At yesterday’s briefing, Brian Karem had an outburst. I appreciate it in this age of gaslighting and mindfuckery, when someone gets upset in a human way about basic decency. So I say thank you to Brian Karem. Also to Jim Acosta of CNN and Paula Reid of CBS, who both pushed back and said “No” when Sarah said something untrue.
Also a thank you to the White House transcriptionist who still faithfully records unflattering and sometimes aurally muddled cross-talk. I think this is a small act of integrity by someone I like to think is a holdover from previous administrations.
This might be a good time to add that I’m tired of hearing people on the left wring their hands about the nature of expression and tone — for instance, complaining about Robert De Niro saying “Fuck Donald Trump” at the Tonys. Who cares. Trump supporters hate our guts no matter WHAT we do. Let’s say Fuck Donald Trump while it’s still legal.
Here are the questions reporters asked Sanders at yesterday’s heated briefing:
This was the briefing where pundits were afterward like “Oh wow, Sarah Huckabee Sanders has lost ALL credibility.” Right on the heels of acting like it was weird to call her a liar. Like mere days later. I don’t know, is everything unraveling faster? The reporters in the room flirted around The L Word more than usual today.
April 13, 2018 (yesterday, before the announcement of Syrian airstrikes)
(Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Thank you, Sarah. The President came out swinging today, calling James Comey a “liar,” a “leaker,” a “slime ball.” Is he worried about what he’s saying? (Sarah calls Comey a disgraced partisan hack and says firing him will be remembered as one of Trump’s proudest accomplishment)
And another topic, quickly, if I may. The Deputy Attorney General was here yesterday. Is the President going to fire Rod Rosenstein?(Once again, she has no announcements at this time)
(John Roberts, Fox News) Sarah, the President, a short time ago, issued a pardon of Scooter Libby, the former Vice President’s Chief of Staff. There are many people who believe that Scooter Libby was the victim of a Special Counsel investigation run amuck. The recent statements that we have heard from the White House would seem to indicate that you feel much the same thing about the Mueller investigation. Was the President sending some sort of signal to the Mueller investigation or about the Mueller investigation by pardoning Scooter Libby? (It’s time to quite Fox News, John. You’re a propaganda beard)
In the statement, the pardoning statement today, the President acknowledges he doesn’t know Scooter Libby. What was it that convinced him that Scooter Libby deserved a pardon? (Just thought it was the right thing to do)
(Justin Sink, Bloomberg News) Thanks, Sarah. I have two questions. I wanted to ask about the first — The President, at the beginning of the week, said he expected a decision —
Sure. The President, at the beginning of the week, said he expected a decision within 24 to 48 hours on Syria. On Tuesday, he said a decision would probably come that night. But here we are on Friday, and in a statement last night, you said that no final decision had been reached. So I’m wondering if you could walk through why the President hasn’t met his own timeline there, and specifically, if it had anything to do with the, sort of, Syrian troop movement that we saw after his tweet on Wednesday, sort of threatening a missile strike.
And then, because it’s Friday, I’m wondering if —
MS. SANDERS: Friday the 13th.
Yeah. (Laughter.) You could walk us through exactly what the President has–(Jesus stop laughing at her jokes)
MS. SANDERS: You guys all groan like that’s a bad thing.
(Just a bad joke)
— committed to Senator Gardner in terms of both what the Justice Department would do and what the White House would do in terms of supporting legislation on states that legalize marijuana.
(Steve Holland, Reuters) You mentioned he’s spoken to President Macron. How big a coalition does he have for this expected action in Syria?
And is he satisfied now that Syria was responsible for the chemical weapons attack?
(Josh Dawsey, Washington Post) It was reported today that Michael Cohen, the President’s personal attorney, helped negotiate a $1.6 million settlement to a Playboy playmate. It also emerged, today, that Michael Cohen is under criminal investigation by the Southern District of New York. Is the President still associated with Michael Cohen? Does he continue to consider Michael Cohen someone he holds in confidence?
Is he concerned about these developments? Would the President like to say anything about them?
What about Michael Cohen’s actions, though? Does the President have any concern with those?
(Jill Colvin, Associated Press) Just a follow-up on that and then another topic. Is Cohen still the President’s personal attorney? (Sarah says she’d have to check)
And I wanted to ask – (then Sarah interrupts to say she can only speak about White House staff)
It looks like Paul Ryan just endorsed Kevin McCarthy for Speaker in an appearance, or an interview, with Meet the Press. Does the President believe that McCarthy should be the next Speaker?
