TOWOIT #290: “How should women feel if they don’t have a photograph?”

February 8, 2018

Today Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah spoke to reporters about the Rob Porter scandal and took questions.

I thought it was very odd that Sarah Sanders wasn’t there on such an important day. Raj Shah had never done a briefing before (he did very well at it though). The White House said it was a pre-planned absence, but I think it’s strange.

Adding to the general sense of things being off, the briefing kept scooting later and later into the day. It was first planned for 1:00, then delayed until 2:30. Then, after the reporters had been sitting around for several minutes waiting, a voice came over the loud speaker (also odd-seeming), announcing that the briefing would now be at 3:15. Loud groans erupted.

John Roberts, Fox News TV ready, jumped up and talked to the cameraman while also talking on the phone to the studio. He decided to go out on the North Lawn to do his next on-camera segment before the briefing was scheduled to start. Then the 3:15 time period passed, 3:21, 3:24, 3:27…

At 3:37, Peter Alexander stood up on his little step-stool to do an on-camera with NBC. He could be heard saying, “They gave us the two-minute warning five minutes ago, so they are definitely struggling with something.” Then at the end of his piece he signed off to say, “…the White House Press Briefing, which is expected to start two hours and twenty minutes ago.” The room, which had gone quiet out of courtesy, erupted in laughter.

Then Jim Acosta with CNN went on air and the waiting reporters became even more the story. “The mood in the room —” he said, and then, gesturing around, “— what’s the mood?” and he was greeted with a mix of groans and whoops.

When Raj finally showed up, it was a relief to have him instead of Sarah, for the change. But you do wonder how someone decent-seeming, who you’ve barely had a chance to begin to despise, could debase himself by working for this White House. Raj broke with Trumpian tradition by saying repeatedly that everyone involved on the White House staff could have done some things differently and handled the Rob Porter situation better. Other than that, he was all over the place. It was a smudgy and squidgy spin job, delivered fairly calmly.

Oh, also, Raj Shah used the phrase “The President’s generals” today.

Here are the questions reporters asked Raj Shah.

Continue reading TOWOIT #290: “How should women feel if they don’t have a photograph?”

TOWOIT #288: “He cried out eleven times”

February 6, 2018

To start Tuesday’s press briefing, Acting Assistant AG John Cronan came in and spoke very slowly and dramatically about MS-13, a “brutal gang of savages.”

Reporters’ questions for Cronan:

  • (Can’t see who asked this question) I had a question, yeah. Given the threat that you’re discussing here, why has Attorney General Sessions renewed a, sort of, increase in the enforcement against marijuana, even though a lot of states have tried to decriminalize or make it legal?
  • But you do have finite resources, correct? So why put a priority, again, in an area that had been deprioritized and had not been considered nearly the threat that this kind of violence you’re talking about is?
  • (Major Garrett, CBS News) John, people in this community have been reading about MS-13 since 2006. Is it your position that the previous two administrations, Bush and Obama, simply did not prioritize this? Or is it much worse now than it was then, and therefore it is justified to have the focus you’re describing here today?
  • Did the previous two administrations not appreciate this, let this grow, let this become a bigger problem? Two questions. Last year, President Trump talked about MS-13. We saw some graphic detail about MS-13. Now you’ve given the President an update. What, beyond an immigration issue, will the Justice Department be doing to break the back of MS-13? That’s the first question.
  • (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Two questions. Last year, President Trump talked about MS-13. We saw some graphic detail about MS-13. Now you’ve given the President an update. What, beyond an immigration issue, will the Justice Department be doing to break the back of MS-13? That’s the first question.
  • And for my second question — yeah, and on my second question, on another issue. And I’m glad you’re here today. The Eric Garner case — it’s still out there, and there are people waiting for an indictment. His mother is looking for justice. He cried out 11 times, “I can’t breathe.” What’s new? What’s happening? What should we expect on that case? (This is an example where I feel like April is reading these facts back into the record by asking)
  • But it’s in the criminal — we understand that it is in the criminal department — the criminal portion of Justice. So, I mean, is there any movement at all? Because I’m hearing that there should have been an indictment here.
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) Jonathan, in the Cabinet Room, where you gave your first presentation, the whole MS-13 issue was wrapped up in the need to increase border enforcement, to change our immigration laws. Do you have any idea how many of the 10,000 gang members of MS-13 in this country are here legally and how many are here illegally?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Isn’t it true that MS-13 makes up just a small fraction of gang members in this country, though?
  • Few people would certainly argue with that characterization that MS-13 targets communities in this country. But what would you say to critics who say you’re using this gang to basically paint a very broad brushstroke against immigrants and scare people here?

There’s a scrum here where the reporters are shouting over each other — this feels unusual, but then it’s been a crazy news week with no briefings — and then you hear a woman’s voice say “I’m going to ask, I’m going to ask” and a man saying “OK” and quieting down.

  • (Hallie Jackson, NBC News) You talked about the Attorney General’s leadership here, Jeff Sessions’s, what he’s been doing in fighting this gang problem. And I want to ask about somebody else who’s a leader of the DOJ, Rod Rosenstein. Are you comfortable with his leadership? Do you believe the rank-and-file are comfortable? Do you believe he’s being unfairly maligned by the President?

Cronan says, a bit doltishly, “I’m here to talk about MS-13.”

  • (Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) So my question, if you — really quick. May we — look, local law enforcement — one of the biggest problems local law enforcement has is that they believe that your particular rules and what you’re doing now are actually causing more problems, because people in the immigrant communities are afraid to come forward and testify against MS-13 because they believe they’re going to be deported if they do so. Can you at least give them any assurance that the immigrant communities, particularly in Gaithersburg, Maryland — you brought that one up and people had — the police in Montgomery County had a difficult time getting people to come forward as witnesses because they were afraid they would be deported if they did so. So your own rules, your own — what you’re doing is scaring people away. Can you address that?
  • No, well, but they’re afraid that you’re going to ship them out and deport them if they do. That’s a real fear. They’ve expressed that fear.
  • You see where that might be a problem, though, in prosecuting the case?

That was it for Cronan.

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The podium changeover from Cronan to Sanders. Brian Karem is still wrapping up a point about immigrants who are afraid to talk to the authorities about MS-13. We also have Saagar Enjeti with his haircut, and a lackey in a mint-green tie, and the top half of Hallie jackson’s birdlike head, and Sarah Sanders smiling calmly because she doesn’t give a shit. 

Cutesy Sarah Huckabee Sanders is so sinister to me. The idea of keeping the briefings SO short and then holding a roomful of reporters hostage while you slowly smarm your way through a child’s letter (This one ended with “P.S. Our pop-pop says that you’re doing a great job. Thank you for keeping us safe.”) — it’s just unconscionable to me. Every day it gets harder and harder not to use gendered insults against her.

  • (AP) Sarah, on the President’s shutdown comments a few minutes ago, a few weeks ago he said that a shutdown would be devastating to the military. Does he now feel that a shutdown would be worth it even if members of the U.S. military were negatively impacted?
  • But isn’t the President encouraging a shutdown here?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Can you then clarify, would the President rather see a shutdown, or a short-term spending fix this week?
  • And then I’m hoping you can clarify one other thing. Chief of Staff John Kelly said today that some DREAMers were, “Too lazy to get off their asses” to register for DACA protections. Is that the position of this White House that DREAMers are lazy? Who thinks this?
  • (Jeff Mason, Reuters) Sarah, what did the President make of the stock market’s volatility yesterday and today? And does he have any regrets about taking responsibility or credit for the stock market’s rise?
  • Does he have any second thoughts about taking credit for when the stock market goes up?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. Has the President had a chance to review the memo from the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee? And is he inclined to release it?
  • Before the review concluded last time, the President had made it clear to lawmakers that he was inclined to release the Republican memo. Has he made any kind of similar comments to you guys about the Democratic memo?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. The President, on the Republican memo, says that it completely vindicates him. And this weekend we heard from Trey Gowdy, who is on the Intelligence Committee, who had a large part in writing that memo. In what way does the President believe that the Republican memo vindicates him? (A good place to remember that Jon Decker is trained as a lawyer)
  • (Major Garrett, CBS News) Sarah, I would think it’s fair to say that many members of the Senate, including Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, were surprised by the President’s comments. So I’d like to see if I could figure out exactly what he was driving at. Is the President saying that unless there is an immigration compromise that he’s satisfied with, he will not sign the emerging budget compromise on a two-year budget deal that McConnell and Schumer are working out? Or will he deal with that separately from the budget talks that are going on now? And both of those represent — are making substantial progress. (People just literally can’t figure out what the President of the United States is trying to say)
  • Does immigration have to be included in that?
  • But do they have to be together?
  • Will he sign a budget deal that does not include immigration policy reforms?
  • So let me ask one other thing about — Senator Flake said something on the Senate floor just a minute ago. I want to give you a chance to respond. He said, and I quote —

MS. SANDERS: I’m sure this will be eventful.

  • “I have seen the President’s most ardent defenders use the now weary argument that the President’s comments were meant as a joke, just sarcasm, only tongue-in-cheek. But treason is not a punchline.” Can you say for the sake of the future that you agree with Senator Flake on that, that treason, or treasonous, is not a punchline, is not a joking matter?

MS. SANDERS: Look, honestly I’m not going to respond directly to Senator Flake’s comments. I don’t really care what Senator Flake has to say. I don’t think his constituents do either, and I think that’s why his numbers are in the tank.

