TOWOIT #271: Church and State

December 7, 2017… Day 322

This is not ok. This is so far beyond ok. This wasn’t just some off the cuff remark that Sarah Huckabee Sanders made on behalf of herself. It was her prepared remarks as part of her official statement from the White House. This is disgusting.

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Until she said the underlined part, I was just mildly annoyed that she was filling up precious questioning time with her moralizing, like this guy noted today:

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But I wasn’t mad. Not until she said to a captive room of reporters from diverse cultural backgrounds, there for their job, that the “savior” was the “greatest gift.” As a representative of the U.S. government. This is so wrong, I don’t even know where to begin. It didn’t so much offend me as it made me want to vomit.

So that’s where I’m at with all this.

  • (Kevin Corke, Fox News) Thank you, Sarah. I want to ask you about the possible government shutdown and the optimism that the President might have that he can avert a shutdown. And if I could follow up and ask about the California fires and the very latest the White House has on it.
  • On the fires, I’m sorry.
  • Yeah. Is the White House in coordination with the folks out in California in battling that wildfire? Is there more money to be made available, especially for the areas near Los Angeles, which are under siege right now by so many devastating fires?
  • (Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News) Can you say a little bit about why John Bolton was here at the White House today? And also, on taxes, we’re a little confused on whether the White House would support a 22 percent corporate tax rate. You had the White House economist, Kevin Hassett, talking about — saying it would be okay and it wouldn’t undermine the economy. And then, a few hours later, the Legislative Affairs Director, Marc Short, said something about it needs to be 20. So can you say —
  • And on John Bolton?
  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, Donald Trump, Jr. refused to talk about his conversations with the President, citing attorney-client privilege. Would the President release him from any such privilege and allow him to speak to the committee?
  • But can you explain to me how it could be attorney-client privilege when neither Donald Trump, Jr. nor President Trump are attorneys?
  • (Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thanks, Sarah. Senator Franken today, in announcing his resignation, said that he’s “aware that there is some irony in the fact that I’m leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” What’s the White House response to that?
  • Can you say anything more broadly about the differences in the way the two parties are handling these accusations of sexual misconduct?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thank you, Sarah. Have any of the President’s counterparts around the world contacted the President, contacted the White House to indicate that they too will follow the President’s lead in moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or acknowledging that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel?
  • Do you expect any? Do you expect that to happen? Do you expect that others will follow the President’s lead here?
  • (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. Last week, the President said that the U.S. would be imposing additional sanctions on North Korea today. Do you have an update on where that stands?
  • (Jennifer Wishon, Christian Broadcasting Network) Thanks, Sarah. What is the President’s reaction to some U.S. allies, particularly in Europe — notably in the United Kingdom — who had expressed opposition to this action recognizing Jerusalem? And also, does the fact that he kept his promise give him more credibility when negotiating in the Middle East?
  • (Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News) Thank you, Sarah. So, yesterday, you guys put out a statement under the President’s name, saying that he was directing other officials in the administration to reach out to Saudi Arabia and urge them to immediately allow the flow of humanitarian supplies into Yemen. I have two questions about that. The first is: Why isn’t the President himself working the phones? And the second is: Are there any consequences for Saudi Arabia if they don’t immediately allow this flow of goods?
  • Any consequences for Saudi if they don’t do this?
  • (Major Garrett, CBS News) Hallie asked on Monday when the President became aware that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. You referred her to John Dowd, those questions. We’ve tried. John Dowd is not engaging on that. That’s a knowable fact in this building; it’s not a legal matter — not for their attorney to say. Can you just tell us when the President became aware of that?
  • Why is it a legal question for them not about something the President knew and when he knew it?
  • One other question, Sarah. One other question.
  • I think you want to take this one. It’s real simple; it’s very simple. Today, the U.N. Ambassador said it’s an open question whether the United States will participate in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Is it an open question? Is that now in doubt?
  • So it is in doubt?
  • By whom?
  • And it’s all about security?
  • (Mara Liaison, NPR) I just have two government funding questions. First, does he want S-CHIP reauthorized?
  • Okay. The bipartisan leadership is coming up in a much different atmosphere than the last meeting where he tweeted about how he didn’t think a deal was possible because the Democrats were so bad on illegal immigrants pouring over the border. I’m wondering, has the President changed his mind about that? And also, specifically, what was he referring to since, in a government shutdown, ICE and the Border Patrol aren’t affected?
  • But do you think a deal can be reached with the Democrats?
  • (Josh Dawsey, Washington Post) On the Hill today, Chris Wray praised the FBI and said it was the finest law enforcement force in the world. The President said, you know, it’s “in tatters” and it’s at its worst place in history. Can you explain that discrepancy?
  • When he undermines —
  • When he undermines the FBI and says it’s in tatters, does the White House fear that that could create ramifications that people won’t trust law enforcement; that people will say —
  • — why should we interact with the FBI when it’s in tatters?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, thank you. Two quick ones about a government shutdown. Chuck Schumer, on the Senate floor, said today of the President: His party controls the Senate, the House, and the presidency — speaking of Republicans, rather. And he said a shutdown would fall on his shoulders. How is that not just a reflection — an accurate reflection — of the political realities that Republicans control Washington at this point?
  • nd you said you want a clear CR. At some point, though, DACA is going to have to be brought up, or potentially be brought up. Is the White House willing to mix, at one point, a DACA fix with government spending? And if so, when would that be the case?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax)  Yeah, thank you, Sarah. From that podium, Secretary Mnuchin and Gary Cohn both assured us that, when a final tax reform bill is passed, the alternate minimum tax would disappear immediately. Now, of course, recent statements by the President, as the conference is about to begin, indicate it might not completely disappear and not immediately, certainly. Is the administration still committed to ending the AMT right away?
  • (Charlie Spiering, Breitbart News) A lot of attention on sexual misconduct and harassment by members of Congress. Is the President confident that Congress and its leaders can police and investigate themselves on this issue?
  • (Hallie Jackson, NBC News) Thank you, Sarah. I just have one question, but I need to clarify something that you said from the podium here on taxes. You said, I think to Matt, on Tuesday, that as long as his taxes are under audit, he’s not going to release them. His 2016 taxes, to our knowledge, are not under audit, unless they are. Can you —
  • Will you get back to us on that? So my question to you, then, more broadly, is on this moment that we find ourselves in, frankly, of a national reckoning when it comes to sexual harassment. And so in, again, a broad 30,000-foot way, does the President believe that he has a credible role in leading this conversation? And can you speak to the specific steps this White House has taken to make sure the women who work here feel like they are in a comfortable environment to talk about these things?
  • A lot of workplaces are having sessions, they’re having seminars. Are you guys doing that here? Are you talking about, in recent days, what people in this work environment can do? Are you taking —
  • (Kristen Welker, NBC News) A follow-up: We’ve seen Democrats forcefully call for John Conyers’s resignation, and Al Franken’s resignation, which happened today. Do Republicans, and does this President, risk losing their moral authority on this issue — which is a huge issue right now — by endorsing a candidate like Roy Moore, which has now been backed by the RNC as well?
  • Why not call for him to drop out of the race, or a write-in candidate? Sarah, is the President failing to lead at this critical moment?
  • But just a quick follow. Is he failing to lead on this issue?
  • (Unknown man who trampled over Kristen’s attempt to follow up) Was the President’s proclamation on Jerusalem delayed because of concerns expressed by the Secretaries of Defense and State, about security they wanted to get — adequate security in place for U.S. embassies around the world?
  • (Steve Holland, Reuters) The Palestinians are under the impression that the President pulled out of the peace process yesterday based on the Jerusalem decision. How do you correct that? Did he do that?
  • (Someone named David) Sarah, thank you. Given the recent revelations that at least one prosecutor on Robert Mueller’s team was sending anti-Trump texts to another DOJ lawyer, and given the revelation that yet another one was congratulating Sally Yates for refusing to uphold and defend the President’s travel ban, Chairman Goodlatte, at the hearing this morning, said that even the appearance of impropriety would devastate the FBI’s reputation. So the question is: Does the White House believe that the fix was in that Robert Mueller’s probe was biased from the beginning?