(Jon Decker, Fox News Radio) On the James Comey book, some excerpts came out today. He speaks of the President — writes about the President in very personal terms. Were you surprised by that? Was the President surprised by that? (It’s time to quite Fox News, Jon. You’re a propaganda beard)
And just really quickly on the pardon that came out today for Scooter Libby. The President, so far in his time in office, has issued three presidential pardons. One of those was to Joe Arpaio. Is there a commonality, in terms of what the President looks for when he pardons individuals?
(Steve Herman, VOA? I’m trying to gauge from the voice and the angle of her gaze which Steve it was.) Yes, Sarah. I’m wondering if the administration has reacted with any message to Moscow after officials there today said that the chemical attack in Douma was faked and staged with Britain’s direct involvement.
(April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, what part does the President bringing Russia into the Syria equation now cause for the delay in the strike timeline?
(Dave Boyer, Washington Times) Thanks, Sarah. The Justice Department Inspector General came out with his long awaited report this afternoon on former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying that he improperly leaked information about the Clinton Foundation investigation to a reporter, and then lied to James Comey about it and, under oath, to two FBI investigators. Do you have a reaction to that? And does that, in your mind, validate the decision to fire McCabe?
(Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thank you, Sarah. You said that James Comey was a liar, that he’s a leaker, that he made false representations or claims. Other than what the President tweeted this morning about lying under oath to Senator Grassley, what exactly has he said that’s false or a lie? (When Sarah responds to Comey questions in this briefing, she reads from a screed instead of answering off the cuff. It’s a total doubling-down on the Trump tweets from the morning.)
Sarah, what about the dossier, though? Sarah, what about the dossier? Did he also lie about the dossier in his conversation with President Trump about that? (She doesn’t really answer this question)
(Jim Acosta, CNN) Sarah, what about the content of the President’s attacks on Jim Comey, your attacks on Jim Comey? Isn’t all of that a bit unbecoming of the Presidency of this White House to go after him in such a personal way like that. Calling him a “slime ball” and a “liar” and a “leaker”?
Sarah, if I could just follow up —
Other folks had two questions. If I could just —
— ask a second follow-up question because —
Well, it’s Friday, yeah. And you’ve —
MS. SANDERS: And you’d probably get really upset, and I don’t need that
No, no, no. Not at all. Not at all. (Laughter.) No, but you’ve probably seen this tweet. It was a tweet that you posted before the election in 2016: “When you’re attacking FBI agents because you’re under criminal investigation, you’re losing.” What do you make of that now? Isn’t that —
But when you go after Comey and Rosenstein and Mueller, doesn’t that mean you’re losing? (She doesn’t answer, scolds him briefly for trying to ask another question, moves away to another reporter, and… boom)
Following up with that, I mean, one of the themes of Comey’s book is the President’s “disdain” for the rule of the law and his continued efforts to publicly undermine federal law enforcement officials. So how would you characterize the President’s attitude towards the rule of law and things that he said publicly about many of his top federal law enforcement officials?
But it’s NOT just leakers; it’s his own Attorney General, it’s his own Deputy Attorney General, it’s Special Counsel, it’s the FBI, it’s judges who make decisions that he doesn’t like. There’s a whole list of federal law enforcement officials that he has undermined. It’s not just people who have proven to leak information. (Sarah rails at the press in general for “praising Jim Comey, propping him up” )
(She broke in to say the second part — Sarah had already called on Charlie from Breitbart. I like this reporter’s moxie but I can’t find her full name — she’s from CBS)
(Charlie Spiering, Breitbart) Thank you, Sarah. This morning, James Comey admitted that he didn’t tell the President about the political source —
This morning, James Comey said that he didn’t inform the President of the political source of the dossier. Was the President surprised to hear that? Did Director Comey ever tell him about the sourcing of the political dossier against him?
And a second question, because it’s Friday. Did the President speak to former Vice President Dick Cheney about the Scooter Libby pardon either before or after it —
(John Gizzi, Newsmax) Yeah. Thank you, Sarah. Three Republican state senators from Missouri wrote the President yesterday saying that the embattled Governor Eric Greitens should resign from office. He has serious charges of sexual abuse against him, faces impeachment, and refuses to resign. They concluded that, as a former Navy SEAL, he would salute and resign if his Commander-in-Chief asked him to. Did the President receive the letter? What is his response? And will he ask Governor Greitens to step down?
(Sarah Sorcher, Washington Post) Thank you, Sarah. So, concerning the summit with Prime Minister Abe next week in Florida, does the President plan to push for a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan?
Sarah, does the President have another NSC meeting today on Syria?
Will the President be having another NSC meeting today on Syria?
(Ayesha Rascoe, NPR) Thanks. I wanted to ask about the pardoning process. It seems like we’ve had these three pardons; they all were somewhat high-profile or had gotten media attention. How is the President deciding when to take action on a case? I mean, with Arpaio, he hadn’t been sentenced yet; the Scooter Libby case was very old. So how are you deciding when to take action on these cases? And can a normal person who feels like they’ve been unjustly convicted, can they get their case to the White House? I mean, there’s a Justice Department process, but it seems like the President is taking special interest in certain cases.
(Nadia Bilbassy, Al Arabiya English) Thank you, Sarah. The OPCW is sending inspectors to Syria. Do you think this is a futile exercise, since you already have the evidence that actually they have chemical weapons?
(Brian Bennett, LA Times) Thanks, Sarah. I’ll do two. One on Syria and one on the Department of Justice. On Syria, the President has publicly said that he wants to get out of Syria. Has this strike changed his mind on that? And is he considering other options, other than a plan to pull out U.S. forces from Syria? And if you could just —
(I saw Brian’s face way in the back when she called on him, and I was like “and that’s Brian Bennett” — and then I remarked to myself, “wow, you’re getting good at this — how did you know THAT guy’s name?” And then it dawned on me, sort of like horror, that I know his name because I *KNOW* him, because we went to college together. That just bums me out, because I was in classes with so many successful journalists and writers and media people and sometimes I just feel so lame and obscure.)
Is he considering other options other than a long-term strategy to get U.S. forces out of Syria?
And so I have a question about the Department of Justice. What does the President have to say to Republican lawmakers who believe that firing Mueller would be “suicide,” as Grassley has said, or firing Rosenstein could be the end of the presidency for Donald Trump, as Lindsey Graham has said?
Does he have any response for Republican lawmakers who are counseling him not to take an action like that?
The AP’s Jill Colvin wore a really pretty skirt today. I really relate to her in this picture, an average-looking print journalist sandwiched between the slim, TV-ready ladies down in front. I relate because I work in an office where people look polished and run marathons, and I’m just sort of frumping around the place eating pizza for breakfast. (Apparently self-deprecation is a feature of this post, not a bug.)
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):
Yesterday, Sarah had two veterans up in front, sitting quietly on either side of her, and she promo-ed like a circus barker how their limbs got blown off and sewn back on. Sometimes I don’t know when I’m just generally grossed out by the Trump administration and when they’ve done something specifically wrong. But this seemed really off to me.
Major Garrett had the first question and took the show right into Secretary of VA Shulkin’s corruption troubles.
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:
Today Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah spoke to reporters about the Rob Porter scandal and took questions.
I thought it was very odd that Sarah Sanders wasn’t there on such an important day. Raj Shah had never done a briefing before (he did very well at it though). The White House said it was a pre-planned absence, but I think it’s strange.
Adding to the general sense of things being off, the briefing kept scooting later and later into the day. It was first planned for 1:00, then delayed until 2:30. Then, after the reporters had been sitting around for several minutes waiting, a voice came over the loud speaker (also odd-seeming), announcing that the briefing would now be at 3:15. Loud groans erupted.
John Roberts, Fox News TV ready, jumped up and talked to the cameraman while also talking on the phone to the studio. He decided to go out on the North Lawn to do his next on-camera segment before the briefing was scheduled to start. Then the 3:15 time period passed, 3:21, 3:24, 3:27…
At 3:37, Peter Alexander stood up on his little step-stool to do an on-camera with NBC. He could be heard saying, “They gave us the two-minute warning five minutes ago, so they are definitely struggling with something.” Then at the end of his piece he signed off to say, “…the White House Press Briefing, which is expected to start two hours and twenty minutes ago.” The room, which had gone quiet out of courtesy, erupted in laughter.
Then Jim Acosta with CNN went on air and the waiting reporters became even more the story. “The mood in the room —” he said, and then, gesturing around, “— what’s the mood?” and he was greeted with a mix of groans and whoops.
