March 28, 2018
It’s always a drag listening to Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the briefings, but today my blood really boiled. There was a lot to get upset about, since we are living through a shitshow free-for-all. But what I really couldn’t take today — and couldn’t help tweeting about venomously in real time — was Sarah Sanders’s racism.
She’s not just a mouthpiece for racism. A mouthpiece for racism could offer condolences to the surviving family. A mouthpiece for racism could know not to “all lives matter” at every little turn. Would know not to say “yeah but the economy is doing great” in response to specific black men’s lives cut short by police.
Someone on twitter said Sanders didn’t understand. That she doesn’t know that saying the president is working to arm teachers and suggesting that means he cares about the lives of black children is a gigantic oxymoron since black children suffer disproportionately at the hands of armed authority figures. I think that was too kind. It’s not that she doesn’t understand. It’s that she does nooooooootttt give a shit.
OK. You guys know all that. It’s old news that she’s awful. I just can’t take it sometimes.
Here’s what went down at the briefing today, and I’ll leave out as much of the lying non-answers as I can, except a few pull quotes when her non-denial denials are especially careful and revealing and obvious.
- (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Thanks, Sarah. Are pardons on the table for anyone involved in the Russia probe?
- So can you say unequivocally that no one here has discussed pardons in this case?
- Is the White House worried about what Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort might tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
- (Zeke Miller, AP) Sarah, the attorney for Stormy Daniels filed a motion to depose the President of the United States. Do you have a response from the White House — a reaction to that deposition?
- If subpoenaed, would the President sit for a deposition?
- And separately, Sarah, just real quick. We haven’t seen much of the President. He said last week he was going to do a news conference, then ended up not taking questions. He hasn’t held any open press event —
MS. SANDERS: He actually took a couple questions at the end.
- Walking out, but not sort of formal questions and didn’t address some other topics in the news.
- Why haven’t we seen so much of the President? Will he commit to doing a formal news conference? He hasn’t done one of those in more than a year.
- Too busy to take questions?
- Is he too busy to take questions from the press or —
- (Phil Rucker, Washington Post) Yeah, Sarah. The President has said that Michael Flynn is a good man. He has also said that Paul Manafort is a good man. And I’m wondering if the President believes he has the right to use the power of his office, the power to pardon, to protect them from what he might see as unfair punishment down the road. Does he believe he has that right?
- My question wasn’t about that, though. It was whether he believes he has the right to use the power of his office.
- (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. It’s the President who has the power of the pardon, not Ty Cobb. So has the President —
MS. SANDERS: Which is what I just said to Phil.
- Well, not exactly. You talked about Ty Cobb’s statement. It’s the President who has the power of the pardon. Has he considered, is he considering, would he consider pardoning Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, or Rick Gates?
- On another matter — the trade deal that you spoke about at the very top of the briefing regarding the U.S. and South Korea. As part of this new trade deal, each U.S. carmaker would be allowed to export 50,000 vehicles per year to South Korea. It’s right now capped at 25,000. But last year, if you just look at most recent history, no U.S. automaker sold more than 11,000 cars to South Korea. What makes you think that demand is going to rise so dramatically as to benefit the U.S. auto industry? (HAHAHA, I don’t know why this is so hilarious to me. I’ve been working with stock pickers too long)
- But as for the automakers, do you believe that the actual number of vehicles sold will increase dramatically as a result of this trade deal? Last year, 11,000. The new number is now — you can sell up to 50,000 there. By next year, will we see a dramatic increase in that number?
- (Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thank you, Sarah. A report today on President Trump and Amazon caused the company’s stock to devalue, to tumble roughly $53 billion. Is the President, as that report said, looking for ways to go after the Internet retail giant?
- I’m not looking for an announcement, specifically. But has the President been looking for ways to go after Amazon? Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said that the White House does favor an Internet sales tax, and that’s something that you guys would be looking at. So is that something that the President is pushing for, even behind closed doors?
- And one more question, sorry. On Kim Jong-un’s visit to China, when was the White House made aware of that trip?
- (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, Alton Sterling, the charges against the police officers —
MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry, can you speak up a little bit?
(This came off really snotty to me, maybe because April was speaking in a controlled, measured way, being purposefully polite and quiet-voiced)
- There were no charges against the police officers in the Alton Sterling police shooting. What does the President have to say about that, particularly as he is a strong supporter of police? And then you have the issue, in the midst of that issue that happened, a fatal shooting of a young man in California behind his grandmother’s house with a cellphone?
MS. SANDERS: Certainly a terrible incident. This is something that is a local matter, and that’s something that we feel should be left up to the local authorities at this point in time.
- What does he feel about that? He was strongly behind police. He supports police, as much as America does, but wants to weed out bad policing. What does he say about weeding out bad policing when you continue to see these kinds of situations occur over and over again?