TOWOIT #269: This is how it all ends

November 30, 2017… Day 315

Questions asked to Sarah Huckabee Sanders during today’s abomination of a press conference.

  • (Steve Holland, Reuters) Thank you. With all these reports about Secretary Tillerson today, could you talk a little bit about the relationship between the President and the Secretary? Does the President have confidence in him? And does the President agree with all of the positions that the Secretary has taken regarding North Korea, the Gulf crisis, et cetera?
  • (Cecilia Vega, ABC News, sitting next to Steve) Can we deduce from that that the President has confidence in the Secretary of State?
  • Is that a yes?
  • What’s his future in the administration?
  • (Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thanks, Sarah. A question on taxes. The Joint Committee on Taxation says that, by 2027, people making between $40,000 and $50,000 a year will pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes under the current bill while those earning a $1 million or more will pay $5.8 billion less. And coupled with that, the University of Chicago surveyed 38 economists. Only one said that the bill would lead to substantial economic growth, and all 38 said that the cut will increase the debt. Is it the White House position that these analyses are wrong?
  • The JCT — nonpartisan — their analysis seems to say middle-class taxes would actually go up in a lot of cases
  • Does White House or the Treasury have data that would contradict that?
  • (Another guy named Steve) Based on Ambassador Haley’s speech yesterday at the U.N., and the President’s tweet this morning, does this administration now advocate regime change in North Korea? And if not, why not?
  • (Jill Colvin, Associated Press) Thank you, Sarah. I want to ask about the videos that the President tweeted yesterday. Firstly, does the President feel that he has an obligation to ensure that the information that he shares on his Twitter feed to millions of people is accurate?
  • But does he understand, though, that sharing those videos might incite violence against Muslims? And does he understand that he’s elevated a fringe political group that many people outside of Britain didn’t even know about until he tweeted?
  • (John Roberts, Fox News) On that point, Sarah, did the President, when he retweeted Jayda Fransen, know who she was?
  • (Alex Pfeiffer, Daily Caller, baby-faced conservative cub reporter) Yesterday, the President tweeted that NBC should terminate Joe Scarborough because of an “unsolved mystery that took place in Florida years ago.” Why did President Trump think it was appropriate to seemingly reference the death of Lori Klausutis in 2001? And does he think Scarborough is responsible for the death of his former aide?

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  • (April Ryan, American Urban Radio Network, who wasn’t invited to the WH Christmas Party with the others; why are any of these fuckers going to the Christmas Party?) Sarah, a couple things. One, what was the tipping point between President Trump and Tillerson?
  • Is the President listening to Tillerson as it relates to North Korea, as North Korea is escalating?
  • What about John Conyers? John Conyers is in the hospital.
  • What about John Conyers? He’s in the hospital and there’s a call for him to resign. What does the President have to say about that?
  • (Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Back to Tillerson. Where does the administration think these stories are coming from? Is it difficult, in your view, for Mr. Tillerson to carry out his job as Secretary of State with all of these questions surrounding whether or not he’s going to be in the administration maybe through January of next year?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) Sarah, we often hear the President — or see the President talk about the stock market. We haven’t yet heard from him, though, on a separate but similar issue, which is cryptocurrency. Has the President been following this at all — Bitcoin specifically, the major run-up in it? Does he have an opinion on it? Does he feel or does the administration feel that this is now something that needs to be regulated by the government?
  • What kind of monitoring?
  • What kind of monitoring?
  • (Steven Portnoy, CBS Radio News) Sarah, I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. Actually — I hope you feel better — I have a question about the President’s health. Mr. Trump’s predecessors, going back — I checked as far as Ronald Reagan — every year would go up to Bethesda to be looked at by the best doctors in the military, and they would report on their health and their vital statistics to the American public. We have a month left in the year. Does President Trump intend to get a physical at Walter Reed?
  • Do you know if the President intends to share any details about his health the way his predecessors have?
  • (Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg News) Thank you, Sarah. You read the verse from Luke earlier about how to those who are given much, much is expected. Linking that to tax policy, the President said yesterday that this tax bill is going to cost him a fortune. Independent analysis says that that’s not true; that he’s actually going to save a lot of money and his family could save more than billion dollars. So can you tell us specifically what in the bill is going to cause the President to pay more in taxes than he’s paying now?
  • (Unknown person, maybe in WaPo chair?) The President was pretty definitive yesterday when he said he would pay more, that his wealthy friends would pay more. So what was he referring to?
  • (Margaret Brennan, CBS News) Sarah, you repeatedly said that Tillerson would help to close out a successful year. Are you saying that he will close out the year? Will he serve beyond that? And when you’re talking about “elevating the conversation” here, does the President normally watch these kind of anti-Muslim videos that have been posted by this group? I mean, is that —
  • But that language seemed pretty deliberate by you. Were you really meaning to signal —
  • Shouted, unanswered, “Sarah, what about Prime Minister May?” and “Should he vet those videos… before he posts them?”

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    She’s coughing, she’s wan (she actually looks better without so much make-up –screw you Anthony Scaramucci) and she’s lying and stonewalling like a freaking champ.

TOWOIT #267: April, Cecilia, Jenna & Zeke

November 20, 2017… Day 305

SHS Briefing #34

There was a bit of a hostage situation in the White House Press Briefing today as Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that each reporter must say what he or she was thankful for before a question could be asked. Oh, but first she “joked” that she was thankful for everyone in the room, and then she said “No, but seriously” she was thankful for the military. She really sucks. The whole thing made me cringe down to my toes and called to mind a jovial but sadistic father figure forcing people to do gimmicky things at the dinner table before they can eat.

It must be nice going through life, holding everyone hostage at the lowest common denominator.

I took note of who played along and who didn’t. These things are supposed to be “nice.” Well, it’s not fucking nice. It’s gross and unprofessional and creepy.

Here’s how they responded, in the order of my approval.

  1. April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks: Sugary and poisonous. I think she might have done one of those “bless your heart” maneuvers.
  2. Cecilia Vega, ABC News: Flat-out said she was thankful for the First Amendment and launched unamusedly into a hard question.
  3. Jenna Johnson, Washington Post: Didn’t even thank Sarah for calling on her, launched into hard question with resting bitch face.
  4. Zeke Miller, Associated Press: Straight-faced, did not play along, ignored her teasing, pressed on, gave her a cold stare moments later when the people around him were laughing at a dumb joke of hers.
  5. Matthew Nussbaum, Politico: Ignored the gimmick altogether.
  6. Margaret Talev, Bloomberg Television: Says she’s also thankful for the First Amendment then chickens out and says something ameliorating that leads to widespread giggling.
  7. Francesca Chambers, Daily Mail Online: Somehow snarky yet sincere.
  8. White guy names Steve: Wearily perfunctory, but then asked lame question.
  9. Young Fox News woman: Played along but redeemed herself somewhat by asking a hard question and being assertive about a follow-up.
  10. John Gizzi: Played along, but is sort of in a class of his own.
  11. White guy named Jim: Cheesy, brought up sports
  12. Blake Burman, Fox Business News: Cheesy, brought up sports
  13. Jon Decker, Fox Radio News: Smarmy and all-in

Here’s that Zeke Miller moment. I cut out Mara Liasson’s laughing face because I was ashamed for her.