When Raj finally showed up, it was a relief to have him instead of Sarah, for the change. But you do wonder how someone decent-seeming, who you’ve barely had a chance to begin to despise, could debase himself by working for this White House. Raj broke with Trumpian tradition by saying repeatedly that everyone involved on the White House staff could have done some things differently and handled the Rob Porter situation better. Other than that, he was all over the place. It was a smudgy and squidgy spin job, delivered fairly calmly.
Oh, also, Raj Shah used the phrase “The President’s generals” today.
Andrew McCabe is stepping down or being forced out (one or the other), a hollow SOTU is scheduled, black people should be grateful to Trump, reporters are getting a runaround on the sanctions deadline, and the nationalized 5G network is going over like a lead balloon.
Here are the questions the White House press corps asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the 14 minutes she allotted for Q&A.
Sarah goes to the WTF (Worse Than Fox) trio when things get hairy today. The boys at One America, LifeZette, and racist zine Breitbart are more than happy to help her trammel over pointed follow-ups from other reporters in the room.
Also, Mara Liasson seemed to fall asleep in her chair near the end of the briefing, which is basically how I was at work today.
Lastly, some people on the left are being really ugly on Twitter, calling Sarah Huckabee Sanders ugly. We’ve got a long way to go on our misogyny — our whole culture is a toxic soup of it. She’s not ugly, she’s just kind of average-looking and not overly symmetrical — LIKE MOST OF US. Her outfits are fine. When people harp on her looks with nasty, gross memes (that aren’t even clever), the message to women everywhere is “Look perfect or hide yourself away.”
She’s an amoral henchperson for Trump. That’s enough fodder for criticism.
Here are the questions the reporters in the room asked today:
(Francesca Chambers, Mail Online): Thank you, Sarah. I wanted to ask you about the women who came forward today against the President. They first were on a television show and then they were at a press conference. And they said that he should resign, and then also that there should be a congressional investigation. And I know that you’ve said that this has already been litigated in the last election, but I wanted to get your specific reaction to this idea that there should be a congressional investigation into this.
(Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sarah, thank you. I want to follow up on that. But first, a little bit of breaking news we just learned about: The Pentagon apparently will now allow transgender people to enlist in the military beginning January 1st. Your reaction to that? And any follow-up action you’re going to take?
Okay, and one follow-up –
One follow-up very quickly on — just very quickly, Sarah.
Can I just ask you about Nikki Haley’s comments saying that the President –
(Mara Liasson, NPR)I’ll pick that up for you, Kristen.
Nikki Haley, as I’m sure you know, said, when asked does the election mean that’s a settled issue — which you’ve been arguing from the podium here — she said, “I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them,” specifically referring to the accusers of the President. Does the President agree with her?
But he thinks it’s a good thing that the women who accused him are coming forward now, again?
(Jacqueline Alemany, CBS News) I just want to go off of that, Sarah. But the President told Howard Stern in 2005 that he had walked into a teen beauty pageant dressing room where he said that teen contestants had no clothes on because he could sort of get away with things like that. Is that not an admission of sexual harassment—
And the American public —
(Charlie Spiering, Breitbart) Two ISIS attacks in New York City — or ISIS-inspired attacks in New York City just recently. Is the President concerned that there is a growing threat against people inspired by ISIS who have been radicalized online?
(Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thank you, Sarah. The President reacted quite angrily over the weekend to a Washington Post reporter’s tweet about crowd size that was quickly deleted. I’m wondering if you could help explain the discrepancy between the President’s reaction to incidents like this, which he calls “fake news” and talks quite a bit about, and his silence on actual disinformation campaigns like Russia ran during the 2016 election to deliberately spread false information. So both his silence on that, and does he recognize the difference between these two?
Does he see a difference between reporters’ mistakes and a disinformation campaign by a foreign government? Does he see a distinction there?
(Jim Acosta, CNN) And I would just say, Sarah, that journalists make honest mistakes and that doesn’t make them fake news. But the question that I –
The President hasn’t –
This wasn’t going to be my question.
You mean like tweeting stuff on the Middle East —
He retweeted something that was completely fake, Sarah. Can he admit it?
(Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers)Are you speaking about the President? [this interjection was after Sarah’s long rant on the media being dishonest]
This was not –
I know, I know.
(Jim Acosta again) This is not the line of questioning that I was going down, but can you cite a specific story that you say is intentionally false; that was intentionally put out there to mislead the American people?
Sarah, if I may though, I was going to ask a question about something else.
