TOWOIT #344: “this idea of not having judges”

June 25, 2018.

Today is another grim day. It’s been a week since the last press briefing. This one was 21 minutes long and started with Sarah Sanders reeling off a bit about civility. She was asked to leave a restaurant over the weekend. Now everyone is on Twitter talking about civility.

Nothing is more sad and laughable than Trump calling Erdogan to encourage him to strengthen democracy in Turkey.

Questions the reporters asked Sarah Sanders today:

  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, I want to ask you about the President’s tweet over the weekend, where he said that people who cross the border illegally should be sent back with no court cases, no judges. Does the President believe that undocumented immigrants have no due process rights whatsoever?
  • But he’s saying no judges, no court cases. So no opportunity to claim asylum, no opportunity to have their cases heard before a judge? (Sarah Sanders says, “Just because you don’t see a judge doesn’t mean you don’t have due process.)
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) Just in addition to what Jon was asking, under current law — and you spoke to this — contiguous countries to the United States, like Mexico and Canada, where people can be removed on an expedited basis, they can basically just be taken to the nearest border crossing and sent back. Does the President want to implement that type of policy for people from noncontiguous countries? Is that what he’s looking for here?
  • (John insisting on another question after she called on Blake) The President also said in the Oval Office that people have proposed adding 5,000 judges. Who’s proposed to add 5,000 judges? I’ve seen 750 as a max number.
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, thank you. Let me ask you about a couple statements on trade. What is the President’s reaction to the Harley-Davidson announcement today? Does he still feel that tariffs are the way to go?
  • And on the story about Chinese investments — curtailing possible Chinese tech investments — the Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said five hours ago that a statement would be forthcoming, and we still don’t have it. When might that be coming? Or what exactly is that administration’s stance on this?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Back on immigration. In terms of what the President envisions for the immigration policy that he’d like to see put in place, should asylum-seekers be able to get their case heard before an immigration judge? (That’s three Fox News reporters in a row, for those keeping track.) 
  • (Jon asking after she called on someone Steve) And one more, on trade, and following up on what Blake asked about Harley-Davidson. They announced in an SEC filing they’re moving a significant amount of their operations to Europe because of the EU tariffs that were placed on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Is this what the President envisioned for what the impact would be by placing tariffs on the EU and the retaliation the EU has put on the U.S.?
  • (Steve Herman, Voice of America) Yes. The President today in the Oval Office, sitting next to the King of Jordan, mentioned some progress in the Middle East peace process, but he didn’t give us any specifics. There’s been quite a bit of shuttle diplomacy going on in the last few days in the Middle East with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt. Do you have anything concrete to tell us about any sort of positive movement whatsoever from all of this?
  • (Julie Davis, New York Times) Sarah, the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection said today that they’re no longer going to be referring people who cross the border without authorization for criminal charges if they’re traveling with children, which is essentially returned to the Obama administration practice and administrations before that. Does the President support that approach? And if so, does he regret trying to push forward on a zero-tolerance approach in the first place? 
  • (Julie following up after Sarah called on Jeff; Sarah seems to be letting people do this today) Can you talk about why you tweeted from your official account about the episode that you had the restaurant on Friday night?
  • (Jeff Zeleny, CNN) Sarah, you said just because you don’t see a judge doesn’t mean you don’t get due process. Can you explain what you mean by that, specifically, and how the President envisions that this would work while still maintaining what the Constitution upholds in having a swift immigration system? (Jim Acosta was on his way to the rally to get yelled at by name by Trump supporters) 
  • (He presses on after Sarah calls on Jill) What is the President doing specifically this week to ensure that Congress passes a bill? He spent all week in Nevada talking about — or all weekend, excuse me, on Saturday — talking about how Democrats want open borders and crime. But specifically, has he made phone calls to Republican members in the House where the bill is pending? Has he tried to bring Democrats together? What is he doing specifically to try and get a new law passed specifically, other than just railing against the current law?
  • (Jeff even though she called on Jill again) Is Congress doing its job on this?
  • The bills are going to probably fail this week though. The Republican bills will probably fail this week.
  • It’s a Republican issue. Republicans cannot pass these Republican bills.  What is the President doing as the leader of the party to try to get Republican– (Sarah Sanders starts YELLING at Jeff Zeleny)
  • (Jill Colvin, AP — thanks to reader Tom for catching this) Can I follow up on Julie’s question about the zero-tolerance policy? The President said last week, after signing the executive order, that he believed that zero tolerance was still important. You guys made a point of the fact that the EO did not actually get rid of the policy. How does that square with the fact that CBP is now saying that they are no longer referring for prosecution any adults who come in with children? 
  • Some sort of a temporary solution. Does that mean at some point you’re going to change that policy back? (Sarah starts yelling at Jill) 
  • And then just another one. Other people had several. (Sarah denies her)
  • (Annie Karni, Politico) Sarah, you mentioned the state of resources and running out of them. Can you be specific about what the resources are right now for housing parents and children together? Is there enough housing right now? Is the Pentagon stepping in? Like, what’s being done about the resources?
  • (Ayesha Rascoe, NPR News) I just want to see if you can kind of narrow down exactly what the President actually intends to do when it comes to this idea of not having judges. You say that there are instances where people don’t have judges. But my understanding is that if you do ask for asylum, you do have certain rights. So is there going to be a change in that policy? Or what is this administration planning to do to make it so you don’t have to see a judge (inaudible)?
  • I understand that. But so what does that mean practically? Like, is the President planning to do anything differently, or you’re just saying he doesn’t like the way things work now?
  • So unless Congress acts, nothing is ACTUALLY going to change? The administration is not changing anything right now when it comes to judges? (Sarah starts YELLING at Ayesha)
  • So, but nothing is actually changing on the ground? So this is — the President is complaining about judges and saying that we shouldn’t have all these judges, and people who come over should just be put out, but nothing is actually going to change? He’s just saying — he’s just complaining about the process as it stands now?
  • (Steven Portnoy, CBS Radio News) Honing in on that point, I’m trying to understand what it is the President understands about the current policy. Because as you’ve explained, expedited removal allows the government to remove hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants a year without seeing judges. Did the President know that when he issued the tweets? (Isn’t that always the question)
  • (Sarah tries not to let Steven ask this follow-up) Well, just to follow up — under current law —
  • (Steven asks the follow-up) — there are a couple of things that the President could do. He could expand that policy. You’ve said that he would like to see more expedited removal. Does the President intend to expand it to the full two-year limit under the current statute?
  • (Niall Stanage, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. You began the briefing talking about the importance of civility.  Do you consider it a civil policy to separate more than two thousand children from their parents?