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OK, and here are all the questions:

Continue reading TOWOIT #267: April, Cecilia, Jenna & Zeke

TOWOIT #266: Snookered

November 17, 2017… Day 302

Sarah Huckabee’s 33rd press conference as press secretary.

She wore a black dress with a large pale floral image partially visible (podium in the way) and a string of pearls. She looked doleful, as if weighed down by the souls of decapitated elephants and fondled nobodies.

Kevin Hassett, White House Council of Economic Advisers, was there. He smiled like a goon the whole time, smiled through his own words, smiled through the questions. He smiled as he said that trickle-down economics work, and he smiled as he refused to take follow-ups on that.

Questions for Kevin:

  • [John Roberts, Fox News] Kevin, I know you’re an economist but there’s obviously a political component to all of this. You got at least six senators up on the Hill, including Ron Johnson, saying that they can’t support the bill in its current form or they have serious concerns about it. You can only afford to lose two. Are you confident that you can get this passed through the Senate? Or could the President run into another situation, like he did with Obamacare? That he wins the House and then loses everything in the Senate.
  • [Unknown man] What makes you think trickle-down economics is going to work this time when it hasn’t worked before?
  • And the incentive — [No follow-ups!]
  • One of Senator Johnson’s concerns is that this bill does not do enough for medium-sized and small businesses. Can you talk about what the bill does do for medium-size and small businesses?
  • [Young woman on the side] One of the major differences between the House and the Senate bill is the elimination of the non-taxable tuition waivers. So while they’re trying to reconcile their differences on that tax reform bill, what do you foresee which could potentially move this tax burden to a lot of young Americans?
  • [not sure who this is, another man] Kevin, thanks for being here. On one of your TV appearances yesterday, you said that an average family, when this is all said and done, could accumulate a savings benefit of $4,000. That’s a lot of money.
  • Can you walk us through that?
  • [Jon Decker, Fox Radio News] One of the criticisms, Kevin, of the tax reform proposal is that the corporate tax rate is cut permanently. The individual tax rate phases out after 10 years. Why, in your view, is that such a good idea?
  • Hi, Emma Robinson, One America News. [ultraconservative outlet] The two bills are different in that the House bill repeals or does away with the estate tax and the Senate doesn’t. And I know that was a big point for the administration, and Vice President Pence has voiced his support for repealing the death tax, as they call it. What are your thoughts on that? And do you think a final bill will include a repeal of it?
  • [Eamon Javers, CNBC–another money guy] Thank you, Kevin. I appreciate it. Can you talk about this moment earlier in the week at the Wall Street Journal event? Gary Cohn was on stage, and the moderator asked a group of CEOs, “If tax reform passes, who here is going to increase their investment?” And only a couple of hands went up in the room. Gary Cohn said, why aren’t there more hands going up? Can you answer that question? Why aren’t there more hands going up in a room like that? You would assume that CEOs would say, yes, in fact, we are going to invest more if tax reform passes. Is the administration missing something there?
  • [April Ryan, American Urban Radio Network, not suffering fools] Yes, yes. Gene Sperling, who was once in your position in another administration, says that this tax plan — be it historic — costs $1.5 trillion and it’s a deficit hole. And he says that basically — this is in a tweet. I’m just paraphrasing his tweet. He says, it basically doesn’t justify that cost for 100 million households for a tax increase.
  • [Blake Burman, Fox Business News] I want to pick up where John, right in front of me, left off when he asked about the phase-out on the individual side. You’re an economist; however, the two answers that you gave were both political. One, there’s reconciliation rules. And two, hopefully politicians down the line solve it. But like I mentioned, you’re an economist. So can you not make an economic argument as to why this is good economically for people?
  • Correct. Is there an economic argument as to why this is good for the country as it stands right now to expire within eight years or so?
  • [Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg News] I actually want to follow up on that, though. You all made a value judgment to make the corporate tax cuts permanent and to make the individual tax cuts expire, even though you want all of them to be permanent. What’s the rationale for having corporations have that certainty of knowing that they don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen in Washington while families are going to have to worry about what politicians do six, seven years now?
  • You don’t see the value one way or the other, whether the corporate tax cuts versus —
  • [Major Garrett, CBS] Kevin, you’ve melded politics and economics here quite successfully, and I want to ask you a political and economic question. You’ve talked about growth covering what the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Tax Committee say could be a deficit hole, a deficit implication of $1.5 trillion. That is going to be measurable over time. There’s going to be a means by which either dynamic scoring or static scoring answers that question. And since it’s on the mind of some of your undecided Republican senators, is this administration willing to commit to a review five years in to see if the growth models have held along your lines and the deficit implications aren’t as large — or, if they aren’t, to reassess these tax cuts in order not to blow a hole in the deficit?
  • Do you think there would be —

Then Sarah came back. She took questions for 12 minutes. Questions to Sarah:

  • Thanks, Sarah. I have a non-Roy Moore question for you. Can you say definitively — I want to ask you about Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. Can you say definitively, from this podium, that he has not been held hostage by the Saudis? And does the President plan to speak to Prime Minister Hariri at all? [She sidesteps this and refers the questioner to the disappearing state department]
  • [Cecilia Vega, ABC News] Thanks, Sarah. If it’s fair to investigate Al Franken and the allegation made by his accuser, is it also fair to investigate this President and the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by more than a dozen women?
  • But how is this different?

MS. SANDERS: I think in one case, specifically, Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the President hasn’t. I think that’s a very clear distinction.

