TOWOIT #299: This is not about the past

February 27, 2018

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Goth Sarah Sanders was a real creep today.

Questions reporters asked her:

  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, Admiral Mike Rogers, the head of the NSA, said that he has not been granted any additional authority by the President to confront Russia — Russian cyber intrusion, interference with our election systems.  Why has he not been given that authority?
  • But Admiral Rogers is the one that would have the agency that could actually go and confront Russian intrusion at the source. And he hasn’t been given the authority.  In fact, he says that the Russians haven’t paid a sufficient price to make them change their behavior. He’s the one with the power and with the means to do it. All he needs is a presidential directive, the authority from the President to do it.
  • But why not give him the authority, though? He’s in charge of Cyber Command.  Why not give him the authority?
  • This is not about the past, though. This is not about the past. This is about protecting intrusion in the next election.
  • And he said that he needs the authority, and he hasn’t been given it. He says he can’t act without the authority.
  • (Justin Sink, Bloomberg, formerly of The Hill) I have one on the renewable fuel credit. But first, just a housekeeping one on the clearances. The Oversight Committee requested details from the White House about still-pending clearances among White House staff, and whether there is any derogatory information there. They set a deadline of tomorrow. The Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter over today asking for some of the same information.  I’m wondering if the White House is going to — plans to comply with those requests. And if — I know you’ve been hesitant to release some of that information, even in aggregate —
  • So you don’t plan to comply with the request from (inaudible)?
  • When are you going to comply with those — tomorrow?
  • But — can I do the fuel standard question?
  • Yeah. You guys put out a statement today saying that the President supports the renewable fuel credit, but also that he is in support of energy producers. So it seems that the issue here is whether or not the President or the White House supports a cap to lower the cost of credit waivers. So I’m wondering if you could tell us what the President’s position is on that.
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) Two questions, different topics. If I could return to something that we talked about yesterday: the President’s support to raise the minimum age of buying a long gun from 18 to 21. He expressed support for that idea in a tweet last Thursday. He talked about it with the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. He didn’t mention it at CPAC. He didn’t mention with the governors.  He said he had lunch with Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox —
  • But he had supported it, so. He had lunch with Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox.  The NRA remains firmly opposed to this idea of raising the age for long guns. The President said yesterday, if they’re not always with you, sometimes you got to fight them. Is he willing to take on the NRA on this idea of raising the minimum age for buying long guns?
  • Question number two on an unrelated topic. Jeff Sessions confirmed, a few minutes ago, that he is going to open an investigation into FISA abuses during the election. The President clearly has been expressing that he believes that Sessions should look into this. Is the President happy now that Sessions is opening this investigation?
  • (Margaret Brennan, CBS, who was recently named the new host of Face the Nation) Sarah, I have one question. But one housekeeping item before that. You talked about nominations and how slow Congress is to move. I’m wondering, do you have a timeline on when the White House will name a nominee to be ambassador to South Korea? (Sarah had lambasted Democrats at the top of the briefing, for “obstruction” of nominees. Meanwhile, there aren’t even nominees for tons of positions)
  • Okay. And then the question I had, again, going back to Admiral Rogers. He said today, we are not where we need to be or want to be on cyber. Does the White House, does the President plan to hold a National Security Council session to discuss, specifically, these concerns about having a menu of options to respond to a cyberattack, and one specifically in relation to Russia?
  • Has there been one so far on Russia and cyberattacks?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thank you, Sarah. Did anyone from the White House instruct Hope Hicks not to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee about her time serving in the White House and in the transition
  • Why did she refuse to answer the questions about —
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. I just want to pick up on what Jordan was just asking you, and that is about this idea of citing executive privilege for conversations that took place during the transition period. We’re told that’s exactly what Hope Hicks, the Communications Director, cited in refusing to answer questions that were posed of her related to the transition period. Is the President aware, is the White House aware that no federal court, at any level, has ever granted that privilege pertaining to the transition period?
  • (Steve Holland, Reuters) To follow up on what Margaret was asking. Joseph Yun, the State Department’s envoy to North Korea, is retiring. How does that impact the diplomatic process?
  • And secondly, the Chinese economic minister is here for trade talks. As you consider tariffs on steel and aluminum, what do you hope to hear from this fella?
  • (The chair belongs to Tribune it looks like, but I’m not sure who this is) Thank you very much. House Speaker Ryan, today, disagreed with the President on arming teachers.  He says he thinks it should be up to the locals whether teachers should be armed.  What is the President’s response to not having support from the Republican leader of the House?
  • But without the support of Speaker Ryan, how can this get any traction in the House?
  • (Steve. Possibly Steve Herman of Voice of America–the camera didn’t show him while he was talking) Yes, Sarah. Today, the White House announced that it’s cutting about $8 million in aid to Cambodia for what it calls, “Recent setbacks in democracy there.” Can you talk a little bit about what went into this decision, and why, specifically, just Cambodia, and not other countries where there have also been recent setbacks to democracy, such as neighboring Thailand?
  • (Anita Kumar, McClatchy) Two questions on two different topics. First, does President Trump believe that the governor of Missouri — who, as you know, has been indicted — should resign?
  • Okay can you get back to —
  • The President is the leader of the Republican Party, and obviously the governors —
  • Well, I mean, he’s a Republican —
  • Can you get back to me on that?

