biased from the beginning?

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