  • [Major Garrett, CBS News] So I want to revisit something we discussed yesterday. You said, one of the ways that Alabama voters might be able to figure out if these allegations against Roy Moore are true is in the court of law. That’s a direct quote from you. There’s no criminal means by which that could happen. So are you suggesting that Roy Moore sue the accusers in order to hash this out in court?
  • But that’s the venue you meant when you talked about “in the court of law.”
  • The only reason I raise that is because, during the campaign, as you well remember, then-candidate Trump said, after the election he would sue all the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, and that you have, from the podium, deemed all liars. He hasn’t done that. Why hasn’t he done that?
  • [The handsome and plaintive-looking Jeff Mason of Reuters] Sarah, some critics have said that it was hypocritical of the President to tweet about Al Franken and not weigh in on Roy Moore.
  • [Sara Murray, CNN, sitting next to Jeff in the front row] Can you tell us whether the President believes the women who are making these allegations against Roy Moore? And would he be willing to ask the Alabama governor to delay the election or take a step like that to try to intervene in this electoral process in Alabama?
  • [Matthew Nussbaum, Politico] Thank you, Sarah. In light of the national discussion about the importance of taking these kinds of accusations seriously, I wanted to check: Is it still the White House position that all the women who have accused the President of sexual misconduct are lying?
  • [Blake Burman, Fox Business News] Thanks, Sarah. Let me ask you about something else — the pending potential AT&T and Time Warner merger. The President had said on the campaign trail, back in October of 2016 — and I quote here — he said it was a “deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Does the President still feel that way?
  • [April Ryan] Sarah, is this an uncomfortable conversation about these sexual allegations for this White House be it Al Franken or be it Roy Moore?
  • A follow-up. [We’re tight on time, says Sarah and calls on someone else]
  • A follow-up. I talked to Hillary Clinton[April! says Sarah]
  • I talked to Hillary Clinton today about the President’s past — and going back to what Matthew said, she said, look, I worry about everything from his past because it tells you how he behaves in the present and will in the future. What do you say to that as it relates to these allegations against the President?
  • [Alex Pfeiffer, The Daily Caller, conservative wunderkind, was a correspondent already when a freshman in college] Two questions. One on taxes, then immigration. A recent Quinnipiac University poll said 61 percent of voters think the Republican tax plan will benefit the wealthy while the White House has pitched this plan as a working-class tax cut. Why the disconnect?And then on immigration — [she doesn’t allow his second question]
  • [John Roberts, Fox News] Let me come back and ask you the same thing I asked Kevin. You’ve got six Republican senators either “no” or seriously on the fence here. Can you win enough over in order to pass this? And if the President gets snookered again by the Senate, what’s his reaction going to be?
  • The fact that you didn’t get any Democrats in the House, how does that portend for getting them in the Senate?
  • Safe to say the President will not be pleased if he gets snookered by the Senate again?
  • [Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg News] Thanks, Sarah. The administration put out a disaster funding request for about $44 billion today. It’s much less than what a number of different governors and officials in the various affected territories and states have requested. Can you explain sort of why the number is so low compared to what the local officials say they need?
  • Are you expecting (inaudible) much more requests forward in the future, specifically for Puerto Rico?
  • [Kristen Welker, NBC News] Sarah, thank you. Steven Bannon is sending a strong message to the establishment to back off of Roy Moore. Does the President’s allegiance to Steve Bannon in any way implicate his response?
  • Has he spoken at all to Steve Bannon or any outside advisors?
  • How concerned is he, Sarah, about losing this seat to a Democratic candidate, who, right now, according to the polls, is leading?
  • [Jon Decker, Fox Radio News] Thanks a lot, Sarah. Just in regards to that question regarding the supplemental requests: The President and the administration has put forth $44 million. Puerto Rico has requested $94 million. Are they going to get somewhere along that order? I think half of the island is still without electricity.
  • Did the President notify Governor Abbott —
  • Did the President notify Governor Abbott of the lesser amount that he’s put forward? [She won’t answer, keeps moving]
  • [White woman, looks like she is WAPO or NPR from seating chart] Yesterday, the joint investigative mechanism was vetoed by Russia at the U.N. Security Council, and Ambassador Haley tweeted afterward that the veto proves that Russia cannot be trusted as a partner going forward in trying to solve the political situation in Syria. Does the President have any response to the veto, first? What is the U.S. view, going forward, of how chemical weapons will be investigated and dealt with in Syria? And is it the U.S. position now that Russia cannot be a partner in trying to solve, or do a next-day political situation by —
  • [Steven Portnoy, CBS Radio News] There’s been some extraordinary pushback on the administration’s decisions with respect to elephant trophies and hunting of lions and elephants in Africa. Can you shed some light on the decisions the administration has made? And will you make that pushback?
  • [Darlene Superville, Associated Press] The senate tax bill has a tax break for corporate jets. How does that help the middle class?
  • [Not sure who is talking, a man] Thank you, Sarah. Yesterday — on Jared Kushner and on his campaign e-mails — that Senate Committee, they’re asking for those e-mails in the Russia investigation. You punted it to Kushner’s attorney. Today, what’s the White House reaction to those previously undisclosed e-mails?

She completely did not answer with a White House reaction, and left the room.

 

TOWOIT #262: Gaggle me with a wooden spoon.

November 9, 2017… Day 293

The press office got in some hot water on Twitter yesterday after SHS admitted candidly that they didn’t let the press ask any questions during the appearance of Trump and Xi because the Chinese insisted there not be questions. Which is not usual. Usually the U.S. is like, “Excuse me, no, our reporters ask questions or this isn’t happening.” Because it’s a lead-by-example, first-amendment thing. But no, not the Trump administration. This on top of John Kelly joking to a reporter that he might get arrested because the rules are different in China. Eff you guys.

IMG_5926

So anyway, they finally put a press gaggle up on Whitehouse.gov. It was conducted on Airforce One between Korea and Beijing by someone called Senior Administration Official, with assistance by someone else who was also called Senior Administration Official. I looked for the hallmarks of Steve-Millerian pomposity but I didn’t see his signature in the remarks. Things did get a bit Who’s On First in the transcript at times.

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It’s kind of weird that transcript never shows any reporter using the name of either S.A.O. Ok, it’s a little fishy! I’m putting my tinfoil hat on.

Here was a sequence of questions I enjoyed:

  • Just for clarification, did the President announce the bit about the state sponsorship of terror and I missed it?
  • One last thing. What does movement toward denuclearization look like?
  • Do you think he should tweet while he’s in China? Do you see any problem with that? Is there any reason why the President shouldn’t tweet while he’s in China?
  • Including in China? [SAO response, verbatim: “Yeah, why not. Why not”]
  • So can he access it? Logistically, can he access it?

Honestly, the syntax reads to me like it’s John Kelly himself. One of them. Read this:

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As even the, I guess, head of the National Assembly said, the President was working on it right up until the end. So obviously these are very much the President’s words. He spent the entire time we had today making additional changes; this morning when we were in a hold, continuing to make changes. So these are very much his thoughts, his words, and something that he was engaged in throughout the process.

Did anyone else pick up on a “Fuck my life, P.S. I’m craven” vibe?

Here’s SHS talking to reporters about how the President isn’t going to the demilitarized zone after all:

image001-43

Ok, and then in Beijing TODAY, Rex Tillerson briefed reporters. It’s not as fun when he’s not being that Russian asshole Lavrov’s straight man, but here we go.

  • Mr. Secretary, on North Korea, the President was asking Xi Jinping to do more — to close down bank accounts, send North Korean workers back, cut out the oil supplies.  Where did you get on that front?  And will the President meet with Vladimir Putin in Da Nang? [Tillerson says a Putin meeting is “still under consideration”]
  • Mr. Secretary, if I could ask you quickly a little bit on trade. You mentioned the President said this was an unbalanced relationship. So in what way did China promise to balance out that relationship? And then, secondly, the President talked a lot about his personal chemistry with President Xi. Can you sort of bring us inside the room and tell us what that chemistry looked like, and then also how you anticipate that chemistry will help the U.S. get what it wants from China?
  • Thank you, Mr. Secretary. In that vein, the conversation when the President was pressing China to ramp up the pressure on North Korea, if you could get into some detail on that for us. And also, is one of the areas of disagreement North Korea?
  • Mr. Secretary, the President said (inaudible) that he does not blame China for the trade imbalance. He said during the campaign that China was raping the economy and threatened to declare China a currency manipulator.  Why the change of heart here? And can you explain why the President said, “Who can blame a country that is able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.” Does he seem like he’s praising them for taking advantage of the United States? 
  • Mr. Secretary, one question about this agreement between China and the U.S. on North Korea. You said China will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.  Well, clearly it has accepted a nuclear-armed North Korea. North Korea has nuclear weapons now. Are you telling us that China has agreed with the President that the era of strategic patience is over, and they’ve reached a new determination about this threat that they didn’t have before President Trump took office? And when President Xi said sanctions will take a little while, did he give any clarity on what that length of time is? And is the President comfortable waiting however long President Xi thinks sanctions will take?
  • And you said the two nations have their own views on tactics and timing. Would you describe that as a large gap in the two countries’ views on timings and tactics?
  • Another thing the President said today that they agreed on were the solutions when it comes to North Korea.  Could you explain to us a little bit more about that? And then also on that note, on this trip, the President used very strong words for Kim Jong-un’s government when he was in South Korea, but we didn’t hear him use some of the same derogatory language for him that we’ve heard from him in the past, like at the United Nations, like “Little Rocket Man.”  I’m wondering if the Japanese government, or the South Korean government, or even the Chinese government asked him not to use that kind of language and to kind of tone it down while he was so close to North Korea.
  • But that is a different sort of message and tone than we’ve heard the President take to this North Korea situation in the past. So if it wasn’t another government that asked him not to use some of the same kind of derogatory language, what did make him change his approach to that situation? Was the U.S. concerned that that language might be seen as provocatory?
  • Mr. Secretary, I was wondering on the possible meeting with the Russian President on Thursday. Just to follow on John’s question, is it still under possible plan? The President seemed to suggest when he was flying here on Air Force One that he expected to meet him on Thursday. Has something changed since then, or it’s just not nailed down yet?
  • What do you believe is substantive to talk about? What do you want to bring to them?
  • Do you believe that Russian meddling and the investigation is still on that list of things to talk about, or did they say everything they had to say in Germany?