Well, Sarah, if I may –
Sarah, if I can ask about the President’s accusations –
I know, but I didn’t get a chance to ask the question that I wanted to ask, which is –
— can you just say, once and for all, whether these accusations –
(Jim Stinson, LifeZette) Sarah, a question about investment — investment taxes.
(Jim Acosta, CNN) I think I was within my rights to respond to your attacks on the news media. If that’s okay, I would like to ask the question that I had about these accusations of misconduct against the President. You said that he’s denied them. Can you say whether or not they are false?
[Sarah says: “I’m not going to respond”]
Sarah, some investors are saying the tax reform package favors mutual funds over individual investors. Other critics who want tax reform say the bill will cause some tax increases for a few middle-class tax filers. By a few, I mean maybe tens of thousands, but maybe more. Will the President sign the tax bill, even if there are inadvertent tax increases and some of the criticisms are correct?
(Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Tomorrow there is a special Senate election in Alabama. Back on September the 23rd, the President went down to Huntsville, Alabama — campaigned alongside of Luther Strange — and since that time, he never went down in the course of the campaign — the campaign, alongside the Republican nominee, Roy Moore. Was the President embarrassed in terms of campaigning alongside Roy Moore? Is that the reason why we didn’t see him down there in Alabama?
(April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, what is the disconnect, as it relates to this White House, when it comes to then-candidate Trump bringing the accusers of Bill Clinton to the debate, against Hillary Clinton, and now the accusers of Roy Moore — making these accusations — and his accusers? What’s the disconnect here?
Well, what about his own accusers though? He has accusers as well.
Will he address the American public about this? Because this is spinning, and it’s focused on him now as –
But will he — it’s coming up new and a fresh, and more people are now speaking out. Will –
I understand. But will the President address the nation on this? This is a huge issue, Sarah.
Will the President come out and address this, please?
Sarah, all you have to say is yes or no.
(Trey Yingst, One America News Network) Thank you, Sarah. Today, the suspected terrorist in New York City, he was described as a Bangladeshi immigrant. Bangladesh is not on the President’s travel ban list. Does today’s attack change the way that President Trump is evaluating travel restrictions?
(Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News) Thanks, Sarah. At the top of your remarks about ISIS, about the attack today in New York City, you talked about the need to destroy the ideology, intimating would-be attackers and the actual attackers. What policy changes are required to do that? How do you defeat an ideology that’s been attempted since 9/11 with, really, no great success? What are you doing differently? What can you do differently in order to do that?
(Jessica Stone, CGTN (China)) Thanks, Sarah. Two quick ones on Korea. Do you have an update on sanctions? Last week, you said it would be coming in a number of days. And secondly, Victor Cha was just nominated to be the Republic of Korea Ambassador. Do you have any comment?
(Margaret Brennan, CBS) Sarah, I’m interested in the comment you made about the suspect in New York. Does the White House have any proof that this suspect was radicalized outside of the United States? He’s been a lawful, permanent resident living here for some time.
But why would his chain migration be an issue unless you were saying that something happened outside the U.S.? [she won’t answer]
(Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg) On the directive on space the President is going to announce this afternoon, will he call for an increase in spending for NASA, or will there be commercial partnerships? Or will he reduce NASA funding in other areas such as earth science, which includes the study of climate change?
(Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Thanks, Sarah. Two questions. Who were the eyewitnesses who dispute these allegations against the President? And can you stand here right now and say, without a doubt — 100 percent certainty — that the more than dozen women who have come forward to accuse this President of misconduct are lying? Do you wrestle with this personally at all?
(Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) So let me just follow up on that question a little bit. As a woman standing up there talking to us — I know your job is to relay what the President says — have you ever been sexually harassed? And do you understand — and I’m not saying by the President — I’m saying ever. And secondly, do you have an empathy for those who come forward? Because it’s very difficult for women to come forward.
(Zeke Miller, AP) Thanks, Sarah. Following up on the President’s announcement last week on Jerusalem, declaring it’s the capital of Israel, we saw days of protests — sometimes violent protests in the Middle East, changes to the Vice President’s schedule as he goes through the region. Does the White House acknowledge, does the President acknowledge, that that decision increased tensions in an already volatile region?
Sarah, but this is about more than violence. This is about meetings being cancelled. It’s about diplomatic outcry from everyone from — you know, the governments of the United Kingdom, the Pope, and the like. So why is it beneficial to the U.S. interest, as the President declared, if all those groups, all those countries and allies are condemning that announcement?
(Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Yeah, following up on that, President Abbas, as you know, has said he will not meet with the Vice President next week. Does the President have a reaction to that? And doesn’t this mean that the U.S. has effectively taken itself out of the peace process when one side won’t even show up to meet with the United States?
(Philip Crowther, France24) So the last suspects of terrorism were not training in Syria or Iraq. And Thursday, the Russians stopped their operations, said that they’d gotten rid of ISIS in Syria. Saturday, the Iraqi Prime Minister said this fight against ISIS is won. Why would the U.S. still need to fight on the ground?
Called out as SHS left—(something inaudible) the President misrepresented the facts?
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?
Whirlwind Friday news evening with the talk of Mueller charges and someone possibly being taken in to custody on Monday. I’m seeing jubilation online, but not feeling it myself. This week has been too dark. Too dark! I’m not letting my guard down.
Let us retreat to the familiar confines of the White House Press Briefing, where Sarah Sanders was particularly smug and condescending to reporters, as the reporters’ children looked on and added their small murmurous child sounds to the room noise.
Do not take your children to the White House.
Don’t go to the White House!
God, I hate Halloween anyway.
C-SPAN cut to the briefing from a live call-in about sexual harassment in the workplace. An anonymous caller had just said, with a shaky voice, how a coworker drugged her drink and kept her in his apartment for 18 hours afterward, but she just suppressed it for 5 years and said nothing to anyone. Cut abruptly to Sarah Huckabee Sanders in an emerald green dress, opening her mouth to make one of her snarky, un-funny salutations to the room. She will go on to confirm that the White House’s official position is that all 16 women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment are liars.
It’s hard to refrain from gendered insults, with Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the world.
Sally Yates says we should have confidence in Robert Mueller
Jim Comey says we should have faith in Robert Mueller
Delay of healthcare vote; no one is letting up though
Keith Ellison — he just makes me feel better
43% of Republicans think Trump’s Twitter practices are “distracting and reckless” (according to NPR this morning)
More GOP defecting from the bill than I expected. Non-craven.
Overheard Trump-voter at the office: “I’d rather there be NO healthcare bill than something that caters to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Anything that Ted Cruz thinks is acceptable, I don’t.”
Overheard Republican at the office: “I mean someone can go on TV and say out loud that the president is a moron, and it’s just the truth. It’s discouraging. It’s setting a whole new standard.”
Nicholas Burns and the other three panelists in front of Burr and Warner’s committee in the Senate today talking about Russia’s election-meddling. Burns had a lot of sharp words for Trump and the Trump administration. Risch and Cotton were garbagey to the panelists, but many of the Republicans were NOT.
39% of Republicans say they don’t know enough about the health care bill to say whether they like it or not. Joy Reid cited this as a disturbing statistic, but if the approval rating for the bill is 17% with that many Republicans essentially in the dark about it, then this is even worse for the Senate Republicans than I thought. I need to know that some people are just really busy and preoccupied with their lives. It’s either that or they are all completely in the grip of Fox News, and I’ll take the blank slate over that.
The vote on the Senate health care bill is delayed till after the July 4th recess. I haven’t really known what to do, but I made a couple phone calls today. You feel a bit redundant when your Democratic senators are already ON IT. But you can always say thank you. And I added my name to the finance committee’s tally of people asking for open hearings on the bill.
Trump had all the Republican senators up to the White House. Collins and Murkowski were on either side of him.
I started reading this book on local political history called Seattle Justice by Christopher Bayley. He’s a Republican, a retired prosecutor. I believe he is one of those old-style Republicans we are nostalgic for now. And apparently Seattle was quite the cesspool of corruption.
Highlight so far: Finding out that in 1926, Seattle actually elected a woman mayor named Bertha Landes. And I love it because my grandmothers were girls in Seattle in 1926, aged 15 and 4. Bertha Landes was planning to shut down the dancehalls that doubled as brothels. The women who worked in them appealed to her personally to keep them open — so she decided to just regulate them! The problem wasn’t so much the prostitution itself. It was the graft.
Sean Spicer was going to be on camera today, but they did a last minute switcheroo and it was Sarah Huckabee Sanders instead. Brian Karem has a lot more followers on Twitter today than he did 24 hours ago after he interrupted proceedings to stand up for the reporters in the room.
Recently, Breitbart News challenged the accuracy of a CNN story, and afterwards it was retracted, deleted and the editors responsible were fired, as well as — the network apologized for the story. The target of this — one of the targets of the story accepted the apology. The President went on Twitter this morning and repeated that CNN was fake news. Why isn’t their response good enough for the President?