(Just imagine Sarah Sanders being the absolute worst. God, she gives no information and is a total asshole about it.)

  • Okay. Second question. The President is having several meetings, as you mentioned, with lawmakers of both parties this week on other topics. Is he going to be talking to them about immigration? His deadline that he set, March 5th, is next Monday. Congress is nowhere near doing anything about that. Is that still the deadline? Is he encouraging them to get something done?
  • So, on Monday — what’s going to happen on Monday when the deadline comes?
  • (Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News) Thank you, Sarah. I’ve got a couple for you as well.  One on North Korea. Joseph Yun, who’s been the point person for North Korea policy, has announced he’s leaving. Does the President plan to replace him? (Oh my god, just kill us now.) 

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t have any personnel announcements at this time.

Of course not. She has no information of any kind. She has lies, sneers, smirks, and obfuscations. Oh, and the occasional cutesy bid for social approval. Really. She is the worst.

  • And then on the — we’re heading into the midterm election year, obviously.  Have White House staff been briefed on the dos and don’ts of political activity, including the prohibition on using formal titles in campaign literature?
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR News) Thank you, Sarah. Does the President believe someone who’s on the no-fly list because of suspected terrorist activity should be able to buy a gun?
  • I don’t want a policy announcement.  I just want to know if he thinks that somebody —
  • So he doesn’t know?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. Two brief questions. One, I know it’s been announced — the President —
  • (Anita) He’s closer today.
  • (Anita) That was such good timing.  (Laughter.)
  • (Anita) That was just such great timing.  You sat down and you called (inaudible).
  • (John Gizzi) Thank you. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you, Anita.
  • (Anita) (Laughs.) You’re welcome.

Don’t go to the White House, Anita.

  • (John Gizzi) Reverend Billy Graham’s funeral is this Friday. We know the President will attend. Has it been determined whether he’ll make any remarks, any eulogies? Or will he be just there as a mourner and family friend?
  • Right. My other question is that the President’s two immediate predecessors did a lot to build and expand the faith-based programs within the White House and throughout the executive branch of government. Many governors followed that example; one of them your father. It has been said that this President has not followed through on that; that there is no faith-based office within the White House now. Your reaction?
  • A faith-based program.
  • (Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thank you, Sarah. You’ve mentioned several times that you expect to have some policy announcements later this week. I just wanted to follow up on that and clarify — are you saying that, this week, the White House will have a specific list that would be detailed, or an outline of the specific policies that the President would like to see in legislation on gun control, gun violence prevention?
  • All right. And following up on that, though, you’ve also said that before the President could support some of those things, he’d like to see what’s in the legislative text of those bills. We’ve talked about universal background checks in here before. But one of the two senators of this bipartisan bill who would be putting this forward says that they’re not going to put that back forward until they’re certain that they have the President’s support for something like that. So, conceptually, does the President support the idea of universal background checks? And would he be willing to support Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey’s legislation on that?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, thank you. I want to ask you what’s happening in Georgia as it relates to Delta Airlines. The background, as I’m sure you know — they withdrew benefits for NRA members, and now the lieutenant governor there is saying that maybe there shouldn’t be a tax break for Delta. The lieutenant governor said, “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.” On the narrow front, does the White House believe that conservatives are under attack in the state of Georgia? And, more broadly, does the President think it’s a good idea for a state government to target a business for retribution for decisions that the business decides that it wants to make?
  • (Hallie Jackson, NBC News) Sarah, thanks. I want to ask you about Syria and some developments there. But just two quick clarifications. To Justin’s point, when he asked about whether the White House will meet the deadline tomorrow from House Oversight, it sounded like you said you’d let us know when you review it. But Trey Gowdy made that request two weeks ago. Have you guys not reviewed it yet?
  • And then just to clarify on Jonathan’s question here. Just simply yes or no: Will the President give the authority to Mike Rogers to seek additional authorities to go after Russia?
  • And on Syria, Sarah. And it sounds like you’re open to doing that — that the President is open to those additional authorities.
  • To additional authorities.
  • Speaking of international relations, does the United States have reason to believe that North Korea is linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program?
  • (Mike–I’m drawing a blank on who this is but I know I’ve looked him up before because of his distinctive hair. Unfortunately his given name is not so distinctive.) Just one quick one. But first, I just want to button up Steve’s question about Liu He. You said he’s meeting with some administration officials. Do you know who he’s meeting with?
  • The President mentioned last week that —
  • Okay. The President mentioned last week that John Kelly has a decision to make about Jared Kushner’s security clearance. I know your policy — I’m not talking about security clearances, except, really, in the case of Kushner. You guys have talked about him quite a bit. Has the Chief of Staff made a decision on John Kelly [sic], and can you say what it is?

She wouldn’t say anything but we all found out later in the day that Jared’s security clearance was downgraded to Secret from Top Secret.

 

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