Why would Trump talk to Putin about the investigation?

Anyway, that’s not what Tillerson said.

TOWOIT #261: Anniversary? Check.

November 8, 2017

  • 366 days since THAT election
  • 292 days since the inauguration
  • 1 day since another election, that showed a shitload of American decency and enthusiasm.

I thought there would be a press gaggle from the Asia trip that I could write about — since this blog now ekes out a living* near the eructations of the White House press secretary.

However, there has not been a press gaggle posted since October 3 — I’m sure there were some. They are just dropping the ball and being less complete in sharing things with us on Whitehouse.gov. Typical!

But I came here today to say hello and to be joyful and hopeful on this anniversary. I know election night last night was a bright spot and there are still hard times ahead. Who knows what a more and more desperate Trump administration will try to do.

But let’s consider yesterday to be the anniversary — we did the anxiety, the hope, the elections, the going-to-bed-happy. And today, on the actual anniversary, let’s just consider it done. It’s been anniversaried. The anniversary effect came and now it’s gone. Consider it done. Consider yourself on the slide into the 2018 mid-term elections.

*this blog has 57 followers and is not monetized

 

TOWOIT #260: Laughingstock.

November 1, 2017… Day 286

  • [Jon Decker, Fox Radio News] Sarah, in the hours — and, in fact, the days — after the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, the President repeatedly said now is not the time to talk about policy, now is not the time to talk about politics, and that’s for another time; right now we need to mourn the dead. Yet, this morning, the President launched into a political argument with Senator Chuck Schumer on Twitter, literally hours after this incident yesterday. Why was he so quick to go the political route and point fingers at Chuck Schumer for the fact that this person was in the country at all?
  • We heard today, at about 11:30 this morning, from the mayor and the governor of New York, who had said at that time the President had yet to call. Has the President called his mayor, his governor? He’s a New Yorker.
  • Sarah, why wasn’t Uzbekistan on the travel ban list?
  • Why isn’t the President calling for Uzbekistan to be put on the list?
  • Why? I’m just curious — why? Since he’s clearly looking for ways to —
  • Thank you, Sarah. On Senator Schumer, can you tell us when is the last time he and the President spoke? And more broadly, the President is saying that he is responsible at least in part for this attack. Does the President still see him as someone —
  • Does the President still see Senator Schumer as someone he can work with?
  • Thanks a lot, Sarah. The President was asked a little bit earlier, when he was meeting with his Cabinet, about the possibility of sending this terror suspect to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And he said he is indeed open to that. Does the President believe he has the authority as Commander-in-Chief to send this terror suspect to Gitmo? That’s my first question. And my second question is about Gitmo. What advantages does the President see in sending this terror suspect to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba?
  • Are there advantages in terms of sending any terror suspect to Guantanamo?
  • Thanks, Sarah. The President said last night that he’d ordered DHS to step up “our already extreme vetting.” I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit specifically about what extreme vetting entails, and if there’s any indication that it might have had an impact on preventing yesterday’s attack.
  • Sarah, separate from the Guantanamo Bay question, does the President believe this suspect should be classified as an enemy combatant?
  • Would the President therefore instruct the Justice Department not to charge him in federal court, and to therefore use the powers of enemy combatant and that status to treat him differently not only in terms of interrogation, but prosecution? [The DOJ nixed this entire thing within a couple hours]
  • Is the President open to not having him charged at all in federal court?
  • Have you determined that — you said you’re open to the enemy combatant thing. You think he is an enemy — [SHS already looked like a blithering idiot talking about enemy combatants before the DOJ unceremoniously nixed this entire thing]
  • You do so now?
  • And on what basis? [You could tell the press were like, “wow, maybe she doesn’t know what an enemy combatant is”]
  • Does the green card status in any way influence that determination? [But sometimes liars and fools are like sleepwalkers, and you’re almost afraid to wake them up]
  • [Kirsten Welker, NBC News] Sarah, I want to follow up on the question Jon was asking you earlier. You’re making the case that these are not new policies he’s talking about, and yet the question still remains, he is delving into a policy and political discussion. And he and you were very clear after the Las Vegas shooting that it wasn’t appropriate to talk about policy. So what’s the difference now?
  • But, Sarah, the President invoked Chuck Schumer’s name. So how can you argue that it’s not a political argument that he’s making?
  • Schumer and others say he’s not unifying the country —
  • — voted against them for the Gang of Eight. That’s not true.
  • Is he failing to unify the country at this point?
  • [Margaret Brennan, CBS News] When he’s talking about “quicker”, “greater” punishment, is he just talking about better enforcement of laws that currently exist, or is he talking about some sort of extrajudicial process? And are you looking at doing an executive order that would empower him? Would you make something like that public, or would you consider doing a secret order? And, very quickly, I also want to ask you: Is he really serious about tying the Obamacare, Medicaid stuff to the tax thing? That seems like it would just blow the whole deal up — blow right through that Thanksgiving goal.
  • Sarah, John Miller, the Deputy New York City Police Commissioner, said the suspect committed the attack in the name of ISIS. Governor Cuomo said the suspect was associated with ISIS. How can the President make the case that we are annihilating ISIS when an attack like this occurs? Are his policies emboldening the remnants of ISIS?
  • The President said earlier, today he’s starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program. What did he mean by “starting the process”?
  • Okay, sorry, just to follow up on Margaret’s question: So the President isn’t considering any broader criminal justice reform?
  • Thank you, Sarah. A follow-up question on Jon Decker’s question. The criterion that you listed for enhanced vetting sounds very much like that for a national I.D. card — a subject that comes up every few years in Congress but which has never been acted on. Is the administration in favor of a national I.D. card as part of the enhanced vetting?
  • You’re not ruling out a national I.D. card as part of the —
  • [Blake Burman, Fox Business News] Between the time the President sent the tweet out last night saying that he’s called for a step-up of extreme vetting until now, can you lay out exactly what has been stepped up in that timeframe?
  • [Still Blake] And then going forward on tax reform real quick, if I can, do you mind? It’s possible that one of the things that Republicans are looking at right now is drastically lowering the cap for 401(k)s. The administration has consistently said that this tax plan has to help the middle class. So how would bringing down the cap on 401(k)s help the middle class?
  • [Eamon Javers, CNBC] Thanks, Sarah. On the tax cut bill, what does the President want that bill to be called? There are reports that he wants to call it the “Cut Cut Cut Act.” Are those accurate?
  • Can you tell us if his Federal Reserve Chair pick is a man or a woman? (Laughter.)
  • Sarah, the President talked about wanting merit-based immigration today and criticized the diversity visa program. Is he aware that the diversity visa program actually does have a merit-based component to it?
  • They’re ranked by their job that they have had and they have to have a minimum education.
  • They have to meet certain criteria and have certain rankings. It’s not entirely random.
  • So the 350,000 people have come in since the Uzbek gentleman yesterday came in — 350,000 people come into the country on this program. One of them now, apparently, has been accused of a terrorist act. One of the 350,000 create a problem then for that program?
  • Why did the President call the U.S. justice system a joke and a laughingstock during his comments in the Cabinet? [SHS said “That’s not what he said.” I shrugged it off at the time, but later I heard his comments and there was no room for doubt. He said exactly that. Orwell alert.]
  • He said that the system of justice in this country was a joke.
  • If I could follow up on a separate subject if I could. Other folks had a couple of questions each. Getting back to George Papadopoulos, does the President recall at that March 31st, 2016 meeting of his National Security Advisory Board, Mr. Papadopoulos suggesting a meeting behind then-candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin? Does he recall that?
  • [April Ryan, AURN] Sarah, two questions. First, Mary Frances Berry, the former head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, says everyone wants vetting, but to stop people from coming because they come from different countries is totally wrong. What say you?
  • But the diversity lottery is specifically for those coming from other nations that you are not favoring right now because you believe that there is a possibility of terrorism.
  • And second question, last question. Compromise, the issue of compromise — what is the definition of “compromise” as it relates to slavery and the Civil War?
  • There were a lot of questions still lingering when you left. And I’m going to ask the question again, and respectfully —
  • I’m not accusing; I’m asking a question, Sarah. Seriously. The question is: Does this administration believe — does this President believe slavery was wrong? And before you answer, Mary Frances Berry, a historian, said, in 1860 there was a compromise. The compromise was to have Southern states keep slavery, but the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter that caused the Civil War. And because of the Civil War, what happened — [Sarah Sanders cuts her off to say “I think it is disgusting and absurd to suggest that anyone inside of this building would support slavery.” I think she’s disgusting and absurd.]
  • Yesterday, from that podium, you said all of our leaders have flaws — Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Kennedy. What are President Trump’s flaws? [SHS says Trump’s greatest flaw is that he has to deal with the press everyday. This makes zero sense. Has she not ever had a job interview in her life? Did she not take the SAT?]
  • In fairness, he doesn’t deal with us on a daily basis. So what would you say in sincerity?
  • What are his flaws then, I guess? Simple question.
  • Thanks, Sarah. Two questions for you. What does the future of Guantanamo Bay look like under the Trump administration?
  • And if I could follow up on last night — could you give us a little bit more of the tick-tock of how the President found out about this terror attack in New York City — how he immediately responded, who he got on the phone with right away? Just trying to get a better understanding of where he was at this time, what he was doing, and what actions he took, following the news.
  • Thank you, Sarah. Will President look for — will President Trump look for enhancing anti-terror measures with other foreign countries during his visit to Asia? And also, will President Trump call the leaders of Argentina and Belgium to express his condolences?

