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
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
WHDB on August 1, 2018
Now that July is over:
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?”
July 23, 2018.
Today the briefing started 41 minutes late and was 15 minutes long.
Here are the questions the reporters asked Sarah Sanders:
Continue reading TOWOIT #348
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.
Continue reading TOWOIT #347: “Red lights are blinking”
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
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”
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
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.
And in the words of my favorite Crooked Media man after Ira Madison:
More to follow.
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?
- 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 —
- Mr. President —
- 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?
- 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.
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”
June 13, 2018.
Don’t worry everyone, and don’t be insulting. The modalities are beginning to develop. In the words of my older brother, “What a shit show.”
Oh also, this just happened:
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
June 6, 2018.
April Ryan was incredible at yesterday’s briefing when she kept persistently asking about whether the president even understands that the players take a knee because of police-involved shootings. Get it all on the record, April. Sarah Sanders is the worst. She sounds like she’d love executing people who go back to fixing their bicycle too soon after the military parade passes.
C-span’s got its video frozen at quite a facial expression.
- (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, on the President’s decision to disinvite the Eagles, he’s suggesting this is about the National Anthem. Is the President aware that not a single player on the Eagles, through the entire season, knelt for the National Anthem?
- But why is he acting like this is about the National Anthem? And is he concerned — we heard from Steph Curry and from LeBron James the suggestion that whoever wins the NBA Championship, they’re unlikely to be here. Is this about something more than the National Anthem? Something other than the National Anthem?
- (Pamela Brown, CNN) To be clear on that point: This isn’t about the National Anthem; it’s about so few players coming in the end, correct?
- Just to follow up, Sarah. Really important. The other day, on the statement that you made — (Sarah tries to cut her off but she keeps going)
- — you referred us to the outside counsel on the Don Jr. statement that the President was involved in. The outside counsel did weigh in, saying that, yes, the President did dictate the statement. Rudy Giuliani was on CNN saying it was a mistake to say that the President didn’t dictate it. So do you want to correct the record on your statement from August when you said, “He certainly didn’t dictate”?
- But you commented in August, and there was outside counsel in August, as well, but you still talked about it. So why can’t you correct the record now?
- Are you being advised not to answer the question?
- (Catherine Lucey, Associated Press) Sarah, President Trump won Pennsylvania by a narrow margin. The GOP is looking to pick up a Senate seat there. Does he risk alienating key voters in that state by disinviting the Eagles, but also by the statement that the team abandoned the fans?
- (Sarah — I can’t tell who this is) Thank you, Sarah. On Thursday, Prime Minister Abe will be here to meet with the President. What will be on his agenda going into the meeting? Will they discuss trade issues? And the President said the other day that Japan, China, and South Korea can provide economic assistance to North Korea. And does the President plan to raise this issue with Prime Minister Abe?
- And on the — (follow-up denied)
- (Josh Dawsey, Washington Post) EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt asked an aide, we reported today, to help his wife get a Chick-fil-A franchise. Does the President think that’s ethical behavior?
- One follow-up for you, Sarah. (He muscled through her calling on Matthew Nussbaum) Back to her question. We’re not asking really about the Special Counsel or the outside counsel. The only question is, do you think your statement in August was accurate? Your statement; not his. Was your statement accurate or inaccurate?
- No, not a back-and-forth. You said something. We just want to know if it was accurate or not. Was the statement accurate?
- But, Sarah, not about the outside counsel. You said something from the podium. Was it accurate or not? That’s all we want to know. (Defensive angry bullshit lies come out of Sarah’s mouth at this point)
- (Justin Sink, Bloomberg) I wanted to ask about OMB. But just to follow on this quickly — and I think you were asked the question earlier — is the reason that you’re unwilling to engage on this because either you have already or you anticipate yourself having to talk to the Special Counsel about this statement?
- So on OMB, they issued a revised rescission request today, and it withdrew the proposed cuts on Hurricane Sandy recovery funds and Ebola funding. I’m wondering if we should see those retreats as the administration inaccurately concluding at first that these were money that was no longer needing. And if that’s happened just in the last couple months, why that wouldn’t be true for other areas of the budget that the administration has targeted going forward.
- (John Roberts, Fox News) Sarah, the President again took a stick to his favorite piñata, Jeff Sessions, today. (Laughter.) What is the President’s goal here? Is it just simply to remind the Attorney General that he’s really PO’ed at him and he’s not going to let him forget it?
- Is he trying to get him to quit? Is he trying to emasculate him, holding him up? I mean, what is the President trying to do?
- (Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller) Sarah, the President tweeted today that he was concerned that the FBI was weakening or slow walking the DOJ IT investigation into the Hillary Clinton email investigation handled by FBI Director James Comey. What is he basing that concern on? Is it based on conversations that he’s had with FBI personnel currently, or is it simply an observation based on the past?
- Does he think it’s appropriate to encourage the Inspector General to release it based on his timeline rather than their own?
- (Andrew Feinberg, Breakfast Media) Thanks, Sarah. I wanted to follow up on Josh’s question and Sarah’s question, but in a larger sense. The President, whether it’s on his Twitter account or otherwise, keeps saying things that are not borne out by the facts, whether it is the Eagles thing is about the National Anthem, or we’ve got $6 billion for opioids and getting rid of that scourge that’s taken over our country and the numbers are way down; we have thousands of immigration judges. And so the President keeps saying things that aren’t true. And this thing with dictating the statement —
MS. SANDERS: State the question. Sorry, Andrew. If you could get there.
- Why, if things that you keep saying from the podium turn out to not be true, and things the President keeps saying in a number of venues keep saying — are turning out not to be true, why should we be able to trust that the information we’re getting from this administration is accurate? And more importantly, why should Americans be able to trust that what they hear from this White House is always the truth? (This is the part where Sarah says her credibility is higher than the media’s and that the reporters in the room spend all their time trying to tear her down)
- Respectfully, I’m not trying to tear you down, and neither are any of us.
- (Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Thanks a lot, Sarah. I just wanted to get your reaction, the administration’s reaction, to a statement that was put out by a player on the Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins. He’s a strong safety on the Philadelphia Eagles. Very well respected on the team and throughout the league. He put out a statement today in which he said that the decision that was made by the President to cancel this event celebrating the Super Bowl victory by the Eagles paints “the picture that these players are anti-America, anti-flag, and anti-military.” What is your response to what Malcolm Jenkins put out in a statement today?
- (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Are you saying the President bears zero responsibility in this cancellation? This is a President who called NFL players S.O.B.s, who implied that some players who don’t stand for the National Anthem do not belong in this country. Does he bear zero responsibility for players like the Warriors and the Cavs not wanting to come and the Eagles bailing on this?
- (Steve Herman, VOA) Sarah, the President, last year, broke with recent tradition and did not host an Iftar dinner. Is the President hosting such a dinner this year? And can you tell us how the invitees were selected?
- (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, thank you. Let me ask you about two possible trade deals — the one involving the Chinese in which it would be $70 billion of buying American products. The United States would back off its threat of tariffs. Is that something that President Trump would support?
- Real quick on NAFTA. Larry Kudlow said today — Eamon referenced it — that maybe the President wants to deal with Canada solely, with Mexico solely, and that the idea of negotiating NAFTA might be gone at this point. Is the possibility of getting to a NAFTA deal done as this administration sees it?
- (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. Back to the issue of presidential pardons. There’s been considerable furor in Illinois among Republicans, particularly supporters of the President and allies in Congress, such as Congressman Randy Hultgren, about him even suggesting commuting the sentence of former Governor Rob Blagojevich. Several party activists and colleagues of Congressmen Hultgren are becoming increasingly outspoken. Is he going to go ahead with the commutation, or is he backing down? And is he aware of the criticism from supporters of his?
- (Dave) Thanks, Sarah. The President is also meeting with lawmakers here this afternoon. What’s on the agenda?
- (Hunter Walker, Yahoo News) Thank you, Sarah. Does the President still think his response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico deserves a 10 out of 10 score now that estimates say almost 5,000 people died there?
- Any concern about the massive volume of the death toll there? (He said this after Sarah called on someone else, muscling through but she ignored him)
- (Peter Alexander, NBC News) Thanks, Sarah. The administration came out in support of the baker’s freedom of expression in yesterday’s Supreme Court case. I guess I’m asking, why are athletes’ rights to express themselves freely any different than the baker’s?
- So I guess my question is simple: So if the White House supports the BAKER’S right of free speech, why doesn’t the White House support the PLAYERS’ right to free speech?
- (April Ryan jumps in without being called on) It’s about police-involved shootings, Sarah. Why not deal with —
- Sarah, why not deal with the underlying issue of police-involved shootings?
- (Peter again) Sarah, this is — will he commit to a roundtable? Will he commit — will the President, then, if it is about free speech and he supports these ideas, will the President commit to a roundtable with America’s athletes on topics of social injustice?
- (April again) Yes.
- Has he not — just for clarity, has he not — is it not something that has had any discussion to this point, given all the division in this country over this topic of social justice?
- (April Ryan, uncalled on) Why won’t you answer about police-involved shootings? Is the President aware that this is about police-involved shootings and not about disrespecting the flag?
MS. SANDERS: Sorry, Steven. Go ahead.
- Is the President aware of that, Sarah, please?
MS. SANDERS: Steven, if you could go ahead.
- Please answer that. Please answer that.
- (April keeps fighting through it and Steven Portnoy doesn’t try to start talking so finally Sarah is quiet and lets April ask a question) I’m asking, this is — there’s an underlying issue and it just keeps going about disrespect of the flag and soldiers. There are black and brown soldiers that fight in the military, as well, who feel that taking a knee, bringing attention to police-involved shootings is something that this White House should deal with. Is the President aware that taking the knee is about police-involved shootings?
MS. SANDERS: The President has made his position crystal-clear. And that is about —
- Is he aware that this is about police-involved shootings
MS. SANDERS: I let you rudely interrupt me and your colleague.
- I’m sorry, but this is important that this question get answered.
MS. SANDERS: I’m going to ask that you allow me to finish my answer. I would be happy to answer it if you would stop talking long enough to let me do that.
(FUCK YOU, SARAH SANDERS)
- (Sarah says regurgitory stuff about living in a great country but doesn’t answer the question, so April continues) but will he deal with the issue of police-involved shootings?
MS. SANDERS: April, I’ve addressed your question. I’m not going to continue to engage with you.
- I understand. But people are now standing — the NFL is now telling people they have to stand. Will the President deal with the issue of police-involved shootings?
MS. SANDERS: I’m going to deal with the issue of addressing your colleague’s question.
- But it’s a real question. Can you take it to the President and come back to us with it?
MS. SANDERS: Steven, go ahead.
- (Steven Portnoy, CBS Radio) Always happy to yield to a colleague.
- (April Ryan) Thank you.
- (Steven) But let me ask you about Scott Pruitt, because the two Republicans who represent Iowa in the Senate have had it with the EPA Administrator. Chuck Grassley said that Pruitt has betrayed the President. Joni Ernst says that Pruitt is as swampy as you can get. Josh and his colleagues report in the Washington Post today new elements of just how swampy that is. So let me ask you how is it, in the face of ALL that we’ve learned, how is that President Trump continues to have confidence in the EPA Administrator, assuming that he still does?