TOWOIT #340: “Go ahead, Jill”

June 15, 2018.

At yesterday’s briefing, Brian Karem had an outburst. I appreciate it in this age of gaslighting and mindfuckery, when someone gets upset in a human way about basic decency. So I say thank you to Brian Karem. Also to Jim Acosta of CNN and Paula Reid of CBS, who both pushed back and said “No” when Sarah said something untrue.

Also a thank you to the White House transcriptionist who still faithfully records unflattering and sometimes aurally muddled cross-talk. I think this is a small act of integrity by someone I like to think is a holdover from previous administrations.

This might be a good time to add that I’m tired of hearing people on the left wring their hands about the nature of expression and tone — for instance, complaining about Robert De Niro saying “Fuck Donald Trump” at the Tonys. Who cares. Trump supporters hate our guts no matter WHAT we do. Let’s say Fuck Donald Trump while it’s still legal.

Here are the questions reporters asked Sanders at yesterday’s heated briefing:

  • (Kevin Corke, Fox News) Sarah, thank you. If you would, please comment on the recently released IG report, your impressions of what you’ve read so far. And have you have had an opportunity to discuss with the President the New York Attorney General’s idea of suing the Trump Foundation to have it shut down in the state of New York?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Sarah, in the State of the Union, the President had really harsh words for North Korea. He said, “No regime has oppressed its own citizens more…brutally…than North Korea.” Why is he now downplaying North Korea’s horrific atrocities?
  • But when he was asked about human rights on Fox News, he said, “A lot of other people have done some really bad things.” How is that not downplaying the atrocities?

SANDERS:  Again, certainly that’s a factual statement. A lot of people have done some bad things.

  • (Margaret Kalev, Bloomberg) Thank you, Sarah. Could you confirm that there is a trade principals meeting today; that there are Chinese tariffs coming tomorrow? And there was a report that somewhere in the —
  • It’s the same thing. Okay.
  • So the third part of my two-part question is, there has been a report that —that 800 to 900 Chinese products will be on that tariffs list. It seems like quite a high number, even though I guess their highest number was 1,300. But even if you’re not ready to roll out the whole thing, if that number is higher than it really is, could you tell us now?
  • (David Martosko, Daily Mail) Thank you, Sarah. Two questions, if you don’t mind. The President said earlier this week that he did speak with Kim Jong Un about human rights abuses. Can you tell us exactly what areas of concern they talked about? Was it the gulag work camps, torture, public executions, the lack of freedom of religion and the press, kidnapping, women’s rights? What did they actually talk about? (Martosko annoys me a lot on Twitter as an older white guy who doesn’t seem to “get it” but I appreciate this question from him)
  • And then, secondly — I’m sorry — I just had two. Rudy Giuliani spent 20 minutes today talking with one of our reporters about his love life, and proclaimed that — actually, his words — he’s not going to be a priest if he’s separated from his third wife. Has this become too big of a distraction to the point where the President would consider getting another lawyer? And then, also on that, he said his soon-to-be ex, Judith, called the President last week. Can you tell us what they talked about
  • (Jim Acosta, CNN) Sarah, can you tell us why the President saluted the North Koreans when he was over in Singapore?

SANDERS:  It’s a common courtesy when a military official from another government salutes, that you return that.

(That’s apparently not true)

  • Can I just ask a second question, completely unrelated, on these children who are being separated from their families as they come across the border? The Attorney General, earlier today, said that somehow there’s a justification for this in the Bible. Where does it say in the Bible that it’s moral to take children away from their mothers?
  • Is it a moral policy, in your view?

SANDERS:  I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is, actually, repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.

(Go straight to hell, Sarah Sanders)

  • But where in the Bible does it say —
  • — it’s okay to take children away from their parents?
  • You just said it’s in the Bible to follow the law.

SANDERS:  That’s not what I said.  And I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess, but please don’t take my words out of context.

  • (Someone not Jim — maybe April? She’s shaking her head and muttering in the C-Span video. But it might be a man behind her who says it) That’s a cheap shot, Sarah. That’s a cheap shot, Sarah. (Sarah is telling lies about laws being on the books now)
  • But how is it moral? How is it a moral policy to take children away from their parents? Can you imagine — (She says it’s moral to enforce the law — that is so not true, you shithead)
  • — the horror that these children must be going through when they come across the border?
  • They’re with their parents, and then suddenly they’re pulled away from their parents. Why is the government doing this? (Because it’s the law she says–again, this is a lie. The Trump administration is doing it because they want to, because they said they would start, because they said it would be a deterrent)
  • It’s not. It doesn’t have to be the law. You guys don’t have to do that. It’s your policy. (Now she says it’s the Democrats’ fault)
  • Certainly both parties could fix it. But you don’t take children away from their parents.

