TOWOIT #317: “No one found the death threats”

April 9, 2018

Today’s White House briefing came before news broke that the FBI had raided the home, office, and hotel room of Michael Cohen (personal lawyer and fixer to Trump). It’s a real developing situation and Trump is sounding even less hinged than usual. Good thing this is all happening at a time when international conflicts are boiling over.

We’ll see if they send Raj out to do a quick uninformative press briefing tomorrow — it seems like they trot him out on the worst days. Or if there is no press briefing, which seems more likely.

Today’s press briefing was 19 minutes long. Nobody asked about the fire at Trump Tower or whether the smoke alarms were working.

Here’s what reporters asked Sarah Sanders today (4/9/2018):

Continue reading TOWOIT #317: “No one found the death threats”

TOWOIT #304: “You don’t come back from that.”

March 9, 2018

Questions they asked SHS today:  Continue reading TOWOIT #304: “You don’t come back from that.”

TOWOIT #303: “If this is not the definition of chaotic…”

March 7, 2018

Here are the questions reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders aka Literally The Worst:

Continue reading TOWOIT #303: “If this is not the definition of chaotic…”

TOWOIT #298: The Wild West

February 26, 2018

Overheard in the briefing room before the briefing started (thanks to C-Span), “You’re too YOUNG to be so cynical! But you’re right” (off-camera) and “Truth be told, Shep, the White House needs the NRA and the NRA needs this White House” (on-camera).

Questions reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #298: The Wild West

TOWOIT #281: Scripted Robot

January 17, 2018

(SHS said that Trump is not a scripted robot)

Today I’m recording WH reporter questions from yesterday AND today, but I can’t do the whole hour of the medical doctor from yesterday because that’s just too much, and a lot of it going around in circles. After yesterday’s briefing, one of the reporters could be heard saying “It felt like Josh Earnest was back.” Because Josh Earnest–Obama’s last press secretary–used to do long, patient back and forths with reporters, frequently drawing the briefing out past the hour mark. Of course, that’s not really fair, comparing Josh Earnest to Dr. Ronnie Excellent.

For her part, when Sarah H. Sanders took over yesterday she sounded much more like Sean Spicer than usual, with shades of Stephen Miller. Her voice is starting to pitch higher and she’s talking faster. There’s a strain to being the lying mouthpiece of racist idiocy.

Oh my gosh, I just went to whitehouse.gov to get the briefing transcripts and this is the splash page:

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*cough* Stormy Daniels *cough*

Questions they asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday:

Continue reading TOWOIT #281: Scripted Robot

TOWOIT #280: Confusing Tweets

January 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

Continue reading TOWOIT #280: Confusing Tweets

TOWOIT #270: Lockstep

December 5, 2017… Day #320

Questions the reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders today:

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

TOWOIT #243: Taking the Knee

September 25, 2017… Day 249

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(NBC’s Hallie Jackson to Sarah Huckabee Sanders today)

I just heard that Susan Collins is the third Republican no vote (along with McCain and Paul) on the latest attempt at repealing the ACA. This is a huge relief. I still hold out hope for Lisa Murkowski to declare herself a no, because I like to believe that Alaskan women are pragmatic and non-craven, even when they are Republicans. Not you, Sarah.

Puerto Rico is in bad shape and I’m keeping that in mind even as I join the collective groan/whoop/eyeroll/head-shake/knee-taking/soliloquizing/solidarity of the NFL and NBA and other sports organizations after Trump sniped wildly at them for his own racist purposes all weekend.

I am still in disbelief that this man is president. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s repeated vociferous defense of his comments on protesters (sons of bitches) is just as amazing.

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Questions they asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders about taking the knee today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #243: Taking the Knee

the only way out is through #15

January 31, 2017… Day 12

5:00. Though I’ve been enjoying watching things live on C-Span, when I get a nudge from the Washington Post on my phone to watch the Supreme Court nominee announcement live, I think “No thank you! I’ll have none of your folderol, DONALD.” And I became intensely interested in the hue and firmness of the bananas in the produce section of the grocery store. Because I don’t need to be a fucking reality television audience for him.

Supreme Court nominee is Neil Gorsuch. Democrats reiterate vow to filibuster Supreme Court nominee.

Over on C-Span: “We were told during the campaign not to take President Bannon literally. I’m sorry, I mean President Trump.” That’s what Congressman Joseph Crowley said today to a handful of reporters. He passed it off as a slip until about 10 minutes later, when he said, “I don’t think Donald Trump has the bandwidth to do this himself. That’s why I made a reference to President Bannon.” Being relatively new to C-Span, I don’t know whether congresspeople are just more balls to the wall than senators always, or whether this sort of talk is unusual. Crowley said that 24 Republicans had spoken out against the Muslim ban, but the vast majority had stayed silent. He said “President Trump is a coward… and anyone who stays silent joins the ranks of cowards.” Standing next to him, at about half his height, was Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. She said, “the only words that come to mind are ‘dumpster fire.’” She referred to Trump’s “dangerous and dictatorial missives” and said the world was watching and waiting for Congress to act.

GQ headline: In Case It Wasn’t Clear Yet, Steve Bannon Is Our President

USA TODAY runs story on dozens of hours of audio recordings from Bannon’s Breitbart News Daily radio show in 2015 and 2016, when Bannon said the U.S. was in  a “global existential war,” and suggested Islamist sympathizers had infiltrated the U.S. government and news media.

Donald Trump tweets “Nancy Pelosi and Fake Tears Chuck Schumer held a rally at the steps of The Supreme Court and mic did not work ( a mess)-just like Dem party!”

Two Republican senators–Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski–signaled that they may not vote for Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. It would take one more Republican to prevent her nomination from being successful.

Democrats boycotted committee votes on nominations of Tom Price (HHS) and Steve Mnuchin (Treasury). This stalled the process.

Sean Spicer refers to Mar-a-lago as “The Winter Whitehouse,” as if that’s a thing.

White House press corps shows signs of being angry and sticking up for each other. One reporter asks Sean Spicer how Trump plans to bring the country together, if he’s using words like “betray” (reference to Sally Yates firing memo). Sean Spicer said “Well that’s a very one-sided way to look at it.” Reporter visibly snorts. This was follow up to a reporter who asked whether using words like “betray” might have a chilling effect on federal employees. After Sean Spicer ducked similar questions from two other reporters, a third reporter mentioned the predecessor questioners by name, and then said “Is the president willing to kill and target American citizens, even minors, if they’re related to a terrorist?” Sean Spicer dodges. There have been a lot of headlines about things going wrong on the recent mission (a Navy SEAL, an 8-year old American citizen, and several other civilians were killed).

Reporters try to get the story straight on who knew what when with the Muslim ban. Sean Spicer says at one point, scoffingly, “Well I’m sorry that NBC News is based on false New York Times reporting.” And a reporter from neither of those organizations yelled “That was good reporting!!” from somewhere in the room.

Sean Spicer snits about use of “ban” to describe the Muslim ban. Reporters ask why Trump used the word “ban” himself in a tweet,  if he didn’t want people to use that word. Spicer said huffily that Trump used it because the media used it, but that’s not what it was. Another reporter asked about it. Finally after he said goodnight, a third reporter said, “The President called it ‘a very strict ban’ on Saturday. He called it a very strict ban–was the President wrong?” Sean Spicer just keeps walking out of the room. Another reporter says “LOUDER!” and the reporter who asked the question says just as the sound cuts out, “I mean–” and it sounds like he is about to say “What. The. Fuck.”

I saw a tweet tonight that White House staff won’t be appearing on CNN until future notice; Trump called it fake news. I wonder if that is related to Jake Tapper sardonically trolling Sean Spicer with clips of him (Sean) from just last night and the night before, repeatedly calling the executive order a ban.

I just read a long Twitter thread with links to a Trumpist blog, and it reminded me again that we are The Enemy. Not even Muslims or Mexicans or refugees. Liberals. They will hurt more marginalized targets to make us cry. Later, they will hurt us directly if they can get at us more easily. They don’t care about Donald Trump. They are bludgeoning us with Donald Trump. They want us to suffer because they hate us. More specifically, they hate me. They hate me because they are fucked in the head. It’s not fucking personal. So DON’T SHOW THEM ANY UNDERBELLY. Be ferociously cheerful, be righteous but flinty, be merciless, be this machine kills fascists.

