June 18, 2018.
There’s no White House transcript up yet for today’s briefing. That’s not too surprising. That thing chased itself across the length of a long afternoon. First it was going to be at 1:15. Then at 3:30. The reporters waited for an hour, and then at 4:30, someone came in with a note saying the briefing would be at 5:00. Someone kept sighing in overheated distress off camera on c-span. Several minutes past five, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen came in.
Word is, Kirstjen flew in from New Orleans to be there short notice.
And in the words of my favorite Crooked Media man after Ira Madison:
More to follow.
June 15, 2018.
At yesterday’s briefing, Brian Karem had an outburst. I appreciate it in this age of gaslighting and mindfuckery, when someone gets upset in a human way about basic decency. So I say thank you to Brian Karem. Also to Jim Acosta of CNN and Paula Reid of CBS, who both pushed back and said “No” when Sarah said something untrue.
Also a thank you to the White House transcriptionist who still faithfully records unflattering and sometimes aurally muddled cross-talk. I think this is a small act of integrity by someone I like to think is a holdover from previous administrations.
This might be a good time to add that I’m tired of hearing people on the left wring their hands about the nature of expression and tone — for instance, complaining about Robert De Niro saying “Fuck Donald Trump” at the Tonys. Who cares. Trump supporters hate our guts no matter WHAT we do. Let’s say Fuck Donald Trump while it’s still legal.
Here are the questions reporters asked Sanders at yesterday’s heated briefing:
Continue reading TOWOIT #340: “Go ahead, Jill”
May 29, 2018.
Press Gaggle with Sarah Sanders on Air Force One en route to Nashville.
- Sarah, the President has been a big supporter of Roseanne Barr. What is his and the White House’s reaction to her comments today and to ABC’s decision to cancel her show? (Sanders replies by saying the President is very focused on North Korea. Spoiler alert: She will launch into a reading a defensive rant when asked a similar question in the briefing room the next day)
- Because he’s been focused on that show before. I mean, he called her after the show did really well. Does he have a reaction to what she said? (I’m just imagining this was Hallie Jackson but I have no way of knowing)
- Does he think the show should have been cancelled? (Still, focus is on North Korea)
- You kept saying “upcoming summit,” and I think there’s just — to kind of put a button on it, at this point, is the President’s letter operative? Or is it operative that he expects a summit to occur after the G7 in Singapore?
- What determines whether or not the summit is back on? What determines whether or not that gets rescheduled?
- Sarah, can you talk about why the President said the New York Times had made up that senior White House official when that White House official was someone that was in a press office-organized sanctioned briefing? (sometimes I wish they would pose their questions more succinctly)
- Sarah, when the President visited Puerto Rico, he said it wasn’t a “real catastrophe” because there were only, I think, 16 people who had died in the official government count at the time. There’s a Harvard study today that I think said 4,600 people died as a result of the storm. So I’m wondering if that’s changing the President’s thought about whether this is a real catastrophe or the grade that he gave himself for the U.S. response to — the federal government response to the storm.
- Sarah, this weekend the President tweeted that the policy of separating children at the border is “horrible.” But that is a policy that was instated by his own administration. Why would he say that?
- Sarah, is the President concerned about the political turmoil in Italy and the effect that that’s had on the stock market and the markets in general?
- This weekend, Rudy Giuliani basically admitted that calling Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt” is part of a public opinion effort — an effort to sway public opinion. Is that what the President is trying to do? Is he trying to discredit this investigation when he says that? (In her response, Sarah Sanders says “Hillary Clinton was terrible.” I had one of those moments where you can’t believe any of this is happening. Just how ungracious and inappropriate and low it is to say that as the White House Press Secretary.)
- Sarah, if the President doesn’t want these families to be separated, does that mean that he opposes the zero-tolerance policy laid out by the Attorney General earlier this month?
- Sarah, has the President had any conversations with Kevin McCarthy about a leadership succession in Congress? Let me amend that to say McCarthy or any of his allies or anybody on his staff?
- The President tweeted this morning that he believes Robert Mueller’s team is going to interfere with the midterm elections. I’m wondering if you can flesh out how he believes the Special Counsel’s work is going to interfere with the midterm elections.
- Well, a quick one to follow on Jeff. You were talking about the long-term economic situation in Italy. The President obviously was a big supporter of Brexit. Does he believe that Italy should stay in the Eurozone?
- Does he believe Italy should stay in the Eurozone? (The amazingness of Sanders simply having nothing to say as an answer to this. Like, have to check, sorry, I don’t know)
- And one more. Students have started to go back to school in Santa Fe, Texas today. Will the President stop there when he goes to Texas later this week?
