TOWOIT #141

June 6, 2017… Day 138

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 4.55.44 PM

Is everything accelerating or is my head just flying apart? The White House Press Briefing lived to see another day and the reporters’ questions are after my round-up of headlines and tweets. First, here’s some of the other stuff that happened today:

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 5.27.43 PM

 

(Oh good, I’m sure this will work out well for everyone.)

IMG_4592

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 8.49.18 PM

Continue reading TOWOIT #141

TOWOIT #138

June 3, 2017… Day 135

Another terrorist attack in London. Trump sends fear-mongering tweets against “political correctness.”

Gallup poll dipped back down to 37%. The 538 poll of polls is at 39% approval. I’m looking for signs of national lucidity.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.12.26 PM

Meanwhile, this crossed my timeline and i am here for it:

IMG_4525

Other than naming our girl babies after RBG, and defending Maxine Waters’s person on Twitter, we are streaming out of our houses to go see Wonder Woman this weekend, with daughters and nieces (and I hope some sons and nephews) in tow. I love that it was directed by a woman. I love that there are no jiggling boobs, just battened-down armored boobs. I love the cheesy symbolism of a goddess who believes in mankind’s power to choose love over hate. And here’s a theme from Wonder Woman that I haven’t noticed in hot takes yet: She has to be told, or has to learn (repeatedly) that she is stronger than she thinks or knows that she is. Ask women in your life if they want to run for office. Will they say, “I wouldn’t want to put my family through that” or “I’m still having too much fun in the private sector”? Nah. They’ll explain to you why they personally either lack the right traits to do it, or have a bunch of other bad traits that will blow the whole thing up.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 7.31.18 AM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 8.48.14 AM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 7.44.12 AM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.09.39 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.07.52 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.11.03 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.24.58 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.19.18 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.19.57 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.22.36 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 7.43.48 AM

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.32.11 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.34.39 PM

 

TOWOIT #137

June 2, 2017… Day 134

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 4.45.29 PM

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Sean Spicer did a joint briefing. The lies were amazing. Scott Pruitt was a fiery and defiant lying asshole. Sean Spicer just sounded like he had given up on life. The reporters actually got quite a few questions in considering how short the briefing was, because Sean just says some kind of feeble, kill me now “I don’t know” now instead of replying in blustery obfuscating paragraph storms. There was no answering of questions, but here were the questions.

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 4.51.56 PM

Questions for Pruitt:

  • Thank you. I have a two-part question. I was hoping you could clear this up once and for all. Yes or no, does the President believe that climate change is real as a threat to the United States?
  • On climate change, yes or no?
  • Two-tenths of one percent, a statistic that you’re citing — the MIT scientists who helped with that report say that Trump “badly misunderstood” the findings of that report, and that, in fact, if we take no action, temperatures can rise a devastating five percentage points. So, specifically, what other science did the President rely on.
  • I’d like to go back to the first question that was asked that you didn’t answer. Does the President believe today that climate change is a hoax? That’s something, of course, he said in the campaign. When the pool was up in the Oval Office with him a couple days ago, he refused to answer. So I’m wondering if you can speak for him.
  • Thank you. Given the fact that you and other administration officials haven’t been able to outline the President’s views on climate change, why should other countries believe that the President wants to negotiate a new deal in good faith?
  • Does the President believe that — or does the administration believe that any additional deal on carbon emissions, whether it’s Paris or a subsequent deal, needs —
  • Does the administration believe that any deal — whether it’s a revised Paris Agreement or another carbon emissions deal — needs congressional approval?  Either as a treaty or some other form —
  • Obviously a lot of people from the White House are not willing to answer this question of what the President’s view is on climate change. So let’s talk about your personal views. In March, you said, there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of human impact, and you would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to global warming. Would you agree that human activity contributes at all to global warming?
  • If we just look at the —
  • Can I ask a follow-up question on that, sir? Why, then, is the Arctic ice shelf melting? Why are the sea levels rising? Why are the hottest temperatures in the last decade essentially the hottest temperatures that we’ve seen on record?
  • But, sir, so there’s — when NASA says that 95 percent of the experts in this area around the world believe that the Earth is warming, and you are up there throwing out information that says, well, maybe this is being exaggerated and so forth, and you’re talking about climate exaggerators, it just seems to a lot of people around the world that you and the President are just denying the reality.  And the reality of this situation is that climate change is happening and it is a significant threat to the planet.
  • That’s true, though, right? About the Arctic ice and the sea levels and —
  • Critics argue you’re putting your head in the sand, though, Mr. Pruitt. They’re a little worried that you’re putting your head in the sand.
  • Thank you, Mr. Administrator. Your fellow Sooner Senator Inhofe said that while he has full confidence in the President in this, he is very nervous about lower-level career government employees in the EPA and the State Department in actually executing what it means to exit the Paris Climate Accord. As the Administrator of EPA, what do you say to your own staff?
  • European leaders have made it very clear the deal can’t be renegotiated. So how does the President renegotiate a deal when the other parties aren’t willing to come to the table?
  • But a new deal with who, if they’re not going to sit down at the table with him?
  •  And just a quick follow-up. You’re the EPA Administrator. Shouldn’t you be able to tell the American people whether or not the President still believes that climate change is a hoax? Where does he stand?
  • Thank you. Isn’t it of concern that the United States has broken a promise to 190 countries? And the President did not address that particular point. And second, you’ve several times raised the lowering of CO2 levels. Isn’t the reason for lower CO2 levels because of blocking the smokestack spews that now are not allowed, the kind of regulations that the administration is now opposing?
  • Isn’t it of concern that we broke a promise to 190 countries? And how does that help our credibility?
  • Our word is not our bond?
  • Why did you celebrate at a French restaurant last night? Was that a symbolic gesture?

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 9.07.14 PM

Questions they asked Sean Spicer:

  • Thanks, Sean. I want to ask about the push for the travel ban to the U.S. Supreme Court. Is it fair to say that one of the reasons that the President wants to keep this going is obviously now we have a full Court impaneled, but also because it gives the White House perhaps a chance to build on some momentum, especially if you look back at yesterday? It would appear that his base was very pleased with what the President decided to do. Is that part of the calculus?
  • And I’d also like to ask as a follow about the XL pipeline. Can you give us an update on what’s happening with that in terms jobs and development?
  • Thank you, Sean. You were asked earlier this week about the President’s personal views on climate change and whether or not he believes it’s a hoax.  You said you hadn’t had a chance to have that conversation with him. Now it’s been 48-72 hours. What does the President actually believe about climate change? Does he still believe it’s a hoax? Can you clarify that? Because apparently nobody else at the White House can.
  • Don’t the American people deserve to know what the President believes on such an important issue?
  • Quick question for you related to the Paris climate agreement. Why does the President feel it’s important to continue to reduce carbon emissions and export clean energy technology?
  • Just a quick question as it relates to climate change. Very simple definition of climate change is a change in the Earth’s weather patterns. The EPA Administrator said today that he does feel there is some value to the studies that say the Earth is warming somewhat. Does the President share the EPA Administrator’s thoughts on this topic? And why has the administration sort of backed away from using the words “climate change”?
  • Thanks, Sean. Yesterday the President painted a pretty dire economic picture if the United States were to stay in the Paris Accords, saying it would be disastrous for the U.S. economy. And yet dozens of the top CEOs of American corporations lobbied the President in order to stay in the Paris Accords. Why would the President argue that this is bad for the economy if all those CEOs are saying, you know what, we need to do this? Is the President right about the economic forecasts and all those private sector leaders wrong?
  • Is the President going to replace Elon Musk and Bob Iger on the President’s advisory council?
  • Thank you, Sean. The President’s critics are claiming that pulling out of the accord will lift China as a global leader. Do you agree with that sentiment?  What does the White House have to say about that?
  • Thank you, Sean. Yesterday, President Macron of France delivered a sharply worded speech in English attacking the President on the climate change decision, saying it is bad for all of our children. And he specifically called on scientists to come and move to France. What’s the President’s response to President Macron?
  • Thank you, Sean. The Washington Post has reported that the administration is considering returning these properties in Maryland and New York to Russia.  What is the reason for that? And what would the White House have to see before giving back those properties?
  • Has the President been following the Kathy Griffin meltdown? And does the family want a personal apology for the beheading photo?
  • Does the family want a personal apology from Kathy Griffin after the beheading photo?
  • Sean, it’s been a matter of curiosity in this town for a couple of days now — is the White House going to evoke executive privilege to prevent James Comey from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week?
  • So is that — that’s not a no?
  • Two questions, Sean, one on the tax bill and one on the debt ceiling. In the Rose Garden yesterday, the President said something about our tax bill is moving along in Congress very well. We’ve heard something about a bill being drafted in House Ways and Means. Is that what he was talking about? Or what tax bill was he referring to?
  • And then on the debt ceiling, we’ve been getting some mixed messages from administration officials on whether you’d like to see a clean debt bill or whether you’d be — can you explain what the President’s feeling is on whether he’d like to see riders attached on a decrease in spending or whatever? What is his feeling?
  • Thanks, Sean. Two questions. Number one, when we heard the Administrator talk about this decision on the Paris Climate Accord he said it’s not a signal that the U.S. wants to disengage on climate policy. So what are the steps that the administration is taking to engage internationally on climate?
  • And on China? The relationship with China, the point of cooperation — have you guys given some thought to how you’ll manage? Because the model was, you manage tensions with China as the U.S. government by having areas of cooperation, and this was previously an area of cooperation. There’s obviously other areas that the White House is working on now with China, but do you envision some other cooperation on the area of climate with the Chinese government?
  • Thank you, Sean. In a recent statement by Senator McCain, he said that Vladimir Putin is a greater threat to the United States — security of the U.S. than ISIS. Has the President had any conversation with you about that comment?
  • Sean, thank you. Secretary Mnuchin has said that he wants the debt ceiling raised before the August recess, that we’re going to run out of money by then.  This morning — he wants it clean as well. This morning, Gary Cohn said that the administration was willing to do whatever with Congress to get it passed before August, and the Freedom Caucus has said they want spending cuts. So what does this look like? It doesn’t sound as if the Treasury Secretary is going to get a clean bill. What is the administration willing to take as far as spending cuts to get the debt ceiling raised?
  • Sean, could you tell me, how is the President dealing with the fact that there are several mayors — many mayors — from a bipartisan group, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who are against the President’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement? How does this President move forward with what he’s saying about making coal great again and taking the — walking away from the economics of clean energy, and then walking out of Paris, when you have mayors who are saying, we’re going to continue with the Paris Agreement?
  •   — bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic mayors who are very upset by this.
  • Okay. And last topic — there are a number of reports on hate crimes. Nooses have been found at the museum — the new museum the President toured, the African American History and Culture Museum. And also there was a very negative word, one of the worst that you could say, spray-painted on LeBron James’s home. What is the President saying about this? Specifically, people are saying over the last 130-plus days people are feeling that there has been a divide that is perpetuated from this White House. 
  • Thank you. Did Secretary of State Rex Tillerson endorse withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement?
  • We were told he wasn’t at the announcement yesterday.
  • Can you clarify the nature of the conversations that Jared Kushner had with Russian officials and a banker in December? And what was the date of the meeting with the banker?
  • But how can you not answer questions about it when the President himself tweets about it?
  • Thanks. Firstly, noting that you’re not responding to any of those questions — if you guys are actually finding a new spokespeople or people who will respond to this, that would be helpful. Two things.  Do you have any update on the search for the FBI director?
  • And you said you haven’t talked to the President yet about whether he still believes if climate change is a hoax. Can you — would it be possible for you to have that conversation with him and then report back to us at the next briefing?
  • Even though Administrator Pruitt can’t say where the President stands on climate change, does it mean that members of his administration helped the President make this decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord without knowing where the President stands, without knowing whether or not he thinks climate change is real?
  • Sean, we know that the President heard a lot of points of view on this on both sides of the issue, and there was an impression — maybe a false impression — that it was a difficult decision and that he was wavering. In the end, though, yesterday, he was emphatic about getting out of the agreement. In the end, was this an easy decision, or was it a close decision?
  • One other thing. There’s a lot of talk about renegotiation. Why renegotiate?  The United States has the authority to simply reduce the targets. Why not just do that?
  • Sean, the President signed a waiver yesterday that delays a campaign promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem. I know you said that this was to not hinder any sort of peace deal. But how confident can his supporters be that this is a campaign promise that he’s going to keep?
  • But he promised in the campaign to do it on day one. I mean, is there a time frame now for when he will do this?
  • Thank you, Sean. Following up on Kaitlan’s question, — and I have a second thing after that — is it still the administration’s position, though, that Jared Kushner was in the meeting with the Russian banker as a representative of the transition, representing the President?
  •  Well, something you may be able to answer directly, does the President still have confidence in Jared Kushner?
  • Thank you, Sean. One of the ethics waivers the White House released applied to all White House appointees concerning discussions with the news media was retroactive. Was that aimed as — did the White House have Steve Bannon’s communication with Breitbart News in mind? Was that applied retroactively to address those communications? And any response to Director Shaub’s claim that if you (inaudible) retroactively you have violated the rule?
  • Are you going home early? (Laughter.)

IMG_4499

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 9.08.01 PM

IMG_4498

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 9.01.57 PM

IMG_4492

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 8.56.05 PM

IMG_4495

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 4.37.25 PM

TOWOIT #136

June 1, 2017… Day 133

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 7.45.24 PM
Palate cleanser for this steaming shit pile of a day: Hillary Clinton was lovely this afternoon, in a warm, hour-long conversation at the Book Expo in NYC. Among many other things, she talked about her love for Nancy Drew books when she was a girl.

The disgustingly hyped and teased announcement in the Rose Garden was today. There was a band playing. I didn’t watch that garbage. 

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.28.58 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.33.13 PM

IMG_4457

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.05.30 PM

IMG_4484

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.05.05 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.03.05 PM

img_4463.png

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.35.10 PM

IMG_4464

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.41.04 PM

Meanwhile, the country continues to be racist as hell:

IMG_4459

IMG_4465

A black friend of mine was working her job in a shop in downtown Seattle yesterday and a white man saw her through the window, opened the door and yelled “F___ YOU, N____ !!” Just out of the blue. Just to yell at her.

In my sister’s primarily Mexican & Filipino neighborhood in California, white supremacists from somewhere else drive through looking for Black Lives Matter signs in yards and windows. They come back again and again once a house is identified, shouting at and threatening anyone they see in the yard or driveway or porch. The people she knows who have been targeted are white like she is. She’s afraid to put up a Black Lives Matter sign because she’s the only white person in her household — and if they’ll harass and intimidate white people with BLM signs, what would they do when a dark-skinned Mexican-Filipino man is the one associated with the sign?

IMG_4476

IMG_4477

And then there’s Russia, other bullshit, and a Twitter dig from none other than sweet, square Ken Jennings. 

IMG_4466

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.01.33 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.31.45 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.37.19 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.38.19 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.38.28 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 6.06.34 PM

 

 

 

 

 

TOWOIT #135

May 31, 2017… Day 132

IMG_4449

Sean Spicer’s briefing was listed on C-Span as Audio Only. Then it had the little “Live” button next to it but when you clicked on it, it said “Program Unavailable” which is not normal.

Then there was a headline that the White House asked outlets not to broadcast it live but said it would be available at some point. That was a real departure. A few outlets broadcast it live anyway, but some of them had weird things like the Veteran Affairs guy on camera, but then it cuts to just a picture of Sean Spicer, like there’s going to be audio, but the audio is only 12 minutes of elevator music.