Does the President actually expect —
Does the President actually expect us not to report on stories of a foreign country trying to influence the presidential election?
But, Sarah they can —
Sarah, that’s — come on. You’re inflaming everybody right here and right now with those words. This administration has done that as well. Why in the name of heavens — any one of us, right, are replaceable, and any one of us, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us. You have been elected to serve for four years at least. There’s no option other than that. We’re here to ask you questions, you’re here to provide the answers, and what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, see, once again, the President is right and everybody else out here is fake media. And everybody in this room is only trying to do their JOB.
Thank you, Sarah. I just — rapid fire because I don’t — we’ve had a bit of a long briefing here. With the — let me ask it this way — how would you describe the President’s mood on healthcare? Concerned, still encouraged? And what did you make of the CBO score, if you’ve talked to him about that? And then secondly, I want to ask you about the warning to Syria. What’s the message that the administration wants to convey, not just to the world community but also to the American people who see headlines like that and they wonder are we hurtling headlong into a major situation in that part of the world.
Syria, the warning to Syria. What’s your message to the international community and also to the American people who may be concerned when they read a headline like that they’re thinking, well, we may be hurtling toward a situation that involves the U.S. in that part of the world?
Can you explain — because you went on the record this morning — what the process was that led to that statement last night? Were members of the team at the State Department or the Defense Department taken aback by that statement, or were they fully involved? Can you give us an idea of how the process internally worked to deliberate that statement and then create the statement for public release?
Can you give us a timeline from the very beginning? Was that on yesterday or is it —
And on healthcare, you just said you accept or find valid the CBO numbers on the budget side. Is that true —
In its — assessment yesterday?
And for the purposes of the public looking at this, would this administration accept the budget and revenue numbers that were published yesterday as, generally speaking, valid and worth taking seriously?
wo things, one on Google and one on the economic forecast. So European officials have slapped Google with this $2.7 billion fine. Is the White House cool with European regulators hitting a U.S. company with a fine when our own Federal Trade Commission hasn’t accused them of anti-competitive behavior?
Okay, and also on the International Monetary Fund. So they lowered their forecast for U.S. economic growth down to 2.1 percent, which is lower than what the President has been — hope for. Can you share some reaction on what you think about this new IMF forecast?
Thank you. I appreciate it. If Syria is poised to launch another chemical weapons attack, isn’t that an acknowledgement that the airstrikes in April didn’t work, Sarah?
Why will a paper statement work, though, when airstrikes didn’t dissuade Bashar al-Assad?
And just to follow up very quickly, was there a principals’ meeting, a deputies’ meeting before that statement was issued by Sean Spicer last night?
Sarah, two questions, just like NBC. Given the news about CNN’s —
Given the news about CNN’s erroneous story about Anthony Scaramucci, does the White House believe there are other Russia-related stories from major outlets that have not been retracted and are just as false, including the February 14th story in The New York Times about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, which James Comey called into question, which many believe the CNN story was based upon?
On the CNN retraction, does the White House now believe the news media have an obligation to review stories on the Russian-Trump issue and retract questionably sourced stories on the topic?
Do you believe that the media should go back and look at anonymously sourced stories on Russia and Trump and maybe start a review process and retract where necessary?
Thank you, Sarah. Two healthcare questions. Okay, so you accept the budgetary calculations of the CBO, but not the projections on how many people would be insured. What about their projections on what would happen to premiums and deductibles? Is that something you accept or not accept?
Well, they also said that for people of certain incomes they would go way up. So you only accept them if they go down?
Okay, and then another question. The President promised that his healthcare plan would not have cuts to Medicaid. Does he believe that a family of four making $60,000 makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid? In other words, that that’s just too high an income to be getting Medicaid?
Does he believe — he said the House bill was too mean. Does he believe that the Senate bill is less mean, as mean, more mean? Like what does he think?
Early this morning I watched a Vox video about “democratic backsliding.” How it happened in Venezuela and how it is happening here. It was very scary. But let’s focus on something good — Susan Collins is firmly opposing the Senate “healthcare” bill. YES!! Thank you for being NON-CRAVEN.
Jim Comey’s friend does this sometimes when something is about to happen:
Sometimes I just kinda wonder if they are actually frenemies.
The White House seems to be gearing up for more military action against Syria. The Supreme Court is partially reinstating Trump’s travel ban. And Ivanka Trump says she tries to stay out of politics.
I hate the White House Press Briefings being off camera. I loved to hear the reporters’ voices, see their faces, listen to their questions in real time.
January 23, 2017… Day Four … Flackery and the Zeitgeist
Well damn, I forgot all my scribbled notes at the office, so I’ll just have to do the best I can for today and update tomorrow. A lot happens in a day in the life of a blossoming dictatorship.
I woke up at 12 am and lay awake for 90 minutes gnawing on the problemof white feminism, the importance of intersectional feminism, and the distrust that black and brown women feel toward white women. The tendency of white women to act as privileged flibbertigibbets in ways they can’t seem to figure out that they’re doing. The fact that they mean well, have core competencies, and we need their (our) bodies, bulk, voices, and skills in an all hands on deck situation. And we need the leadership, experience, wisdom and moral fiber of women of color who have been living this fight. So, I couldn’t get back to sleep for awhile, just lying there with jangled, stabby feelings. These themes have now flooded my Facebook timeline as the “crowd buzz” has worn off and people have come down to earth and reflected. So it’s circulating.
NPR on the radio alarm, going on about Sean Spicer‘s falsehoods and Kellyanne Conway‘s “alternative facts.” Glad to hear this still being harped on. Thank you CNN. They still aren’t using the words lie, lying, liar.
Overheard at work (worried voice): “I hope he doesn’t start a trade war. It looks like he might start a trade war.”
A formerly non-political friend texted me this early in the morning:
At a holiday party a few weeks ago, her step-dad said, “You should just give Trump a chance.” She snapped back authoritatively “That guy? No. I don’t have to give that guy a chance.”
I haven’t unfollowed all my Republicans FB friends, though a lot of them have unfollowed me. A lot of them aren’t very political, so stuff doesn’t come up. A lot of them are Native American, and veterans and/or working as first responders. I have respect for them, partly because they aren’t like my white Lord of the Manor college-educated Republican acquaintances, who voted for Hillary because Trump was clownish and crude. Now that Trump’s in, they are perfectly happy to ride it out and get a tax break. A Republican who is a 90-year old retired nurse and clambers around on her own roof taking care of her own gutters, or a Republican who is a single mom who taught her middleschool-aged kids to shoot, clean, and cook squirrels and birds (!!). Well, I admire them a lot.
Anyway, that’s how I get memes like this one in my timeline this morning. Presented without irony.
OK, I’m basically just screwing around now and I need to cook dinner. I’ll be back tomorrow with more details for posterity.
I watched Sean Spicer‘s whole press conference and scribbled notes down.
I nabbed some great headlines.
And I read a piece from Venezuelan smart guy Andrés Miguel Rondón: “How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps. He says we (coastal liberal elites like me, who literally cannot stop saying vaguely snooty things) are the enemy of the Trumpists and NOTHING we do or say matters because we are necessary in our role as enemy, and that’s right where they’ll keep us. Overcome tribalism or perish. It did vindicate my sense that every time someone starts reeling off The List: homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, racism… it is like a block signal for people on the other side to stop paying attention to what we’re saying. The words stop being words, they become just The List now. I am not for cordoning this stuff off as “identity politics” and minimizing it to woo the white working class. No, no, no. I’m just talking about new word formats and speech patterns. Rule one in politics and life: Don’t be litanous. I imagine how I glaze over every time someone says the word “neoliberal” because to me it is a meaningless insult that correlates to a certain purist leftwing worldview that I find deeply exasperating and yet find myself having to partner with because I believe a broad coalition is necessary. Still don’t want to pay close attention after they drop the “N——–L” word though.
Today was also the day of heartbreaking Melania gifs.
And Trump naming the day of his inauguration, a National Day of Patriotic Devotion.
Everything is terrifying.
New York Times headline: Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting with Lawmakers.
Trump team shutting down agency social media.
By the way, the Smithsonian winkingly replied to a tweet I made about Donald Trump \ today. They replied with a smiley face and a photograph of a marine worm.
(This next part I am typing from the future, 4/4/2018) Today was the first official White House Press Briefing, if you don’t count Sean Spicer yelling at the press about crowd size and then refusing to ask questions. Nobody seems to have transcribed this briefing anywhere. Here are a list of the reporters’ questions at the briefing (after more then 10 tortured, garbled minutes of Spicer reading a prepared statement):
Question they asked Sean Spicer at the first briefing (1/23/2018):