TOWOIT #182

July 21, 2017… Day 183

End of a busy week at the office, and a busy week of watching ourselves careen toward authoritarianism, maybe, or maybe a presidency goes down in flames, or maybe we’re not hurtling but grinding slowly. I don’t know. Can we do this for three and a half more years?

image001-38

We were blessed with an on-camera press briefing after Sean Spicer resigned today. It was the first one since June 29. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is now the official press secretary. But the briefing was the Anthony Scaramucci show. And that’s why it was on camera. For this confident little Wall Street dude’s song and dance. This guy is the new communications director and the reason Trump was fired. Since I don’t have TV, I’ve managed to pretty much avoid this guy until today. Boy what a slick son of a gun. I’ve never wanted to be a political cartoonist so badly. The man just spawns image after image.

Scaramucci said he wished Sean well, and the way he expressed this was to say, “…and I hope he goes on to make a tremendous amount of money!” The unabashedness. He described the gap between how Trump loyalists see Trump and how the press sees Trump as “an arbitrage spread.” He said he didn’t want to go into an “advertisement or infomercial,” but there was the implication that he didn’t want to go into his spiel right then. Not that he never planned to get salesy.

When asked what he would do first to “right the ship,” Scaramucci said that the ship was “heading in the right direction.” Which just conjured the image of a badly listing ship, far out at sea, storm on the horizon–but with its bow heading in the right direction!

He also said that he learned at Goldman Sachs that if you need to eat an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time. Then he said that he and Sarah would be eating the elephant. There’s definitely a cartoon in that one, with Don Jr. holding the severed elephant tail as a trophy. And the GOP being the elephant. The only problem is that the cartoonist will probably use the eating megafauna angle to make Sarah Huckabee Sanders look fat and homely in a sexist way, and make her and little Scaramucci will be drawn as Jack Sprat to her Mrs. Sprat. I’m defensive on behalf large women with asymmetrical faces.

More great Scaramucci lines:

“I’m obviously committed to being transparent, because I’m standing here.”

And, when asked if he would be truthful, he said “I sort of feel like I don’t even have to answer that question.”

Before I round up the reporters’ questions, here are some other things that happened today:

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 4.27.26 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 4.30.45 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 4.31.17 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 4.47.39 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 4.40.32 PM

(If this happens it won’t be a drill. I’ll walk out and consult Twitter and we will clump into groups and find each other like water coming together with other water).

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 4.42.46 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 4.38.03 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 5.02.26 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 4.54.02 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 5.05.42 PM

Questions reporters asked at the Scaramucci show (featuring Sarah Sanders): 

Continue reading TOWOIT #182

TOWOIT #181

July 20, 2017… Day 180

Wildest news day yet, in a long string of wild news days. Before plunging into the fray of headlines, I would just like to note that Mick Mulvaney brought visual aids to today’s off-camera press briefing.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 8.48.59 PM

IMG_5200

IMG_5192

IMG_5186

IMG_5193

IMG_5194

IMG_5196

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 8.05.38 PM

IMG_5202

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 8.20.23 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 8.24.26 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 8.41.10 PM

IMG_5205

and yet…

IMG_5190

Questions reporters asked Sarah H. Sanders today (off-camera, embargoed audio):

Continue reading TOWOIT #181

TOWOIT #172

July 11, 2017… Day 173

Each morning (most days), the White House Press Briefing used to appear on C-Span’s daily schedule of events around 7:30 or 8:00 my time — two or three hours before it was slated to begin. Now there’s no mention of it whatsoever beforehand. It’s just at some point later in the day, after the fact, after the audio embargo has been lifted, something like this will appear:

unnamed

From the (conservative) National Review:

unnamed-2

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.26.27 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.27.47 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.29.00 PM

Breitbart London editor-in-chief:

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.24.22 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.35.57 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.25.26 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.30.57 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.38.35 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.37.10 PM

unnamed-1

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.39.32 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.39.50 PM

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.47.58 PM

unnamed-3

Questions they asked SHS today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #172

TOWOIT #149

June 14, 2017… Day 146

A random picture of Maxine Waters, who looks really pretty in that color:

screen-shot-2017-06-14-at-9-14-58-pm.png

Mueller (and therefore Rosenstein) live to see another day:

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 4.18.23 PM

This is on the White House splash page, and I for one plan to comply:

screen-shot-2017-06-14-at-8-45-06-pm.png

This is splashed on the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.:

screen-shot-2017-06-14-at-4-16-53-pm.png

The transcript of yesterday’s off-camera press gaggle surfaced today. Here are the questions reporters asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

  • Is the President considering whether or not he will fire or seek to have Robert Mueller fired as the Special Counsel?
  • Did the President watch any of the Jeff Sessions testimony? And what did he think?
  • Sarah, did the President call the GOP healthcare bill “mean” during his lunch with senators today?
  • Has the President authorized Secretary of Defense Mattis to set troop levels in Afghanistan?
  • Sarah, the North Koreans sent back a university student who’s in a coma. What does the President think about the fact that this young man is in a coma?
  • Can you give us a little bit more detail on that? What do you mean when you say he worked hard with Tillerson? I know this all sort of came to a head, I guess, on June 6th when the United States was informed about his condition.  But can you give us some detail about meetings or discussions or what the President had?
  • Sarah, the President has said he wants the Republican healthcare plan to be more generous. What does he mean by that?
  • Sarah, he said that in public.
  • That was in a pool report.
  • There has also been talk that a senate bill could even be coming out tonight. Is the President — so far, when he heard from all these senators today, is he happy with the direction that the Senate Republicans seem to be going in? Is he pushing them to be more generous on preexisting conditions? Or — you know, where does he stand in relation to the Senate bill?
  • Sarah, do you have any more details on the announcement that’s expected on Friday about changes to Cuba policy? What parts of the Obamacare administration’s policy is the President planning to roll back? And what is he planning to announce in Miami?
  • Just to follow up on that, you mean there’s no final decisions? Or you just don’t have them to provide for us?
  • But he is going down there despite the fact that no final decision —
  • Has the President decided when he’s going to announce whether he has tapes of the Comey conversations?
  • What are the President’s feelings on Mueller at this point? Did he interview him for FBI director? And does he have confidence in him in his current role?
  • Do you have any more details on the workforce development stuff — whether the apprenticeship program is only in high schools or whether it would be corporations? Any more details on how that would work or how it would be encouraged?
  • The President said something today about wanting to have every high school in the country have an apprenticeship program, and I hadn’t heard that in any of the background information. Is that something that’s going to be part of these announcements too? Or was he just kind of speaking a little off-the-cuff on that?
  • Do you know how much money was raised?

In related news, I’ve started re-watching West Wing just for Allison Janney as press secretary C.J. Cregg. 

IMG_4687

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 9.27.13 PM

IMG_4683

IMG_4692

IMG_4690

IMG_4691

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 4.52.47 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 4.55.46 PM

 

 

TOWOIT #137

June 2, 2017… Day 134

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 4.45.29 PM

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

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 4.51.56 PM

Questions for Pruitt:

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

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 9.07.14 PM

Questions they asked Sean Spicer:

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

IMG_4499

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 9.08.01 PM

IMG_4498

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 9.01.57 PM

IMG_4492

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 8.56.05 PM

IMG_4495

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 4.37.25 PM

TOWOIT #134

May 30, 2017… Day 131

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

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 4.51.13 PM

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 6.05.31 PM

Here’s what they asked today:

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 6.05.48 PM

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

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

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 6.53.01 PM

There was a lot more shouting than that.

Other important stuff from today:

IMG_4427

IMG_4429

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 4.45.26 PM

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

IMG_4430

IMG_4432

IMG_4434

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

IMG_4433

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.28.34 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 4.33.54 PM

THIS IS SO WEIRD TO SEE:

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

TOWOIT #112

May 8, 2017… Day 109

The many dubious facial expressions of White House reporter Kristen Welker. (She’s saying “So that didn’t give him pause?” about Obama warning Trump about Flynn. Later she tried to nail down whether or not the Trump administration actually vetted Flynn at all, but Sean Spicer cut her off and moved to another reporter instead of answering.)

I saw these two maps this morning. One was robots and the other was racism.

image002-4
Red = Highest increase in Robots
Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 5.28.04 PM
Red = Most racist places in the U.S.