Then on youtube I found the briefing, which was very weird. Very weird. All questions on Russia will now be addressed to the President’s private lawyer.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 7.50.32 PM

And “covfefe”? That was intentional, not a typo. This caused howling and laughing and exclamations of “WHAT??” from the reporters. They were calling out, “What does it mean?” and “What is covfefe?” and “Why did it stay up so long?”

image001-36

Most of the questions were about the Paris climate accord, but there was also a question about how Ted Nugent called for Obama to be killed and then got invited to the White House by Trump. Sean, incredibly wearily, was just like “Yeah, I don’t know anything about Ted Nugent saying that.” And then you hear April Ryan’s stern voice, “Ted Nugent did say that, Sean.” He was already moving along to the next question he wouldn’t really answer.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 7.33.07 PM

Later, the briefing was removed altogether from the C-Span agenda for today, including the Veteran Affairs part of the briefing, which was weird. And then over on the White House website, a transcript of the Veteran Affairs part of the briefing was there, but it was like the Sean Spicer part of the briefing never existed.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 7.34.10 PM

IMG_4448

IMG_4450

IMG_4451

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 7.28.29 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 7.28.46 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 9.36.53 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 8.18.24 PM

IMG_4443

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 9.32.34 PM
Maybe Christians shouldn’t be allowed to hold office. You know, until we can figure out what’s going on.

 

 

 

TOWOIT #134

May 30, 2017… Day 131

“Can you give an example of fake news, Sean? Could you give us an example?”

At long last, another Sean Spicer briefing. From now on, each one will be treated like it could be the last. Not just the last Sean Spicer briefing, but the last White House briefing period. Because they are straying so far into Our Dear Leader territory, I’m not sure how long this can go on.

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 4.51.13 PM

A lot of savvy people on Twitter have said that the White House Press Briefing has been pointless for a long time. But those reporters together asking intelligent questions matter to me. A lot. And I don’t care that Sean Spicer answers back in aggro gobbledy gook. The questioning itself is what matters to me.

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 6.05.31 PM

Here’s what they asked today:

  • Yes, so the issue with the Russia probe, I’m wondering, Sean, if you can tell us when the President knew –whether the President knew at the time that Jared Kushner was seeking to establish back-channel communications at the Russian embassy through the Russian government. And if he didn’t know at the time, when did he find out?
  • Did the President discuss this, though?
  • Does he approve of that action?
  • Does the White House dispute that that happened?
  • Thank you, Sean. But the President retweeted this morning an article about that back channel that was based on an anonymous source that said that there was an effort to set up a back channel, that it was the Russians who suggested that, and that it was to talk about Syria. Was the President not confirming that that effort — that there was an effort in the facts that I just said when he retweeted that?
  • But he was — but you said that, first of all, that the article was based on anonymous sources —
  • But the Fox article that the President retweeted was also based on anonymous sources. Why are those sources — or the source, rather, that they used more credible than the one in The Washington Post article?
  • Thank you, Sean. I have two questions. First, the President, for the second time in a month, retweeted his desire for the Senate to reduce the votes to pass anything to 51, which would effectively scuttle the filibuster for legislation as it has been scuttled for nominations. Is this something he discussed with Majority Leader McConnell or any of the Senate leadership before he tweeted it?
  • But he wants to scrap the filibuster entirely —
  • And my second question, I did want to mention that before he left to go abroad, the President praised Philippine President Duterte for his action against drug dealers and dealing with them. Various human rights groups have condemned President Duterte, saying that a lot of the executions of drug dealers have been done without trial. Does the President stand by his words of praise for the Philippine President?
  • Tomorrow is the deadline for the Jerusalem embassy act — the last Obama waiver, six-month waiver. Has the President made a decision about whether or not he will sign another waiver?
  • And so that decision will be made in the next 24 hours?
  • And, secondly, we’re also waiting on a few other reviews — the ISIS review, as well as the Afghanistan review. What is the status of those? You mentioned that Paris — we’ll be hearing this week, the President said. What about the other two?
  • Thanks, Sean. The President tweeted on Sunday that he thinks Republicans should “add more dollars to healthcare and make it the best anywhere.”  What did he mean by that?
  • But “add more dollars” — did he mean to the high-risk pools? Did he mean to the cost-sharing reduction payments? Where did he want to add them?
  • Thanks, Sean. Following on one of Zeke’s questions, Afghanistan is now the country’s longest war. How much more American blood and treasure is the President willing to expend? And does he think it’s a winnable conflict?
  • Sean, let me ask you a couple, if you don’t mind. First on tax reform. The President tweeted over the weekend that it was going “very well.” You just used the word “progress.” However, Republicans on the Hill still appear to be divided. The President tweeted today that maybe they should reverse the filibuster rule. So I’m wondering what the progress is and what is it that is going very well at this point in time.
  • And let me ask you about the FBI director. Before the foreign trip, Joe Lieberman was the leading candidate identified by the President. Mr. Lieberman is out. Where does the FBI director search stand? John Pistole — he is at the White House interviewing today. Is he the leading candidate at this point?
  • Are they THE two finalists at this point, or two of —
  • Thanks, Sean.  The President tweeted that tax reform is going well, but you just said that he’s actually very frustrated with the lack of progress in the Senate. So does the White House still stand by its August deadline for tax reform? And does the White House still believe that healthcare, tax reform, and infrastructure is going to get done this year?
  • Sean, where do you see the state of the U.S.-German relationship right now?  And how important is that relationship to the White House and the President and the American public?
  • And how did he view her comments that she felt that Europe could no longer depend on the United States?

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 6.05.48 PM

  • Sean, has the President been meeting with lawyers specifically about defending himself in the special counsel investigation into Russia? And I’m sure you’ve probably seen the reports that Congressman Adam Schiff would like to see Jared Kushner before his committee, and possibly to go over his clearances.
  • And about the President, whether or not he’s had any meetings with —
  • Sean, a couple things. First, welcome back, by the way. Thanks. Two quick questions. This weekend, while you all were gone, someone shot up the Lexington Herald-Leader, and of course we understand what happened in Montana with now-Congressman Gianforte — I think it’s a misdemeanor charge of assault. Will this administration take a stand against violence aimed at reporters?
  • Well, and so would you — all right, second, let me follow THAT up with, would you support legislation — you all have been the ones that have come out screaming against fake media — would you support legislation that would support real reporting, such as this shield law? I’ve asked you before, such as —
  • The second question: When you say that you’re going to try to defeat ISIS and al Qaeda, what are you doing to eliminate the abject poverty that is the breeding ground for the terrorists?
  • You said that a back channel is an appropriate part of diplomacy.
  • Add more to that. How is it that it’s appropriate for someone who’s a private citizen, not sworn in as an official of the U.S. government, to conduct any kind of negotiation or diplomacy with a foreign official?
  •  But, at the time, there was no one who was close to the President who was working in an official government capacity. How is that appropriate?
  • I know the President hasn’t made a public decision on the Paris agreement, and I know you don’t want to get out ahead of him, but on the more broad issue of climate change, can you say whether or not the President believes that human activity is contributing to the warming of the climate?
  • And do you feel like that is a decision he’s still trying to make?
  • And just real quick on healthcare, to follow up on question back there. So as part of the tweet about wanting to add more money to get better healthcare, would the President consider putting back some of the Obamacare taxes that were taken out of the health bill as it goes into the Senate? Would he be in support of keeping taxes in there to help pay for healthcare?
  • Let me finish, please —
  • Thank you, Sean, for calling on me — Angela Merkel’s quote:  “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands…”  How did the President react to that? And will this have any effect on what he decides to do with Paris?
  • And will it affect his decision on Paris?
  • Will it have any effect on his decision on Paris?
  • Sean, does the departure of Michael Dubke signal some kind of broader reorganization in the West Wing? Obviously, we’re hearing that more campaign aides, like Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie might be returning; that there’s a “war room” he might be setting up to deal with the Russian investigations.
  • Is the White House considering changing how you communicate the President’s message at all? I mean, be it him communicating directly more or different faces at the podium.
  • But do you think that he is happy with the messaging that’s been done thus far?
  • Can you give an example of fake news, Sean? Could you give us an example?
  • Please.
  • Can’t reporters make mistakes?
  • Sean, none of that was in the newspaper. None of that was on the front page.  Your trip was all over the front page.  You’re making something out of one tweet instead of the vast majority of the coverage.
  • Don’t you?
  • You gave it more prominence than anybody ever did originally.
  • That’s something insignificant, though. That’s just so minor.
  • It’s frustrating when you —
  • Something big.
  • Are you saying that reports that there’s going to be an overhaul of the communications operation are fake news? That’s the question —
  •  Sean, we reported on the counterterrorism center.
  • Come on —
  • Is Kushner fake news?

