TOWOIT #336: Used mattress

June 4, 2018.

Number of times in 19 minutes that Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the President has done nothing wrong:  

The meeting was 19 minutes long and started 40 minutes past schedule. I think Sarah Huckabee Sanders is trolling reporters with her late start times. I have the chart of the last many briefings to show it.

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The dotted line is time spent waiting divided by actual briefing time. The pink bars represent minutes of waiting time. 
  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, just a short time ago, the President said that, “I have an [sic] absolute right to pardon myself.” Why does he think that? And does he also agree with Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer, that a pardon for himself would be unthinkable and would lead to immediate impeachment? (She’s about to say “the President has done nothing wrong” #1)
  • But does he absolutely rule out doing that? I mean, does he rule out ever issuing a pardon for himself? (Whoop, #2 is already fast upon us!) 
  • (Steve) How does the President respond to this criticism from Republicans about these tariffs against the EU, Canada, and Mexico? How do you reassure these senators and various people who were complaining about this?
  • Sarah, what was the contents of Kim Jong Un’s letter to the President that he received last week? And what did the President take away from that? Is he more encouraged, based on receiving that letter?
  • There’s a separate report that Vladimir Putin has reached out to Kim Jong Un and wants to meet with him. Is that a meeting that the President thinks would be constructive to this process? Does the President support Vladimir Putin meeting with Kim Jong Un as well?
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR News) Sarah, the President tweeted that the Special Counsel law was totally unconstitutional. If that’s the case, why is he allowing his own Justice Department to abide by it?
  • This is something new. He’s never said the law itself was unconstitutional. How can he allow his own Justice Department to participate in something that’s unconstitutional?
  • (Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thank you, Sarah. I did want to follow up on that and try and figure out what exactly the basis was for the President’s claim that it is unconstitutional. But I wanted to ask you about something else, as well. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been accused of enlisting a taxpayer-funded staffer to not only shop for apartments around Washington, D.C. but also to shop for a used mattress from the President’s hotel just around the corner. And I wanted to know if any of that gives the President pause at this point, or causes his confidence in Scott Pruitt to waver. (Francesca’s questions are WAY better than her Daily Mail colleague David Martosko’s, but this is a wasted opportunity. All Sarah Sanders does is make a joke about furniture and move immediately to another person.)

SANDERS:  Certainly looking into the matter.  I couldn’t comment on the specifics of the furniture used in his apartment.  (Laughter.)

  • (John) You said that significant progress is being made in the diplomatic talks at the DMZ between U.S. and North Korean officials. The big question here is denuclearization. The President would like it to happen all at once — he said that before — but that it could also be a phased-in process. I know that the meeting has yet to take place, but certainly they’re trying to iron out some details here. Does it look like it will be an all-at-once, or is the phase-in more likely?
  • (Steven) Sarah, no matter what you call it, is maximum pressure still the policy of the United States toward North Korea?
  • (Peter Alexander, NBC News) Sarah, let me ask you, if I can: Does the President believe that he is above the law?

SANDERS:  Certainly not.  The President hasn’t done anything wrong.

  • The question isn’t if he’s done anything wrong. I guess, the question is, does the President believe the Framers envisioned a system where the President can pardon himself, where the President could be above the law? (She says again that he hasn’t done anything wrong)
  • But you, just a moment ago, said it’s not that clear. So I guess, simply put, does the President believe he is above the law?
  • Let me ask you a question, if I can follow.  Just because I haven’t been here in a while. (She says no and calls on someone else)
  • Sorry, I’m going to keep going. Right here.
  • I just want to ask, and this is an important one because it’s about —
  • I’ll just keep asking, if I can — (she says “No, you can’t actually”)
  • The President —
  • Well, Sarah — I’m going to, Sarah. I think this is important. I haven’t had a chance to ask this question — (she says “I’m going to continue to move on”)
  • (   ) Sarah, what’s the status of the tariffs on China? Does the administration still plan to move ahead with the June 15th deadline, as they stated?
  • (Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) Thank you. Two quick questions. One, I’ve asked this before: Is there any chance we could ever see the President come out here and take some questions from us in this briefing room? (He hasn’t done this even one time. It’s a fairly normal thing for presidents to do) And secondly, has anyone in this administration ever asked the President — last week, you had, on your agenda — you had an agenda where you have more jobs coming out — I mean, lower unemployment coming, and you also had — the Second Chance Act, I think it was. And instead of those, we had to respond to presidential tweets. Has anybody ever in this administration asked him to back away from Twitter just for a day?
  • Extend him our invitation.

SANDERS:  In terms of Twitter, the President uses Twitter to communicate directly to the American people.  Frankly, you have the ability to choose what you want to write about, and you guys choose to write about things that the American people don’t care about —

(Wait did she just say the American people don’t care about his tweets?)

  • But we don’t have the ability to ask him a question in regards to that.
  • We do not have the opportunity to ask him a question about that, though, Sarah. (She ignores this and moves on)
  • Can we at least get an opportunity to ask him a question about what he tweets? (Still ignoring)
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill)  Thanks, Sarah. I want to ask you about the lawyer’s letter to the Special Counsel. You said, last August, that the President did not dictate a statement about the Trump Tower meeting during the campaign. But the lawyers wrote to the Special Counsel that the President did dictate that statement.  What’s the reason for that discrepancy? (She refers him to outside counsel and ignores that she was caught in a big lie)
  • (Deborah) After Kim Kardashian’s visit, is President Trump considering a commutation for Alice Johnson, who already has served 21 years of a life-without-parole sentence?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Since Robert Mueller was named the Special Counsel over a year ago, the President’s team, his legal team, the Justice Department has never challenged the constitutionality of the Special Counsel. Yet, the President today is doing just that. Why hasn’t either the Justice Department or the President’s legal team challenged the constitutionality? They have the right to do so in federal court, and yet they haven’t done so. (We all know the answer to this one)
  • (Inaudible) but specifically those two entities have not done it. The President’s own lawyers have not done it, Sarah, and they can do so. Why haven’t —
  • What about the Justice Department? Can you speak on behalf of the Justice Department? (nnnope, turns out she can’t)
  • (Steve) Yes, Sarah, I’m wondering if the White House stands by the comments that were made by the U.S. ambassador to Germany, who said that he was backing anti-establishment conservatives to take power in Europe. Seems like a very unusual thing for a U.S. diplomat to say towards friendly countries.
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, let me ask you — turn your attention back to trade. For the farmers out there who could care less about the politics, who have to run a business every day, there was a farmer in Iowa who told one of our crews out there this morning — he said, “It’s hard to know which way to jump right now.” As in, they don’t know what decisions they should make for their businesses because of what is playing out here in Washington, here in China, NAFTA negotiations as well. What would you tell those folks out there who are trying to run these businesses, who are trying to make a decision on which way to jump right now?
  • On the political front — (she shuts him down) 
  • (Peter Baker, New York Times) Thanks, Sarah. I just want to come back to — in August, you said he certainly didn’t dictate the statement. I wonder if you could tell us the basis of your comment when you made that in August. And do you think that still stands? Is that still an operative statement? Or do you retract that? (She refuses to answer a question about her own statement)
  • But in August, you said it. (Refuses to answer)
  • What was your basis for saying it in August, though? (Refuses to answer)
  • (Jim Acosta, CNN) Sarah, Rudy Giuliani, the President’s outside lawyer, said to the Huffington Post, “In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted. I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is. If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to [do to] him.” Is that appropriate language coming from the President’s outside lawyer to be talking about the President shooting Jim Comey in that fashion? (Get ready for another the President has done nothing wrong)
  • If I could ask a follow-up question. (Fuck no you can’t, Jim)
  • Sarah, if I could ask a follow-up question. (Fuck off, Jim)
  • If I could ask a follow-up question. Who — (Fuck off, Jim) 
  • Well, others have had follow-up questions, Sarah.  If I could ask —
  • They have had follow-up questions. If I could ask who these legal scholars are that you are citing, that would be great.
  • (Josh Dawsey, Washington Post) If you say, though, one thing from the podium — that it wasn’t dictated by the President — and his lawyers are saying something entirely different, contradicting, how are we supposed to know what to believe?  How can we believe what you’re saying from the podium if his lawyers are saying it’s entirely inaccurate? (Out of the frying pan and into the fire! Oh but don’t worry, she just won’t fucking answer) 
  • But, Sarah, the words are literally — you said he did not dictate. The lawyer said he did. What is it? It’s either one or the other. (No answer) 
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. A question about pardons. Eleven days ago, the President issued the posthumous pardon for boxing great Jack Johnson.  The leading proponents of this for more than a decade have been Congressman Pete King in the House and Senator John McCain in the Senate, both big boxing fans.  Senator McCain tweeted his support for the pardon. Will the President use this opportunity to call Senator McCain and try and patch things up with him at this moment of his life?
  • (Philip the Quebecois) Sarah, thank you. I just wanted to check something with you.  What in tariffs that were imposed against Canada reinforce the U.S. national security? (She can never understand anyone with an accent, so she asks him to repeat) 
  • What — you know the tariffs that were imposed against Canada — aluminum and steel.  What in that reinforce the U.S. national security?  In what form the U.S. feels more secure now that Canada has been targeted by tariffs? (There is like zero need for SHS to be polite to these fuckers)
  • (Hallie Jackson, MSNBC News) Sarah, thanks. The Special Counsel didn’t seem so unconstitutional when the President was calling on one to investigate his political opponent during the campaign. So is it only unconstitutional if the President doesn’t like it? (Sarah Sanders has nothing to add)
  • (Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg) A trade question for you, Sarah. Thank you. The President, on Friday, said that he’s open to bilateral deals with Mexico and Canada.  Is he still leaning towards bilateral deals as he heads up to Canada at the end of this week? Or is he thinking that he’d like to save NAFTA and just renegotiate it?
  • Thanks, Sarah. Last week, Missouri Governor Greitens stepped down. Did President Trump or anyone at the White House ever reach out to encourage him to step down?
  • And if so, why not, considering he’s the leader of the party?
  • (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, you said the President hasn’t done anything wrong and wouldn’t need a pardon. But he said in his tweet that he has the absolute right to pardon himself. Does he assume that the Special Counsel will find him guilty of something? (You can guess what Sarah says next…)
  • But he said in his tweet that he could pardon himself. So there seems to be an assumption that Mueller will find him wrong for something. And if so, what would it be?
  • I have two questions on the Justice Department and pardons. For example, the Office of Legal Counsel has said that the President can’t actually pardon himself. Has the President requested a new opinion that may inform his tweet today? And also, there are some concerns about whether the President is still fielding those traditional pardon recommendations from the Justice Department.  Some people are concerned that instead of relying on the Justice Department, he’s relying on sort of rich and famous people to recommend pardons.
  • On OLC, has he asked for a new OLC opinion?
  • Has he asked for a new OLC opinion on the pardon power?
  • (Lalit Jha) Thank you. What does the President think is his top foreign policy achievement in the first 500 days? (Quit carrying water, Lalit)
  • (Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller) Sarah, can you give us a little bit more background on the pardon process? Is there a process in place at this White House to review pardons? And how did the pardon ideas of Rod Blagojevich and Martha Stewart come up? Is it simply a matter of who can gain the President’s ear in order to get a pardon process? Or is there an attorney here in the White House through which these requests are funneled through, which eventually make their way up to the President? (You’re too good for the racist zine you write for, Saagar. I know you can do better!) 
  • (Eamon Javers, CNBC) Thanks, Sarah. I wanted to ask you about the President’s call today with Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who said that the President’s tariffs on the EU were, quote, “unjustified and deeply disappointing,” according to the British readout of their phone call today. That’s what she said to the President. How did the President respond to that? (Pretty sure he doesn’t give a fuck, Eamon. This is the Honey Badger White House after all.) 

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