 

 

TOWOIT #259: Is slavery wrong, Sarah?

October 31, 2017… Day 285

  • We’re dressed as reporters.
  • Sarah, where does the President stand on this tax deduction for state and local taxes? That seems to be in dispute up on the Hill.
  • But what about the mortgage interest deduction?
  • Has it come up in the conversation with Speaker Ryan just now?
  • Thanks, Sarah. A question on yesterday’s Mueller news. President Trump’s nominee to serve as chief science advisor over at the Agriculture Department is Sam Clovis, and Clovis was the campaign supervisor cited in that Papadopoulos plea. And his lawyer has since acknowledged that he was the one in that plea who encouraged Papadopoulos in August 2016 to make a trip to Russia to meet with Russia officials about the campaign. Given all that, is the President still comfortable with him, Sam Clovis, serving in the administration?
  • And on that note, is the administration aware of who the other three or four campaign individuals who were referenced in that Papadopoulos plea were? And are any serving in or advising the administration?
  • The Chief of Staff, John Kelly, said that this counsel investigation has been very distracting to the President. Can you elaborate on that? Is this affecting his ability to get the job done here?
  • Why are you so confident that the investigation won’t go on much longer?
  • The other thing that General Kelly said yesterday was in reference to General Lee, and he said that the Civil War was a result of a failure to compromise. Was he suggesting that there be compromise on the abolition of slavery? Can you expand on exactly what he was talking about?
  • Let me follow up. You’re a proud daughter of the South. When you see Nathan — like a statue as they had in Memphis of somebody like Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was responsible for the Fort Pillow Massacre, and other folks like that, is there a differentiation? Do you think there are certain Confederate figures who don’t deserved to be honored, like Nathan Bedford Forrest?
  • [Jon Decker, Fox News Radio] Thanks a lot, Sarah. Just to follow up on what you said yesterday and what you have reiterated today about this investigation and your belief that it’s going to be wrapping up soon. Yesterday, you said that, “Those are the indications that we have at this time.” From your point of view, is what you’re saying wishful thinking? Is it spin? Are you getting leaked information that gives you that indication? Why do you continue to say that you believe that it is wrapping up soon?
  • At the Papadopoulos hearing —
  • I just want to ask you this one thing about one of the prosecutors that is on Bob Mueller’s team. At the plea hearing for Mr. Papadopoulos last month, he hinted at the possibility of more to come in the investigation. He said the Mueller probe is “a large-scale, ongoing investigation of which this case” — the Papadopoulos case — “is a small part.” So, given what he said, as an officer of the court, are you disagreeing with anything that he said in his remarks during that plea hearing?
  • Sarah, I have one question about what the President said today, and then an Asia trip question, broadly. But the first question is: The President mentioned in the tax reform meeting there that he was going to be announcing “soon” some companies that are coming back to the United States. Can you either name them or give us the industry that we’re talking about?
  • And then on the Asia trip, the speech that he’s making at APEC is being billed as a theme for the trip as well as the Indo-Pacific. Does this administration see India as a pivotal part of your strategy when it comes to the Asia-Pacific more broadly?
  • Sarah, the former White House strategist, Steve Bannon, is saying the administration should push back harder against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Does the President support defunding the special counsel?
  • [John Gizzi, Newsmax] Thank you, Sarah. Two questions, please. First, the President is quoted last year as calling Mr. Papadopoulos, and I quote, “a great guy.” And today it was “a liar.” And I wonder, just to kind of clear the air, how well did he actually know him? And was briefed by him often? Did he have frequent meetings? How well does he know this man?
  • And he only met the President — candidate Trump, one time?
  • The other thing I wanted to ask was that a few weeks ago, when the President sent out Twitters about the media, he suggested that equal time be applied. Now, to many people, that was a euphemism for the Fairness Doctrine, something that President Ronald Reagan helped eliminate and which Democrats, such as Leader Pelosi, have tried to revive. Is he seriously in favor of reviving the Fairness Doctrine? And I might add that its premier opponent of revival was a young congressman named Mike Pence.
  • The President — sorry, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is on Capitol Hill today. Does the President have plans to meet with him at any point today or this week before he leaves for Asia?
  • Sarah, there is still a lot to be negotiated on taxes — SALT, which was just brought up; possible phasing in of the corporation rate, just to name a couple. When the tax bill — whatever of it — is released tomorrow, will the President wholeheartedly endorse this as his plan?
  • And lastly, on the Fed — I know you’re not going to give us a name. I’m not asking you to give us a name.
  • Then we would love the name.
  • Come on —
  • If you want to give us a name, we will take it. If not, my simple question is: Has the President made his decision, or is he still debating it?
  • President Trump, during the campaign, repeatedly castigated Hillary Clinton for not coming forward and coming clean when she got debate questions ahead of the debates. Why didn’t anyone in the Trump campaign, including his son, come forward when there were solicitations from Russian agents to provide dirt on his opponent?
  • I’m just getting to the sense of the proactive duty to come clean when there is an ethical question. And is the President upset that people in campaign did not come clean when there were ethical questions and ethical lines being broached?
  • Collaborating with the RUSSIANS is? [SHS had just said “pretty standard campaign operating procedure”]
  • I have two questions. The first one is: You’ve been very clear that Trump didn’t collude but Hillary did. What is your definition of collusion?
  • And my second question is about — [SHS cuts her off]
  • Just to follow up from Glenn. Robert E. Lee aside — and I understand your point about how all leaders have flaws — but what Kelly said yesterday was that an inability to compromise led to the Civil War. And back in the spring, the President said that he thinks that Andrew Jackson could have made a deal to avert the war. What is the compromise that they’re talking about? To leave the southern states slaves and the northern states free? What was the compromise that could have been made?
  • [Someone blurted out loudly, “COMPROMISE ON OWNING HUMANS!?! and the White House transcript did not include it]
  • Thanks, Sarah. Apropos what’s going on on the Hill this afternoon, and Facebook disclosing yesterday that more than 100 million Americans were apparently exposed to what amounts to Russian propaganda, what’s the White House’s view of that notion, that more than 100,000 people have been reading and watching what this Russian outlet has been putting out? And what do you make of the notion that there ought to be some kind of requirement that Facebook be required to disclose — the way that many broadcasters are required to disclose — when political ads are made?
  • [Hallie Jackson, MSNBC] Sarah, I’d like you to follow up on something you said earlier, but I also want to follow up on the conversation that’s been happening about the slavery compromise. I’m not asking you to re-litigate the Civil War. We don’t need a history lesson on the compromises that have happened. But does the White House at least acknowledge that the Chief of Staff’s comments are deeply offensive to some folks, and historically inaccurate?
  • [Hallie says “I’m not trying to ‘drive a narrative’ here–Sarah, can I follow up on that, given that you–” then Hallie’s face turns into one of pure frustration, disgust, disdain as Sarah facially stonewalls her and the next reporter, male, drowns out Hallie’s voice. The White House transcript leaves off Hallie’s attempt to follow up.]
  • There’s a new poll out that shows that the public seems to trust many of the mainstream media outlets that the President criticizes more than they trust the President himself. Why do you think this would be? And do you think the White House agrees with that?
  • Sarah, given some of the criticism we’ve heard from the President’s outside advisors, is the President happy with his legal team right now? Does he feel well-represented, well-defended when it comes to the Mueller probe particulars?
  • Thank you, Sarah. I just wanted to ask about taxes and then maybe just a very quick follow on the discussion about compromise. If I’m understanding you correctly, what you’re really saying is, he’s not just suggesting a compromise on slavery, he’s talking about other compromises that may have been germane to that period of history. Is that fair?
  • On taxes. I just want to get a sense of what the President might really be interested in as far as the child tax credit and as far as the Obamacare individual mandate. Is it your opinion that the President would be supportive of both? Meaning, that they need to be a major tenet of the tax reform that will be unveiling this week?
  • The Obamacare individual mandate. Does that have to be a part of tax reform?
  • Sarah, you said to us a few moments ago the Papadopoulos plea agreement is an example of an individual doing the wrong thing but the campaign doing the right thing — if I remember what you said — correct me. Does that extend to Sam Clovis encouraging George Papadopoulos to go to Russia on behalf of the campaign to solicit information?
  • Are you saying that Clovis is being misinterpreted by George Papadopoulos?
  • Let me ask you about one thing you said yesterday. You were asked at one point during yesterday’s briefing when the President became aware that Russia was behind hacking and possession of emails. You said, “I’m not sure of the specific date of when that took place, so I’d have to look and get back to you.”