I think the “adopt-a-district” thing is funny. If a Republican voted for AHCA and won’t do a town hall over recess, then a Democrat from a nearby congressional district will come over and do a town hall on his or her behalf. And explain the whole thing to their constituents. Whoops.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 4.20.27 PM

Of course, sometimes when Republicans humiliate themselves, they humiliate all of us:

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 4.58.32 PM

Today was Sally Yates day. She gave as good as she got, especially when Cornyn, Cruz and Kennedy tried to explain the law to her and told her they were disappointed in her. Like the Comey hearings, the Democrats asked important national security questions about Russian interference and collusion–the Republicans just wanted to know who leaked stuff out to the newspapers. One thing we learned today (or had confirmed) was that if it weren’t for the Washington Post reporting, Flynn could still be in his position. Because the White House only cared once it became important to seem like they cared. We also learned this morning, before the hearing, that Obama specifically told Trump not to hire Flynn. Sean Spicer passed it off as Obama just being petty because Flynn knew too much about Obama’s faults.

13 judges are hearing the revised travel ban case this week.

The Trump administration is “huddling” on the Paris Climate Accord.

Something that came out in the White House Press Briefing: We’re 30 days into the 90-day commission on fighting opioid abuse… and the Trump administration hasn’t named anyone TO the commission yet. Sean Spicer said he would look into it.

Questions they asked Sean Spicer today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #112

TOWOIT #98

April 24, 2017… Day #95

This last week before day 100 is dizzy. Day 100 is also potential government shutdown day to boot. It’s like this circus doesn’t realize I’m trying to hold down a job, maintain relationships, and get better at sleep hygiene.

But first, this snippet:

IMG_3978
Woman efficiently handles male commenters

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 4.40.39 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 8.53.30 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 4.42.45 PM

IMG_3985

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 4.55.51 PM

IMG_3991

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 4.39.32 PM

IMG_3982

screen-shot-2017-04-24-at-5-01-03-pm.png

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 5.03.03 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 5.03.41 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 5.26.12 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 6.47.21 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 7.02.37 PM

Things reporters asked Sean Spicer today: Continue reading TOWOIT #98

TOWOIT #93

April 19, 2017… Day 90

image001-27

We’re doing good, everyone. We’re doing all right. (This is fine.)

  • Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox, after 70 advertisers dropped his show.
  • Jason Chaffetz says he won’t run for re-election in 2018
  • Atlantic headline: How did the Trump administration lose an aircraft carrier? (Kudos to me for sensing something fishy in the administration’s mixed messaging on the Carl Vinson and axing all mention of it from a report at work last Thursday)
  • Ijeoma Oluo knocked it out of the ballpark with her interview of Rachel Dolezal. It was also just a masterful piece of writing.
  • 7 Patriots (last I heard) skipped going to the White House today, including Tom Brady. He said it was family reasons, but I took a gander at Gisele Bundchen’s Twitter feed, and I’m hoping there could be more to the story.
  • Tillerson and Trump get their messages mixed on the Iran nuclear deal and how it’s going. It’s like this entire administration signed up for a three-legged race but they don’t know the rules and they tied their arms together instead of their legs and are just flopping around on the pavement like fish. But the good news is, the deal was renewed.
  • Dem women roll their eyes HARD at Bernie Sanders all over social media today after his latest downplaying of the importance of reproductive rights, among other things.
Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 6.04.58 PM
Yeah, yeah, I searched for Bernie’s name and then liked every obscure tweet that insulted him in an enjoyable way. So sue me.
  • Sean Spicer said “peaceful transformation of power” instead of “peaceful transfer of power,” because of course, Sean Spicer can’t talk his way out of a paper bag. Still makes the whole shebang seem more than ever like a bloodless coup. I was going to check whether the whitehouse.gov transcriptionist quietly changed that to transfer, but for the first time there’s no transcript. I’ll check back tomorrow. Because I was kind of wondering if the transcripts would quietly disappear.

screen-shot-2017-04-19-at-8-16-44-pm.png

What the reporters asked Sean Spicer at the WHPB today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #93

TOWOIT #92

April 18, 2017… Day 89

OK, I’ve been a publicly angry declensionist for enough days in a row. This was a good read from Vox:

IMG_3930 2

And I’m not gonna get upset that Jon Ossoff has to go to the runoff election in the Georgia 6 (probably, I had to stop watching the results come in).