It’s unusual that the White House transcriptionist left a few of the trailing questions on at the end after Sean dismissed everyone:

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 6.53.01 PM

There was a lot more shouting than that.

Other important stuff from today:

IMG_4427

IMG_4429

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 4.45.26 PM

screen-shot-2017-05-30-at-4-47-34-pm.png

IMG_4430

IMG_4432

IMG_4434

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 5.29.42 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-29 at 7.21.25 PM

IMG_4433

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.28.34 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 4.33.54 PM

THIS IS SO WEIRD TO SEE:

screen-shot-2017-05-30-at-9-22-49-pm.png

TOWOIT #120

May 16, 2017… Day 117

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.12.27 PM

Holy. Moly. When is a bombshell THE bombshell? I’m so tired and confused.

When I was still in bed this morning, I saw Trump’s tweets about his absolute right to share information with Russia. That made me want to throw up. The President getting comfortable with being an autocrat.

Still windmilling, still don’t know which way things are going. Because they’re consolidating power even as they are imploding. And the Republicans just let them do it. What the hell is happening.

H.R. McMaster barks at reporters on camera. It is sad to see H.R. McMaster debase himself so utterly. Later in the day, Sean Spicer sounds wan and haggard off camera. No more bids for chuckles.

Then we find out that James Comey has memos about all his interactions with Trump, including the time Trump suggested the FBI just let the Flynn thing go, and the time that Trump suggested that the FBI lock up reporters.

“This is it,” said my friend at work, who was once a Republican. I said I hoped so but I was too jaded. Also, all this damage and severe Republican fuckery doesn’t get undone just by getting rid of Trump. Could just be part of our merry tumble into autocracy or theocracy?

It came out that it was Israel. And that the Russian reporter who “tricked” his way into the oval office reported it in Russia, and that now a spy’s life is in danger in Isis-held territory.

And then it felt like the wheels were starting to come off, at least according to congressional twitter.

So I don’t know. But I hear it’s nothing but shouting, screaming, and cursing all over the West Wing tonight.

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.52.58 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.10.01 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.13.32 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.15.36 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.20.32 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.21.07 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.24.35 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.27.34 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.41.50 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.42.32 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.42.44 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.43.57 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.50.15 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 4.52.39 PM

IMG_4251

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 6.30.34 PM

Reporter questions:

Continue reading TOWOIT #120

TOWOIT #119

May 15, 2017… Day 116

Where to begin. Where to even begin.

IMG_4227
Found this in a drawer today

Here’s stuff that came out before the Washington Post bombshell news alert:

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 5.46.16 PM

IMG_4239

IMG_4242

IMG_4236

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 5.44.02 PM

SO, here’s a ton of tweets and headlines about this thing which seems to be a bombshell (but inevitably, like always, will never be THE bombshell). Trump gave highly classified info to Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office last week. Info given to us by an ally, which they did not want Russia to have. Washington Post broke the story this afternoon. Two officials confirmed the story later for other outlets. H.R. McMaster came out on the White House lawn and barked at reporters for 90 seconds (literally 90 seconds), and then went back inside without answering a single question. I think that’s all the backstory you need.

IMG_4240

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 5.37.25 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.04.53 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.49.25 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 5.35.41 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.21.09 PM

IMG_4232

IMG_4230

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.05.09 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 4.50.27 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-15 at 5.31.54 PM

And before all that, these are the questions reporters asked Sean Spicer at the White House Press Briefing today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #119

TOWOIT #118

May 14, 2017… Day 115

Even now some Sundays still seem quiet… especially if you don’t have TV and can only interpret the Sunday morning political shows through the cheesecloth of Sunday morning Twitter.

I wrote a letter to Chuck Schumer about Arctic drilling, and I listened to the news, scanned Twitter, and watched SNL clips on YouTube. But mostly, it was a day off.

Party of Five on Netflix for background noise while I’m cleaning my apartment. Telecommunications and the news cycle were different then.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.49.33 PM

These are my before and after Zumba selfies. They are also before coffee and before coffee.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 11.35.48 AM

This cropped up in my Facebook timeline:

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.08.38 PM

And this was in my Twitter feed:

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 12.57.12 PM

And then once I fell down THAT rabbit hole:

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 4.23.11 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 5.19.49 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 5.22.30 PM

Tomorrow will be a new day and a new week, with a new crop of calamities, headlines, hopes, fears, rumors, podcasts, White House briefing questions, Congressional floor speeches, Trump tweets, the gazillion real-time data points of the stock markets, infographics, a new daily Gallup poll number, The Daily 202 column from the Washington Post, and The Daily podcast from The New York Times, which alternately soothes me and enrages me without meaning to. There will be so much snipping tool and so much scribbling.

 

 

 

 

TOWOIT #116

May 12, 2017… Day 113

H.R. McMaster came in and yelled at the reporters during the White House Press Briefing. He sounded just like Flynn putting Iran on notice. I don’t know why McMaster wants to mess with his reputation like that. He’s part of the propaganda machine now.

I don’t want to forget, in light of this Comey madness (more madness today), that Jeff Sessions is a total disaster as Attorney General for other reasons. Harsher drug sentencing, and the lack of sympathy for the victims of police brutality — this guy is racist as fuck. As one headline said, this guy is going to fill prisons one way or another.

Tillerson signed a trans-Arctic agreement emphasizing the need for action on climate change, even as the Trump administration is still mulling over withdrawing from the Paris Accord.

Chris Stirewalt, writing for Fox News online today:

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 7.54.00 PM

And in another Fox News piece, this one by John Moody, there’s this:

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 7.56.28 PM

The first piece is harshly critical of Trump. The second is much much kinder, the paragraph I just clipped notwithstanding. But the second piece seems to be offering Trump a narrative. The title is “Does Donald Trump Want to be President?” It’s laced with Trump flattery and is a sweetly persuasive argument for why it would be better for Trump, and make total sense, if he just bowed out now and let Pence take over. It would still be a success. It would be the best win!

Also, on the Fox News TV channel today they were going full bore on the Comey story. Earlier in the week, they were pretending like it was barely happening.

Vanity Fair included Fox in its rundown of media responses yesterday:

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 8.44.41 PM

This morning, a conservative financial blog casually (and straight-facedly) ran the numbers of what they predicted the markets would do if Trump resigned (answer: a 3-5% bump!). One guy at work said he bet that Trump would resign BY MONDAY. Everyone laughed at him, but still. Also, for what it’s worth, the moderate Republicans at work have started throwing around the word “impeachment.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 9.08.18 PM

Today is also the day that Trump suggested there were tapes of his conversations with Comey, and told Comey (via tweet) to watch his mouth when talking to the press.

Comey declined to testify to Congress next week. But then it seeped out later that he wanted to testify in public, not in a closed door session. Also that he said he HOPED there were tapes. Cause that’d be perfect.

Bunch of stuff with Paul Manafort and his finances. Bunch of stuff with Trump’s finances. Stupid “certified letter” regarding Trump’s financial ties to Russia. The Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit agreed to hand over financial information on Trump.