- When will the North Korea decision be made, whether the Singapore summit is going to go ahead? Do you have a deadline for when you have to say yay or nay?
- Has he had — has the President — sorry — had any direct communications with Kim Jong Un? (She ends by saying “Again, we’re not going to comment on those comments.” Perfect.)
April 11, 2018 (yesterday)
Questions from the WH Press Briefing:
Continue reading TOWOIT #319: “You think a wave is coming?”
April 10, 2018
- (Nadia Bilbassy, Al Arabiya English) Thank you. Thank you, Sarah. The President authorized the use of military force last year after President Assad used chemical weapons. But this didn’t seem to deter him. The President talked yesterday of a very strong and serious response now. How is he going to hold President Assad accountable?
- How he’s going to hold President Assad accountable now?
- (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, talking about the raid on Michael Cohen’s office, the President said, “It’s an attack on our country…It’s an attack on what we all stand for.” In what way is an FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office an attack on our country?
- But that accounts to an attack on our country? (I think he means “amounts”?)
- Does the President believe he has the power to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller? Does he believe that’s within his power?
SANDERS: Certainly he believes he has the power to do so.
- (John Roberts, Fox News) If I could, you have said several times from the podium that the President has neither the intention nor is thinking about firing Robert Mueller. Does that remain the case today?
- Can I also ask: What about Rod Rosenstein? What’s the President’s thinking about Rosenstein, in terms of his tenure at the Department of Justice? He did not appear to be very happy with him last night. And can you confirm that Rosenstein was the high-level DOJ official that signed off on the FBI raid of Cohen’s office?
- (Shannon Pettypiece, Bloomberg) Is the President still open to talking to Mueller? Is he still open to an interview?
SANDERS: That’s something that I would direct you to the President’s personal attorneys to answer that question.
But I mean, who are they now?
- And we asked about Rosenstein. What about FBI Director Wray? He was the one who signed off, supposedly, on this FBI raid. Does the President still have confidence in him?
- But specifically on the President’s feelings about the FBI Director, does he have concerns about the FBI Director?
- (Jill Colvin, Associated Press) Two things. Just to follow up on that, has the President spoken with either Jeff Sessions or Rosenstein since the raid yesterday?
- Okay. And then I wanted to ask you about the decision to cancel the trip. Can you walk us through a little bit more of the decision-making and why the President felt like he couldn’t make a decision — he couldn’t execute on whatever he decides to do while he’s traveling, considering that the missile strike last year was actually launched while the President was in Mar-a-Lago?
- What does being in the country — how does that benefit him?
- (Jackie Alemany, CBS News) Does Michael Cohen still represent the President?
SANDERS: I’m not sure. I would refer you to Michael Cohen on that.
- And when did the President first learn of the payment from Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels and their nondisclosure agreement?
SANDERS: I’m not sure on the exact timing.
- SANDERS: Kristen.
- ALEMANY: And did the President –-
- SANDERS: Sorry, I’m going to keep moving because we’re tight on time. Kristen.
- ALEMANY: Just one more question, Sarah. If the President denies having an affair with Stormy Daniels —
- SANDERS: Sorry, Jackie, I’m going to keep moving. Go ahead, Kristen.
- ALEMANY: — then why did he instruct —
- SANDERS: Jackie, I’m going to move on to Kristen. Sorry, we’re tight on time with the visit of the Alabama team coming up soon. Go ahead.
- KRISTEN WELKER: Well, just, can you follow up on that question?
- SANDERS: I didn’t hear the question.
- WELKER: Does he continue to deny having an affair with Stormy –
- ALEMANY: Then why doesn’t he just instruct Mr. Cohen to —
- SANDERS: The President has been clear. He has addressed this several times. I don’t have anything else to add. Brian.
- WELKER: I’d like to follow up —
- WELKER: Sarah, let me just ask my other question. Can you just say definitively, has the President had any conversations about firing Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, or Robert Mueller in the last 24 hours?
- SANDERS: I haven’t had any conversations with him on that. I can’t speak beyond that.
- WELKER: And can you clarify — can you just clarify his tweet?
- SANDERS: Sorry, Kristen. We got to keep going, guys.
- WELKER: He called it a “witch hunt,” but Rod Rosenstein, who he appointed, signed off on the probe.
- SANDERS: Go ahead (to Brian Karem).
- KAREM: I’m sorry, I can’t — she’s a lady.
- SANDERS: Go ahead.
- KAREM: Well, answer her if — go ahead, Kristen.
- WELKER: Can you just answer the question: If the President appointed Rod Rosenstein, and so how can he call the raid yesterday, a “witch hunt” when it was approved by the Deputy Attorney General he appointed?
SANDERS: Once again, I’m not aware of what the process is and who signs off on those specific types of things. The President certainly has been very clear about what his position is when it comes to matters of collusion, and that’s what his reference is. He thinks this entire thing is a witch hunt. I think we’ve spoken about this at length, ad nauseam. And frankly, I think it’s a big distraction that the media has spent every single day, for the last year, focused on this instead of some of the biggest issues of our day and some of the biggest issues that the President is dealing with, like Syria, like North Korea, like deregulation, tax cuts, defeating ISIS. Those are the — that’s the focus of this administration, and frankly, that’s what you guys should spend a little bit more time on.
- KAREM: My follow-up — So, Sarah, my follow-up question —
- SANDERS: Hey, guys — time out. We’re going to take — you yielded your time to Kristen. I’m going to go to John.
- KAREM: No, no, wait a minute. I had a follow-up question. Please, if I may, just a follow-up.
- SANDERS: Sorry. All right, I’ll come back to you, Brian, for one.
- KAREM: Thanks. You had said that it is a little —
- SANDERS: I’m feeling generous today.
- KAREM: Thank you. Thank you.
- SANDERS: For Nadia’s birthday. (Laughter.) (JESUS! STOP LAUGHING AT HER JOKES WHOEVER YOU ARE)
- KAREM: Just two quick ones. So you said that it’s a witch hunt and you’ve continued to characterize it as that, but not so much as this administration also has leveled sanctions against the 13 Russians that were indicted by the Mueller investigation. In some point, are you a party to this witch hunt, or is some of it, at least, a legitimate effort?
- SANDERS: Just because there many have been involvement by Russia doesn’t mean there was involvement by the Trump campaign.
- KAREM: No, no, no —
- SANDERS: And to try to conflate the two is insane.
- No — no, that’s not the question. The question is: In some ways, aren’t you at least supporting what they’ve done? Because they’ve indicted some of the people that you have leveled sanctions against. So you’re in agreement with Mueller in at least some regards, right?
- KAREM: That wasn’t my — and then my quick —
(Ok, I’m going back to mostly not including Sarah’s deflections in my transcript)
- (Jon Decker, Fox Business News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. What is the —
- What is the nature of the President’s relationship right now with Attorney General Jeff Sessions? He really voiced his displeasure with him last evening in his remarks. Is it a good relationship? Does he risk being fired right now?
- Another one. Real quick, Sarah, if you don’t mind. It’s about the EPA Administrator, Mr. Pruitt. If it turns out that he lied in the interview that he gave with Fox News — my colleague Ed Henry — would that be problematic for him in terms of holding onto his job?
- (Michael D. Shear, New York Times) So the President last night seemed to combine his reaction to the Russia investigation — which we’ve heard him say before — and this new investigation that has grown out of the raids in New York of his attorney. Does he view that as one in the same investigation? In other words, does he think that’s all, kind of, under the umbrella of the Special Counsel? Or does he view the Russia investigation as separate from the probe into the payments by these women that is apparently being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York?
- (Steve Herman, VOA) Thank you, Sarah. Does the United States expect that, in a response to the Syria chemical weapons attack, that other nations will join in? Specifically, we’re seeing indications from France and the Saudis that they may also take military action.
- (April Ryan American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, two questions. The President said yesterday he was compliant; that he turned over a million documents. If he was compliant with these investigation, why was there a search warrant needed?
- Okay, and the next question. With all of this turmoil, particularly this last week, has the President at any time thought about stepping down before or now?
SANDERS: No. And I think that’s an absolutely ridiculous question.
- No, it’s not ridiculous. It’s not ridiculous.
- It is a legitimate question. It’s not ridiculous.
- (Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Thanks, Sarah. Did the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, force Tom Bossert out of his job?
- Sarah, the President tweeted favorably today about some of the promises that President Xi has made toward instituting some market reforms in China, but he said this before. Is it going to be enough to avert some of the tariffs that the President has been talking about instituting?
- (Pamela Brown, CNN) Has the President spoken with Michael Cohen since the raids?
- And can I just ask you — you said that he believes, he views this as sort of crossing the line. Can you explain a little bit more why these raids on his personal attorney is viewed by the President as crossing the line?
- (blonde woman in front) I just want to clarify something you said earlier. You said the President believes he has the power to fire Robert Mueller, because usually, most legal experts believe that he would have to order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, and Rosenstein could, of course, refuse.
- They’ve consistently said that it is. They’ve told me; I’ve asked. They’ve said it’s Rod Rosenstein oversees the Special Counsel, and only he has the power to fire the Special Counsel.
- (Dave Boyer, Washington Times) Sarah, thanks. The British government said they’re still looking for confirmation that Assad used chemical weapons last weekend. Is the President still looking for confirmation of that?
