TOWOIT #352: Thirteen percent of the country is African American

August 15, 2018. The next day. We were wealthy in White House Press Briefings last week. This is the day that Sanders read a written statement from Trump that impugned former CIA director John Brennan’s character and revoked his security clearance. No president has ever done that before. Sanders also listed off others whose security clearances were being reviewed.

This was also the exciting time when Sarah Sanders worked really hard to not admit that there are no senior black employees in the White House.

Questions reporters asked Sarah Sanders:

Continue reading TOWOIT #352: Thirteen percent of the country is African American

TOWOIT #351: tear this entire place down

Today is August 21, 2018. It’s the day that Manafort was convicted on 8 counts and Cohen turned himself into the FBI. But this is about last week, Tuesday, August 14, and the first of two press briefings at the White House.

The first part of this briefing was about remains from Korea, and I’m just going to leave that part off and start when it got back to Sarah Sanders.

Questions the reporters asked her:

Continue reading TOWOIT #351: tear this entire place down

TOWOIT #350: the people of the enemies

WHDB on August 2, 2018.

This briefing was longer than usual at 45 minutes. Sarah Sanders had five departments in to talk about election security. It’s a briefing that might have been more reassuring in another context. It should have happened in February 2017 and been headed by the President. The President was not there and contradicted the main points of the briefing that evening at one of his eerie self-rallies. He said again it’s all a hoax, all a witch hunt.

This briefing was also notable because at the end, after her special guests left, Sarah Sanders refused to say that the media is not the enemy of the people. She was given three chances to say something, anything—and she wouldn’t. Again, people on Twitter said all the reporters should stop going to the briefings. But like Brian Karem tweeted, the children don’t get to chase the adults away. And like someone else tweeted, there will still be propaganda news outlets there no matter what. So the reporters show up. They tether their questions to reality. They read their reality-tethered questions into the record.

Here are the questions asked by reporters at the August 2 briefing:

Continue reading TOWOIT #350: the people of the enemies

TOWOIT #349: “How is the president going to force the creation of a space force?”

WHDB on August 1, 2018

Now that July is over:

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 7.42.07 PM

OK, this briefing was mostly nothing about that space force title, but I just enjoyed that question for absurdity reasons.

Nearly everyone called on in that room is named either John, Steven, or David by the way.

Also, this is not the briefing that happened the next night (I’m behind), where Sarah Sanders wouldn’t say that the press is NOT the enemy of the people and Acosta walked out. But this briefing really laid the groundwork for the next night. There was plenty of disrespect, animosity and bullshittery on display from the podium.

Here are the questions from reporters:

Continue reading TOWOIT #349: “How is the president going to force the creation of a space force?”

TOWOIT #347: “Red lights are blinking”

July 18, 2018. 

Today Sarah Sanders held the first White House Daily Briefing since July 2. It was 26 minutes long. On the White House Live stream, there were more viewers watching live than there have been for any briefing all year. It’s the top line in dashed light blue. The X-axis starts at the actual start time and continues out until the end of the briefing. Anyway, it was a shit show.

image004-3

Continue reading TOWOIT #347: “Red lights are blinking”

TOWOIT #346: Hello Proxy State

July 16, 2018.

  • (Alex Amashkov, Interfax Information Agency) Good afternoon, my name is Alex Amashkov, Interfax Information Agency. I have a question to President Trump. During your recent European tour, you mentioned that implementation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline makes Europe a hostage of Russia, and you suggested that you could free Europe from this by supplying American LNG. But this cold winter actually showed that the current model — current mechanism — of supply of fuel to Europe is quite viable. At the same time, as far as I know, U.S. had to buy even Russian gas for Boston. I have a question: The implementation of your idea has a political tinge to it or is it a practical one? Because there will be a gap formed in the supply-and-demand mechanism and the first is the consuming countries who will fall into this gap.
  • And the second question, before the meeting with President Putin, you called him an adversary, a rival, and yet you expressed hope that you will be able to bring this relationship to a new level. Did you manage to do this?

  • (Jeff Mason, Reuters) Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s U.S. foolishness, stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in U.S. relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? And if so, what would you — what would you consider them — that they are responsible for?
  • For President Putin, if I could follow up as well, why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election, given the evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies have provided? And will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a U.S. grand jury?