  • (Steven Portnoy, CBS News) Sarah, I want to ask you a question about —
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sarah, thank you. Sarah, you did call on me.
  • (Steven Portnoy, CBS News) Thanks, Sarah. I want to ask you a question about stocks. On the positive economic news, there is a school of thought among economists that, given the current growth in the economy, to inject the economy with stimulus and the tax cuts could actually spark inflation. So — which means is, when these people have more money to spend, prices necessarily go up, and the prices that people pay, go up. And that’s not a good thing. So how keenly focused is this President on inflation fears? And ahead of next month’s Fed meeting, has the President spoken to Chairman Powell about whether he thinks interest rates should go up or not?
  • Any thought on interest rates, one way or the other?
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sarah, as it related to the Republican memo, the President and this White House argued it was important to release it for the sake of transparency. So, therefore, can the American people expect to see the Democratic memo in the sake of transparency?
  • (Unintelligible) determination prior to releasing the Republican memo. So why not the same, as it relates to transparency and —
  • He said, “100 percent.” He said, “100 percent”
  • One question about John Kelly and his comments calling DREAMers — indicating some of them are lazy. Does that type of rhetoric help get a bipartisan deal done?
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) Sarah, also up on Capitol Hill today, Chief of Staff Kelly said that he didn’t think the President would be likely to extend the DACA deadline from March 5th. But twice in Davos, the President said, “If we need a little more time, we’ll take a little more time,” on DACA. And then in a gaggle, when asked if he would extend the deadline, he said, “Yeah, I might do that. I might do that…not guaranteeing it…but I certainly have the right do that if I want [to].” So, which is it? Is he is still open to the idea of extending the deadline, or is it closed? (Again, not even Fox News can tell what the President means when he speaks)
  • Sarah, can you clarify, is he open to extending the deadline, or has that door closed? (John Roberts looks annoyed)
  • (Jennifer Jacobs) Sarah. Thank you so much, Sarah. So on North Korea and the Vice President, when we’ve asked in recent days whether the Vice President — we’ve asked Secretary Rex Tillerson and the Vice President himself — whether he would be interested in meeting with North Korean officials while he is traveling in South Korea for the Olympics, and they both have said, “We’ll see.” Is the administration trying to signal some interest in talks with North Korean officials? Or what is that about?
  • Will the administration rule out that the Vice President will speak with North Koreans while he’s there?
  • (Jim Acosta, CNN) Can I get back to the Chief of Staff saying that some of the DREAMers may just have been too lazy to get off their asses? Just on the face of it, isn’t that just a wildly offensive comment about these undocumented immigrants who are waiting for some kind of solution to come out of this city?
  • On the surface of that, Sarah, though, isn’t it just a — it’s just an offensive comment, though, isn’t it? Just on its surface.

MS. SANDERS: I think that’s something you would have to decide for yourself.

(Uh yeah… we decided.)

  • (David) Sarah, have the President’s lawyers advised him not to testify before Robert Mueller?
  • It’s possible he won’t testify?
  • Sarah, two things. On the economy and the shutdown, how is a shutdown that the President wants to basically show Democrats that they’re wrong — how is a shutdown going to help the economy and help those who this administration is saying we want to lift out of the situation, the plight that they’re in?
  • And then — okay, and then on the next piece, you said treasonous was a joke. But what about “un-American”? In Washington, over the years with the State of the Union, one side — be it if it’s a Democratic President, the Republicans sit. If it’s a Democratic President — well, whatever, you get it. If it’s a Democratic President, the Republicans sit. If there’s a Republican President, the Democrats sit. What is so un-American about this, this year, after this has been going on for all of these years?
  • But he was specifically talking about the black unemployment rate. But he was specifically, at that moment when he was in Cincinnati, talking about the black unemployment rate.

MS. SANDERS: And that’s something everybody should be excited about.

  • But it’s jumped up from 6.8 to 7.7.
  • It’s still higher.
  • But it’s still higher than it was.
  • But it’s still higher —

(She decides to take one last question after saying April was the last. She calls on John Gizzi who is usually very safe. Before John asks his question a man calls out “What’s unAmerican about disagreeing!?”)

  • Thank you, Sarah. Quick question. There have been numerous published reports that Dave Bowdich, number three in the FBI, would be moved up to be deputy director, under Director Wray. He received both his present appointment and his previous position as head of the Los Angeles office of the FBI under former Director Comey. Given the administration’s almost contumacious criticism of Mr. Comey — (laughter) — is there going to be any objection to Mr. Bowdich moving up to the number-two spot under Director Wray?

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 8.02.18 PM

(This was just the diversion she wanted — laughter and jokiness ensued)

As Sarah Huckabee Sanders walked out, something happened that upset me. A man on the side of the room shouted, in a very urgent way, a joke question that was not funny, and was not necessary, and made a mockery out of what the reporters in the room try to do, and he brought April Ryan’s name into it, digging up some beef between April Ryan and Sarah Huckabee Sanders from months ago. April Ryan said “What? I didn’t say anything about that!” And then a few seconds later she just said, “Don’t do that.”

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I like to think that NPR’s Tamara Keith has gone to the French Riviera in her mind

TOWOIT #285: —and he screamed with caps, all caps—

January 29, 2018

Andrew McCabe is stepping down or being forced out (one or the other), a hollow SOTU is scheduled, black people should be grateful to Trump, reporters are getting a runaround on the sanctions deadline, and the nationalized 5G network is going over like a lead balloon.

Here are the questions the White House press corps asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the 14 minutes she allotted for Q&A.

Continue reading TOWOIT #285: —and he screamed with caps, all caps—

TOWOIT #280: Confusing Tweets

January 12, 2018

Today as Donald Trump finished up his Martin Luther King Jr. day declaration (that dreadful Paris Dennard was there), April Ryan asked him, in a loud, clear voice, if he was racist. He just scooted out of that room. Tomorrow is April Ryan’s 21st anniversary of being a White House reporter.

Mnuchin and Sanders had a press briefing from yesterday. This happened a few hours before Trump asked why we keep taking people “from these shithole countries” like Haiti and El Salvador and said we SHOULD be taking people from places like Norway. This morning, the ambassador to Panama resigned his post.

There was something a little toadying about certain moments of yesterday’s press briefing. I know that people just go along to get along and everyone is just a bunch of humans trying to get through the work day. But I hate it when they are all hyuk hyuk hyuk with Sarah Huckabee Sanders (or Steve Mnuchin for that matter).

Anyway, yesterday is the day the president sent very confusing tweets about his own FISA bill, throwing Congress and the White House into a tizzy until 101 minutes later when he sent another tweet that seemed to contradict the first one. But we all forget that because that was the morning and he said a bunch of white supremacist garbage in the afternoon.

Continue reading TOWOIT #280: Confusing Tweets

TOWOIT #274: The Uncomfortability of Omarosa

December 14, 2017… Day 329

(April Ryan inadvertently named Omarosa’s tell-all today)

“So you’re saying that Omarosa Manigault was NOT fired on Tuesday evening, that she DIDN’T get belligerent in her conversation with General Kelly, she WASN’T yelling at him, she WASN’T cursing at him, and she WASN’T escorted off the property?”   — Francesca Chambers with my favorite question today

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Francesca Chambers–the face you make when you give up trying to get an answer out of Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

As always, here is today’s White House Press Briefing, annotated a little, with SHS stripped out, because we don’t need her wall of lies. I just like to know what the reporters asked.

  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, on the taxes, what is the President’s message to those Americans, including some in the middle class, who will face tax increases under this tax bill?
  • But the message to those that will face an increase? I mean, every analysis showed some people, including middle-class Americans, are going to face an increase.
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) On taxes, you got two “no’s” in the Senate so far.  You got Senator Corker who’s been a “no” for a while. Senator Rubio came out and told us a short time ago that he’s a “no” unless he can get an expansion of the child tax credit. Is the President willing to be a little more generous in the child tax credit in order to get Senator Rubio’s vote?
  • Is there more room to move?
  • (Connie Lawn, USA Radio Network–I think) Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.
  • Thank you. What have you learned this past year?  And what changes would you make in the coming year?
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR) Thank you, Sarah. Does the President think that Roy Moore should concede? In other words, does he believe he lost the election fair and square, or does he think he was the victim of widespread illegitimate voting?
  • So Roy Moore lost fair and square. That’s what you’re saying?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. There’s some reports out this morning that Speaker Ryan is considering stepping down at the end of this Congress. Has the President spoken to Speaker Ryan about those reports? And does he want to see Speaker Ryan continue in that role?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) So did this catch the President by surprise, the Ryan report that was out today?
  • And let me ask you about Marco Rubio, as well. We have heard folks who might be “no” votes, potentially undecided votes. But Marco Rubio’s potential “no” vote is one that we know it concerns, but him voting no is seemingly here suddenly out of left field. Has that caught the White House by surprise at all?  Or have you braced for the possibility that you might not have Marco Rubio in your corner?
  • (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Network) Sarah, two things. Should Roy Moore just give his concession speech now, versus holding it out?
  • And the second issue:  Did you watch GMA this morning? And what are your thoughts about this tell-all and the uncomfortability of Omarosa while she was here with some issues?
  • (Jeff Zeleny, CNN) Sarah, if she’s resigned and she’s going to —
  • If she’s resigned, but you said she will stay on — Omarosa will stay on through January 20th — why are the taxpayers continuing to pay her salary for another month if she’s no longer here at the White House?
  • If she has resigned, though, why is she still on the payroll for another month? Is that normal?
  • On a separate matter, on the tax plan, if I could just ask: Will the President ask the House and Senate to stay here in Washington and finish this bill, even if it means bleeding into the Christmas holiday?
  • (Jeff Mason, Reuters) Sarah, does the President have any thoughts about the Disney deal to buy 21st Century Fox?
  • And what does the President think about the FCC decision on net neutrality?  There are a lot of Americans, polls show, who are very opposed to that change.
  • (Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Getting back to that Alabama result, does what happened down there change the President’s relationship at all with Steve Bannon, given his big support for Moore? And has it changed the President’s thoughts on Moore — on, excuse me, Mr. Bannon’s opposition to other incumbent Republican senators?
  • Well, I’m asking about the President’s relationship.
  • (Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thank you, Sarah. I know that you said that you can’t go much further on this personnel matter, but I do want to try to separate out some of the things that we’re hearing here and just be crystal clear.
  • So you’re saying that Omarosa Manigault was NOT fired on Tuesday evening, that she DIDN’T get belligerent in her conversation with General Kelly, she WASN’T yelling at him, she WASN’T cursing at him, and she WASN’T escorted off the property — and Secret Service has said not by them — but she wasn’t escorted off the property by someone or some entity other than Secret Service that evening?
  • (a woman–I can’t see who) In an interview with STAT News this morning, Kellyanne Conway said she and other administration officials have been urging Congress to appropriate additional funding for the opioid epidemic. The President declared a public health emergency earlier this fall, but that fund only has $57,000 in it.  Economists have predicted that it will cost upwards of $190 billion over a decade to treat the crisis. Can you tell us how much money the White House will be urging Congress to appropriate? And what do you have to say to critics who believe that the President hasn’t dedicated enough resources to combatting the epidemic this year?
  • Is it more —
  • Is it around $45 billion that was a part of the Republican healthcare plan?
  • Is that money something that you guys will get done — that appropriation — by the end of this year? Can the President promise that?
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sarah, thank you. With Omarosa leaving, how many senior staffers here, at the White House, are African American?
  • Do you have a number on how many are African American?
  • She was really tasked with reaching out to the African American community. Have you identified who is going to take that role? And how critical is it to this President, to this administration, to make sure that that role is, in fact, filled?
  • And just to follow up one of April’s questions. What Omarosa said today was, “I’ve seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people.” Were her concerns ever addressed or dealt with?
  • Do you know if any of the issues or any of her concerns were?
  • (Margaret Brennan, CBS News) Sarah, today is the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre in which so many children were killed. That, of course, as a tragedy, was eclipsed by what happened in Las Vegas, which is now the most tragic mass shooting on U.S. soil. Since that time, what has President Trump done to try to protect the American people against a similar type of massacre? Does he think anything has been done? What is the administration trying to do? Is there anything at the executive level that he thinks needs to be undertaken?