Much is made of taking back the night, but I’m just trying to reclaim the late afternoon and early evening. These are day parts when things can be done! Like exercise, gardening, going places, or writing! For months now, I get home from work, close the apartment door behind me, breathe a sigh of relief, and climb into bed with my a) laptop, b) phone, c) a legal pad and pen, d) a book or two, and e) probably something kind of junky to eat. And then I’m there in bed, and it’s not all bad — there’s blogging, talking to my mom, educating myself, doing logistical online daily living crap, texting friends, reading, writing handwritten letters to nieces and aunts, listening to podcasts. It’s quite cozy. Also depressing!! Today I noticed tulip spears are coming up by my doorstep, and there are little leaf buds on my hydrangea bush. I tried to do a few things, like removing my mustache from my upper lip, hauling my recycling out to the dumpster, and corralling my dirty clothes into the actual hamper for future laundering (not doing laundry tonight — let’s not get TOO crazy.) It’s light just a little bit longer. If I put in a little effort, I might be able to shake off this low-grade hiding condition. Someone tell Marco Rubio there’s hope.

Everything is going to shit. Throw a blanket over the bird cage of your angst and try to sleep.

Questions for Spicer at the WH Daily Briefing (1/31/2017):

Continue reading the only way out is through #15

the only way out is through #8

January 24, 2017… Day 5

Radio alarm: coal miners will have a hard time getting treated for black lung when the ACA is repealed.

Facebook: commercial fishermen upset at news that Trump wants to push through the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay.

Huckabee, Ryan, and Graham all say that there’s no reason to think that Donald Trump’s voter fraud claims are true.Bernie Sanders says “regarding Mr. Trump’s delusional statement… he is sending a message to every Republican governor in the country to go ahead with voter suppression.”Then he suggested to Trump that he bring his three overseas manufacturing plants back to the U.S.

New York Post headline: Trump Brings Up Bogus Voter Fraud claims–Again. The New York Post is a Trump-friendly publication and were given the first question at Sean Spicer’s “first” press conference yesterday.

White house briefing: Reporters in the Whitehouse Press Corp today ask Sean Spicer why Trump wouldn’t want to investigate 3-5 million fraudulent votes. “That would be a scandal of huge proportions” said one. Eventually, after much dodging, Spicer said maybe it would be investigated in the future. One reporter said, “What do you think that means for democracy?” and Spicer said, “It means I already answered your question.”

At another point in the press conference Spicer said, “He has NO conflicts. By law he CAN’T have conflicts.”

NBC headline: What Happens When a President Can’t Handle Bad News?

On the highways and byways: A man walking across the U.S. barefoot to spread awareness of climate change, was killed on his 101st day of walking. An SUV swerved on to the shoulder and took him out.

Twitter: The twitter handle of the Badlands (part of the National Park Service) briefly went rogue, tweeting facts about climate change. Hailed as a hero. The tweets were deleted soon afterward

Many agencies, including the EPA and USDA, were silenced by the Trump administration, forbidden to make any blog posts or tweets or communicate with the public over social media at all. The administration calls it a “temporary media blackout”

The Guardian reports that four journalists were charged with felony incitement of riots because they were caught up by police while covering unrest on inauguration day. Usually reporters that are caught up with rioters are not charged once things are sorted out.

I policed myself once today–not wanting to sign a petition on the Whitehouse website because I didn’t want to give my name to a sinister organization. Never mind that this URL is my name and they have plenty of ways to know I’m not a supporter. It wasn’t rational. Just a really bad feeling.

Trump signed an executive order to get construction on the Dakota Access pipeline underway again. I felt sad and defeated over Standing Rock and DAPL. I am afraid those people are just going to break themselves against the rocks of the Trump administration. It is wrong to be defeatist at this point, and wrong not to rally to their side as this may be an important test case. But if it was so bad against Obama, I am afraid they will break themselves now under Trump.

Trump to sign an executive order targeting sanctuary cities.

Governor Jerry Brown says “California is not turning back. Not now, not ever.”

Subjective assessment: This is worse and going faster than I expected.

Questions reporters asked at the WH press briefing (1/24/2017):

Continue reading the only way out is through #8