  • (Ilya Petrenko, Russia Today) Mr. President, would you please go into the details of possibly any specific arrangements for the U.S. to work together with Russia in Syria, if any of these kind of arrangements were made today or discussed?
  • And my question to President Putin in Russian. Since we — we brought up the issue of football several times, I ask — use the football language. Mr. Pompeo mentioned that when we talk about the Syrian cooperation, the ball is in the Syrian court. Mr. Putin — in the Russian court — is it true? And how would you use this fact, the — the — having the ball?

  • Excuse me, but for now, no specific agreements, for instance, between the militaries…
  • (Jonathan Lemire, AP) Thank you. A question for each president; President Trump, you first. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What — who — my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?
  • A question for President — for President Putin. Thank you. Two questions for you, sir. Can you tell me what President Trump may have indicated to you about officially recognizing Crimea as part of Russia? And then secondly, sir, do you, does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?

TOWOIT #345: A lot of friendly laughing today

Press briefing from Monday, July 2, 2018.

Sarah Sanders has these down to 20 minutes a week now. I’ve had a harder time forcing myself to re-listen on C-Span in the evening now that it’s a less regular thing. I’m just so sick of this administration. Nice pitch for my blog! No but seriously, I’m so tired of the friendly chuckling in the room with Sanders.

But here we go, belatedly. Sarah Sanders usually kicks off the briefing by calling on John Roberts from Fox News. Today there was someone new in the front row, John’s wife Kyra Phillips. Kyra left CNN this spring after 13 years to take a role at ABC News as a D.C.-based correspondent. At this briefing, Sarah called on Kyra first.

Read on to see the questions that Kyra and other reporters asked Sarah Sanders: Continue reading TOWOIT #345: A lot of friendly laughing today

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:

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

TOWOIT #343: Pawns for a wall

June 19, 2018.

Tonight was the night Rachel Maddow cried on air after just reading breaking news from the AP about babies bussed to “tender age shelters” that are basically disorganized orphanages. No plan in place to reunite parents and children.

Last night was the night Kirstjen Nielsen flew in from New Orleans and said she wasn’t sure where the girls and toddlers were. We’ve only seen pictures of the older boys.

Here are the questions reporters asked Kirstjen Nielsen:

Continue reading TOWOIT #343: Pawns for a wall

TOWOIT #342: Neither of these women deserve a fun insult

June 18, 2018.

There’s no White House transcript up yet for today’s briefing. That’s not too surprising. That thing chased itself across the length of a long afternoon. First it was going to be at 1:15. Then at 3:30. The reporters waited for an hour, and then at 4:30, someone came in with a note saying the briefing would be at 5:00. Someone kept sighing in overheated distress off camera on c-span. Several minutes past five, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen came in.

Word is, Kirstjen flew in from New Orleans to be there short notice.

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 5.13.38 PM

And in the words of my favorite Crooked Media man after Ira Madison:

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 5.52.50 PM

More to follow.

TOWOIT #341: “That’s not true, sir. That’s not true.”

June 18, 2018.

Best Trump line from Friday morning: “When it’s my fault, I’ll tell you.”

Questions reporters asked Trump in that bananas press avail outside the White House on June 15:

  • Do you think James Comey’s actions were unfair to Hillary?
  • (can’t hear question)
  • Mr. President, there was a Fox news report this week that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is pushing back and threatening to investigate the congressional investigators who just want documents (hahaha — they just want to obstruct justice — that’s all!!). Do you think that that is appropriate
  • On North Korea —
  • Are you going to suspend Mueller? Are you thinking of suspending Mueller?
  • Mr. President, you have spoken so passionately about the circumstances that led to Otto Warmbier’s death.
  • In the same breath, you’re defending now Kim Jong Un’s human rights records. How can you do that?
  • By the way, you declared the nuclear threat from North Korea is over.
  • You say the threat is over. Is it over?
  • Sir —
  • How can Kim love his people if he’s killing them?
  • Mr. President, why did you offer to halt the military exercises with South Korea?
  • Yeah.
  • That’s North Korea’s term. “War games.”
  • They use it too.
  • What did you mean just now when you said you wished Americans would sit up at attention when you spoke
  • CNN.
  • Mr. President —
  • (Inaudible.)
  • So there’s some high-profile court cases going on. You’ve got a former campaign manager, your former lawyer. They’re all dealing with legal troubles. Are you paying close attention —
  • You say that you feel badly. Is there any consideration at any point of a pardon for any of the people that you —
  • What about those who don’t have a celebrity talking for them?
  • What about all those folks who don’t have Kim Kardashian speaking on their behalf?
  • Do you worry that Michael Cohen might flip?
  • Are you worried that Michael Cohen might flip?
  • Is Michael Cohen still your friend?
  • Is he still your friend?
  • Is he still your lawyer?
  • Your personal lawyer
  • Are you worried he will cooperate?
  • I just want to know if you’re worried —
  • I just want to know if you’re worried if he’s going to cooperate with federal investigators.
  • Got it. Got it.
  • Mr. President, did you tape that statement about Don Jr.? Did you dictate the statement about Donald Trump, Jr.?
  • But can you tell us?
  • Well, just to clear it up. To clear it up.
  • Did you dictate?
  • Understood.
  • Thank you, sir. On the IG report, you’ve said TWICE now that it exonerated you and it proved there’s no collusion. The IG report —
  • It had nothing to do with collusion. It had nothing to do with that.
  • Sir, that has nothing to do with collusion. Why are you lying about it, sir? (I think this was Andrew Feinberg)
  • Should he be fired?
  • Mr. President, are you going to fire Scott Pruitt?
  • You don’t see any problems with his ethical —
  • Are you going to fire him?
  • Do you think he’s used his position for private gain?
  • Mr. President, do you agree with children being taken away from (inaudible)?
  • Sir, that’s your own policy. That’s your own policy. Why do you keep lying about it, sir?
  • You’re the President.
  • You can change it right now.
  • Jeff Sessions said —
  • Mr. President, you control both chambers of Congress. The Republicans do.
  • AND the White House–
  • What about executive action?
  • On North Korea, sir.  On North Korea.
  • Mr. President, why —
  • Do you support the immigration compromise, Mr. President?
  • But then, Mr. President — but then why did Jeff Sessions announce a zero-tolerance policy at the border on May 7th? Is that not a Republican —
  • Is that not a Republican policy?
  • Is that not a Republican policy?
  • But that was a direct order to —
  • That’s not true, sir. That’s not true.
  • But there’s no law that says families have to separated at the border. There’s another way to go about it, Mr. President.
  • Mr. President, at the end of the “Fox & Friends” interview, you said that you were going to spend Father’s Day weekend doing work, and you said that you were going to have a call with North Korea. Who are you going to talk to in North Korea?
  • Can you tell us about the verification process?
  • What’s the verification process?
  • You told Americans that they can sleep well at night, and you declared there’s no more nuclear threat.
  • What’s verification process going to look like?
  • What’s it’s going to look like?
  • How long will you give Kim Jong Un to follow through on denuclearization before you —
  • Is he coming to the White House soon?
  • — before you put sanctions back on?
  • Is he visiting the White House, Mr. Trump?
  • Are you planning to meet with Putin this summer?
  • Is Crimea part of Russia? Do you —
  • So it’s his fault? (His = Obama’s)
  • How is it not Putin’s fault, sir?
  • How is it not Putin’s fault, sir? How is it not Putin’s fault? He invaded them.

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:

Continue reading TOWOIT #340: “Go ahead, Jill”

TOWOIT #338: Attacking the U.S. press on foreign soil

June 13, 2018.

The G7 and Singapore stuff has been so stupid and painful and full of moronic pageantry that I admit my brain just shut down a little over this last week. I’m meeting with Washington State Democrats tonight, i’m thinking about the midterms, I’m listening to political podcasts about the midterms and how to get out the vote. I haven’t abdicated my responsibility or my existential dread. I just can’t watch the towers go down in slow motion day after day.

This morning I flipped back through the news page on Whitehouse.gov to see if I had missed a press gaggle — I thought surely in all these days of flying around, there would have been a press gaggle. I had seen Sarah Huckabee Sanders looking dour and complicit on the edges of various Trumpian photographs from recent international events — but no, nothing. Nary a gaggle. Nothing on the docket yet for today either, but it’s early.

Trump himself gave press conferences in Quebec and Singapore, where he attacked the U.S. press. This falls in the zone of what I’ve been avoiding exposing myself to too much of. If I get up the gumption later, I’ll watch so I can identify which reporter asked which question in the transcript. In the meantime, here are the questions from the June 9 transcript:
Continue reading TOWOIT #338: Attacking the U.S. press on foreign soil