TOWOIT #337: His favorite piñata

June 6, 2018.

April Ryan was incredible at yesterday’s briefing when she kept persistently asking about whether the president even understands that the players take a knee because of police-involved shootings. Get it all on the record, April. Sarah Sanders is the worst. She sounds like she’d love executing people who go back to fixing their bicycle too soon after the military parade passes.

C-span’s got its video frozen at quite a facial expression.

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  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, on the President’s decision to disinvite the Eagles, he’s suggesting this is about the National Anthem. Is the President aware that not a single player on the Eagles, through the entire season, knelt for the National Anthem?
  • But why is he acting like this is about the National Anthem? And is he concerned — we heard from Steph Curry and from LeBron James the suggestion that whoever wins the NBA Championship, they’re unlikely to be here. Is this about something more than the National Anthem? Something other than the National Anthem?
  • (Pamela Brown, CNN) To be clear on that point: This isn’t about the National Anthem; it’s about so few players coming in the end, correct?
  • Just to follow up, Sarah. Really important. The other day, on the statement that you made — (Sarah tries to cut her off but she keeps going)
  • — you referred us to the outside counsel on the Don Jr. statement that the President was involved in. The outside counsel did weigh in, saying that, yes, the President did dictate the statement. Rudy Giuliani was on CNN saying it was a mistake to say that the President didn’t dictate it. So do you want to correct the record on your statement from August when you said, “He certainly didn’t dictate”?
  • But you commented in August, and there was outside counsel in August, as well, but you still talked about it. So why can’t you correct the record now?
  • Are you being advised not to answer the question?
  • (Catherine Lucey, Associated Press) Sarah, President Trump won Pennsylvania by a narrow margin. The GOP is looking to pick up a Senate seat there. Does he risk alienating key voters in that state by disinviting the Eagles, but also by the statement that the team abandoned the fans?
  • (Sarah — I can’t tell who this is) Thank you, Sarah. On Thursday, Prime Minister Abe will be here to meet with the President. What will be on his agenda going into the meeting? Will they discuss trade issues? And the President said the other day that Japan, China, and South Korea can provide economic assistance to North Korea. And does the President plan to raise this issue with Prime Minister Abe?
  • And on the — (follow-up denied)
  • (Josh Dawsey, Washington Post) EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt asked an aide, we reported today, to help his wife get a Chick-fil-A franchise. Does the President think that’s ethical behavior?
  • One follow-up for you, Sarah. (He muscled through her calling on Matthew Nussbaum) Back to her question. We’re not asking really about the Special Counsel or the outside counsel. The only question is, do you think your statement in August was accurate? Your statement; not his. Was your statement accurate or inaccurate?
  • No, not a back-and-forth. You said something. We just want to know if it was accurate or not. Was the statement accurate?
  • But, Sarah, not about the outside counsel. You said something from the podium. Was it accurate or not? That’s all we want to know. (Defensive angry bullshit lies come out of Sarah’s mouth at this point)
  • (Justin Sink, Bloomberg) I wanted to ask about OMB. But just to follow on this quickly — and I think you were asked the question earlier — is the reason that you’re unwilling to engage on this because either you have already or you anticipate yourself having to talk to the Special Counsel about this statement?
  • So on OMB, they issued a revised rescission request today, and it withdrew the proposed cuts on Hurricane Sandy recovery funds and Ebola funding. I’m wondering if we should see those retreats as the administration inaccurately concluding at first that these were money that was no longer needing. And if that’s happened just in the last couple months, why that wouldn’t be true for other areas of the budget that the administration has targeted going forward.
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) Sarah, the President again took a stick to his favorite piñata, Jeff Sessions, today. (Laughter.) What is the President’s goal here? Is it just simply to remind the Attorney General that he’s really PO’ed at him and he’s not going to let him forget it?
  • Is he trying to get him to quit? Is he trying to emasculate him, holding him up? I mean, what is the President trying to do?
  • (Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller) Sarah, the President tweeted today that he was concerned that the FBI was weakening or slow walking the DOJ IT investigation into the Hillary Clinton email investigation handled by FBI Director James Comey. What is he basing that concern on? Is it based on conversations that he’s had with FBI personnel currently, or is it simply an observation based on the past?
  • Does he think it’s appropriate to encourage the Inspector General to release it based on his timeline rather than their own?
  • (Andrew Feinberg, Breakfast Media) Thanks, Sarah. I wanted to follow up on Josh’s question and Sarah’s question, but in a larger sense. The President, whether it’s on his Twitter account or otherwise, keeps saying things that are not borne out by the facts, whether it is the Eagles thing is about the National Anthem, or we’ve got $6 billion for opioids and getting rid of that scourge that’s taken over our country and the numbers are way down; we have thousands of immigration judges. And so the President keeps saying things that aren’t true. And this thing with dictating the statement —

MS. SANDERS: State the question. Sorry, Andrew. If you could get there.