Questions the reporters asked Sean Spicer today:

  • Moving on to the news of the week, really, and the day, did President Trump record his conversations with former FBI Director Comey?
  • His tweet.
  • Why did he say that? Why did he tweet that? What should we interpret from that?
  • Are there recording devices in the Oval Office or in the residence?
  • Does he think it’s appropriate to threaten someone like Mr. Comey not to speak?
  •  If I could quote another one of the President’s tweets this morning, he said “Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat excuse for losing the election.” What did the President mean by that? How specifically is the U.S. tearing itself apart over all of this?
  • I understand all that, but — you’ve said that many times. But how is the U.S. “tearing itself apart” over this?
  • Do you think this is what the Russians wanted all along in interfering with the election?
  • Sean, in the dinner that the President had with James Comey earlier in January, did the President implore him to pledge his loyalty to the President? Is that true?
  • Did that happen? That did not happen?
  • How important is it that the FBI director be loyal to the President? Is that a quality the President wants to see in anyone, particularly his FBI director?
  • Thanks, Sean. On the dinner with James Comey, does anyone in this White House have an audio recording of what unfolded during the January 27th dinner between the former FBI director and the President of the United States?
  • I have one follow-up question for you. What can the administration do better when it comes to communication? Today the President tweeted out that he felt from behind that podium it’s not always possible to present the information with “perfect accuracy.”
  • Is the President considering cancelling the daily press briefings?
  • Can I ask you one final logistical question? On the original question I had about the dinner on January 27th with James Comey, the President wasn’t clear during the NBC interview who invited the FBI director to the White House at that time. How many invitations did the White House send to Director James Comey after January 20th and before the director was fired?
  • Thanks, Sean. I have a question about the Turkish President’s visit next week. He recently called — President Erdogan called for Muslims to rush the Temple Mount. Considering the President has said he’s a mediator for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, what is his response to that? And then I have another question.
  • Are those comments helpful from the Turkish President?
  • My other question is, is the discussion about the refugee crisis, which is fueling problems in Europe — the President has talked about refugees being a problem in the United States and terrorists hiding refugees — or refugees hiding in the — terrorists hiding in the refugee stream, excuse me. Is he going to talk about that with Arab leaders specifically when he visits Saudi Arabia? Or is that not something that he’s willing to bring up to those leaders?
  • But in Saudi Arabia specifically?
  • Thanks a lot, Sean. In that interview that the President conducted yesterday with NBC, he indicated and confirmed that on three separate occasions he asked the director of the FBI, and received assurances from the FBI, that he was not under investigation by the FBI. Why was the President seemingly so consumed by this that he would ask that question on three separate occasions?
  • I would appreciate you getting back to me. And as far as asking that question, did the President ask the White House Counsel whether it would be appropriate to ask such a question, given that it was against, generally, Justice Department guidelines to indicate whether or not investigations are ongoing against any individual, let alone one at the White House?
  • Did the White House Counsel —
  • General McMaster mentioned that, on the trip, the President is going to be raising the issue of religious persecution with the Pope. And I wanted to ask you about a case in the last week, in Indonesia, where a Christian governor in the state of Jakarta was imprisoned for two years for blaspheming the Quran.  Does the President find that case troubling? Does he plan to say anything —
  • Thanks, Sean. I just want to clear up a point on Jeff’s question. I’m hoping you can answer this in a yes-or-no fashion. Is the President of the United States currently recording conversations taking place in the Oval Office?
  • And I wanted to follow up. Since you were involved in this on Tuesday night as well, giving a blanket answer and saying at the time that it was all him regarding Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, why did you come out with information that was later contradicted by the President two days later? Can you explain the tick-tock? When were you brought in? Who else was involved?  Why were the American people given incorrect information that night?
  • Sean, I wanted to follow up on that real briefly. What you said Tuesday doesn’t match what the President was laying out yesterday, in the interview yesterday. Can you walk through why the discrepancy in terms of whose decision this was?
  • Okay, well, did he —
  • Sean, let me ask you about the way forward as it relates to who the President might nominate to be the FBI director. Where does that process stand right now? How many people have been interviewed? Does the President hope to wrap this up before he goes overseas?
  • Sean, Sarah was talking the other day about how somebody, not necessarily being political in that role — if somebody has been a member of Congress, past or present, does that count as an automatic disqualifier as somebody who might be —
  • And lastly, does the President still have — the other day someone asked, does the President have confidence in Andrew McCabe? After the testimony on Capitol Hill the other day, is that still the case? He is the acting director at this moment.
  • Yesterday, Sarah told us that the President expects that the FBI investigation will be wrapped up with integrity — that’s what the White House wants. Today, the President tweeted and called it a “witch hunt.” How does tweeting and calling it a “witch hunt” help wrap that investigation up with integrity?
  • And secondly, I talked to a former FBI official today who said that the President’s tweet, the implicit threat to former FBI Director James Comey, indicates that the President, in his words, is simply “out of control.” I’d like to get you to respond to that. Is he?
  • Thank you, Sean. Two questions about the FBI director selection process. You said the names are coming from the Justice Department right now. Is the President consulting with Democratic congressional leaders, as well, or Republican congressional leaders on this? Or is he just getting names out of DOJ?
  • Now, I know that you said you’re not disqualifying anyone on this. You also know there has been considerable mention in the last 24 hours of former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers as the new FBI director.  Does the President have a meeting planned this weekend with Congressman Rogers?
  • I had a couple questions about the President’s remarks to NBC about General Flynn. He said that it wasn’t an emergency, or he didn’t think it was an emergency and that’s why the firing, dismissal didn’t happen right away. So I had a couple questions about that. Why didn’t he think it was an emergency?  And was it because of the messenger? Was it because information came from Sally Yates, who you called an opponent — I think a political opponent of the President? Or is because Don McGahn downplayed the situation? Can you explain what he meant by that? And I have a follow-up.
  • Okay, so then two follow-ups. One, I’m still unclear, and you’ve mentioned this several times, why did it take so long for the White House to get those documents?
  • Is the White House asking?  You couldn’t go get the documents?
  • Is it because she was fired, though, in between?
  • Just explain to us then a little bit, when you compare these two situations with General Flynn and Director Comey, the memo came one day and he was fired that day. That was the review process. And General Flynn was 18 days. That’s a huge difference. Why was one so fast when one was 18 days?
  • Sean, in the tweet about Director Comey, he said — the President says that he “better be careful before he goes leaking to the press.” Yesterday, on NBC News, the President called him a showboat and a grandstander. Does the White House acknowledge that Director Comey has a First Amendment right to speak to the press if he so chooses to set the record straight about any of this, instead of just leaking? It may not be leaking, it may just be his First Amendment right to speak to the press.
  • Okay, and a follow-up. Just in terms of the FBI being in disarray, also the President’s comments, is he concerned that if he continues like this it could jeopardize morale at the FBI instead of actually kind of correcting a problem that he obviously observes there?
  • I want to ask you — President Trump seemed to rely on James Clapper this morning when he tweeted that virtually he and everyone else with knowledge of the “witch hunt” says there’s no collusion. James Clapper himself today told Andrea Mitchell, “I don’t know if there was collusion or not. I don’t know if there’s evidence of collusion or not, nor should I.” On March 5th on “Meet the Press,” when he was asked a similar question, he said, “Not to my knowledge.” So can you describe the discrepancy and explain it?
  • No, between Director Clapper’s comments and President Trump — why is he leaning on Clapper when he said “I have no knowledge” of whether there was collusion?
  • He said he hasn’t been briefed. He said he wouldn’t know because he hasn’t been briefed on the investigation.
  • He was very clear today that — he said, “Nor should I have in this particular context.” He made the case that he’s not briefed on an FBI investigation, that that’s not his purview.
  • But at one point was — he wouldn’t know, right? That there has been no final conclusion. And the President seemed to indicate that there was —
  • The President doesn’t believe that there’s been a final conclusion made about this investigation, right? There’s an ongoing investigation. He’s not making that argument, is he?  
  • His argument is he wants to move forward with the investigation. But I want to move on to just one other question.
  • But the comments are not mutually exclusive, Sean. He’s saying he wasn’t — (inaudible) — “it’s not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation or the context of the investigation.”
  • Let’s talk very quickly about the accuracy tweet.
  • He wasn’t saying he wasn’t sure. He said he wasn’t briefed. But moving on to the accuracy tweet.
  • No, but I just am interested in the discrepancy and drawing a final conclusion on the part of the President.
  • No, on the part of the President, drawing a final conclusion about the investigation. In terms of the accuracy tweet, should we take that tweet to mean that you don’t have the full picture when you stand at that podium?
  • Can I — Sean, can I actually pick up there if you don’t mind?
  • So I wanted to ask you about the One Belt, One Road Summit that starts on Sunday in China. You announced yesterday, or Secretary Ross did, that you’re going to send a delegation to that summit. Can you talk about how you came to that conclusion, why it’s important for the U.S. to be represented at what’s ostensibly a major trade initiative by a foreign country?
  • Is the intended signal that the U.S. is going to participate in the One Belt, One Road initiative?
  • Two questions — the first on loyalty and the next one on the visit to the FBI headquarters. So this President does value loyalty. Was there any sort of — before you were hired, any sort of request or hint that you pledge personal loyalty to him at all before you were hired?
  • Is it true that the President was warned that he might not be well-received at the FBI headquarters if he were to visit it?

