TOWOIT #307: Bad actors and bowling balls

March 16, 2018

Oddly, yesterday’s press briefing wasn’t transcribed by the White House. Today’s has shown up, but not yesterday’s.

I’ll type out the questions below. Good thing the briefings are so short. I will note that it had been three incredibly news-filled days since her last briefing, she made the reporters wait in the room for an hour after the original start time, and then when she showed up she made them sit there and listen to fan mail for Trump from a ten year old before they could collectively ask 17-minutes worth of questions. This woman. This woman is just like some beastly, ridiculous authority figure out of a Roald Dahl novel.

  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) The President said last July it would be a red line if the special counsel were to investigate the Trump family’s personal financial dealings. It’s now been reported that the special counsel has subpoenaed the Trump organization for its dealings with Russia. Is this a red line? Is the President upset about this?
  • But does that statement the President made back in July still stand–that it would be a red line —
  • And if I can just ask you about the poison attack in Great Britain. The President now said he believes it looks like Putin authorized it, it looks like Russia did this. What will be the response? Will Russia pay a price? Will the United States make Russia pay a price for doing this?
  • (Phil Rucker, Washington Post) Yeah, Sarah, in the past the week the secretary of state’s been fired, the top economic advisor has been replaced, the president’s personal assistant lost his clearance and was escorted out of the building. The President has hinted that more changes will come. Is there any concern in the White House that this creates an air of chaos or instability that leaves the U.S. vulnerable, especially as the U.S. prepares to sit down with Kim Jong Un of North Korea?
  • When do you think the changes will end? When will he have everybody in place?
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) What’s the White House response, Sarah, to criticisms from Capitol Hill, on Gina Haspel’s involvement with the CIA black site operations in the early 2000s?
  • What’s the President’s response to Democrats on Capitol Hill who voted for Mike Pompeo for CIA director and are now saying, “We’re rethinking.”
  • (Mara Liasson NPR News) On DACA, is the President open to something attached to the omnibus spending bill that would extend DACA for a period of time in exchange for wall funding?
  • And my question about trade–USDR says that we have a trade surplus with Canada. The President said we don’t. How do you reconcile those two things?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Are there any other economic indicators that the White House disagrees with, that come out from the Federal government, besides this one. Obviously the USDR is putting out one number–you say that’s not accurate. What’s your number?

(It’s amazing she flat out lies about this. She acts like when you take EVERYTHING together there’s a trade deficit. When in reality it’s the opposite. If you ignore a  bunch of stuff and cherry pick the goods number, then there’s a surplus for that one component. Lying and lying and lying. Bald-faced. Shameless. These people are the fucking WORST.)

  • The other thing has to do with a story which appeared first in the Washington Post about an audio portion of a fundraiser the President had in Missouri in which he said he was not exactly truthful with his counterpart in Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau
  • Can you say what he said — and are there other times the President has had with his counterparts around the world in which he was not accurate in terms of the conversation he was having with them?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. Two questions. You talk about Democrats playing political games with the nominations–Director Pompeo and the CIA. Rand Paul came out against both nominations and used pretty strong language against them. Is Republican Senator Rand Paul playing games as well? (Fox and Newsmax, not letting the Trump administration off easy today)
  • So Senator Pauls language doesn’t disturb the White House about the nominees?
  • My other question is, Spain and South Africa both have relatively small steel industries. They also have youth unemployment approaching 50%. Are smaller countries going to have a chance in negotiations to come out ahead, where they won’t have their unemployment numbers grow?
  • (Peter Alexander, NBC News) Sarah, the President has expressed a willingness to work with Vladimir Putin and now as evidenced by the sanctions, the new information the DHS and FBI put out today, there has been more bad behavior by Vladimir Putin and the Russians since President Trump took office. So is Vladimir Putin playing President Trump?
  • So in simple terms, is Putin a friend or a foe of the United States?

Sarah Sanders says “I think that’s something that Russia is gonna have to make that determination” (this has been a stock answer since the Sean Spicer days)

  • One quick question on Gina Haspel–
  • Ok, Gizzi had 14 but–
  • (Steven–maybe Portnoy–of CBS News, he’s not shown, but it seems like she points in his direction) Sarah, if I could ask, does the President feel the Justice Department should act by Sunday to fire Andrew McCabe?
  • So he should not receive his full pension as a result of —
  • (Jeff Zeleny, CNN) Sarah if I could follow up on what Jon was asking about the red line, just to get some clarity on it. The question as asked was about a red line if the finance questions went beyond anything relating to Russia. Does the President draw a distinction between finances separately from family finances relating to Russia as it pertains to this case?
  • What does this show about the timing, or the speed, or the drawn out process of this investigation. The President attorneys have repeatedly said this will be over by Thanksgiving, by Christmas, by the New Year — does the President believe it’s been drawn out too long or is he willing to sit back and wait a while longer–
  • It was only some Republicans on the committee. It was not the entire committee. It was some Republicans. In fact, two Republicans on the committee said it didn’t show that at all.
  • (Catherine) Sarah, the President made his commitment very clear on the campaign. Does he believe that veterans are well served by Director Shulkin?
  • Does that include replacing or changing the leadership?
  • (David–can’t see him but he talks like a dog barking) One on Russia and one on cabinet member. Is it the administration’s own assessment that Russia was involved with the nerve agent attack in Salisbury or are you just adopting the UK assessment?
  • So the U.S. doesn’t really have its own position–it hasn’t done its own investigation yet?
  • Ok and then on the cabinet member–we’ve all heard by now that the HUD secretary Carson and his wife picked out a $31,000 dining room set for his office. They only canceled the order when it came out in the press. Is this an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars and has the President spoken with Secretary Carson about it?
  • (Someone named Sarah–the camera work today does not include showing who is speaking, so it’s harder for me to figure out who they are if I don’t recognize their voices) Thank you. The New York Times reported today that the White House has formed a working group on North Korea to prepare for the upcoming summit. Can you tell us what agencies are involved, who is chairing it, any information you can give us.
  • And one other, thank you. The President has until tomorrow to sign the Taiwan travel act which says it should be U.S. policy to let officials travel to Taiwan to meet with their counterparts and vice versa–does the President plan to sign this act or will he veto it?
  • (Trey Yingst, OANN) Today the National Security Advisor, HR McMaster had some strong words for Russia and Iran while speaking at the Holocaust museum. How much influence did the President have on General McMaster and how much information can you give us on the relationship between the President and his National Security Advisor?
  • And if i can ask you about the Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe. The President has weighed in numerous times on Twitter. Is the President concerned about the findings of this internal investigation? I know you said he’s not commenting on whether he should be fired. (Here, OANN is carrying the White House’s water)
  • (Peter–Baker? New York Times? maybe)  The President signed onto a statement with France, Germany, the UK — (blah blah blah, this is about the nerve agent attack and I am totally running out of steam on transcribing this press briefing. It is too much exposure to Sarah Sanders. Speaking of toxins) 
  • (Lalit Jha asks about Hillary Clinton’s comments in India)
  • (Someone asks about whether the tariffs are REALLY a good idea, REALLY? I mean, really?)
  • Can you cite any tariff in the last 150 years that has worked, that has done what you want it to do now?
  • (Steve somebody asks about the bowling ball test) … I worked in Japan for about twenty years, I cover the automotive industry. I don’t recall anything like this. No one we’ve spoken with in the industry recalls it. Did you speak to the President about this? Where did he get this from?

To which she says those magic words, “Obviously the President was joking”



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