  • Why, if things that you keep saying from the podium turn out to not be true, and things the President keeps saying in a number of venues keep saying — are turning out not to be true, why should we be able to trust that the information we’re getting from this administration is accurate? And more importantly, why should Americans be able to trust that what they hear from this White House is always the truth? (This is the part where Sarah says her credibility is higher than the media’s and that the reporters in the room spend all their time trying to tear her down)
  • Respectfully, I’m not trying to tear you down, and neither are any of us. 
  • (Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) Thanks a lot, Sarah. I just wanted to get your reaction, the administration’s reaction, to a statement that was put out by a player on the Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins. He’s a strong safety on the Philadelphia Eagles. Very well respected on the team and throughout the league. He put out a statement today in which he said that the decision that was made by the President to cancel this event celebrating the Super Bowl victory by the Eagles paints “the picture that these players are anti-America, anti-flag, and anti-military.” What is your response to what Malcolm Jenkins put out in a statement today?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News)  Are you saying the President bears zero responsibility in this cancellation? This is a President who called NFL players S.O.B.s, who implied that some players who don’t stand for the National Anthem do not belong in this country. Does he bear zero responsibility for players like the Warriors and the Cavs not wanting to come and the Eagles bailing on this?
  • (Steve Herman, VOA) Sarah, the President, last year, broke with recent tradition and did not host an Iftar dinner. Is the President hosting such a dinner this year? And can you tell us how the invitees were selected?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, thank you. Let me ask you about two possible trade deals — the one involving the Chinese in which it would be $70 billion of buying American products. The United States would back off its threat of tariffs. Is that something that President Trump would support?
  • Real quick on NAFTA. Larry Kudlow said today — Eamon referenced it — that maybe the President wants to deal with Canada solely, with Mexico solely, and that the idea of negotiating NAFTA might be gone at this point. Is the possibility of getting to a NAFTA deal done as this administration sees it?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. Back to the issue of presidential pardons. There’s been considerable furor in Illinois among Republicans, particularly supporters of the President and allies in Congress, such as Congressman Randy Hultgren, about him even suggesting commuting the sentence of former Governor Rob Blagojevich. Several party activists and colleagues of Congressmen Hultgren are becoming increasingly outspoken. Is he going to go ahead with the commutation, or is he backing down? And is he aware of the criticism from supporters of his?
  • (Dave) Thanks, Sarah. The President is also meeting with lawmakers here this afternoon. What’s on the agenda?
  • (Hunter Walker, Yahoo News) Thank you, Sarah. Does the President still think his response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico deserves a 10 out of 10 score now that estimates say almost 5,000 people died there?
  • Any concern about the massive volume of the death toll there? (He said this after Sarah called on someone else, muscling through but she ignored him) 
  • (Peter Alexander, NBC News) Thanks, Sarah. The administration came out in support of the baker’s freedom of expression in yesterday’s Supreme Court case. I guess I’m asking, why are athletes’ rights to express themselves freely any different than the baker’s?
  • So I guess my question is simple: So if the White House supports the BAKER’S right of free speech, why doesn’t the White House support the PLAYERS’ right to free speech?
  • (April Ryan jumps in without being called on) It’s about police-involved shootings, Sarah. Why not deal with —
  • Sarah, why not deal with the underlying issue of police-involved shootings?
  • (Peter again) Sarah, this is — will he commit to a roundtable? Will he commit — will the President, then, if it is about free speech and he supports these ideas, will the President commit to a roundtable with America’s athletes on topics of social injustice?
  • (April again) Yes.
  • Has he not — just for clarity, has he not — is it not something that has had any discussion to this point, given all the division in this country over this topic of social justice?
  • (April Ryan, uncalled on) Why won’t you answer about police-involved shootings? Is the President aware that this is about police-involved shootings and not about disrespecting the flag?

MS. SANDERS: Sorry, Steven. Go ahead.

  • Is the President aware of that, Sarah, please?

MS. SANDERS: Steven, if you could go ahead.

  • Please answer that. Please answer that.
  • (April keeps fighting through it and Steven Portnoy doesn’t try to start talking so finally Sarah is quiet and lets April ask a question) I’m asking, this is — there’s an underlying issue and it just keeps going about disrespect of the flag and soldiers. There are black and brown soldiers that fight in the military, as well, who feel that taking a knee, bringing attention to police-involved shootings is something that this White House should deal with. Is the President aware that taking the knee is about police-involved shootings?

MS. SANDERS: The President has made his position crystal-clear. And that is about —

  • Is he aware that this is about police-involved shootings

MS. SANDERS: I let you rudely interrupt me and your colleague.

  • I’m sorry, but this is important that this question get answered.

MS. SANDERS: I’m going to ask that you allow me to finish my answer. I would be happy to answer it if you would stop talking long enough to let me do that.



  • (Sarah says regurgitory stuff about living in a great country but doesn’t answer the question, so April continues) but will he deal with the issue of police-involved shootings?

MS. SANDERS: April, I’ve addressed your question. I’m not going to continue to engage with you.

  • I understand. But people are now standing — the NFL is now telling people they have to stand. Will the President deal with the issue of police-involved shootings?

MS. SANDERS: I’m going to deal with the issue of addressing your colleague’s question.

  • But it’s a real question. Can you take it to the President and come back to us with it?

MS. SANDERS: Steven, go ahead.

  • (Steven Portnoy, CBS Radio) Always happy to yield to a colleague.
  • (April Ryan) Thank you.
  • (Steven) But let me ask you about Scott Pruitt, because the two Republicans who represent Iowa in the Senate have had it with the EPA Administrator. Chuck Grassley said that Pruitt has betrayed the President. Joni Ernst says that Pruitt is as swampy as you can get. Josh and his colleagues report in the Washington Post today new elements of just how swampy that is. So let me ask you how is it, in the face of ALL that we’ve learned, how is that President Trump continues to have confidence in the EPA Administrator, assuming that he still does?