TOWOIT #115

May 11, 2017… Day 112

I’m so snowed under by the news this week. I’ve been too mesmerized and overwhelmed to start trying to put a blog post. So I’m just going to put up the usual mishmash of headlines, tweets, and the reporters’ questions at the briefing and not try to get deep or clever or comprehensive.

But first, this iPhone screen cap found on FB:

IMG_4182

I just realized the baby has her curlers in — even better.

Ok, anyway, back to windmilling frantically on a precipice with a slide into impeachment on one side and a slide into authoritarianism on the other. Is it the beginning of the end for Trump, or for the rest of us? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re looking at.

Jeez, the news is breaking every couple minutes. I am going BONKERS. I am trying to stem the flow of new news in order to pin down the old news from 45 minutes ago but the new news is too tantalizing and bizarre to ignore.

So, I mean. My blog post, like the Trump administration, is just going to be a shit show.

Just to stay in vaguely chronological order, the acting Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe testified in front of a Senate committee about Global Threats. The Democrats on the committee asked questions about the Russia investigation and Comey’s firing, and how things stood. Andrew McCabe contradicted the White House by saying a) the Russia investigation was a huge deal, and b) that the rank and file of the FBI were firmly in Comey’s corner.

Then there was also a wild, rambly interview Trump had with Lester Holt, in which TRUMP contradicted the White House and just flat out said the firing was his idea and related to the Russia investigation.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.17.57 PM

Then came the White House Press Briefing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Her answers were even more pathetic lies than Sean Spicer’s. She just says her answers with more of a smug, calm smile. Yesterday I was really irritated at the reporters who laughed at her stupid jokes. And I liked the ones who snort-laughed when she was being serious. There were only a few sycophantic chuckles yesterday though, and almost none today.

Questions asked:

  •  Sarah, in the Lester Holt interview the President just had he made a number of remarks. Why did the President think that James Comey was a “showboat” and “grandstander”?
  • When were these three conversations that the President had with James Comey about whether he was under investigation? He said one was at dinner, two phone calls. Was that since January 20th, or when?
  • Sarah, two parts of the Comey question regarding the interview the President just gave. First of all, isn’t it inappropriate for the President of the United States to ask the FBI Director directly if he’s under investigation?
  • But one of these conversations the President said happened at a dinner where the FBI Director, according to the President, was asking to stay on as FBI Director. Don’t you see how that’s a conflict of interest — the FBI Director is saying he wants to keep his job, and the President is asking whether or not he’s under investigation?
  • But, Sarah, the other question I want to ask you about is, I asked you directly yesterday —
  • Different subject related to Comey. I asked you directly yesterday if the President had already decided to fire James Comey when he met with the Deputy Attorney General and Attorney General, and you said, no. Also the Vice President of the United States said directly that the President acted to take the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General to remove the FBI Director. Sean Spicer said directly, “It was all him,” meaning the Deputy Attorney General. Now we learn from the President directly that he had already decided to fire James Comey. So why were so many people giving answers that just weren’t correct? Were you guys in the dark? Was the Vice President misled again, as happened with Mike Flynn —
  • Was the Vice President in the dark, too?
  • Sarah, you said from the podium yesterday that Director Comey had lost the confidence of the rank and file of the FBI. On Capitol Hill today, the Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe directly contradicted that. What led you and the White House to believe that he had lost the confidence of the rank and file of the FBI when the Acting Director says it’s exactly the opposite?
  • And a question to what you were saying about the Democrats. Clearly, they didn’t like James Comey too much after the October 28th pronouncement that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Their point now is the timing is different, that this was in the middle of an investigation.  Do they have a point?
  • Thank you. Another comment from the hearing today — the Acting Deputy Attorney General said — I’m sorry, McCabe said that he considers the investigation into Russian meddling in the election to be highly significant. In the past, the President has said that the investigation was a hoax, and he’s questioned even recently whether maybe it wasn’t Russia, it might have been China. Does the President consider this investigation to be highly significant?
  • But in terms of the threat to national security, does he take that seriously? Does he think that’s significant? Putting aside the —
  •  Does the think what Russia did during the election was a threat to U.S. national security?
  • Is he open-minded about that? He doesn’t know —
  • Sarah, I appreciate it. Two questions. First, as has been mentioned, Vice President Pence yesterday said the firing was based on the recommendation of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General. We know now that that’s not true. Was the Vice President misled again, or did he mislead the American people?
  • But if you have, I don’t think I caught it, because the Vice President said yesterday that the President chose to accept and support the decision of the Deputy Attorney General and Attorney General.
  • He said he was going to do it either way.
  • So if I may just switch topics slightly. If the President knew he was going to do this, why ask for those memos to begin with? Why not just fire Comey? Why have these memos put out and then explain that he did it because of the memos, but then say that he was going to do it either way? I’m confused as to why we even got those memos.
  • Okay, thank you. Sarah, going back to what you said about Democrats — yeah, you have some Democrats that say that Comey should have been fired, but they’re questioning the timing. Why now? Even though the Deputy Attorney General did do that, they’re questioning why now. He couldn’t wait anymore?
  • Why not day one, when he comes in?
  • And then last question: Monday, Sean Spicer, when he was at the podium, he said after the testimony with Clapper and Yates, he said — he talked about there was no collusion from what Clapper said. But he also said that there needs to be a timeline when the Russia investigation ends. And then yesterday you said it should continue. Which one is it? Should it continue or should it end? Because Spicer said the President wanted it to end, Monday. And now, yesterday, you said it should continue. I mean, I’m just trying to find out which one it is.
  • We now know the President fired the FBI Director with more than six years left on his 10-year term because he was a show-boater, a grandstander. How important is it that the next FBI director not be a show-boater or a grandstander? And how important is it that this person show loyalty to the President?
  • Thank you, Sarah. Two questions. First, I want to follow up on what John asked about, the rank and file of the FBI. Don’t you think the acting director of the FBI has a better handle on the rank and file than you do?
  • And I want to also ask about the meeting yesterday between President Trump and the Russian Foreign Minister. Can you walk us through how a photographer from either a Russian state news outlet or the Russian government got into that meeting and got those photographs out?
  • Usually, media — independent media in the U.S. is typically invited into those meetings. Why didn’t that happen in this case?
  •  Has the President been questioned by the FBI with regard to their investigation into Russian interference in the election?
  • Does he expect to be?
  • So, at the Justice Department, there’s a general protocol that discourages conversations with the President of the United States by the FBI director about anything that might involve the President. That’s the general aspect of the protocol that’s usually required to ensure that there is no confusion about political interference of any kind, of even the impression or the appearance of political influence on the FBI. That’s the standard procedure. You just said here it was appropriate for the President of the United States to ask whether or not he was under investigation. Why is it appropriate if that’s not consistent with the guidelines at the Justice Department to avoid that very encounter?
  • So the Justice Department should change its protocol on this?
  • What you think and the President thinks.
  • Would you say, based on the experience that you and Sean and this communications office had Tuesday and Wednesday, that you were given all of the best information to relay to the American public, through us — and your job is to relay that information to the American public; we’re only intermediaries — about what happened with this firing and the rationale for it?
  • And would you say that that information was accurate then or is more accurate now?
  • And so by that standard, should reporters and the country essentially wait for a pronouncement from the President before believing that which is stated on his behalf by the White House communications staff?
  • I don’t think asking you a question and getting an answer is “lost in the process” Sarah, with all respect.
  • Two questions. Following up on this, back in, I think, October of last year, the former President was highly criticized by members of the FBI and other ethical folks outside of the FBI for making some comments on television that sort of suggested that he had an opinion about how the Hillary Clinton email case should go. And the charge was that he was interfering, that he was putting his thumb on the scale of an ongoing, active investigation. There was a lot of criticism from Republicans of the President about that. Talk to me about how that — how what this President did in his series of conversations with the FBI director doesn’t go far beyond what former President Obama did? And to Major’s point, how can you argue — regardless of maybe some pundits on TV who might be saying otherwise — how can you argue that that doesn’t have an appearance of trying to influence an investigation that’s actively going on?
  • But people clearly know which way he wants it to come out, right?
  • And one last question, just to follow up on the FBI thing. And I’m not trying to be overly combative here, but you said now today, and I think you said again yesterday, that you personally have talked to countless FBI officials, employees, since this happened.  I mean, really?  So are we talking —
  • Like 50?
  • Sixty, seventy?
  • Sarah, there’s a report from The Wall Street Journal that the Deputy Attorney General asked the White House Counsel to correct the version of events that was coming out initially after the Comey firing. Is that accurate? And does that contribute to the different version of events that we’ve seen over the last 48 hours?
  • And did the President know that Comey had sought more resources before his investigation, before he made the decision?
  • So, Sarah, was it a mistake for the White House to try to pin the decision to fire James Comey on Rod Rosenstein?
  • — it was on his recommendation.
  •  And just to clarify one thing you said. You said the President has encouraged this investigation into Russia. He wants to see it reach its completion sooner rather than later. How has he encouraged it if he just fired the man who was overseeing the Russia investigation?