- (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. Two questions, with brevity, on Ambassador Bolton. With the resignations —
- With the resignations of Michael Anton and now Tom Bossert, can we expect any other changes of personnel in his family?
- The other question–
- Right. A year ago, Ambassador Bolton was highly critical in the op-ed pages about U.S. involvement with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. With the World Bank-IMF meeting coming up within a matter of two weeks, is his position going to affect U.S. support for either institution
- (Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thank you, Sarah. Yesterday, President Trump said something very interesting about Syria. He said that, “Because of the power of the United States and because of the power of our country, we’re able to stop it.” Now, with bringing in Ambassador John Bolton as well — which is sort of a signal of a more hawkish stance, potentially — I want to know if the President has changed his calculus in any way on Syria and on whether or not he wants to pull out those troops very soon, as he previously said.\
- (Fred Lucas, Daily Signal) Thanks, Sarah. Yeah, this week, Senator McConnell said they’re taking up six nominations and that they’re going to continue taking up six nominating per week. Do you consider that a major breakthrough for the administration considering there’s been so many blocking —
- And one other question. On U.S. Attorney Berman, he’s in an interim position now in New York. Reports have been that the President was going to nominate him for full-time. Is that still the case? Will the President nominate him?
- (Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller) Thanks, Sarah. So all of the evidence so far in the Syrian chemical attack points to the use of chlorine gas. The Assad regime has been suspected of using chlorine multiple times on the battlefield. What makes this particular attack different and warrant the international response and the potential use of lethal force that we’re seeing from this President?
- (Eamon Javers, CNBC) Yeah, thanks, Sarah. To clarify your comment here on Xi Jinping’s speech last night, it was seen as rhetoric around trade openness. Are you saying that the President didn’t see anything in that speech that would encourage him to back off on his threat to impose tariffs on the Chinese?
- What specific actions do you want to see from the Chinese? What could they do here to stave off those tariffs at this point?
- (Blake Burman, Fox Business News) To pick up and end off where Eamon just — what he was just talking about. You said you want to see concrete actions from the Chinese as it relates to trade. Do you feel that there will actually be, at some point, concrete actions? Or is all of this right now hope and talk and —
- I ask because it feels almost today like it’s been somewhat of a lukewarm reception. Is that accurate?
April 9, 2018
Today’s White House briefing came before news broke that the FBI had raided the home, office, and hotel room of Michael Cohen (personal lawyer and fixer to Trump). It’s a real developing situation and Trump is sounding even less hinged than usual. Good thing this is all happening at a time when international conflicts are boiling over.
We’ll see if they send Raj out to do a quick uninformative press briefing tomorrow — it seems like they trot him out on the worst days. Or if there is no press briefing, which seems more likely.
Today’s press briefing was 19 minutes long. Nobody asked about the fire at Trump Tower or whether the smoke alarms were working.
Here’s what reporters asked Sarah Sanders today (4/9/2018):
Continue reading TOWOIT #317: “No one found the death threats”
March 28, 2018
It’s always a drag listening to Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the briefings, but today my blood really boiled. There was a lot to get upset about, since we are living through a shitshow free-for-all. But what I really couldn’t take today — and couldn’t help tweeting about venomously in real time — was Sarah Sanders’s racism.
She’s not just a mouthpiece for racism. A mouthpiece for racism could offer condolences to the surviving family. A mouthpiece for racism could know not to “all lives matter” at every little turn. Would know not to say “yeah but the economy is doing great” in response to specific black men’s lives cut short by police.
Someone on twitter said Sanders didn’t understand. That she doesn’t know that saying the president is working to arm teachers and suggesting that means he cares about the lives of black children is a gigantic oxymoron since black children suffer disproportionately at the hands of armed authority figures. I think that was too kind. It’s not that she doesn’t understand. It’s that she does nooooooootttt give a shit.
OK. You guys know all that. It’s old news that she’s awful. I just can’t take it sometimes.
Here’s what went down at the briefing today, and I’ll leave out as much of the lying non-answers as I can, except a few pull quotes when her non-denial denials are especially careful and revealing and obvious.
Continue reading TOWOIT #313: Racist asshole gives non-denial denials
March 6, 2018
Yesterday, Sarah had two veterans up in front, sitting quietly on either side of her, and she promo-ed like a circus barker how their limbs got blown off and sewn back on. Sometimes I don’t know when I’m just generally grossed out by the Trump administration and when they’ve done something specifically wrong. But this seemed really off to me.
Major Garrett had the first question and took the show right into Secretary of VA Shulkin’s corruption troubles.
Questions asked of Sarah Sanders yesterday:
Continue reading TOWOIT #302: I don’t know how to title these anymore