TOWOIT #301

March 1, 2018

Questions Sarah Sanders was asked yesterday:

  • (John Roberts, Fox News) Sarah, the President announced, at the meeting a little while ago, punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that would take effect next week.  Ten percent for aluminum; twenty-five percent for steel.  He announced them even though the fine details have not been worked out yet about what countries will be involved, whether there are any exemptions.  The Dow is down about 500 points as a result of this.  Some of our allies, including Canada, are saying that these actions are unacceptable.  Why did the President announce them now, particularly before the details have even been worked out?
  • Is he concerned about the results or the effects that his announcement has had so far?
  • (Margaret Brennan, CBS News) Sarah, the President often talks about stock market reaction to his Presidency.  Is he surprised to see the market down after making this announcement without explanation on tariffs?  And do you have any detail on why he decided to announce it today?  As John was asking, you know, it seemed kind of sudden when we were called in for that event.  It wasn’t something on our, necessarily, public schedule.
  • But 25 and 10 percent is specific, and that was new.
  • Did he make that decision today?
  • But why was it a surprise to, you know, the press gathered there? It wasn’t on the schedule when we were through —
  • Well, it seemed like you haven’t told some at the White House, because there were these competing events.
  • (John Roberts again) Can you say that 10 and 25 are set, or could that change between now and next week?
  • (Zeke Miller, AP) Thank you, Sarah. A couple questions for you. First, a number of the members of the President’s Cabinet have fallen under public scrutiny; in some cases, inspectors general, for spending, whether it be first-class travel. In the case of Ben Carson, a $31,000 dining set. The President talked about it on the campaign that he was going to drain the swamp. So does he plan on draining some of his Cabinet?
  • Well, Sarah, you said a number of times that when the President loses confidence in a member of the Cabinet, he tells us. So that means we haven’t heard that, so he has confidence in these people. So can you explain why the President has confidence in some of these members of his Cabinet — in Carson, Shulkin, Pruitt, Zinke — there have been a number — there are numerous investigations into some of their conduct and spending? So why do they have the President’s confidence?
  • Just one quick one on guns. Senator McConnell, up on Capitol Hill, a few minutes ago, said that next week the Senate would not be moving forward with the Fix NICS legislation that Senator Cornyn has put forward, and Cornyn said that they’re going to be discussing (inaudible) regulation and potentially also human trafficking next week, and not gun legislation. After yesterday’s session, it seems that Republicans are running away from what the President wanted a, sort of, quick solution to this — a quick resolution on this front.  Why didn’t the President have the clout on Capitol Hill that a President — this is a Republican President, Republican Congress — why can’t he seem to get Congress to bend to his will?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Does the President want to get rid of his attorney general?
  • How about Jared Kushner?
  • Is Jared Kushner becoming a distraction, given all the controversies that he’s been at the center of in recent days?
  • And are there any concerns about conflict of interest, given those meetings that he had with executives from companies that gave his family business millions of dollars in loans?
  • But conflict of interest appearance even? Concerns about that here at this White House?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Back on the tariffs announcement. Is the President concerned about the impact that this may have on America’s allies, like Canada, the UK, the EU?
  • Is the President concerned about any retaliation coming from any of the countries that may be impacted by this announcement?
  • And one final thing. Just wanted to ask you about a comment and get your reaction to — Republican Senator Ben Sasse put out a statement in regards to these new tariffs. He said that, “The President is proposing a massive tax increase on American families. Protectionism is weak, not strong.” And he concluded by writing, “You’d expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one.” Do you have a comment on that?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Thank you, Sarah. Let me try to drill down on this. You say you won’t be getting into details at this point. So if there are details to get into, should we read into it that there will be exemptions for certain countries?
  • Has the President made up, in his mind, which countries he might exempt or at least is considering?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. Yesterday was the deadline that Chairman Gowdy set for the White House Chief of Staff to reply to his questions about security clearances at the White House. Was that request met? Did the Chief of Staff send a reply to Chairman Gowdy?
  • Do you have, at least, the time you think that you might answer the committee?
  • (Trey Yingst, OANN) Thanks, Sarah. This week, the President expressed frustration with his Attorney General and the Department of Justice as it relates to the process to look into FISA abuses.  What would the President like to see done differently?
  • And as it relates to that tweet, could you elaborate on the relationship between the President and the Attorney General? Does President Trump believe his Attorney General is disgraceful?
  • (Dave Boyer, Washington Times) What was the President’s reaction to what the Mayor of Oakland, California, did last weekend when she tipped off residents that there was an imminent immigration raid coming? Does he feel that the mayor broke the law, and now the Justice Department is looking into that?
  • (Olivier, Yahoo! News) Thanks, Sarah. I got two for you. First, I know you’re averse to providing details about the tariff plan. Does the President plan to couple the tariff plan with any policies to mitigate the impact on, say, the auto industry?
  • And, very open ended, did you take note of President Putin’s speech? And do you have a reaction to his rhetoric and threats about these invincible weapons?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Yeah. Thank you, Sarah. Two short questions. First, can you confirm or deny that the President has made a decision to go for the outside for a successor to Hope Hicks as Communications Director, rather than promote from within?
  • The other thing is that the President has a good relationship with Senators Manchin of West Virginia and Toomey of Pennsylvania. Has he been in touch with either of them to discuss further the proposed universal gun ban that’s been floated around since last week?
  • (Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thanks, Sarah. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was due to be at the White House today for the opioid summit. Did the President have an opportunity to speak to him while he was here?
  • Okay. And then moving on to gun violence prevention. The President said yesterday that he would sign a bill, and then he said, “And I will call whoever you want me to if I like what you’re doing.” If Senators, if the House, if Congress, passes a bill that does deal with school safety, gun violence, is the President committed to signing whatever they pass?
  • (Sarah) Thank you, Sarah. So according to the White House readout, there was a phone call this morning between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump. Moon Jae-in briefed him on the inter-Korean talks. The South Korean government is also saying that they plan to send a special envoy to North Korea soon. How does the President feel about the dialogue between North and South Korea? Does he welcome it, or is he concerned? And does he feel that President Moon is being too soft on North Korea?

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