IMG_4184

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.42.37 PM

IMG_4185

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.44.54 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.30.36 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.50.57 PM

screen-shot-2017-05-11-at-4-52-18-pm.png

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 4.53.42 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.33.55 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.45.34 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.43.36 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

screen-shot-2017-05-11-at-4-52-18-pm.png

TOWOIT #109

May 5, 2017… Day 106

The House health care bill is having shocky ripple effects through my social network.   There’s the grisly awareness of it having happened, and then there’s also the new knowledge of how many of my friends have been raped, sexually assaulted and abused, and/or have PTSD, anxiety, and depression. There’s a collective aggrieved AAARGH and it comes with heavy information.

My brain flips back and forth between worrying about the health, pre-existing conditions and finances of myself and my immediate family members… to then knocking on wood about all the ways we’ve been comparatively fortunate… to then doubling down on worry about everyone else I care about who is in trouble… to then just marveling at the decision 217 people made to pass this bill. All that being said, I’m fine today in Trump-adjusted terms.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 6.59.20 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 6.30.17 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 6.21.16 PM

screen-shot-2017-05-05-at-6-23-18-pm.png

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 6.16.32 PM

 

 

 

TOWOIT #105

May 1, 2017… Day 102

Glenn Thrush to Sean Spicer today:

First of all, you just described Kim Jong-un as somebody who led his country forward at an early age. The President has invited Duterte, who, as Annie pointed out, has talked about assassinating journalists. The President put out a statement after Erdogan won his referendum congratulating him. He said kind things about Putin during the campaign, said kind things about Saddam Hussein.

Does the President have a thing with these totalitarian leaders? 

May Day. Everyone in my office got out of downtown early. I’m sorry I missed the Aztec dancers, and I especially hope these kids are feeling good and empowered about their day:

I was feeling bad for not treating May Day like any other resistance event. I’ve marched for Black Lives Matter, for the catch-all women’s march, for science, for climate, for immigrants and refugees. How is this not just another in the sequence? Just because it’s entrenched in my pre-45 brain and starts to get violent as night falls, that doesn’t mean the daytime peaceful marches aren’t important.

Looking at the #MayDaySea hashtag, I’m seeing a lot of this:

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 3.49.19 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 3.49.03 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-01 at 3.48.20 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-01 at 4.04.50 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-01 at 4.03.57 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-01 at 4.03.13 PM

In other news, I started listening to the second season of Politically Re-active today (getting over my anger at the hosts for supporting and normalizing Jill Stein as a viable ballot option). Hari and Kamau are interviewing the social and racial justice leaders that I need to be listening to, so I’m going to pretend I don’t know what I know about 2016. We’ll see how it goes.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 2.44.39 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 2.47.57 PM

screen-shot-2017-05-01-at-2-53-16-pm.png

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 2.52.11 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 2.48.22 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 2.52.35 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 3.39.50 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 2.52.35 PM

You might not be able to tell from these questions, but at the press briefing today, a) there was more shouting and bids for attention from the reporters throughout the questioning, b) Sean Spicer was especially salty and curt in not allowing follow-ups, and c) as Sean left the room someone yelled “WHAT ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR??!! WHAT ABOUT THE PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS ON THE CIVIL WAR??!!” and then when the door slammed shut behind Sean Spicer, another reporter started to cackle maniacally.

  • Thank you very much. So I wanted to go back to the comments that the President made this weekend on “Face the Nation” on healthcare regarding preexisting conditions. He said specifically that the bill he wants to sign would “mandate” the preexisting conditions be covered. Can you talk us through a little bit of what he meant there? Was he referring to something he wants to push to include in the bill? Was he talking about the language that’s already in there?
  • How does he ensure, though, that those people actually are treated affordably?  I mean, there was an estimate from AARP that if you’re looking just at the high-risk pool, the premiums can be as high as over $25,000 for somebody. What is he doing to ensure that that doesn’t happen?
  • Couple things for you, Sean, if I could. First of all, what do you say to conservatives who feel like they didn’t get a whole lot out of this spending bill?  There was no money for the wall, no cuts to sanctuary cities, funding for Planned Parenthood was maintained. What do you say to those conservatives?
  • But clearly, he did give up on some things.
  • And the other — I had, on the pending visit of Duterte from the Philippines.  Chris Coons said that the President is giving his stamp of approval to human rights abuses. Governor John Sununu, on the other hand, said this is part of the unpleasant things that Presidents have to do. What’s the White House’s perspective on Duterte and him coming here?
  • I wanted to ask you about the tax deductions. The White House has talked a little bit about that as a way to curb big tax breaks for the rich. Are you looking at any other policy changes when it comes to limiting breaks for the top 1 percent?
  • On healthcare, there seems to be a new optimism from the White House. How confident is the President that he will get a healthcare bill past the House this week?
  • On North Korea, today the President told Bloomberg he was open to meeting with Kim Jong-un if the conditions were right. How does the President define the right condition to have this meeting?
  • Thanks, Sean. Picking up on healthcare, it’s believed possibly that you might be down — Republicans might be down to maybe just a handful of votes away.  Here we are at 2:00 p.m. Monday afternoon. Is this the closest that you think you’ve gotten? I know you don’t want to talk about timelines, but is this as close to maybe getting to that magic 216 number that you’ve talked about?
  • Dodd-Frank — the President just gave an interview in which he said, “I am looking at that right now.” He goes on to say “There’s some people that want to go back to the old system, right, so we’re going to look at that,” meaning potentially breaking up the banks. So breaking up the banks, going back to Glass-Steagall, is that something that he’s just looking at, or is that something that is a preference of his at this point?
  • Thanks, Sean. So you’re saying that you’re not confident that the votes are lined up behind the healthcare bill. So this morning when Gary Cohn said that the bill was ready to be brought to the floor, did Gary Cohn misspeak?
  • Thanks, Sean. The President on the campaign trail raised alarm about federal debt and deficits. His spending bill get us through the end of the fiscal year doesn’t include any of the offsets really that the President requested in this year’s budget. Is the President — will the President sign this agreement that does increase the federal deficit?
  • He called for keeping that balance, essentially keeping —
  • On President Duterte, he made comments when asked about press freedom, he said that journalists are not exempt from assassination. Did the President know about those comments and about his record on human rights when he extended the invitation for him to visit the White House?
  • I wanted to ask you about the future of Sebastian Gorka. Can you tell us why he’s leaving the White House?
  • Thank you, Sean. I have a healthcare and Israel question. On healthcare, when the President talks about a guarantee for preexisting conditions, current law says insurance companies have to sell to people with preexisting conditions, and they can’t charge them more than someone else in that area. Is that the guarantee that the President wants?
  • Right, but people with preexisting conditions would continue to get access but not at the same price as other people.
  • Right. But high-risk pools could still charge them much more.
  • The President turned to Bibi Netanyahu at that press conference and famously said, settlements are not helpful. Israel is going to build 15,000 new homes in East Jerusalem. Does he think that Netanyahu is snubbing him?
  • Is he aware of that?
  • Thank you, Sean. I wanted to ask about some news the President made this morning in an interview that he conducted with Bloomberg. In that interview, he talked about the possibility of raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure spending. Of course, the President has put forward the idea of a trillion-dollar infrastructure spending plan. Can you talk a little bit more about this possibility of raising gas taxes?
  • As it relates to this idea that the gas tax in America hasn’t been raised for some time, what makes the President believe that now is the time that Republicans who have been opposed to this idea would be open to this idea?
  • You have not foreclosed this possibility of raising —
  • I have two questions, one foreign policy and one on domestic politics. First, last Wednesday, the Kremlin outlawed the Open Russia movement, the premier opposition group to the ruling regime in Russia. And the following day, security forces were forcibly closing down Open Russia’s office in Moscow and other places. Does the administration have a statement on this?
  • All right. My second question is, on Sunday, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a 14-term veteran of the House, past Chairman of the House, foreign affairs committee, announced her retirement. Her statement comes on the heels of a similar announcement by Congressman Chaffetz, and before that, only a few weeks ago, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas. That’s three respected Republican House members all calling it quits. Is the President concerned about the number of Republican House members who do not want to be on the ballot next time and are leaving Congress?
  • Sean, the President opted not to continue Obama’s tradition of holding an Easter prayer breakfast, but he is holding a National Day of Prayer event. Was that a scheduling issue, or did he think — what was the thought process there?
  • Thanks, Sean. Back to Glass-Steagall for a second. As you can imagine, the President’s comments today are getting a lot of attention on Wall Street, so can we be just very clear about this — does the President favor breaking up the big banks?
  • — take any steps toward that behind the scenes that we’re not aware of?
  •  Thanks, Sean. So the lack of border wall funding raises a question of just how serious the President is about getting the border wall constructed. Is it not urgent? Is it not an emergency anymore to build this barrier? What is the timetable and deadline that he has in mind?
  • So it will be built. Is there a time certain? Is there a deadline by the 2018? By?

  • Coming back to North Korea, the President didn’t just say he would be open to meeting with Kim Jong-un under the right circumstances.  He said he would be “honored” to meet with him. This is somebody who has starved his own people, somebody who has threatened to destroy the United States. Just last week he put out a video showing the Capitol getting destroyed by North Korea fighters. How could he be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong-un?
  • How could that be an honor?
  • What did he mean when he called him one smart cookie or a pretty smart cookie?

  • Sean, on North Korea and then on Philippines.  On North Korea, both of the President’s comment on Kim Jong-un and what Secretary Tillerson said, you seem to be making the offer that we could have direct talks with North Korea.  Who is going to be leading those?
  • Is that the White House?
  • But who would lead that? Is that the White House or the State Department?
  • And on the Philippines, when you have been asked about President Duterte and his human rights record, you continue to say the effort here is to isolate the Philippines from the North Korea, part of this coalition to isolate North Korea.
  • Are you suggesting that the Philippines has some sort of inappropriate contact with North Korea? Are you suggesting that we are requesting greater access perhaps to their military bases? What is it exactly —
  • Are you suggesting now that they are trading or conducting some kind of financial transactions —
  • When you say economic piece, that’s what I just want to clarify —
  • Sean, two quick, related questions. First of all, you just described Kim Jong-un as somebody who led his country forward at an early age. The President has invited Duterte, who, as Annie pointed out, has talked about assassinating journalists. The President put out a statement after Erdogan won his referendum congratulating him. He said kind things about Putin during the campaign, said kind things about Saddam Hussein. Does the President have a thing with these totalitarian leaders? Does he admire something about the way these guys conduct themselves?
  • What about this whole package —
  • One follow-up question. On Sunday, Chief of Staff Priebus, talking to this gentleman right here, said, with respect to the libel laws and the First Amendment, talking about news outlets that printed false articles, “I think it’s something that we’ve looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story.” Is that a project that is currently being worked on by the counsel’s office? Can you just tell me the status of that? Who is pursuing that?
  • Is the counsel actually investigating this?
  • Sean, two questions. One on — just to clarify on North Korea, were those conditions that you laid out to the earlier question, are those the conditions that would have to be met before there was any meeting — i.e. that North Korea would have to agree to totally disarm its nuclear program, stop threatening their neighbors? Are those the conditions?
  • Sean, on a separate subject. The chief executives of United Airlines will be on the Hill tomorrow. Is the President at all — does the President think that Congress should pass any laws after the incident last month where the passenger was dragged off? Should there be some — should there be more done to protect passengers on airplanes from those type of incidents?
  • Thanks. I just want to ask you to clarify something else the President said. He said, “I don’t stand by anything.” How is the American public supposed to digest that, supposed to trust what the President says when he himself says of his own comments “I don’t stand by anything”?
  • Just in this CBS interview with John Dickerson in the Oval Office.
  • About wiretapping.
  • It was about wiretapping. He was asked to — if he still believes President Obama is a bad or evil guy, do you still stand by those comments, and the President said “I don’t stand by anything.”  
  • Sean, I have two questions on the Philippines. First, is President Trump comfortable with the leader’s support of extrajudicial killings of drug users in the country?
  • But what —
  • Sean, I have a second question, if you don’t mind.
  • Looking at — there are three open patents with the Philippines government, one from Trump trying to get the Trump patented to — from Ivanka Trump for her clothing line. How do you respond to concerns about potential conflicts of interest with the leader of the Philippines?
  •  I just want to clarify something you said to Zeke. Is there a possibility that the President would not sign this spending agreement?
  • Are you still on track to issue the full fiscal year ’18 budget? Is it mid-May, or do you have a date for that?
  • Thanks, Sean. Just wanted to first ask what your expectation and what’s your hope for the meeting with President Abbas on Wednesday? And secondly, is the President still considering moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and will that be discussed?
  • Abbas.
  • The first question is your expectations going forward. What’s the hope from this.
  • Sean, quick follow-up on infrastructure. The President has been talking about a major infrastructure package for more than a year and in the campaign, but it doesn’t seem very clear right now what the mechanism is for the construction of whatever it is that he wants to push forward. He talked about maybe attaching it to the reconciliation package for healthcare. He talked about maybe doing that with the tax package. Can you update us on — is that still very preliminary in its invention? Does he have clear ideas? And what’s the mechanism and timing to get that done?
  • This year?