TOWOIT #283: Dead on Arrival

January 23, 2018

At the top of the January 23 briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the Graham-Durbin-Flake bipartisan compromise on immigration is “completely unacceptable” to the President, and would be dead on arrival.

Before the briefing starts in earnest, Gary Cohn (globalist cuck) and H.R. McMaster (earnest yeller) come to the podium to talk about Davos. The big message? The United States is open for business. Also, “The U.S. is pulling back from nothing.”

Highlights of questions asked to Cohn and McMaster:

  • (Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) I guess the first question—your economic—as far as economic growth. We just had a litany of businesses that are going to give back to the American people, but isn’t it unfair to give the President credit for that? They already had that money in their coffers, right? I mean, what we’re saying—they would have not turned it loose otherwise? And then I had a second question for him, hopefully.
  • And my follow-up question to you, General McMaster. As you mentioned, North Korea—they have said that they are in talks with South Korea. Has the President’s policy led to where we are now? And how big of a threat is North Korea now compared to even three weeks ago?
  • (Not sure who this is) Thank you, Gary. I have one question for you and one for the General. So the President is traveling to Davos to present his America First agenda. How can one square an America First agenda with goals of increasing trade? The President has spoken many times of trade deals and other international agreements in which the U.S. is being ripped off and other countries are laughing at us. Does he believe that all of these negotiations and agreements are inherently zero-sum? And that for America to come first, do other countries have to take a backseat, or can agreements be truly win-win?
  • One for the General also. General McMaster, there have been reports in the news recently that leaders—authoritarian leaders in other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, are using one of the President’s favorite phrases, “fake news,” to describe reporting that is not flattering and it reflects poorly on their country, and reports inconvenient truths.
  • And President Trump has made a point of not publicly talking about things like human rights and freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Is he concerned at all, or are you concerned that the President’s rhetoric, combined with his silence on these issues, is creating a climate where authoritarian leaders feel they have free rein to do what they want, and the United States will not speak up publicly?
  • General, last time you spoke from that podium, you mentioned that it wasn’t useful to shout about human rights!
  • (young woman in a red dress, I think she’s Fox) General McMaster, there’s been a lot of talk about you possibly going back into the military. Can you tell us today if you plan on staying in your current role, or if there’s consideration for you to leave?
  • (Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg) Gary, I was just wondering if you could talk a bit about what went into —
  • And actually, don’t let me forget to ask you if you’re staying in your current job, too.  (Laughter.)
  • Was that a “yes”?
  • I know first you’re going to go to Davos. I wanted to make sure I understood what went into the President’s decision to go to Davos. He’s the first sitting President to go since 2000. A lot of what this forum is about seems to go against his populist American First agenda. Can you explain the decision-making process?
  • (Kevin Corke, Fox News)You talked a great deal about some of the positive economic numbers. Can I get you to drill down on workforce participation rate? DOL, I think, gave it a 62.8 percent back in June of 2017. What can, or is the administration doing to get that number up, say, 70, 75 and higher?
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Thank you. Today, the President announced new tariffs, and the Prime Minister of Canada also announced a big trade deal with 10 other countries. What do you say to critics who argue the President is giving up the United States seat at the global trade table?
  • But on the broader point of having Canada take the lead on a big global trade deal, and the United States really pulling out of some of the global trade deals, are you not concerned—is there not concern within this administration about giving up the United States seat at the global trade table?
  • (not sure who this is) A year ago, at Davos, President Xi made a big splash internationally. He was seen as asserting himself as taking world leadership at the expense of the United States, in some respect. Is President Trump going to make any effort to counter that? And is his appearance here any effort to counter that?
  • But how much of a concern is there about China and the influence it’s exerting now, and a lot of people observing, that it’s exerting because the U.S. has pulled back from a lot of these international agreements?
  • (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Yes. I’d like to get both of you to talk about —
  • –about the Africa meeting. It deals with economics, it deals with national security, as well as immigration  In light of all the controversy over immigration and the alleged racist comments that were made, can you both talk about that?  And also how you’re trying to quell the upset of the African Union and the African leaders after last week.
  • Please, to the economics of it sir? The economics of Africa if you don’t mind? (April shouted this to Cohn but didn’t get an answer because McMaster was already taking a question from someone else, who seemed happy to talk over her. She’s making exasperated hand gestures but then you see her face relax a little and she mouths “Thank you.” The camera pans back to Cohn and he’s looking right at her apologetically and shrugging, like “oops, sorry, this got away from me.” He’s kind of a charmer.)
  • (another guy) How would you characterize the relationship with Britain at the moment, given the decision of the President to pull out of his trip to the UK next month? And do you think that there will be a fresh arrangement made for a visit to take place in the foreseeable future?
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR) You mentioned the President wants to make bilateral trade agreements, and he’s made pretty clear he doesn’t like multilateral ones. Could you just tell us what bilateral trade agreements are in the works right now, and what do you think will be the first ones completed?
  • So are there any new bilateral agreements? 
  • Can you mention the specific country?
  • (Eamon Javers, CNBC) You guys are going to be in a hotbed of globalization tomorrow at Davos.  You’re going to get a question about the tariffs that you put into place. The question is often asked by critics, isn’t this just hurting American consumers who want to go out and buy washing machines or solar panels, that they’re going to pay a higher price at the store when they go to do that? How do you answer that?
  • Just to follow up, you’ve been to Davos a lot over the course of your career. The President, I don’t believe, has been there before. So what’s one thing, you think, he’ll find there that he wouldn’t expect?

Questions for Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

  • (Steve Holland, Reuters) Sarah, given how far apart the parties are on the immigration deal, how hard is it going to be to get a deal by February 8th?
  • And what is the President going to do to facilitate an agreement?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) The President said today nobody knows for sure whether they’ll be able to reach a deal on DACA. Could this White House envision a scenario in which these DREAMers are deported? Would that be something the President is okay with?
  • And the budget director said today that the President’s position on DACA depends on what the White House gets in an immigration deal. Is the White House using these DREAMers as a bargaining chip? Is that the strategy?
  • (Kevin Corke, Fox News) Sarah, thanks. This is something that’s been in the news quite a bit over the last week or so. Representative Devin Nunes apparently has a memo that was created for the House Intelligence Committee describing, based on early reports, of a certain level of what appears to be bias at the FBI.  Is it the President’s opinion that that memo should be released so that the American people can see what the House Intelligence Committee has observed?
  • Has the President seen it, by chance?
  • (Brian Portnoy, CBS News) Sarah, apparently what the memo is based on is underlying intelligence or information that resides in the executive branch, in the Justice Department. So as the original classification authority, would the President be willing to declassify it so the whole country can see it, if he believes in transparency?  That would take the question away from Representative Nunes and his colleagues in the House, and he could make it himself.
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. I want to go back to immigration.  There’s a group of conservatives in the House who believe they have a bill that fits all the criteria the President laid out—the Goodlatte proposal. I’m wondering what the President’s thoughts are on that bill and would he support the Congress passing that. Would he sign it?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. The President, on a few occasions, has spoken of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.” And Hogan Gidley, on your team, used that same phrase today when asked a question about it. If Mr. Mueller asked the President to submit to an interview, is that something that the President would be open to?
  • If it is, Sarah, a witch hunt, as the President has said and others members of the administration have said, why doesn’t the President just get rid of Bob Mueller, just fire him? Mr. Gidley also said today that it’s wasting taxpayers’ money. In that regard, why doesn’t he just end the investigation because it’s wasting the taxpayers’ money?
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR News) Sarah, just a couple questions on immigration. You sound a lot more conciliatory today. When you talked about Democrats voting in the past to end chain migration, that was part of the Gang of Eight bill, which was a comprehensive immigration reform bill. You say we can’t just take this—tackle this in a small way. Do you want to have a much bigger bill to solve the whole immigration problem? Is that what you’re talking about?
  • But in terms of those four principles and how they’re addressed, you just said that you wanted chain migration addressed, but you said maybe the depth to which we go into it could be negotiated.
  • But are you insisting on a complete end to chain migration for the President to not deport the DREAMers?
  • But if you don’t get it, is he willing to start deporting them on March 5th?  Because that’s (inaudible) —
  • (Peter Alexander, NBC News) Sarah, let me ask you, now that we know that the Special Counsel has interviewed the former FBI Director James Comey, it’s important to understand exactly what the President’s position is on exactly, basically, what went on in the conversation between the two. So the question is simply: Is the President saying that James Comey lied when he said Trump, the President, asked for his loyalty and suggested he should drop the Flynn investigation?
  • The President been public about this, so I just want to be clear so it’s clear for the American people, not just for investigators.
  • (Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg) Sarah, the President tweeted today about these missing text messages at the FBI. He called it one of the biggest stories in a long time. Does he think there’s a cover-up? Or why does he think this is one of the biggest stories in a long time?
  • Just to follow up on the FBI, does he think there needs to be a staff shakeup at the FBI?
  • But related to that, Sarah, does the President have any concerns about Andrew McCabe and his knowledge of, or acceptance of, what he and others in this administration have identified via the texts and other pieces of information, as something that was seriously wrong in the upper echelons of the FBI?
  • And the President said today that Director Wray did not threaten to resign.  How does he know that?
  • Do you know that for a fact? Did he ask Director Wray himself?
  • The only reason I ask is, he may have had a — I know he was talking to Don McGahn, the White House Counsel, and I’m just curious if the President went through McGahn to find out what that conversation was —
  • –or if he asked the FBI Director himself because he was concerned about these reports.
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sarah, just to follow up on that, to ask you directly: Does the President think that Andrew McCabe should step down?
  • And you talked about concerns about the leadership previously at the FBI.  Does the President have concerns about the current senior leadership at the FBI beyond Christopher Wray? Not including Christopher Wray, who he’s expressed confidence in today.
  • But does he think there’s current political bias against him at the FBI—in the upper echelons at the FBI?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Yeah, thank you, Sarah. A follow-up question on that. Several references were made, and considerable publicity was given, to the use of the term “secret society” within the FBI. Have you had any discussions with the President about it? And does he believe there is a secret society within the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
  • (Steve) Yes, Sarah. The President is about to speak to the Turkish President, Erdogan, about Turkey’s offensive in Syria. What message does the President want to get across to Turkey about that?
  • Tomorrow?
  • (Charlie) Thank you, Sarah. Just a follow-up to Kevin’s question. If the House Intelligence Committee decides to release the memo, the President has to sign off on it. Is the White House committed to signing off on it if the House Republican—or House Republicans decide —
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Mara’s necklace exerts a talismanic power

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