 

 

She says he became aware of it in January, as in January 2017 and the room EXPLODES, but she’s already walking out the door and not taking any follow up questions. April Ryan can be heard yelling,

“Is slavery wrong, Sarah? Is slavery wrong? Sarah does this administration believe slavery wrong? Does this administration believe slavery is wrong, Sarah?”

The White House transcript does not include it.

Dark times.

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TOWOIT #258: Manacles Monday

October 30, 2017… Day 284

Sarah Huckabee Sanders wore fuchsia today and so did I !

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Obviously a world of Halloween-costuming regrets is hitting me now. I failed to realize my true destiny. It was to be SHS, in all her glory. ALTHOUGH, it might have been like a less-flattering version of the time Phil in my office dressed up as Don Draper and nobody realized he was wearing a costume.

Well, we are paying this woman’s salary to lie to us. And with that salary, she has availed herself of these sleeves:

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Sarah Huck, Sarah Huck. I tell guys on Twitter to stop being jackasses when they make fun of your clothing. And then you do THIS?

It’s ok. Even now, I will defend your marine invertebrate swaddlements.

Here are the questions Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #258: Manacles Monday

TOWOIT #257: Don’t go to the White House

October 27, 2017… Day 281

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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.

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Questions:

Continue reading TOWOIT #257: Don’t go to the White House

TOWOIT #256: My Gal’s a Corker

October 24, 2017… Day 278

Sarah Huckabee Sanders held a press briefing today. She wore a pink blouse of a shinier, less structured fabric than usual. The neckline plunged a bit, showing some cleavage. I have not noticed her showing cleavage before and I do not like it when she opens herself up to sartorial criticism because then I feel honor-bound to defend her. I wondered if she felt self-conscious, or if maybe it had not seemed at home like the neckline plunged as much as it did indeed turn out to plunge.

Cleavage notwithstanding, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is like a giant damper pedal. Well, that’s not quite apt. But whereas Sean Spicer used to rattle and hum and spice things up by getting all zesty and testy, Sarah Sanders just takes all the energy and life in the room and absorbs it and keeps it. Everything falls quiet and slow. Just slow quiet lies in a deadened room.

Here are the questions they asked her today: 

Continue reading TOWOIT #256: My Gal’s a Corker

TOWOIT #249: The Calm Before

October 6, 2017… Day 260

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The guys I work with think Rex Tillerson is a good, smart guy. Everyone’s waiting to see if Rex Tillerson leaves or gets fired.

Today a friend of mine, a straight white male upper-middle-class Republican said to me, “I’m pissed that Trump’s approval rating has bounced back up — who the fuck are these people who support him?” I wish more people could be like this friend. Personally comfortable but capable of not towing the party/tribal line.

Another friend told me she is waiting to get in with a therapist for the first time in her life. She still has to work out scheduling and insurance. She’d made up a weird excuse to not go to a friend’s funeral last weekend. After that, she’d realized that she can’t live in Trump’s America and do things like go to funerals. She was crumbling, she said. She’s a woman of color who works with at-risk young people.

My hometown went 76% for Trump. There are tons of decent-paying blue collar jobs there. It’s a prosperous, bustling little town. But the white male despair syndrome is happening there. My male schoolmates are dying, one by one by one. All this year. Not waking up. Dropping dead. Found under a dock. Overdose. We lost another one yesterday.

Las Vegas was earlier this week, this same week. It feels like last year. Yesterday I had to listen to a roomful of guys talk seriously about gun stocks. It’ll always be too soon to talk about political solutions, but I guess it’s never too early to talk about making some money. The meeting had already gone on too long at that point, and the room had already been feeling too small.

