April 23, 2018
- (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, on North Korea: Is the President willing to accept anything short of complete denuclearization before lifting any sanctions?
- But does that mean no sanctions lifted until that’s achieved? Are you willing to go incrementally?
- When the President said in his tweet that they had agreed to denuclearize, where did they do that? Have they already agreed to do that?
- (Steve Holland, Reuters) Sarah, to what extent will the Iran nuclear deal come up in the conversation between the President and President Macron? And what does President Trump want to hear from Macron on this thing?
- And is the President still leaning towards decertifying the deal when it comes up again on May 12th?
- (Jim Acosta, CNN) Wanted to ask you a question, sort of following up on what you were asked this morning about Michael Cohen. It was noticed by some that you didn’t close the door one way or the other on the President pardoning Michael Cohen. What is your read on that right now?
SANDERS: It’s hard to close a door on something that hasn’t taken place. I don’t like to discuss or comment on hypothetical situations that may or may not ever happen. I would refer you to personal attorneys to comment on anything specific regarding that case, but we don’t have anything at this point.
- And can I just ask you about a tweet that the President put out last week? He tweeted a lot over the weekend. But last week, he said — he was talking about sanctuary cities in California and saying, “There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.” (Jim read this straight and the transcriptionist put the Trumpisms back in–like “sooooo”) We haven’t had a chance to ask you about that tweet. When he used the word “breeding,” was he making a derogatory term about Latinos in California — that they breed a lot or that they’re prone to breeding? Was he talking about —
- What does that mean though?
- (Justin Sink, Bloomberg) I also wanted to follow up on a couple of the President’s tweets. The first was earlier this morning. I’m wondering if you could explain the President’s tweet that he had ordered DHS not to allow large caravans of individuals into the country. So if you can say both what specifically he ordered DHS to do, and what that would mean for individuals claiming refugee status within the United States.
- And then in the other tweet that the President did over the weekend, he said that he didn’t see Michael Cohen flipping to get out of trouble with the government. I guess that prompts two questions. The first is, what the President believes his personal attorney might have done to get him in trouble with the government. And secondly, what the President has done that he is worried Michael Cohen could flip about.
SANDERS: The President has been clear that he hasn’t done anything wrong. I think we’ve stated that about a thousand times. Beyond that, I don’t have anything to add beyond the President’s tweet.
- (Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thanks, Sarah. There have been a number of documented cases in the press recently of EPA Administrator Pruitt at least appearing to be dishonest about requesting raises for aides, about his relationship with a lobbyist who had business before the EPA (inaudible). Is the White House concerned at all about this pattern? And is there concern about him testifying before Congress on Thursday, as scheduled, where these issues are probably going to come up?
- (Ashley Parker, Washington Post) Sarah, President Macron is hoping that a proposed side deal between the U.S. and European powers could strengthen the Iran deal enough that President Trump would feel comfortable staying in it. So is that sort of a fool’s errand? And the President has said it’s a bad deal. Does he believe there’s anything that could be done to fix it in a way he’d be comfortable with?
- (Mara Liasson, NPR News) Thank you, Sarah. Just to go back to Jonathan’s question about North Korea, the President tweeted pretty flatly, “…they have agreed to denuclearization.” And then, you’re saying that they just agreed to talk about it. What is the President’s definition of complete denuclearization?
- Does that mean removing all nukes — our nukes and theirs?
- (Guy in CBS chair) Sarah, President Macron appears to have a very robust agenda coming to Washington. He wants to change the President’s mind on a lot of different things — on the Iran nuclear deal, on keeping U.S. troops in Syria, on tariffs, and maybe even on the Paris Climate Accord. Does he have an open mind? Is it possible that he will change his mind after President Macron gets through with him?
- So there’s a great negotiator and not-such-a-great negotiator.
- Positive for France?
- Could the the President change his mind on some of these things?
- His mind is open?
- (Peter Baker, NBC News) Sarah, why should North Korea believe that the U.S. is an honest broker, when the President has said publicly that he would like to get out of the deal the U.S. and others made with Iran?
- So he would never backtrack on this deal?
- Sarah, beyond what you said about —
- (Steve Herman, VOA) Yeah, Sarah, I just want to follow up on that about North Korea. I’m wondering, what gives you any optimism that the North Koreans are really looking to denuclearize? Because of the statements that they’re making, everybody seems to be jumping on the very positive aspects of the statements. But they were also saying over the weekend that their completion of the nuclear arsenal, which they call their “powerful treasured sword,” firmly guarantees forever the country’s security and well-being. That doesn’t sound like any wiggle room on denuclearization.
- (Yamiche Alcindor, NPR) I have two quick questions. The first one is, that the New York Times and others reported that federal prosecutors have recommended charges against the New York police officer involved in Eric Garner’s death. But the Justice Department has expressed some strong reservations. Where do things stand with the case of Eric Garner, and when does the Justice Department — when are they going to make a decision about the police officer and whether or not they’re going to charge him?
- And the second question I have is the President tweeted —
- Can you let all of us know?