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(Margaret’s voice quavered a little as she asked this question, but Sarah was perfectly steady as she launched into talk about border security. Border security.)

  • But these were domestic shooters. These weren’t people who entered the United States.
  • But no one issue that the President has highlighted that says he wants to make a priority to push forward?

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  • But there were prescriptions given very quickly just the other day for this failed terrorist attack, which is why in these cases — I mean, this is the worst shooting on U.S. soil on President Trump’s watch.

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  • Does it involve a weapons ban, any kind of regulation, any kind of mental health concerns? Has the President specifically mentioned that as a possibility?
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Thanks for trying to get a real answer, Margaret.
  • (Trey Yingst, One America) Thanks, Sarah.  Has the President expressed any concerns regarding the FCC’s decision today to roll back these Obama-era regulations on net neutrality? And then, moving forward, are there any assurances that the White House can offer to the American people who are concerned that the decision and vote today will lead to a less-free Internet?
  • (Someone named Brian) I’m going to ask a question about taxes. The Federal Reserve, yesterday, said that the tax bill would provide a modest lift to the economy. That’s in stark contrast to words that the President has used, like “rocket fuel” to the economy. What is the data the President is basing his rosier picture of the impact on the economy of the tax bill, versus the experts at the Federal Reserve?
  • Was the President upset the word “modest” was used?
  • For example, your own Treasury analysis used —

 

TOWOIT #273: Do anything

December 13, 2017… Day 327

No briefing today, but April Ryan regaled Twitter with her inside juicy scoops about Omarosa drama.

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Yesterday with all the Alabama hoopla, I didn’t get a post up with yesterday’s White House Press Briefing questions.

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Here are the questions from yesterday. They elicited many lies from the podium.

  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Thank you, Sarah. The President said today that Senator Gillibrand would “do anything” for campaign contributions. Many, many people see this as a sexual innuendo. What is the President suggesting?
  • So you’re saying that this quote — “Senator Gillibrand would do anything” — is a reference to campaign contributions in Washington, the swamp? This has nothing to do with her being a female? What is he alleging would happen behind closed doors with her?
  • (Steve) Does the President want Roy Moore to be seated in the Senate if he wins tonight? And does he plan to call him tonight?
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) Sarah, does the President agree with his outside legal counsel that a special prosecutor should be appointed to look into the goings-on at the Department of Justice during the election campaign in 2016 since the revelation about Bruce Ohr, the former associate deputy attorney general?
  • So would he support the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into this?
  • (Dave Boyer, Washington Times) Thanks, Sarah. Congressional leaders are saying that they have no plans to re-impose sanctions on Iran by the deadline tomorrow that the President initiated back in October when he decertified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Is the White House okay with this no-action? And, if so, where are the teeth in the President’s move to decertify them from compliance?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill)  Thanks, Sarah. Senator Grassley said that he’s advised the White House to reconsider the nomination of Jeff McClure to the federal court in Texas and Brett Talley in Alabama. Has the President spoken to Senator Grassley about his concerns? And does the President plan to pull back those nominations?
  • (Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thanks, Sarah. Bashar al-Assad and Rodrigo Duterte have both recently have used the phrase “fake news” to dismiss damaging reports about their regimes. And a state official in Myanmar recently said that the Muslim minority, Rohingya, don’t exist and added it’s fake news. Is the White House concerned at all about authoritarian regimes adopting this phrase “fake news” to try to delegitimize the press? And does President Trump bear any responsibility for the popularization of this phrase among some world leaders?
  • But when you hear autocrats using the term “fake news” to describe events that reflect poorly on their regimes, that doesn’t cause concern here?
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC) Sarah, thank you. The President tweeted today that the accusations against him are “false, fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. Fake news.” And yet, the reality is he’s pictured with a number of the women who have accused him of the misconduct. So do you concede that that part of his statement is not true?
  • So (inaudible) of all of his accusers? Because –
  • And, Sarah, members of Congress have called for an investigation into these accusations. Is President Trump as confident that they are not true? Would he support such an investigation?
  • And yet, this moment is an important moment, as well, Sarah. This is a moment that’s getting a lot of attention.
  • And yet, Sarah, this is something that is being discussed in businesses all across the country. There have been a number of people who have been fired over this. So why not allow this congressional investigation to go forward? And if the President, he’s confident in the accusations being involved –
  • (April Ryan American Urban Radio Networks) Is Gillibrand owed an apology for the misunderstanding of the President’s tweet this morning? Because many — including the Senator — thinks that it’s about sexual innuendos.

(Sarah says, “only if your mind is in the gutter” to April Ryan.)

  • No, it’s not. What he said was open, and it was not “mind in the gutter.”

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 5.33.15 PM

  • (Hunter Walker, Yahoo! News) Thank you, Sarah. Looking at this issue with the system, the President gave almost $8,000 to Senator Gillibrand over the years. His daughter also gave her $2,000. What specifically did they get for these contributions that she was offered?
  • So he is admitting that he bought access in a corrupt way?
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR News) So Kirsten Gillibrand called for him to resign, and he says over and over again that he’s a counterpuncher. So the next day, after she does that, he wakes up and you’re saying that he’s tweeting about the campaign finance system. Is that what you’re saying?

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 5.35.36 PM

  • And what kind of campaign finance reform does the President want?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. You’re familiar with the President’s tweets. He tweets pretty often. In this particular –
  • Yeah, a little bit. In this particular case, his criticism of Senator Gillibrand was very personal. Why must he criticize in such personal terms? He called a sitting, elected U.S. senator a “lightweight.” Why go after her in such a personal manner?
  • (Trey Yingst, One America News Network) Thanks, Sarah. Two quick questions for you. One following up on John’s question from earlier about a second special counsel. Does the President have confidence in the FBI as it exists today?
  • And then a follow-up on foreign policy. Today, Bloomberg has an article out about the Trump administration encouraging Saudi Arabia to consider bids from U.S. companies as it relates to building nuclear reactors. Does the President see this as an opportunity to bring up human rights in Yemen during these talks with Saudi Arabia?
  • (Margaret Brennan, CBS News) Thank you. H.R. McMaster gave some really interesting remarks at a luncheon earlier today. And he spoke in really strong terms about China and Russia. He said they were “undermining the international order and stability” and “ignoring the sovereign rights of their neighbors and the rule of law.” He went on to talk about Russia, in particular. He didn’t use the words “election meddling,” but he talked about subversion, disinformation, propaganda, and basically pitting people against each other to try to create crisis of confidence. So what I wanted to know is: Does the President agree with all of General McMaster’s statements? And is that a foreshadowing of a national security strategy that will take a harder tack on Russia and China than the administration has so far?

Someone calls out as she leaves, “Could we please get the President out here, at the podium? Could we please see the President, Sarah?”

TOWOIT #272: I’m not done.

December 11, 2017… Day 326

Sarah goes to the WTF (Worse Than Fox) trio when things get hairy today. The boys at One America, LifeZette, and racist zine Breitbart are more than happy to help her trammel over pointed follow-ups from other reporters in the room.

Also, Mara Liasson seemed to fall asleep in her chair near the end of the briefing, which is basically how I was at work today.

Lastly, some people on the left are being really ugly on Twitter, calling Sarah Huckabee Sanders ugly. We’ve got a long way to go on our misogyny — our whole culture is a toxic soup of it. She’s not ugly, she’s just kind of average-looking and not overly symmetrical — LIKE MOST OF US. Her outfits are fine. When people harp on her looks with nasty, gross memes (that aren’t even clever), the message to women everywhere is “Look perfect or hide yourself away.”

She’s an amoral henchperson for Trump. That’s enough fodder for criticism.

Here are the questions the reporters in the room asked today:

  • (Francesca Chambers, Mail Online): Thank you, Sarah. I wanted to ask you about the women who came forward today against the President. They first were on a television show and then they were at a press conference. And they said that he should resign, and then also that there should be a congressional investigation. And I know that you’ve said that this has already been litigated in the last election, but I wanted to get your specific reaction to this idea that there should be a congressional investigation into this.
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sarah, thank you. I want to follow up on that.  But first, a little bit of breaking news we just learned about: The Pentagon apparently will now allow transgender people to enlist in the military beginning January 1st. Your reaction to that?  And any follow-up action you’re going to take?
  • Okay, and one follow-up –
  • One follow-up very quickly on — just very quickly, Sarah.
  • Can I just ask you about Nikki Haley’s comments saying that the President –
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR) I’ll pick that up for you, Kristen.
  • Nikki Haley, as I’m sure you know, said, when asked does the election mean that’s a settled issue — which you’ve been arguing from the podium here — she said, “I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them,” specifically referring to the accusers of the President. Does the President agree with her?
  • But he thinks it’s a good thing that the women who accused him are coming forward now, again?
  • (Jacqueline Alemany, CBS News) I just want to go off of that, Sarah. But the President told Howard Stern in 2005 that he had walked into a teen beauty pageant dressing room where he said that teen contestants had no clothes on because he could sort of get away with things like that. Is that not an admission of sexual harassment—
  • And the American public —   
  • (Charlie Spiering, Breitbart) Two ISIS attacks in New York City — or ISIS-inspired attacks in New York City just recently.  Is the President concerned that there is a growing threat against people inspired by ISIS who have been radicalized online?
  • (Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thank you, Sarah. The President reacted quite angrily over the weekend to a Washington Post reporter’s tweet about crowd size that was quickly deleted.  I’m wondering if you could help explain the discrepancy between the President’s reaction to incidents like this, which he calls “fake news” and talks quite a bit about, and his silence on actual disinformation campaigns like Russia ran during the 2016 election to deliberately spread false information. So both his silence on that, and does he recognize the difference between these two?
  • Does he see a difference between reporters’ mistakes and a disinformation campaign by a foreign government? Does he see a distinction there?
  • (Jim Acosta, CNN) And I would just say, Sarah, that journalists make honest mistakes and that doesn’t make them fake news. But the question that I –
  • We do.
  • The President hasn’t –
  • This wasn’t going to be my question.
  • Okay.
  • You mean like tweeting stuff on the Middle East —
  • He retweeted something that was completely fake, Sarah. Can he admit it?
  • (Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) Are you speaking about the President? [this interjection was after Sarah’s long rant on the media being dishonest]
  • This was not –
  • I know, I know.
  • (Jim Acosta again) This is not the line of questioning that I was going down, but can you cite a specific story that you say is intentionally false; that was intentionally put out there to mislead the American people?
  • Sarah, if I may though, I was going to ask a question about something else.
  • Well, Sarah, if I may –
  • Sarah, if I can ask about the President’s accusations –
  • I know, but I didn’t get a chance to ask the question that I wanted to ask, which is –
  • — can you just say, once and for all, whether these accusations –
  • (Jim Stinson, LifeZette) Sarah, a question about investment — investment taxes.
  • (Jim Acosta, CNN) I think I was within my rights to respond to your attacks on the news media. If that’s okay, I would like to ask the question that I had about these accusations of misconduct against the President. You said that he’s denied them. Can you say whether or not they are false?

[Sarah says: “I’m not going to respond”]

  • Sarah, some investors are saying the tax reform package favors mutual funds over individual investors. Other critics who want tax reform say the bill will cause some tax increases for a few middle-class tax filers. By a few, I mean maybe tens of thousands, but maybe more. Will the President sign the tax bill, even if there are inadvertent tax increases and some of the criticisms are correct?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Tomorrow there is a special Senate election in Alabama. Back on September the 23rd, the President went down to Huntsville, Alabama — campaigned alongside of Luther Strange — and since that time, he never went down in the course of the campaign — the campaign, alongside the Republican nominee, Roy Moore. Was the President embarrassed in terms of campaigning alongside Roy Moore? Is that the reason why we didn’t see him down there in Alabama?
  • (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, what is the disconnect, as it relates to this White House, when it comes to then-candidate Trump bringing the accusers of Bill Clinton to the debate, against Hillary Clinton, and now the accusers of Roy Moore — making these accusations — and his accusers? What’s the disconnect here?
  • Well, what about his own accusers though? He has accusers as well.
  • Will he address the American public about this? Because this is spinning, and it’s focused on him now as –
  • But will he — it’s coming up new and a fresh, and more people are now speaking out. Will –
  • I understand. But will the President address the nation on this? This is a huge issue, Sarah.
  • Will the President come out and address this, please?
  • Sarah, all you have to say is yes or no.
  • (Trey Yingst, One America News Network) Thank you, Sarah. Today, the suspected terrorist in New York City, he was described as a Bangladeshi immigrant. Bangladesh is not on the President’s travel ban list. Does today’s attack change the way that President Trump is evaluating travel restrictions?
  • (Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News) Thanks, Sarah. At the top of your remarks about ISIS, about the attack today in New York City, you talked about the need to destroy the ideology, intimating would-be attackers and the actual attackers. What policy changes are required to do that?  How do you defeat an ideology that’s been attempted since 9/11 with, really, no great success? What are you doing differently? What can you do differently in order to do that?
  • (Jessica Stone, CGTN (China)) Thanks, Sarah. Two quick ones on Korea. Do you have an update on sanctions? Last week, you said it would be coming in a number of days. And secondly, Victor Cha was just nominated to be the Republic of Korea Ambassador. Do you have any comment?
  • (Margaret Brennan, CBS) Sarah, I’m interested in the comment you made about the suspect in New York. Does the White House have any proof that this suspect was radicalized outside of the United States? He’s been a lawful, permanent resident living here for some time. 
  • But why would his chain migration be an issue unless you were saying that something happened outside the U.S.? [she won’t answer]
  • (Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg) On the directive on space the President is going to announce this afternoon, will he call for an increase in spending for NASA, or will there be commercial partnerships? Or will he reduce NASA funding in other areas such as earth science, which includes the study of climate change?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Thanks, Sarah. Two questions. Who were the eyewitnesses who dispute these allegations against the President? And can you stand here right now and say, without a doubt — 100 percent certainty — that the more than dozen women who have come forward to accuse this President of misconduct are lying? Do you wrestle with this personally at all?
  • (Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) So let me just follow up on that question a little bit. As a woman standing up there talking to us — I know your job is to relay what the President says — have you ever been sexually harassed? And do you understand — and I’m not saying by the President — I’m saying ever. And secondly, do you have an empathy for those who come forward? Because it’s very difficult for women to come forward.
  • (Zeke Miller, AP) Thanks, Sarah. Following up on the President’s announcement last week on Jerusalem, declaring it’s the capital of Israel, we saw days of protests — sometimes violent protests in the Middle East, changes to the Vice President’s schedule as he goes through the region. Does the White House acknowledge, does the President acknowledge, that that decision increased tensions in an already volatile region?
  • Sarah, but this is about more than violence. This is about meetings being cancelled. It’s about diplomatic outcry from everyone from — you know, the governments of the United Kingdom, the Pope, and the like. So why is it beneficial to the U.S. interest, as the President declared, if all those groups, all those countries and allies are condemning that announcement?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill)  Yeah, following up on that, President Abbas, as you know, has said he will not meet with the Vice President next week. Does the President have a reaction to that? And doesn’t this mean that the U.S. has effectively taken itself out of the peace process when one side won’t even show up to meet with the United States?
  • (Philip Crowther, France24) So the last suspects of terrorism were not training in Syria or Iraq. And Thursday, the Russians stopped their operations, said that they’d gotten rid of ISIS in Syria. Saturday, the Iraqi Prime Minister said this fight against ISIS is won. Why would the U.S. still need to fight on the ground?

Called out as SHS left—(something inaudible) the President misrepresented the facts?

 

TOWOIT #270: Lockstep

December 5, 2017… Day #320

Questions the reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders today:

  • [Major Garrett, CBS] Sarah, one issue that you may have seen this morning: Is the White House, or the President, at any level, considering creating a global or regional spy network that would circumvent the U.S. intelligence apparatus and serve the President outside of the normal and legally defined intelligence-gathering mechanisms?
  • The President would be opposed to that?
  • Do you know if any senior official has been briefed on that idea, or has it been discussed at any level in this administration?
  • Is it possible –
  • No, but is it possible it’s something the President might consider?
  • Is it something the President might consider?
  • [John Roberts, Fox News] World leaders have spoken out, Sarah, in the last 24 hours about the possible move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas says that it would have great consequences for peace and stability in the region. King Abdullah said much the same thing. Saudi Arabia, at least publicly, saying the same thing; though, I’m told privately, they’re saying something different than that. French President Macron said that he thought it was a bad idea. In the face of all of that, would the President ignore that advice from world leaders and go ahead and make the move at this time?
  • Is it safe to say, other than Israel, which thinks that this move is 22 years overdue, that all of the feedback that he’s been getting from world leaders is overwhelmingly negative about this idea?
  • [Cecilia Vega, ABC News] Thanks, Sarah. Yesterday, the President said that he felt very badly for General Flynn. Would he consider pardoning him?
  • So you haven’t talked to him about it, or he said he wouldn’t consider it?
  • You have not —
  • So is it fair to say that it’s on the table?
  • [Steve Holland, Reuters] Back on the embassy. Has the President made up his mind about this, or is the decision still in flux a bit?
  • [April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks] Sarah, a couple questions. One, there are comments from people from the NAACP, black ministers, who plan on protesting and boycotting this weekend for the President’s visit to the Civil Rights Museum. What say you?
  • They feel it’s an insult that he’s coming as we’ve had issues of Charlottesville, the back and forth — the President couldn’t get his statement straight on Charlottesville.
  • [Jordan Fabian, The Hill] Thanks, Sarah. Did the President know that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI at the time that he fired him in February?
  • I have a follow-up. So your predecessor said on June 6th, “…is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States in regards to his tweets.” Does that still — does that standard still apply for the President’s tweets?
  • [Matthew Nussbaum, Politico] Thanks, Sarah. The White House originally said that if the accusations against Roy Moore were true, then Moore should step aside. I’m wondering how the President reached the conclusion that all of Moore’s accusers — including those who have put forward evidence — are lying.
  • Even if that person who would support his agenda has done what Roy Moore’s accusers have said he’s done?
  • [David Brody, Christian Broadcasting Network] Sarah, can you tell me a little bit about the process and timing as how the President got to the potential Jerusalem announcement tomorrow? Do you have somewhat of a backstory on that to the degree that you can at this point?
  • And just a quick follow-up. An evangelical’s role in this, how crucial is that being in terms of the Faith Advisory Council?
  • [Jon Decker, Fox Radio News] Thanks a lot, Sarah. I have a question for you about the special counsel’s office. Does the President believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or anybody on his staff, is biased in any way against the President?
  • Just a follow-up for you, if I may, Sarah. I think it was about five or six weeks ago that you indicated from that podium, on a few occasions, that you believe and the White House believes that Mr. Mueller’s investigation will be wrapping up shortly. Since that time, we’ve seen that a very high-level aide to the President — former aide to the President — former national security advisor has entered a plea deal with the special counsel’s office. Do you still believe that this investigation is wrapping up soon?
  • [Blake Burman, Fox Business News] Sarah, thank you. Let me ask you two questions on so-called “red lines.” If Robert Mueller ends up looking into the President’s finances, or if he has already looked into the President’s finances, does the President, does this White House believe that is a red line? And, if so, why?
  • Let me ask you — a second red line. This White House has consistently said there are two red lines on tax reform — middle class relief and then a 20 percent corporate rate. But the President, over the weekend, seemed to suggest that he would be amenable for a corporate rate up to 22 percent. Why would he be willing to step over his own red line on that issue?
  • [Michael Shear, New York Times] So two quick things. One, does the President believe, as the lawyer from the solicitor general’s office said at the court today, that a baker could put a sign in his window saying “We don’t bake cakes for gay weddings” and that that would be legal?
  • Yeah, so the solicitor general — the lawyer from the solicitor general’s office for the administration said today in court, at the Supreme Court, that it would be legal, it would be possible for a baker to put a sign in his window saying, “We don’t bake cakes for gay weddings.” Does the President agree that that would be okay?
  • And that would be, that would –
  • And one other question just on Russia, but not one that you would expect. What does the President think of the decision to ban Russian athletes from the Olympics in 2018?
  • [Catherine Lucey, Associated Press] Sarah, House Republican leaders had to push back a vote on a short-term budget bill this week to avert a shutdown. Does the White House think that a shutdown is a possibility?
  • And one follow-up. Then, the President doesn’t think that it would be politically advantageous?
  • [Hallie Jackson, NBC] Two quick ones for you. And just a statement of fact: When did the President know that Mike Flynn lied to the FBI?
  • I’m asking for a date. I’m asking for a date. When did he find out? Was it when the announcement was made Friday? Was it prior to that?
  • Would you mind following up with the President since Dowd has been unresponsive to that?
  • No problem. A point to you, you have weighed in on other special counsel matters before. It’s just a statement of fact of when, during the administration, what day the President discovered this lie issue.
  • My second question is on Roy Moore, Sarah. You said, just a minute ago, that the President would want somebody in the Senate who supports his agenda versus one who does not. And I just want to clarify here that, is it the White House’s position then — sort of formally here — that it is worse to have a Democrat in that Senate seat than somebody who is accused of sexually abusing a teen girl?
  • Then why did the President endorse?
  • [Steven Portnoy, CBS News] Thanks, Sarah. I do want to nail something down with respect to John Dowd and what he’s been telling us in the last couple of days. He’s argued that the President cannot be charged with obstruction of justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer in the country. That’s his opinion. Does the White House share that opinion? Has the White House Counsel’s Office looked into this question? Does it share that perspective?
  • What do you make of the whole notion of obstruction of justice, though? It’s been discussed in the last couple of days. A lot of people have been talking about it. What do you think about it?
  • [Jim Acosta, CNN] I’m not an attorney either. Let me ask you about –
  • Thank you, I appreciate that. This decision on Jerusalem — is the President concerned that there could a violence as a result of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Has that been looked at by this White House?
  • Following up on Roy Moore, just very quickly — other folks got a couple of questions — isn’t there a moral decision that you’re making here? And I’m sure you’ve heard this talked about in the news the last couple of days as the President has decided to endorse Roy Moore. This is somebody who has been accused of child abuse, of molesting children. How can that vote in the Senate be that important that you would take a gamble on somebody who has been accused of molesting kids, of harming somebody who’s underage?
  • Is that something the President has wrestled with in any way? Has he wrestled with that question?
  • [Brian someone] Sarah, thank you. The President said that the tax plan will hurt him individually. Will the President release his taxes to prove that?
  • Why not? I mean, he can release it — even if it’s under audit, he could release his tax returns if he wanted.
  • [Jon Gizzi, Newsmax] Yeah. Thank you, Sarah. A matter of procedure on the Roy Moore endorsement. Did the President have any conversations with Chairman McDaniel of the RNC after he made his position known? Or did he talk to state Chairman Lathan in Alabama or any of the players involved in the Republican National Committee before they decided to get back in the race and support Roy Moore?
  • You can’t say who the officials are?
  • [Hunter Walker, Yahoo! News] Thank you, Sarah. Given the President’s endorsement, does he agree with Roy Moore that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress?
  • But, I mean, you’re saying that their agendas are kind of in lockstep. Does that go both ways?
  • [Eamon Javers, CNBC] Thanks, Sarah. Does the President expect Deutsche Bank or any financial institutions to cooperate with requests for documents from U.S. law enforcement if they get them?
  • What’s the President’s message to the financial institutions themselves? If they get a request, should they comply with that?
  • [Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers] Just to follow up on Roy Moore a bit. Are you saying that — you’re saying let the people decide, but this administration has endorsed Roy Moore. Why endorse him if you want the people to decide? You’re influencing the decision by endorsing him. And secondly, are you saying that no matter who runs as a member of the GOP, it’s okay as long as you are in lockstep with the President and vote the way he wants?
  • For this person. This person.
  • [Dave Boyer, Washington Times] Thanks, Sarah. The administration reported today that illegal border crossings have dropped to a 45-year low. Does that lessen the urgency, as we’re getting down to spending decisions here, about whether to go forward with building the wall in this budget?

TOWOIT #267: April, Cecilia, Jenna & Zeke

November 20, 2017… Day 305

SHS Briefing #34

There was a bit of a hostage situation in the White House Press Briefing today as Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that each reporter must say what he or she was thankful for before a question could be asked. Oh, but first she “joked” that she was thankful for everyone in the room, and then she said “No, but seriously” she was thankful for the military. She really sucks. The whole thing made me cringe down to my toes and called to mind a jovial but sadistic father figure forcing people to do gimmicky things at the dinner table before they can eat.

It must be nice going through life, holding everyone hostage at the lowest common denominator.

I took note of who played along and who didn’t. These things are supposed to be “nice.” Well, it’s not fucking nice. It’s gross and unprofessional and creepy.

Here’s how they responded, in the order of my approval.

  1. April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks: Sugary and poisonous. I think she might have done one of those “bless your heart” maneuvers.
  2. Cecilia Vega, ABC News: Flat-out said she was thankful for the First Amendment and launched unamusedly into a hard question.
  3. Jenna Johnson, Washington Post: Didn’t even thank Sarah for calling on her, launched into hard question with resting bitch face.
  4. Zeke Miller, Associated Press: Straight-faced, did not play along, ignored her teasing, pressed on, gave her a cold stare moments later when the people around him were laughing at a dumb joke of hers.
  5. Matthew Nussbaum, Politico: Ignored the gimmick altogether.
  6. Margaret Talev, Bloomberg Television: Says she’s also thankful for the First Amendment then chickens out and says something ameliorating that leads to widespread giggling.
  7. Francesca Chambers, Daily Mail Online: Somehow snarky yet sincere.
  8. White guy names Steve: Wearily perfunctory, but then asked lame question.
  9. Young Fox News woman: Played along but redeemed herself somewhat by asking a hard question and being assertive about a follow-up.
  10. John Gizzi: Played along, but is sort of in a class of his own.
  11. White guy named Jim: Cheesy, brought up sports
  12. Blake Burman, Fox Business News: Cheesy, brought up sports
  13. Jon Decker, Fox Radio News: Smarmy and all-in

Here’s that Zeke Miller moment. I cut out Mara Liasson’s laughing face because I was ashamed for her.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 5.53.17 PM

OK, and here are all the questions:

Continue reading TOWOIT #267: April, Cecilia, Jenna & Zeke

TOWOIT #260: Laughingstock.

November 1, 2017… Day 286

  • [Jon Decker, Fox Radio News] Sarah, in the hours — and, in fact, the days — after the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, the President repeatedly said now is not the time to talk about policy, now is not the time to talk about politics, and that’s for another time; right now we need to mourn the dead. Yet, this morning, the President launched into a political argument with Senator Chuck Schumer on Twitter, literally hours after this incident yesterday. Why was he so quick to go the political route and point fingers at Chuck Schumer for the fact that this person was in the country at all?
  • We heard today, at about 11:30 this morning, from the mayor and the governor of New York, who had said at that time the President had yet to call. Has the President called his mayor, his governor? He’s a New Yorker.
  • Sarah, why wasn’t Uzbekistan on the travel ban list?
  • Why isn’t the President calling for Uzbekistan to be put on the list?
  • Why? I’m just curious — why? Since he’s clearly looking for ways to —
  • Thank you, Sarah. On Senator Schumer, can you tell us when is the last time he and the President spoke? And more broadly, the President is saying that he is responsible at least in part for this attack. Does the President still see him as someone —
  • Does the President still see Senator Schumer as someone he can work with?
  • Thanks a lot, Sarah. The President was asked a little bit earlier, when he was meeting with his Cabinet, about the possibility of sending this terror suspect to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And he said he is indeed open to that. Does the President believe he has the authority as Commander-in-Chief to send this terror suspect to Gitmo? That’s my first question. And my second question is about Gitmo. What advantages does the President see in sending this terror suspect to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba?
  • Are there advantages in terms of sending any terror suspect to Guantanamo?
  • Thanks, Sarah. The President said last night that he’d ordered DHS to step up “our already extreme vetting.” I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit specifically about what extreme vetting entails, and if there’s any indication that it might have had an impact on preventing yesterday’s attack.
  • Sarah, separate from the Guantanamo Bay question, does the President believe this suspect should be classified as an enemy combatant?
  • Would the President therefore instruct the Justice Department not to charge him in federal court, and to therefore use the powers of enemy combatant and that status to treat him differently not only in terms of interrogation, but prosecution? [The DOJ nixed this entire thing within a couple hours]
  • Is the President open to not having him charged at all in federal court?
  • Have you determined that — you said you’re open to the enemy combatant thing. You think he is an enemy — [SHS already looked like a blithering idiot talking about enemy combatants before the DOJ unceremoniously nixed this entire thing]
  • You do so now?
  • And on what basis? [You could tell the press were like, “wow, maybe she doesn’t know what an enemy combatant is”]
  • Does the green card status in any way influence that determination? [But sometimes liars and fools are like sleepwalkers, and you’re almost afraid to wake them up]
  • [Kirsten Welker, NBC News] Sarah, I want to follow up on the question Jon was asking you earlier. You’re making the case that these are not new policies he’s talking about, and yet the question still remains, he is delving into a policy and political discussion. And he and you were very clear after the Las Vegas shooting that it wasn’t appropriate to talk about policy. So what’s the difference now?
  • But, Sarah, the President invoked Chuck Schumer’s name. So how can you argue that it’s not a political argument that he’s making?
  • Schumer and others say he’s not unifying the country —
  • — voted against them for the Gang of Eight. That’s not true.
  • Is he failing to unify the country at this point?
  • [Margaret Brennan, CBS News] When he’s talking about “quicker”, “greater” punishment, is he just talking about better enforcement of laws that currently exist, or is he talking about some sort of extrajudicial process? And are you looking at doing an executive order that would empower him? Would you make something like that public, or would you consider doing a secret order? And, very quickly, I also want to ask you: Is he really serious about tying the Obamacare, Medicaid stuff to the tax thing? That seems like it would just blow the whole deal up — blow right through that Thanksgiving goal.
  • Sarah, John Miller, the Deputy New York City Police Commissioner, said the suspect committed the attack in the name of ISIS. Governor Cuomo said the suspect was associated with ISIS. How can the President make the case that we are annihilating ISIS when an attack like this occurs? Are his policies emboldening the remnants of ISIS?
  • The President said earlier, today he’s starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program. What did he mean by “starting the process”?
  • Okay, sorry, just to follow up on Margaret’s question: So the President isn’t considering any broader criminal justice reform?
  • Thank you, Sarah. A follow-up question on Jon Decker’s question. The criterion that you listed for enhanced vetting sounds very much like that for a national I.D. card — a subject that comes up every few years in Congress but which has never been acted on. Is the administration in favor of a national I.D. card as part of the enhanced vetting?
  • You’re not ruling out a national I.D. card as part of the —
  • [Blake Burman, Fox Business News] Between the time the President sent the tweet out last night saying that he’s called for a step-up of extreme vetting until now, can you lay out exactly what has been stepped up in that timeframe?
  • [Still Blake] And then going forward on tax reform real quick, if I can, do you mind? It’s possible that one of the things that Republicans are looking at right now is drastically lowering the cap for 401(k)s. The administration has consistently said that this tax plan has to help the middle class. So how would bringing down the cap on 401(k)s help the middle class?
  • [Eamon Javers, CNBC] Thanks, Sarah. On the tax cut bill, what does the President want that bill to be called? There are reports that he wants to call it the “Cut Cut Cut Act.” Are those accurate?
  • Can you tell us if his Federal Reserve Chair pick is a man or a woman? (Laughter.)
  • Sarah, the President talked about wanting merit-based immigration today and criticized the diversity visa program. Is he aware that the diversity visa program actually does have a merit-based component to it?
  • They’re ranked by their job that they have had and they have to have a minimum education.
  • They have to meet certain criteria and have certain rankings. It’s not entirely random.
  • So the 350,000 people have come in since the Uzbek gentleman yesterday came in — 350,000 people come into the country on this program. One of them now, apparently, has been accused of a terrorist act. One of the 350,000 create a problem then for that program?
  • Why did the President call the U.S. justice system a joke and a laughingstock during his comments in the Cabinet? [SHS said “That’s not what he said.” I shrugged it off at the time, but later I heard his comments and there was no room for doubt. He said exactly that. Orwell alert.]
  • He said that the system of justice in this country was a joke.
  • If I could follow up on a separate subject if I could. Other folks had a couple of questions each. Getting back to George Papadopoulos, does the President recall at that March 31st, 2016 meeting of his National Security Advisory Board, Mr. Papadopoulos suggesting a meeting behind then-candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin? Does he recall that?
  • [April Ryan, AURN] Sarah, two questions. First, Mary Frances Berry, the former head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, says everyone wants vetting, but to stop people from coming because they come from different countries is totally wrong. What say you?
  • But the diversity lottery is specifically for those coming from other nations that you are not favoring right now because you believe that there is a possibility of terrorism.
  • And second question, last question. Compromise, the issue of compromise — what is the definition of “compromise” as it relates to slavery and the Civil War?
  • There were a lot of questions still lingering when you left. And I’m going to ask the question again, and respectfully —
  • I’m not accusing; I’m asking a question, Sarah. Seriously. The question is: Does this administration believe — does this President believe slavery was wrong? And before you answer, Mary Frances Berry, a historian, said, in 1860 there was a compromise. The compromise was to have Southern states keep slavery, but the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter that caused the Civil War. And because of the Civil War, what happened — [Sarah Sanders cuts her off to say “I think it is disgusting and absurd to suggest that anyone inside of this building would support slavery.” I think she’s disgusting and absurd.]
  • Yesterday, from that podium, you said all of our leaders have flaws — Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Kennedy. What are President Trump’s flaws? [SHS says Trump’s greatest flaw is that he has to deal with the press everyday. This makes zero sense. Has she not ever had a job interview in her life? Did she not take the SAT?]
  • In fairness, he doesn’t deal with us on a daily basis. So what would you say in sincerity?
  • What are his flaws then, I guess? Simple question.
  • Thanks, Sarah. Two questions for you. What does the future of Guantanamo Bay look like under the Trump administration?
  • And if I could follow up on last night — could you give us a little bit more of the tick-tock of how the President found out about this terror attack in New York City — how he immediately responded, who he got on the phone with right away? Just trying to get a better understanding of where he was at this time, what he was doing, and what actions he took, following the news.
  • Thank you, Sarah. Will President look for — will President Trump look for enhancing anti-terror measures with other foreign countries during his visit to Asia? And also, will President Trump call the leaders of Argentina and Belgium to express his condolences?

 

 

TOWOIT #259: Is slavery wrong, Sarah?

October 31, 2017… Day 285

  • We’re dressed as reporters.
  • Sarah, where does the President stand on this tax deduction for state and local taxes? That seems to be in dispute up on the Hill.
  • But what about the mortgage interest deduction?
  • Has it come up in the conversation with Speaker Ryan just now?
  • Thanks, Sarah. A question on yesterday’s Mueller news. President Trump’s nominee to serve as chief science advisor over at the Agriculture Department is Sam Clovis, and Clovis was the campaign supervisor cited in that Papadopoulos plea. And his lawyer has since acknowledged that he was the one in that plea who encouraged Papadopoulos in August 2016 to make a trip to Russia to meet with Russia officials about the campaign. Given all that, is the President still comfortable with him, Sam Clovis, serving in the administration?
  • And on that note, is the administration aware of who the other three or four campaign individuals who were referenced in that Papadopoulos plea were? And are any serving in or advising the administration?
  • The Chief of Staff, John Kelly, said that this counsel investigation has been very distracting to the President. Can you elaborate on that? Is this affecting his ability to get the job done here?
  • Why are you so confident that the investigation won’t go on much longer?
  • The other thing that General Kelly said yesterday was in reference to General Lee, and he said that the Civil War was a result of a failure to compromise. Was he suggesting that there be compromise on the abolition of slavery? Can you expand on exactly what he was talking about?
  • Let me follow up. You’re a proud daughter of the South. When you see Nathan — like a statue as they had in Memphis of somebody like Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was responsible for the Fort Pillow Massacre, and other folks like that, is there a differentiation? Do you think there are certain Confederate figures who don’t deserved to be honored, like Nathan Bedford Forrest?
  • [Jon Decker, Fox News Radio] Thanks a lot, Sarah. Just to follow up on what you said yesterday and what you have reiterated today about this investigation and your belief that it’s going to be wrapping up soon. Yesterday, you said that, “Those are the indications that we have at this time.” From your point of view, is what you’re saying wishful thinking? Is it spin? Are you getting leaked information that gives you that indication? Why do you continue to say that you believe that it is wrapping up soon?
  • At the Papadopoulos hearing —
  • I just want to ask you this one thing about one of the prosecutors that is on Bob Mueller’s team. At the plea hearing for Mr. Papadopoulos last month, he hinted at the possibility of more to come in the investigation. He said the Mueller probe is “a large-scale, ongoing investigation of which this case” — the Papadopoulos case — “is a small part.” So, given what he said, as an officer of the court, are you disagreeing with anything that he said in his remarks during that plea hearing?
  • Sarah, I have one question about what the President said today, and then an Asia trip question, broadly. But the first question is: The President mentioned in the tax reform meeting there that he was going to be announcing “soon” some companies that are coming back to the United States. Can you either name them or give us the industry that we’re talking about?
  • And then on the Asia trip, the speech that he’s making at APEC is being billed as a theme for the trip as well as the Indo-Pacific. Does this administration see India as a pivotal part of your strategy when it comes to the Asia-Pacific more broadly?
  • Sarah, the former White House strategist, Steve Bannon, is saying the administration should push back harder against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Does the President support defunding the special counsel?
  • [John Gizzi, Newsmax] Thank you, Sarah. Two questions, please. First, the President is quoted last year as calling Mr. Papadopoulos, and I quote, “a great guy.” And today it was “a liar.” And I wonder, just to kind of clear the air, how well did he actually know him? And was briefed by him often? Did he have frequent meetings? How well does he know this man?
  • And he only met the President — candidate Trump, one time?
  • The other thing I wanted to ask was that a few weeks ago, when the President sent out Twitters about the media, he suggested that equal time be applied. Now, to many people, that was a euphemism for the Fairness Doctrine, something that President Ronald Reagan helped eliminate and which Democrats, such as Leader Pelosi, have tried to revive. Is he seriously in favor of reviving the Fairness Doctrine? And I might add that its premier opponent of revival was a young congressman named Mike Pence.
  • The President — sorry, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is on Capitol Hill today. Does the President have plans to meet with him at any point today or this week before he leaves for Asia?
  • Sarah, there is still a lot to be negotiated on taxes — SALT, which was just brought up; possible phasing in of the corporation rate, just to name a couple. When the tax bill — whatever of it — is released tomorrow, will the President wholeheartedly endorse this as his plan?
  • And lastly, on the Fed — I know you’re not going to give us a name. I’m not asking you to give us a name.
  • Then we would love the name.
  • Come on —
  • If you want to give us a name, we will take it. If not, my simple question is: Has the President made his decision, or is he still debating it?
  • President Trump, during the campaign, repeatedly castigated Hillary Clinton for not coming forward and coming clean when she got debate questions ahead of the debates. Why didn’t anyone in the Trump campaign, including his son, come forward when there were solicitations from Russian agents to provide dirt on his opponent?
  • I’m just getting to the sense of the proactive duty to come clean when there is an ethical question. And is the President upset that people in campaign did not come clean when there were ethical questions and ethical lines being broached?
  • Collaborating with the RUSSIANS is? [SHS had just said “pretty standard campaign operating procedure”]
  • I have two questions. The first one is: You’ve been very clear that Trump didn’t collude but Hillary did. What is your definition of collusion?
  • And my second question is about — [SHS cuts her off]
  • Just to follow up from Glenn. Robert E. Lee aside — and I understand your point about how all leaders have flaws — but what Kelly said yesterday was that an inability to compromise led to the Civil War. And back in the spring, the President said that he thinks that Andrew Jackson could have made a deal to avert the war. What is the compromise that they’re talking about? To leave the southern states slaves and the northern states free? What was the compromise that could have been made?
  • [Someone blurted out loudly, “COMPROMISE ON OWNING HUMANS!?! and the White House transcript did not include it]
  • Thanks, Sarah. Apropos what’s going on on the Hill this afternoon, and Facebook disclosing yesterday that more than 100 million Americans were apparently exposed to what amounts to Russian propaganda, what’s the White House’s view of that notion, that more than 100,000 people have been reading and watching what this Russian outlet has been putting out? And what do you make of the notion that there ought to be some kind of requirement that Facebook be required to disclose — the way that many broadcasters are required to disclose — when political ads are made?
  • [Hallie Jackson, MSNBC] Sarah, I’d like you to follow up on something you said earlier, but I also want to follow up on the conversation that’s been happening about the slavery compromise. I’m not asking you to re-litigate the Civil War. We don’t need a history lesson on the compromises that have happened. But does the White House at least acknowledge that the Chief of Staff’s comments are deeply offensive to some folks, and historically inaccurate?
  • [Hallie says “I’m not trying to ‘drive a narrative’ here–Sarah, can I follow up on that, given that you–” then Hallie’s face turns into one of pure frustration, disgust, disdain as Sarah facially stonewalls her and the next reporter, male, drowns out Hallie’s voice. The White House transcript leaves off Hallie’s attempt to follow up.]
  • There’s a new poll out that shows that the public seems to trust many of the mainstream media outlets that the President criticizes more than they trust the President himself. Why do you think this would be? And do you think the White House agrees with that?
  • Sarah, given some of the criticism we’ve heard from the President’s outside advisors, is the President happy with his legal team right now? Does he feel well-represented, well-defended when it comes to the Mueller probe particulars?
  • Thank you, Sarah. I just wanted to ask about taxes and then maybe just a very quick follow on the discussion about compromise. If I’m understanding you correctly, what you’re really saying is, he’s not just suggesting a compromise on slavery, he’s talking about other compromises that may have been germane to that period of history. Is that fair?
  • On taxes. I just want to get a sense of what the President might really be interested in as far as the child tax credit and as far as the Obamacare individual mandate. Is it your opinion that the President would be supportive of both? Meaning, that they need to be a major tenet of the tax reform that will be unveiling this week?
  • The Obamacare individual mandate. Does that have to be a part of tax reform?
  • Sarah, you said to us a few moments ago the Papadopoulos plea agreement is an example of an individual doing the wrong thing but the campaign doing the right thing — if I remember what you said — correct me. Does that extend to Sam Clovis encouraging George Papadopoulos to go to Russia on behalf of the campaign to solicit information?
  • Are you saying that Clovis is being misinterpreted by George Papadopoulos?
  • Let me ask you about one thing you said yesterday. You were asked at one point during yesterday’s briefing when the President became aware that Russia was behind hacking and possession of emails. You said, “I’m not sure of the specific date of when that took place, so I’d have to look and get back to you.”

 

 

She says he became aware of it in January, as in January 2017 and the room EXPLODES, but she’s already walking out the door and not taking any follow up questions. April Ryan can be heard yelling,

“Is slavery wrong, Sarah? Is slavery wrong? Sarah does this administration believe slavery wrong? Does this administration believe slavery is wrong, Sarah?”

The White House transcript does not include it.

Dark times.

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TOWOIT #171

July 10, 2017… Day 172

What do you think about the word “whistleblower”?

(April Ryan to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a question about the “leakers” in the White House. Vox wrote a think piece suggesting that the leak was intentionally done by the administration, for unknown reasons. And therefore not really a leak. But who knows. I liked that April Ryan asked that question to their face.)

An actual link on today’s main C-Span.com schedule:

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Audio because no cameras in the briefing room again.

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From FiveThirtyEight, which is a pretty sober bunch of data wonks:

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The story is, not only did Don Jr. take Kushner and Manafort to a meeting with a Russian lawyer because she said she had dirt on Clinton… he actually received an email prior to that in which he was flatly told that the Russian government was running a campaign to interfere on Trump’s behalf to get him elected.

Republicans are looking straight into the camera and defending this. They are saying they would have done the same thing.

Meanwhile, in Axios, a right-leaning website:

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Fox News pretends like everything is normal today, but has a Freudian tweet.

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Trump made a dig at Chelsea Clinton this morning and she responded with her trademark cheery shade.

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Questions they asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders today in an off-camera briefing:

  • The President, today, tweeted that it would be unimaginable — he can’t imagine that Congress would go home from Washington in August, take the month off — if they haven’t dealt with the repeal and replace of Obamacare. If Congress does the unimaginable and goes for a month, is the President prepared to ensure that there are consequences for those vacationing lawmakers in 2018?
  • If I could ask on one more tweet. The President also tweeted this morning about Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton — said that she was giving away the country, I believe. At what point is the President going to put Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Bill Clinton in the rearview mirror? He won the election. He won it fair and square. When does he just let them go and look forward?
  • Sarah, first, just a quick clarification from the meeting with Putin in Germany:  Did the President say that he accepted Putin’s denial of any involvement in election interference, as Putin said in his press conference? Have you had a chance to ask the President about that?
  • But he didn’t accept that denial or did he?
  • And the question I wanted to ask was the reports on this meeting that took place at Trump Tower last June with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner. When did the President learn that that meeting had taken place?
  • Is he concerned about that — that the top leadership of his campaign would take a meeting with a Russian lawyer promising to give negative information?
  • Just to follow up on that. If this sort of meeting is normal and standard practice in the campaign, do you know if there were any other meetings that either Donald Trump Jr. or other representatives of the Trump campaign had with other Russian officials or any other foreign agent to collect information about Hillary?
  • Has anyone looked into whether there were any others?
  • Thanks, Sarah. I have a quick question about this cyber taskforce with Russia.  Yesterday the President tweeted about the cybersecurity unit being put together, and then then about 12 hours later said that it would never happen. What went down in those 12 hours that so drastically changed that situation?
  • Sarah, just to clarify: That idea is dead?
  • Okay. And I know you just said a minute ago you aren’t going to make any additional statement, but there’s a history and we have been asked by you and others at the podium to respect the statements you make there.  So, there’s a long history of blanket denials, during the transition and during times of this administration about nobody within the campaign having any meetings under any circumstances at all with Russian officials. And now one was disclosed this weekend. The original characterization of that meeting was amended within 24 hours when new information was placed before Don Jr.  How are we to take all of these blanket denials that occurred through the transition and now when it has been proven and recognized by the President’s attorney and Don Jr. that those blanket denials were not factual?
  • But that’s a different question than was asked at the time and different than the statements were about. The questions originally, as you know and I know, were about contacts, and those were blanket denials. And then when the contacts became confirmed, then it was, well they were infrequent. Well now we have a whole pattern of lots of different meetings that have to be confirmed later. And those original questions were not about collusion, Sarah.  They were just about contacts.
  • Sarah, back to yesterday morning’s tweets. Can you tell us what it was or what is or what was going to be a cybersecurity unit and how this was going to work? 
  • Thanks a lot, Sarah. After this two and a half hour meeting with President Putin that the President had in Germany, how would you describe the state of U.S. relations with Russia. Do you view Russia as a partner? Do you view them as an ally? Do you view them as an adversary?
  • And does the President trust President Putin? 
  • Can you please ask him that question?
  • Thank you, Sarah.  I have two questions. We know there was no note taker in the meeting, but did you make an audio recording of the meeting or did the Russians?
  • Can you ask?
  • And the second question is: Director Comey was under oath when he said that the memo that he gave to his friend did not include classified information, and the President tweeted this morning that he did leak classified information. Is he accusing Comey of perjury?
  • You believe he leaked classified information?
  • But the President stated flatly that he leaked classified information.
  • Sarah, I want to go back to a couple of questions. When you talk about the issue of Don Jr., you talk and you said “leaked.” What do you think about the word whistleblower?
  • You’re trying to say people who gave that information were leakers. What about the issue of whistleblower? What do you see whistleblower versus leaker?
  • Sarah, I just have one more question. So on the issue of collusion, are you saying there’s no collusion when it comes to the overall arch of the campaign?  But what about the individuals? What about individuals that could be suspects of collusion? Are you vouching just for everyone in total or individuals or what? 
  • So then when we go to different people, what do you say about that?  Don Jr.?  Anyone — the names that are coming up.
  • What about Flynn?  What about Flynn?
  • Thank you, Sarah. Two brief questions. When the President arrived for the G20 Summit, it was widely reported that the Putin regime was cracking down on the opposition candidate — Mr. Navalny at the time. This has been just the latest in a series of events in which human rights and dissent have been crushed in Russia. Was human rights raised at all by the President in his conversations with the Russian President?
  • The President did talk privately with Chancellor Merkel, we know. Days before he arrived there, her party, the Christian Democratic Union, made a much publicized change in its platform and dropped its reference to the United States as a friend and changed that to important ally. Was this something that came up in their meeting and did the President ask why she did that?
  • Two quick questions for you. Did President Trump discuss sanctions with Russian President Putin at the G20 Summit?
  • Did the President’s views on sanctions against the Russians change at all after his meeting with President Putin?
  • Thank you, Sarah. This latest meeting with the Russian lawyer. We not have three instances where — including with Ambassador Kislyak and a head of the Russia bank — where Jared Kushner seems to have met with Russians and not disclosed it during his security clearance check. Is the White House at all concerned about that and do you think it raises any questions about Kushner’s confidence or honesty?
  • His updated paperwork, not initially.
  • So I’m saying — his omission in the original of all these meetings with Russians, is there any concern about that?
  • One of the subjects President Macron wants to talk to the President about is the Paris climate accord. Is the President willing to negotiate his position on this?\

TOWOIT #71

March 28, 2017… Day 68

On the day Sally Yates was supposed to testify but didn’t, Hillary was back on stage in a black leather jacket over a floral collar shirt. While giving a talk about women in diplomacy (or something like that), she stood up for two black women in the public eye– the reporter April Ryan and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Why did she have to do that? Just white Republican guys being assholes.

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Bill O’Reilly said Maxine Waters’s “James Brown wig” was too distracting for him to be able to hear what she was saying–as she spoke earnestly about democracy. Sean Spicer told April Ryan to stop shaking her head at him. But the worst I thought was right before that, when he said “I’m sorry if that disgusts you” for no reason. April Ryan felt bad that her fellow reporters didn’t speak up for her, and that makes me sad.

I listened to the c-span briefing live and Sean Spicer leaves abruptly after talking to April, with many people yelling after him for follow-up questions. After he left the room, one man said “REALLY?!… ok…” And someone else said, “April got him mad” and the first guy said, “Oh yeah. He just runs, man.”

Maxine Waters told Chris Hayes tonight that she could not be intimidated and wasn’t going anywhere.

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The House Ways and Means committee killed another resolution that called for President Trump’s tax returns. Representative Bill Pascrell from Patterson, New Jersey was full of fire, thunder, and righteous indignation. I never heard of him before, and I appreciated him greatly. Suzan Del Bene from Washington piped up in the debate, and deposited a rather demure statement in support of Pascrell and his resolution. But she came across as rather a real person–like if I were a congresswoman, I might speak like her and with less sturm und drang. But who knows, I might be a real barn-burner. I especially appreciated the committee members who cited the protests in Russia as all the more reason we need to promote transparency and democratic institutions. At the end of the debate, they vote on whether or not to pass the resolution along with disapproval. The Republican ayes are so anemic and mumbled. Then the Democratic NOs ring out so forcefully, several times louder. It means something, though they knew the vote would split down party lines and they would lose. It still means something.

Trump joined the House Republicans in taking away Internet privacy protections. I know from my job, that this is seen as quite a revenue opportunity.

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It was a sad day for the whole world, and all the things living on it. Trump rolled back initiatives to fight climate change.

Obama’s record is being erased. Hope for our species to continue in functioning societies is also being erased. Yeah, I’m sure someone survives after climate change really hits — but not most of us. And not with civil societies intact. It’s the biggest health issue, the biggest social justice issue that there is. It’s the biggest economic inequality issue. It’s the biggest foreign relations issue, the biggest national security issue, and the biggest issue for families with children.

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With Sean Spicer’s lies and Devin Nunes obstructing his own committee’s investigation of Russia ties to the White House, and the Republicans just spinning and spinning and spinning to protect Donald Trump — it feels to me again like they will get away with all this. Maybe because I had hope, briefly, I feel nauseated again today, revisiting the grief of just after the election.

The lion’s share of that grief was NOT specifically about Hillary Clinton’s loss. That was sad enough on its own, but was dwarfed by the bigger picture. For Bernie Bros and Republicans, it is all still about Hillary. That came up today online with her back in the public eye again. And it has always hurt to have the sexism of leftist guys nipping at our ankles in hard times. We can’t count on all our brothers. I work hard to overcome this thought that was ingrained in me by my childhood circumstances: that men hate women and children. This election is hurtling me back through time to re-fight all these old battles for my emotional health and wholeness. Anyway, when it comes to Bernie Bros of various intensities — I have to be allies with them, but I don’t have to forget or forgive.

By the way, I’ve noticed that some male Bernie supporters love to say that the Clinton campaign invented and propagated the term Bernie Bro. Naturally, the lived experiences of real live female Democrats online can’t be seen as real.

OK, but enough white feminist tears for one day. People got real problems. I heard a story on NPR about how people are withdrawing from food stamp programs (even if their children are American citizens) because they are afraid of the government. There was a story in the New Yorker about how kids are afraid to go to school after an ICE raid.

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Side note — this is a good illustration why maybe you should just use numerals in your text. Maybe it’s not classy? Who knows, just do it!

 

BREXIT BEGINS.

 

Questions the reporters asked Sean Spicer today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #71

the only way out is through #23

February 8, 2017… Day 20

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These guys aren’t counting the inauguration as Day 1. Either that or I’m just off a day already.

Radio alarm: Elizabeth Warren, Coretta Scott King, Seattle divests from Wells Fargo, and Starbucks offers its employees free legal aid if they have run afoul of Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Appalling morning tweet: 45 bashes Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka’s business, and then retweets it on the POTUS account. But in the supportive comments on the FB version of the tweet, more signs of cracks:

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Reminders to drain the swamp

CBS has a daily feature now that also rounds things into a digest. It seems to be the most stabilizing way to deal with our new reality.

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Almost as soon as they came out of his mouth, Mitch McConnell’s words about Elizabeth Warren have been commandeered for the feminist resistance:

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Neil Gorsuch’s comments that 45’s comments about the judiciary were “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” According to Blumenthal anyway. Blumenthal (a Democrat) said over all, he was disappointed with the meeting.

Now 45 says he wanted to wait a month before the rollout of his immigration order, but law enforcement officials said no. I’m working on not saying his name, but I’m not sure a number is any better. I’ll never look at fours, fives, or even nines the same again.

The Congressional Black Caucus went to the Senate floor to protest the Jeff Sessions vote

Ted Cruz said the Democrats were the party of the KKK. Later the same day, David Duke crowed about Jeff Sessions’s confirmation on Twitter.

McCain and Graham (best friends forever) introduce bill to limit Trump’s power regarding Russian sanctions.

Ted Lieu introduces a bill that would require the White House to hire a psychiatrist for 45– this is a weird one, and I know people with mental illnesses are probably upset about it.

Snippets overheard from private Republican-on-Republican convo: “…stupid tweets about Nordstrom… zero self-restraint… I’m disappointed… they should have been able to strike while the iron is hot on the tax thing… just seem to be floundering

New York Daily News headline: Trump launched Yemen raid after being told Obama wouldn’t have.

White House Press Briefing Without Sean Spicer

Continue reading the only way out is through #23

the only way out is through #18

February 3, 2017…. Day 15

One of the lawsuits against the immigration and refugee executive order said anyone with a valid visa could come into the country. So we found out today that visas were simply REVOKED. According to government lawyers, it was 100,000 visas. State department said 60,000 (NY Times). Sounds like they weren’t just suspended, they were canceled completely. 

Doing this but more comprehensively and less personally: Really good site called What the Fuck Just Happened Today — recommend it to everyone, either to supplement this or to avoid reading about my emotions altogether.

Girlpower: Elle joins TeenVogue in the ranks, as the magazine joins a ProPublica project on hate-crime reporting. I think Elle is also the first place I saw the “Dress Like a Woman” story yesterday (or one of the first places to pick it up — it suddenly seemed to come from everywhere).

#Dresslikeawoman hashtag — like the movies Moana and Hidden Figures, I wondered where this hashtag was in my youth. It could have counteracted some of the “you go in space, you get immediately killed” imprint I felt from seeing Christa McAuliffe’s picture and then watching the Challenger explode in real time in my small-town grade school classroom. This isn’t really an excuse. The truth is, I grew up in a town with a lot of tough women doing tough things with chutzpah. I was just personally wimpy.

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I blew up at someone today who sauntered over to my cubicle and interrupted my concentration to say things like “boy, Trump had a great line-up at his meeting this morning! Jamie Dimon… yeah… rather have them taking care of things than a bunch of politicians.” After I started looking daggers at him and having steam coming out of my ears he uttered these deadly words: “Checks and balances” and that’s when I exploded and told him to “get the fuck away from me with that sanguine bullshit.” I don’t think he knows what sanguine means. We were fine soon after, when he said “I’m sorry I caused you so much rage in your heart” and I said “My heart is a sealed room full of flammable gas” and then we both laughed. Gotta get by (and we do like each other).

From the White House Press Briefing: The transcript is more innocuous than the reality. Here’s the transcript.

REPORTER: THE SECOND QUESTION. C.B.E. WHAT’S ON THE TABLE FOR THAT?

MR. SPICER: WE’RE NOT GETTING — I HAVE NOTHING TO ANNOUNCE ON THAT.

REPORTER: THE PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED –

MR. SPICER: I’VE UNDERSTOOD WE HEARD A LOT OF RUMORS. WHEN WE HAVE SOMETHING TO ANNOUNCE ON THAT, WE WILL DO IT. I DON’T THINK IT SHOULD BE ANY SURPRISE THAT THE PRESIDENT, WHEN IT COMES TO ROOTING OUT RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM, WHICH IS WHAT THAT INITIALLY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FOCUSED ON, HE’S GOING TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT IS A MAJOR FOCUS OF HIS KEEPING THIS COUNTRY SAFE. SO I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING FURTHER FOR YOU ON THAT.

REPORTER: WHAT ABOUT EXCLUDING — THERE ARE REPORTS –

MR. SPICER: THERE ARE REPORTS. I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING FOR YOU. I JUST SAID I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING FOR YOU. I WILL BE VERY CLEAR THIS PRESIDENT’S COMMITMENT TO ROOTING OUT RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM IS SOMETHING THAT’S AT THE FOREFRONT OF HIS AGENDA AND I KNOW THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF REPORTS ABOUT WHERE THAT PROGRAM OR THAT EFFORT IS GOING TO LIE.

REPORTER: [INAUDIBLE]

MR. SPICER: I HAVE NOTHING ELSE. THANK YOU.

What I want to note from having watched this, is the following:

  1. Refresher: The CBE is an anti-extremism program that includes radical Islamic terrorism, but also includes things like white supremacist hate groups. A leaked memo said the White House wanted it to ONLY focus on radical Islamic terrorism and may even change the name to reflect that, making it feel like white supremacists and people who bomb abortion clinics have a big thumbs-up now.
  2. The reporter was April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks. She is a veteran black journalist. 
  3. I don’t know if C-Span did this with its transcript intentionally, but in the three bolded parts where she tried to ask a question and was shut down by Spicer, she actually said the phrase “White supremacists” very VERY clearly and audibly. And each time he said the words “Radical Islamic Terrorism” with the same emphasis back. So it felt like a weird mismatched call and response. The effect was chilling and is lost in the transcript.
  4. No words can compare to the look of withering disgust and displeasure on her face when he shut her down the last time. Thank you for being in that awful place, April. We appreciate you.

LGBT rally rescheduled because of the Super Bowl, after complaints on the FB invite. So much for sticking it to the man. As one friend said on FB, the Super Bowl on Fox is a great opportunity to boycott. She said “there is no normal while things are not normal.” It seems to me that for those of us who have lost our normal — we aren’t choosing our lack of normal. Our lack of normal chose us.

Joining the No Fucks To Give club: Chelsea Clinton has suddenly tweeting politically and very sardonically. She’s like in a contest with herself to say something as dry as she can in six words or less. It’s refreshingly undiplomatic.

GREAT END TO THE DAY: Networks go into breaking news mode as Bob Ferguson, attorney general of Washington has press conference, announces federal judge in Seattle granted temporary injunction against executive order. Broadest challenge to the executive order yet. CNN said the White House would probably try to get it overturned via an emergency ruling tonight.

White House press briefing without Sean Spicer:

Continue reading the only way out is through #18