My sister wrote this today, after seeing the New Yorker cover: Black bullets silhouetted against red, with a name written in white on each bullet. They point every which way.

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I feel the same way. I don’t know if she’ll delete the post soon. Since after all, a lot of her social media friends are from our aforementioned hometown.

I am doing ok. I have been busy with classes and work. I’ve become a person who makes decaf coffee in a real coffeemaker in the evenings now, and puts heavy cream in.

I’m busy enough that I’m missing the first few waves of takes, but I still secretly listen to the White House Press Briefings in my cubicle, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders deigns to grace the podium.

Here’s what the reporters asked her today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #249: The Calm Before

TOWOIT #243: Taking the Knee

September 25, 2017… Day 249

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading TOWOIT #243: Taking the Knee

TOWOIT #224

September 1, 2017

I think it’s strange, dumb, and passive-aggressive that Sarah Huckabee Sanders keeps asking the White House Press Corps to tell her which charity the President should give money to in Texas. This is not their jobs. They are not your adjunct administrative assistants. They cover the White House, not non-profits in Texas. It’s reminiscent of Trump asking April Ryan to set something up with the Congressional Black Caucus.

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Questions they asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #224

TOWOIT #223: Love and Trouble

August 31, 2017… Day 224

I got carried away and wrote three blog posts for one day.

4:45 am: Morning Edition makes me cry in the shower again

The radio takes on a different quality, early in the morning, when you’re alone and brewing coffee and it’s dark outside.

On NPR this morning, they ran a story about a reporter in Houston driving a woman named Angie back to the home she was evacuated from when the flood waters got near it. They ran into some water in the road that the reporter’s car couldn’t handle, but a Latino man in a big jacked-up truck came along and drove them the rest of the way. The Latino man talked about how in Houston during the flood, it has been everyone helping everyone—it hasn’t been about white, black and brown.

For a reason that I missed, the reporter and the other man went in to look around inside the house while Angie waited outside for them. They came back out and told her everything was dry. She’d been especially worried about her clothes, but they were fine. The water had come up to her doorstep but no further. The men had snapped pictures of the rooms to show her they were dry. As they drove away, the woman looked through the photos. She had a low, raspy voice and you heard her say—sort of to herself—“I know my house is junky, but…” and then she just trailed off.

When that recorded story ended, the reporter and the host talked briefly about how Angie was one of the lucky ones.

Although I was emotionally affected by the story, I thought “This is fine. It was a happy ending. I didn’t just see a video of a wet dog afraid to be rescued, or a senior citizen stranded in waist-deep water, or a baby floating in a storage tub. I’m fine.”

Then those tricky bastards at NPR played the first several bars of “The Water is Wide.”

The version they played was instrumental but unfortunately I knew the words. So then I was crying into my coffee, followed by crying in the shower. All the way to the bus stop, I was still humming the tune, thinking about Houston folks and sniffling.

If you don’t know that song, the verse I know goes like this:

The water is wide… I cannot cross over

Neither have I wings to fly

Give me a boat that can carry two

And both shall row, my love and I

 

6:25 am: Love and Trouble 

On the bus to work I read Claire Dederer’s Love and Trouble. I was on the chapter that’s a letter to Roman Polanski, telling him what it’s like to be a 13-year-old girl. At one point she asks Polanski if he only sees holes everywhere. We have to point out, because people don’t get it automatically, that a girl is not an object. It’s devastating.

Dederer takes into account the idea that Roman Polanski was a tortured genius, that the 1970s were a weird time. She’s as generous as she can be, but you couldn’t read her paragraphs out loud without tasting piss in your mouth. All the feelings she packs into that chapter—they are what saturate everything now. Rape culture and misogyny are lain bare, retroactive, stinking everything up. It’s in the Oval Office. Every day Gallup tells you what percentage of your compatriots are cool with it, although it’s really more. 53% of white women voted for it. It’s stinking up the Democratic party too.

The founders of the start-up Witchsy invented a male co-founder (hilariously named Keith Mann) to correspond with people who were brushing them off. My social media feeds are full of women I know talking about how real it is — the disrespect, the brush-off, the battle to be recognized as a viable professional. It discouraged me more than usual. I’m turning 40 next year, and I want to take risks and move toward freelancing and my own creative projects. I want to Be Excellent. How clever will I have to be, and how bright will I have to burn, to compensate for my gathering invisibility, for my high voice, for my eyes welling up sometimes when I’m frustrated, for having a woman’s name and being a woman? Because I honestly don’t know if I’m up to that level of witchcraft. (It is worse for women who aren’t white like I am.)

When I was an ecology student 20 years ago, our professor’s wife—also an ecologist—told a group of us women students that the field was changing, turning female. We beamed—sounds great! She scowled. “Oh no, don’t get excited,” she said. “All that means is that ecology will be devalued, trashed, dismissed… and the pay will go down.”

At work, I’m on the outer administrative edges of a prolonged bureaucratic snafu involving a woman my boss is trying to bring onto our team from another team. I don’t know the details myself, but there’s been some thorniness that’s above my paygrade.

Today I wrote up a statement announcing that she would be joining us, and then I took it to her. I asked her if she thought it represented her well, if she was happy with the tone and the details provided. My boss was a little surprised that I’d done that since he’d signed off on it already. I said, without thinking, “I want her to feel a sense of control over her situation, and I want her to know we respect her.”

This has something to do with us being women. And something to do with Trump.

Everything is related and it’s exhausting.  

 

12:00 pm: One of the lucky ones 

At the White House Press Briefing today, the reporters returned again and again to just two themes: Are undocumented immigrants in Houston really going to be ok? Can their safety from ICE at shelters really be ensured? And what about the 800,000 young people in this country who are protected by DACA to study, live, and work in this country despite their immigration status? What is happening with DACA?

Fox News reported earlier in the day that Trump had already decided to kill DACA—something he’s been teasing and flirting with all week. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s stonewalling took on a new cruelty as she refused to confirm or deny or give any real answers. The repetition of the reporters’ questions was like bells tolling, in my mind. These were the humane questions. These were the urgent questions. These were the questions of conscience. This wasn’t grandstanding for TV. Don’t jerk people around about this. There’s no such thing as other people’s kids.

Tom Bossert from Homeland Security was at the briefing too. Tom often seems like a decent person in these situations, but he works for Trump so he’s made his bed. He took two Skype questions from Houston. These Skype questions—new with the Trump administration—have been a handy way to run down the clock on the reporters in the room. The Skype calls often feature cheesy, over-eager personalities from right-leaning outlets who praise Trump and then ask a pompous-sounding question that comes across as either extremely ideological or extremely pork barrel-ish.

Today it was two white guys from Houston, at separate outlets. They were both unshaven, haggard. The first guy was from Fox and he kind of leaned in and barked a question at the camera about the reservoir infrastructure and the army corps of engineers. His craggy head took up most of the screen when he leaned in, and he didn’t care. The second journalist seemed a bit shell-shocked that he had put himself on national television in bad greasy hat hair and a short-sleeved Under Armour shirt. His question was also about the immediate safety and survival for the people of Houston. Both those guys looked like they were sleeping at the station.

After the older guy’s question, Tom Bossert signed off with him by saying, “—and I hope your house hasn’t been affected.” It sounded so inadequate. That was the end of that call, the guy was effectively hung up on right at that point, so who knows about his house. But the guy’s life is probably scrambled. And he’s one of the lucky ones.