- The second question is the President tweeted, “James Comey illegally classified documents to press in order — leaked documents to press [in order] to generate a Special Council? Therefore, the Special Council was established based on an illegal act? Really, does everyone know what that means?” What does the President think that means? And is he indicating that the Special Counsel should be fired because of the way that it was begun? (Again, hilarious that the transcriptionist faithfully preserves the spelling errors of the original tweet)
- So what does it mean?
- Yeah, but the question that he posed?
- (Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Over the weekend, a fourth House Republican called for the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to step down. He said he’s the wrong fit for the EPA. What’s your reaction to that?
- Last week, Andrew Wheeler was confirmed by the Senate. He is Scott Pruitt’s deputy at the EPA. Couldn’t he easily implement all of the President’s agenda if Scott Pruitt stepped aside? He wouldn’t have a dark cloud hanging over the agency. What’s your view on that idea?
- (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Thank you, Sarah. On the Iran nuclear deal, President Macron said don’t leave if there’s not a better option, and then the Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted today, “President Macron is correct in saying there’s no ‘Plan B’… It’s either all or nothing.” So my question to you is, does the White House believe that there is actually a realistic “Plan B” out there?
- And then later today, on Mike Pompeo —
SANDERS: Sorry, I’m going to keep moving just because we’re running out of time.
- (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. YOU may not be willing to be specific about the matters that President Trump and President Macron will negotiate on, but the French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was very specific at the World Bank and IMF spring meeting. He said on Friday, the French will insist on, and I quote, “a full and permanent exemption,” of any trade tariffs the United States might want to impose on France. He went on to say that if they are going to be a partner in dealing with China and other countries, they cannot have, what he called, a “sword of Damocles” hanging over them. That’s pretty strong language. Is trade and a permanent exemption —
- Is it on the table as Minister Le Maire wishes?
- (Kevin Corke, Fox News) Thank you, Sarah. Two quick ones. One on Syria: Is it fair to say the President agrees with the French President that a precipitous or too-quick removal of America’s presence from Syria would be a danger or damaging to the Syrian people? And if there is agreement there, is there a possibility that the two will come to some sort of a formal announcement during his time here? And a follow on Mike Pompeo: What would be the number one issue that the President would like him to tackle assuming that, as expected, he is approved today?
- (Richard in the AP seat) Just on Pompeo, does the President consider Republicans who oppose Pompeo’s nomination to be obstructionist? And separately, what does it say to the rest of the world if Pompeo can’t get a favorable recommendation out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?
- (Mike Bender, Wall Street Journal) A couple of — one on NAFTA and Iran. On NAFTA, has the administration decided whether to bring — renegotiate the deal back to Congress? Is there a chance that those changes won’t need congressional approval? And just about Iran, that deal has been being looked at by a team that was appointed by —
- The President’s Iran team was mostly put in place by McMaster and Tillerson. Does the President still have confidence in that team? Has he been briefed on their developments lately? And does he and John Bolton support where they’re at right now?
- (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, a couple questions. Two questions. Going back to the issue of Eric Garner: A couple weeks ago, when I asked you about Alton Sterling, Stephon Clark, and the issue of Eric Garner, you said it was a local issue. Does this White House give the directive now to the Justice Department that it’s a local matter and that’s why it kind of been held up? Is that what’s going on now with this Eric Garner case?
- And last thing, I want to follow up on Jim. What you said — “breeding.” The President was very clear at his statement about this issue. He said, in a tweet, “There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.” What did he mean by “breeding”? (April did not read the tweet straight, she played it as it laid, drawing out her vowels and adding in the emphasis)
- But what does “breeding” mean? What does “breeding” mean to this President? Because when you think of breeding, you think of animals breeding — populating.
SANDERS: I’m not going to begin to think what you think —
- But can you tell us what the President thought?
SANDERS: Certainly, I think that it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But the President is talking about a growing problem. And I addressed that with Jim, and I don’t have anything else to add.
- (Lalit Jha, Press Trust of India) Thank you. I wanted to ask you about Afghanistan. There have been quite a number of attacks in Afghanistan the last few days. This is the first fighting season after President announced his official policy. How do you see the situation in Afghanistan now?
- How do you see the situation in Afghanistan now?
- (Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) Thank you very much. Two quick questions. One, just to define what the President meant about “breeding.” To be specific, he’s NOT talking about people having babies, yes?
- He’s not?
SANDERS: Not that I’m aware of. I’d have to ask him to dig into that deeper.
- But how do you know he’s not talking about that?
SANDERS: I just said, “Not that I’m aware of.” And I would have to ask him to be more specific.
- Okay. And in regards to the Mueller investigation —
- In regards to the Mueller investigation, I understand this administration says that there’s no collusion. So if we take the President at his word, he can’t be aware of everything that went on underneath him by everyone who works for him. So if there’s someone who worked for him underneath him that is guilty or is prosecuted by the Mueller team, would he not support those who did wrong, even if he was unaware of it?
- I’m not asking about that.
- I’m asking about those who work beneath him.
- But he would support — right, he would support the prosecution of —