- And there’s one more large case that’s —
MS. SANDERS: Sorry, I’m going to keep going, April.
- Wait a minute, there one more large case that is still lingering.
MS. SANDERS: Sorry, I’m —
- Eric Garner, that cried out 11 times, “I can’t breathe.” His mother is still looking for something — an indictment of the police officers in New York. Does the President — has he asked them what’s the status, if something is going to happen? What?
MS. SANDERS: I’m not aware of any specific action. Once again, these will be local matters that should be left up to the local authority.
This case has been languishing in FEDERAL court and is of national interest.
- (Kevin Corke, Fox News) Thanks, Sarah. Quick on one North Korea and then maybe a fast follow on the census. On North Korea, how would you characterize the administration’s mood after the meeting in China between Kim Jong-un and President Xi Jinping? And I’m asking because, on the one hand, the President’s tweets almost sound optimistic. But at the same time, if we look back historically when Madeleine Albright went over there, the North Koreans were sort of cheating the whole way through. So I would imagine there’s also some skepticism. How would you describe the White House’s sensibility right now?
- By the end of May, by the way? We were talking about May. Is that still sort of the goal, right?
- And on the census, I was going to ask about U.S. Code Title 13, 221. It effectively says that you can be fined if you don’t answer the census truthfully. Now no one has been fined, you know, dating back to 1970. Would the White House support the idea of fining individuals that don’t answer these censuses, or fail to answer it honestly?
- (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Thank you. Ty Cobb’s statement deals with the President. So I want to just ask you, very specifically, did the President direct John Dowd to talk to the attorneys of Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn about potential pardons?
MS. SANDERS: I’m not aware of any conversations of that nature at all.
- Did the President have a reaction to these revelations in the New York Times?
MS. SANDERS: Again, I —
- Did you ask him? Did you ask him specifically?
- And let me just follow up with April quickly, if I could. You said these are local issues. And with respect, this seems to be an issue that the entire country is grappling with. These tensions between communities of color and police departments, does the President not need to show leadership on this issue?
YEESSSSS, Thank you Kristen Welker!
- But, Sarah, a lot of African American moms all across the country feel as though their sons are dying. So doesn’t the President feel like he needs to do something about that?
- (April again, not called on) Sarah, this is not (inaudible). This has been happening for hundreds of years though. This is a national issue.
- (Peter Nicholas, Wall Street Journal, who took no pains to avoid talking over April) Sarah, a federal judge in Maryland has refused to throw out the —
MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear the first part of your question.
- A federal judge in Maryland has refused to throw out a emoluments claim against the President, saying that, Washington and Maryland have the right to sue — standing to sue. Wondering if the White House might have some comment on that.
- (Steven Portnoy, CBS Radio News) Quick one on North Korea, and then, if I might, on something else. You told us last night of a personal message that Xi Jinping had for President Trump. What was in that message?
- A quick question on Stormy Daniels and the lawsuit that was offered overnight — or the motion that was made overnight. You’ve said that you’ve addressed these issues extensively — you said in response to Zeke today — but you haven’t answered the subset question about whether the President was aware of the $130,000 payment that was made under an agreement in which he is explicitly named to keep Stormy Daniels silent. Can you answer that question? You were asked three weeks ago today and said you weren’t aware. Are you aware now?
- (Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg News) Thank you, Sarah. Two questions on big tech, following up on Francesca’s question about Amazon. The report earlier this morning said that the President is “obsessed” with Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. Have you ever heard the President talk about Amazon? And are they currently competing on a level playing field right now?
- (Richard Latendresse, TVA Group) Thank you, Sarah. I have two questions on immigration. First one: Is the President concerned that his immigration policies have kept away from the U.S. high-tech workers, special workers that instead would go to Canada, for instance?
MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry, I’m not sure I follow.
- Is the President concerned that his immigration policies have kept away from the U.S. specialized workers, high-tech workers, that prefer to go somewhere else?
- And Mitt Romney, as you know, a Senate candidate in Utah, just said that he’s more hardliner on immigration than the President because he’s opposed, for instance, to citizenship for DREAMers. Would the President sign a bill that would give citizenship to DREAMers?
- (Trey Yingst, OAN) Thanks, Sarah. Two quick questions for you. On sanctuary cities — following the President’s tweets today — is he encouraging other cities or counties to join this larger DOJ lawsuit against the state of California?
- And if I could ask you about the President’s former lawyer, John Dowd. Are there any actions that Mr. Dowd took while he was serving the President that President Trump was uncomfortable with?
MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry?
- Were there any actions that John Dowd, the President’s former attorney, took while he was serving President Trump that President Trump was uncomfortable with?