SANDERS:  Sorry, Jim, I’ve given you enough time.

  • (Paula Reid, CBS News) Two questions. First of all, there is not law that requires families to be separated at the border. This was the administration’s choice to move from civil matters on immigration on to criminal, to criminally prosecute people who come across the border illegally and therefore you have to separate families. So why did the administration find that this was necessary? And if it continues to not have much of a deterrent effect, will you continue this policy? (Sarah says again that the laws are on the books and it’s the Democrats’ fault)
  • But isn’t the administration — it doesn’t want to take responsibility for its policy change from civil — handling them as civil matters to criminal prosecutions.
  • It absolutely is. Sessions made a change.
  • No. Jeff Sessions made a decision in April that he was going to move from handling it as a civil matter to criminal, and then separating the families.
  • Your own administration said it was deterrent. They’re separating families to deter people from coming here illegally.
  • (Brian Karem from the sidelines, unbidden) Sarah. Sarah, don’t you have any empathy?

SANDERS:  Jill, go ahead.

  • (Brian) Come on, Sarah. You’re a parent. Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through?

SANDERS:  Jill.

  • They have less than you do.

SANDERS:  Brian. Guys, settle down.

  • Sarah, come on. Seriously. Seriously.

SANDERS:  I’m trying to be serious, but I’m not going to have you yell out of turn. Jill, please —

  • But you’re sitting there telling us it’s a law. And they have — these people have nothing. They come over here with nothing —

SANDERS:  Hey, Brian, I know you want to get some more TV time, but that’s not what this is about.

(My desire to violate my vow against gendered insults is so strong right now that I want to light my own apartment on fire.)

  • It’s not that.  It’s not about that.  It’s about you answering a question, Sarah.

I want to recognize you: Go ahead, Jill.

  • Honestly, answer the question. It’s a serious question. These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing and you throw children in cages. You’re a parent. You’re a parent of young children.  Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?

SANDERS:  Jill, go ahead.

  • (Jill McCabe, Washington Post) Two questions for you. First, does the President really believe that Crimea is part of Russia because everyone there speaks Russian? And the second question: The President has said that Kim Jong Un told him that North Korea is destroying a major — (Jill got a lot of flack on twitter for not reiterating Brian’s question, but I’m not sure that’s fair. She pointedly did not try to start speaking all the times that Sarah said “Jill, go ahead” — which sometimes they do, barging in and stepping on the other person — and the moment had flared up and been captured already. These briefings are 19 minutes long only. And she asked good other questions.)
  • So the President said that Kim Jong Un has told him that North Korea was working to destroy a major missile engine testing site. Is that the Sohae site, as it’s sometimes referred to?
  • (Trey Yingst, OAN) Thanks, Sarah. Two questions on the IG report.  Earlier this year, the President suggested that the DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, was “an Obama guy.” How does the President view Horowitz today? And does he feel that this investigation was thorough?
  • And I could ask you about the text message exchange between two —
  • The text message exchange highlighted in the report between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. Ultimately, the FBI agent, Peter Strzok, said, “We’ll stop it.” And he was referring to candidate Trump becoming President. Did the President have any reaction to this information when you spoke with him after he was briefed today? (IG found that these political expressions, though unsavory, did not affect the work of the people involved)
  • (Kristen, NBC News) Sarah, thank you. Did the President or anyone else use funds from the Trump Foundation to pay for personal, business, or campaign expenses?
  • But you can definitively say “no”?
  • Have you asked the President?
  • And, Sarah, let me just follow up with you. President Trump said several months ago he doesn’t think Michael Cohen is going to flip. Is that still the case?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Yeah. Two questions, please, Sarah. And thank you. First, there have been reports on almost a daily basis and in punctilious detail about EPA head, Scott Pruitt, doing things that border on the unethical. And almost on a daily basis, Republican members of Congress call for his resignation. What is his status within the administration? And does the President have confidence in him to remain as Administrator?

SANDERS:  Certainly we have some areas of concern in some of these allegations but I don’t have any personnel announcements at this point.

(She’s been saying that line about Pruitt for months now at this point)

  • My second question is, Congressman Mark Sanford blamed the President’s tweet as the final straw in his defeat, making him the second Republican House member to go down to defeat. This is the first time in 48 years a sitting President has opposed a member of Congress of his own party. Does the President intend to speak out for primary challenges to other critics of him within the Congress? And if so, who?

(OK, there’s more but I have to go to work now — I’ll put the rest in later.)

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