“Do you consider it a civil policy to separate more than 2,000 children from their parents?”

  • Would you say that they’re working to make families stay together? It was your administration that separated them in the first place. 
  • (Anita Kumar, McClatchy) I have one immigration question and wanted to clarify one thing. So, I understand that not every adult with a child is going to be prosecuted. If there are families that are being held together, detained together somewhere, and 20 days goes by, what is going to happen then? I didn’t get an answer about that last week. I don’t understand. The law says you can’t keep them together or keep the children — even with parents — for longer than 20 days. So then what happens? (Sarah Sanders says Congress will have to pass a law)
  • In the next 20 days? 
  • I said I had a clarification.
  • So Jeff asked you a question about Congress and the bill. Were you, in your response, referring to just a standalone bill that deals with family separation? Or were you referring to the bigger immigration bill that the House is supposed to take up this week?
  • So the President still wants that bill to go forward even though he said they don’t want to — they shouldn’t waste their time? (This is where Sarah said Democrats would rather have “open borders and rampant crime” Andrew Feinberg interjects, “that’s not true”) 
  • (John) Thank you, Sarah. This President is the first in the television age who has yet to address the American public on nationwide television from the Oval Office. Many Republican consultants have said he might have a stronger hand in influencing Congress if he made a nationally televised address on immigration and what changes he’d like to see, to explain it. Is that something that’s on the table within the administration?
  • (Nadia Bilbassy, Al-Arabiya) Just a follow-up on the Middle East. In the recent interview, Mr. Kushner said that if President Abbas is not willing to negotiate, he’s going to proceed with the deal. Can you explain how the White House is hoping to achieve any progress in the Middle East peace talks if the principal party is not taking part in it?
  • (Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller) Thanks, Sarah. To follow up on the judges — on the issue of immigration judges, why is the President so opposed to an increase in the number of immigration judges when it would expedite the asylum processing — the asylum process and expedite deportation?

As Sarah walks out, someone calls out (maybe Brian Karem?) “… on the kids who have been separated from their parents? Do we have a number? I guess not??”

2 thoughts on “TOWOIT #344: “this idea of not having judges”

  1. Tiny correction: Jill Colvin is from the Associated Press. Thanks for doing this. I don’t know how you identify some of the reporters!

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