I’m not gonna get upset about Ivanka Trump. Not her China shenanigans…

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 7.36.54 PM

Not her Turkey shenanigans…

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 6.43.39 PM

Haha, Joyce Carol Oates. That woman is so prolific it’s shady. Speaking of books, I’m not going to get upset about the coverage surrounding Shattered, which picks apart Hillary and her campaign.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 6.24.28 PM

I’m glad that Arkansas is hitting a few stumbling blocks on its execution plans.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 7.43.34 PM

And I’m glad that there are cultural shifts and demographic shifts and economic shifts in how we use energy.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 7.49.43 PM

Questions the press pool asked deputy White House press secretary Sarah H. Sanders:

Continue reading TOWOIT #92

TOWOIT #91

April 17… Day #88

Crawling toward Day 100. It used to seem like every day was 10 days. Now it’s down to about two days per day. When I found out Trump was going to win, the first thing I cried for was the fact that I didn’t want to see his face or hear his voice any more. I hadn’t realized how desperate I was for him to be shuffled out of my daily eyeshot and earshot. And in that moment, I didn’t think I could bear another day of Trump on national television, let alone Trump as President. Well, I’m fucking stronger now. We all are.

FullSizeRender 11

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 4.27.28 PM

Trump also didn’t seem to know or remember that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were different people.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 4.27.02 PM

Four years ago, in tweets, Trump seemed to have a better handle on things.

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 4.24.16 PM

“You got a fly on your head.”

—John Roberts to Sean Spicer during today’s White House Press Briefing

Questions they asked Sean Spicer today at the WHPB:

Continue reading TOWOIT #91

TOWOIT #86

April 12, 2017… Day 83

Oh yeah, last night it was in the papers that there was a FISA warrant for Carter Page. I thought it was just the drip drip drip of Russia-Trump and didn’t realize it was a big deal until today. Today they’re also talking about Paul Manafort setting up a shell company on the day he left the Trump campaign and then something like $13 million of Trump-related moneys went in it.

Tillerson ditched the press pool in Moscow and met with Putin (which was up in the air). Maxine Waters pointed out on Twitter that yesterday Tillerson said “Why should the U.S. taxpayers care about Ukraine?” Rachel Maddow pointed out that he said this right after the G7 meeting, which is called the G7 because Russia got kicked out of the G8 because of Ukraine.

Tillerson and his counterpart, Lavrov, had a press briefing afterward. Tillerson didn’t mention Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Lavrov interrupted Andrea Mitchell mid-question, essentially to ask her if she was born in a barn.

From Reuters:

image001-25

Trump said today that after talking to Chinese President Xi for 10 minutes, he found out that North Korea is actually a complicated situation. Also, NATO is *NOT* obsolete now. And China’s not a currency manipulator after all. Leading to this screen capture.

screen-shot-2017-04-12-at-7-12-38-pm.png

Trump also said some non-committal, not-very-loyal stuff about Steve Bannon last night.

img_3860.png

And I just found this comment on Facebook to be poetic.

IMG_3863

I thought a lot today about what I said yesterday about Sean Spicer being a bumbling, bad talker–and I don’t want anyone to think I was making an excuse for him. It’s just that in the particular case of “holocaust centers” I can really imagine that he meant to say concentration camps, wanted to say concentration camps, but his brain just couldn’t fight its way there to the correct term, so a weird and inappropriate facsimile came out. He is just toweringly bad at his job all around. That said, there’s just way too much damning evidence about this White House and anti-Semitism. If they cared at all after the first several hints they dropped, if any of that was actual innocent errors, then they would have got their acts together and buttoned up shit like what we saw yesterday. OK, enough about that.

TOWOIT #85

April 11, 2017… Day 82

Everyone’s talking a lot about Sean Spicer’s Hitler gaffe and the White House’s dance with Holocaust denialism. A lot of good points made. But I think some people don’t realize the extent to which Sean Spicer just cannot talk. I mean the ignorance, laziness, and carelessness is there too and it’s already been looking bad for the White House on the anti-Semitism front. But just saying, don’t read too much into Sean Spicer’s exact wording because the man is a walking gaffe.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.13.01 PM

What I was mostly struck by was the way he casually shrugged off the idea of letting Syrian refugees into the U.S., now that Trump suddenly cares about humanitarian concerns.

But no, Spicer seems to suggest–we’ll just fix up Syria and that will take care of it. Like it’s no big deal at all. Spicer basically says that Assad will have to go, and also Isis will have to be defeated, and Russia (which will stop backing Assad because we said so), will create a political environment that will allow the Syrian people to choose a leader that better “suits them.”