That was the last question. As Sarah Sanders left it sounded like CNN’s Jim Acosta was the one calling out “Why has he not spoken about Stormy Daniels?”
You say tomahto, I say tomayto:
OBFUSCATION ROUND-UP, IF ANYONE CARES
- MS. SANDERS: Look, I would refer you back to the statement from Ty Cobb in the report that you’re asking about in which he said, “I’ve only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at the White House.”
- MS. SANDERS: I can say that Ty Cobb is the person that would be most directly involved in this, and he’s got a statement on the record saying that there’s no discussion and there’s no consideration of those at this time at the White House.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, as we’ve said pretty much every day since we got here — because you guys have continued to ask about this topic every single day — there was no collusion, and we’re very confident in that, and look forward to this process wrapping up.
- MS. SANDERS: Nope. We have addressed this, once again, extensively. And we have nothing new to add. And for any new questions, I would refer you to the President’s personal counsel.
- MS. SANDERS: Again, I’m not going to get into a hypothetical question, and I would refer you to Michael Cohen on that matter.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, the President has got a major speech tomorrow. He’s been incredibly active all week long. We’ve taken major actions in trade negotiations, as well as expelling intel officers from Russia out of the country this week. There have been a number of major things that the President has taken action on and been engaged on. And he’s giving a major speech tomorrow.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, we take questions from you guys every day in a number of different formats. And right now, I’m standing up here taking questions from you, which I did yesterday, which Raj did on Monday, and the President is speaking directly to the American people tomorrow.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, I would refer you back to Ty Cobb’s statement that there is no discussion or considering of that at this time. So there would be no reason for me to have had a conversation with the President about that because that is not being currently discussed at the White House.
- MS. SANDERS: The President has the authority to pardon individuals, but you’re asking me about a specific case in which it hasn’t been discussed, so I would not have brought that up with him.
- MS. SANDERS: As I said, an on-record statement from the President’s attorney here at the White House on these matters has said, there’s no discussion or consideration of this.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, we have no announcements and no specific policies or actions that we’re currently pushing forward or considering taking.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, the President has said many times before he’s always looking to create a level playing field for all businesses, and this is no different. And he’s going to always look at different ways, but there aren’t any specific policies on the table at this time.
- MS. SANDERS: Certainly we want to make sure that all law enforcement is carrying out the letter of the law. The President is very supportive of law enforcement. But at the same time, in these specific cases and these specific instances, those will be left up to local authorities to make that determination, and not something for the federal government to weigh into.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, the goal is to have data that we can use for specific things. And we think that having accurate data is important. I’m not aware of a mass campaign to start fining individuals, but we certainly want people to follow the law and we want them — whether it’s the census or anything else, people should follow the law, and the law should be enforced.
- MS. SANDERS: I did not talk to him about it specifically, but, again, I’ve been in a number of conversations; it’s never come up. And Ty Cobb, who would be the lead representative for the White House on these matters, has also gone on the record to discuss and declare that these conversations haven’t taken place.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, we certainly — when the President has talked about a number of issues, we want to find ways to bring the country together; certainly not looking for any place of division. I think you’ve seen that in the policies that he’s put forward. He wants to grow the economy. He wants to do that for everybody. He wants a better America for every American and that’s been a repeated thing out of this White House. But when it comes to the authority to — on the rulings that have taken place in the last few days, those are things that have to be done at a local level and they’re not federal decisions at this point in time.
- MS. SANDERS: I think we should do every single thing we can, every single day, to protect the people of this country. I think the President — whether they’re black, white, Hispanic, male or female, rich or poor — we look for ways to protect the individuals in this country, particularly children. That’s why you’ve seen the President take an active role over the last several months in school safety and looking at ways — we want to do that across the board. Whether a kid is in a school, whether they’re at home, no matter where they are in this country, kids should feel safe. And that’s why this President has focused on safety and security as a big part of the priorities of this administration, both through securing our borders and stopping the flow of drugs, stopping the flow of gangs, stopping the number of school shootings by the STOP School Violence Act, the background system. I’m not saying it’s perfect, and until every child is safe, we can always do more. And we’re going to show up every day for work trying to do exactly that.
- MS. SANDERS: Can’t comment on ongoing litigation. I’ll have to keep you posted on that.
- MS. SANDERS: Again, it was a personal message. We feel like we’ve made significant progress and we’re going to continue moving forward in this process. I don’t have anything to add at this point beyond that.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, the President has denied the allegations. We’ve spoken about this issue extensively. And I don’t have anything else to add beyond that. Anything beyond that, I would refer you to the outside counsel.
- MS. SANDERS: Look, the President is encouraging people to follow federal law. There’s a reason that we have laws in this country, and he expects that individual cities and states should follow the federal law.