I’m not sure, but definitely seemed like the Trump administration delivered ultimatums (by tweet & Tillerson) to both Russia and China today.

General Mattis says the ships moving toward the Korean peninsula are no big deal.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.05.32 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.06.19 PM

“Trump has not revealed which intelligence reports he is relying on” — do we all really have to pretend that those intelligence reports exist and he isn’t just making stuff up?

Sean Spicer: But I think it’s interesting that we went from all these direct links to Russia, to now, are we disappointed that we can’t even get a meeting with them. There’s a bit of irony in your question.

Major Garrett: I don’t even understand your point.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.08.46 PM

Oh can it, Horseface.

Here’s what they asked Sean Spicer today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #85

TOWOIT #81

April 7, 2017… Day 78

“72-hour evolution”

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 4.17.59 PM
Wilfred Chan photo on Twitter — Union Square today: “We make the refugees we ban”

To each other: “What. I don’t understand.”

Back to the anchor: “So NOW the White House says the briefing will be OFF camera…”

To Sean Spicer: “No, we’ve already been showing the podium on our air.”

— samples of the grumblings of annoyed TV journalists today when Sean Spicer told everyone to turn their cameras off before his Mar-a-Lago briefing on Syria.
Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 4.52.26 PM
Foreign Policy headline
Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 4.56.58 PM
I’m one of the ones who don’t know how they feel

Politico headline: Russia retaliates against U.S. strikes by suspending pact to prevent mid-air incidents

The Hill headline: Russian Prime Minister: U.S. and Russia are ‘on the verge of a military clash’

THE PROBLEM WITH LIARS: Sean Spicer said all missiles hit their target. Russia said about half of them did. I honestly have no clue who to believe.

Non-Syria news: 

IMG_3834
The requests were withdrawn today.

IMG_3839

Rumors are swirling through various news-sites that Trump is considering firing Bannon AND Priebus. Meanwhile #FireKushner is trending in alt-right circles.

Neil Gorsuch was confirmed 55-45 to be a Supreme Court justice. During the vote, Susan Collins circulated a draft letter to both sides of the aisle, reinforcing that the filibuster will be preserved for legislation.

There have been no State Department briefings since March 23. I went to the website to see if I could tell what was up. I found the calendar of briefings for March. All the briefings were clumped in the middle two weeks of the month, which was after the department received flak about having none since the inauguration, and before they abruptly stopped again on March 23. There was a link that said “April.” This is what I got when I clicked it:

image003-2

Questions reporters asked Sean Spicer today about Syria:

Continue reading TOWOIT #81

TOWOIT #73

March 30, 2017… Day 70

Trump attacked the Freedom Caucus in a tweet this morning. I only look at his tweet-missives over on Facebook, where there are whole, thoughtful paragraphs in the comment threads and not just memes, bots, and snark-bundles. Skimming the first few dozen replies with the most likes, every single one of them was a concerned Trump supporter who felt he was going down a very bad path. They assigned different levels of culpability to Trump. But most seemed to be picking their words carefully, as though they just might have a chance to influence him before all hope was gone.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 6.36.11 PM

Mike Flynn offered to testify in exchange for immunity. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. It sounds like that might be his way of pleading the fifth, meaning he won’t testify before the Senate Intelligence committee. Twitter is getting excited though, the way it does.

A panel of Russia experts testified in front of the Senate intelligence committee in the first day of hearings. There was a lot of context and history given, to try to anchor the Russia intervention as a large bipartisan national security issue that is ongoing. All of which is true. The Burr & Warren show is a sober affair while the Nunes & Schiff show still skitters around all willy nilly. Yesterday at a press conference, Burr & Warren basically said, “don’t even ask us about the House committee.” Anyway, the Russia experts casually said some chilling things like “Follow the trail of dead Russians,” and “Trump used Russia’s active measures.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 6.29.02 PM

So… the White House DID give Devin Nunes information, which he then vague-booked to the press before making a display of briefing the White House on the information the it had briefed him about the night before. Also, Nunes has never been certain what, like literally what, he was ever talking about. The New York Times found out and published the identities of the two men who gave the information to Nunes. Adam Schiff suggested it was a case of “laundering information through the House intelligence committee.” Also, Sean Spicer’s press briefing is worth looking into for some strange non-denials. I’ll post the reporter questions below as always.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 6.39.04 PM

Stuff reporters asked Sean Spicer today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #73