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 #195: Mueller Time

Mueller impanels a grand jury, and McConnell puts the Senate in “pro forma” session so they can all leave but since they aren’t technically in recess, Trump can’t sneak any appointments in while they are gone. I believe this was done a lot to Obama too.

It felt like there was a celebratory mood tonight…

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(Hey that’s my representative, Pramila. By the way I have no idea what they were actually talking about, I just like how happy they looked)

…even though Preet Bharara was all “hey everyone simmer down” about the grand jury:

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Trump went on the offensive at his rally in West Virginia tonight. Still can’t believe a sitting U.S. president has rallies for himself.

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And a bunch of other stuff happened.

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I sent this tweet yesterday and it only got three likes:

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I still think it’s hilarious.

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Oopsie doopsie… late breaking news:

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ALL HAIL KELLU

 

 

 

TOWOIT #188

July 27, 2017… Day 189

(UPDATED LATE AT NIGHT): It was *worth* staying up late watching C-Span and fretting and reading all the body language riffing on Twitter. THANK YOU to McCain, Collins, and Murkowski. Thank you. 

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The pages are probably getting a bit punchy.

It’s a sad and infuriating circus in the U.S. Senate tonight. Looks like the Skinny Repeal will pass. ETA for the vote, 2 am. I don’t understand the ins and outs at all. There are machinations involving texting House speaker Paul Ryan for promises about a post-passage “conference” between the House and Senate.

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Basically they desperately want to pass something, but they don’t want this thing they are passing to actually become law because they know how misbegotten it is.

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And then there was THIS business:

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Infighting in the administration just… I don’t know… skyrocketed? Scaramucci saying shitty stuff on the phone to Ryan Lizza, who then put the WHOLE phone call in the New Yorker the next day. Then Scaramucci tweets that he’ll never trust a reporter again — like he has no idea how on the record, off the record works? Even though he’s the communications director.

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Also, DOJ says LGBT people are not protected against workplace discrimination.

There’s A LOT of push back against the trigger-happy tweet about kicking transgender people out of the military. And the anti-Sessions talk.

The Russian sanctions bill will go to Donald Trump’s desk, with such a healthy margin that if Trump vetoes it, it’ll still go through.

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Lindsey Graham and Cory Booker are writing a bill that would prevent Trump from removing the special counsel, according to The Hill.

There was an on-camera press briefing for the second day in a row. It was short (16 minutes of Q & A with Sarah Huckabee Sanders) and full of lying obfuscation, but it was on camera.

I liked this screenshot of these two reporters as the press corps waited for the briefing to begin:

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A really bad part about the briefing was the sweaty acting ICE director bellowing at the room about criminal “aliens.” Who would ever, EVER, trust this agency? They’re saying undocumented victims of gangs should reach out to ICE, and they don’t need to worry that they’ll be targeted for deportation. Well, that’s gotta be bullshit. I’m skipping that whole part, and going to the questions they asked SHS:

  • Sarah, does the President have confidence in his Chief of Staff?
  • So you can’t say right now if the President has full confidence in Chief of Staff Reince Priebus?
  • But we’re talking about public humiliation of both the Attorney General and now the Chief of Staff, left to kind of wonder about their own fate and their own status within this administration.
  • Lindsay Graham says there will be “holy hell to pay” if Attorney General Sessions is fired. What does the President say to that?
  • Thanks, Sarah. The President — excuse me, the Pentagon has announced that the President’s statements via Twitter did not change the transgender policy in the military and that the White House actually has to issue a policy directive to the Secretary of Defense to make that change happen. So, two questions. Does the President plan to do so? And if so, how will that affect transgender troops that are currently serving?
  • But what is the policy? And was the President aware that he can’t make policy changes via statements on Twitter? Because the Pentagon is saying —
  • So the policy hasn’t yet been formulated?
  • Sarah, thank you. Moving on to healthcare, you talked about how Senate Republicans have the chance tonight to really undo Obamacare. But it seems like the thing that’s most likely to get through is the skinny repeal, and that would just kind of — that would maybe get rid of the mandate and some other things. But it’s not the massive overhaul that had been promised. So would the White House support just a skinny repeal, that being signed into law?
  • But does the White House believe that a skinny repeal on its own would be enough to address the issues of premiums — rising premiums and deductibles and things like that? Would the President sign just a skinny repeal?
  • Yes, Sarah. I want to ask two questions — one about the President’s management style and one about immigration enforcement.
  • On immigration — I had a question on immigration enforcement.
  • So this week when the President spoke in Ohio, he spoke about MS-13 and he gave a litany of the violence that they’re capable of. And then he said, “Our guys are rougher than their guys.” What did the President mean by that?
  • Is that a license for the use of more force when it comes to making arrests against MS-13?
  •  Does he want the law enforcement agencies to change the rules of the use of force when it comes to making arrests against MS-13?
  • Thanks, Sarah. Anthony Scaramucci was on CNN today talking about Reince Priebus. He said, “If he wants to prove he’s not a leaker, let him do it.” I can’t imagine that you would speak on Anthony’s behalf, but if you would, does he think that Reince Priebus is a leaker? Or does the White House, does the President think that Reince is leaking?
  •  I had a tax question, too, please. Does the President believe that tax overhaul should increase the budget deficit?  Or should it be revenue neutral?
  • Sarah, can I ask you quickly about Anthony Scaramucci? A little bit of housekeeping.  One —
  • Fine. Has he taken an oath of office?
  • Has Anthony Scaramucci taken an oath of office?
  • Have his security clearances gone through yet?
  • Is he an official member of the White House staff now? Initially it was announced that it would be in mid-August
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She didn’t love where Peter was going.
  • So let me follow up on —
  • Let me ask you about the Boy Scouts then, if I can very quickly —
  • Thank you, Sarah. I do have to ask you about the healthcare bill. Many who are in the Freedom Caucus say that they would oppose the skinny repeal that was referred to earlier; that if a measure came out with just, oh, ending the mandates and ending the tax on medical devices, that that would — and not addressing anything else, they’d vote against it. Is the President aware of this?  And is he making any calls for specific parts of the repeal effort?
  • Thanks, a lot, Sarah. Is the President — just to follow up on what John Gizzi just asked you; I don’t think you got to that particular part of the question.
  • Is the President picking up the phone? Is he calling those seven or eight Republican senators, making the case for them that this may be their last best hope for repealing and replacing Obamacare? And if he is, what’s his message to those particular senators?
  • He had all of those Republican senators here at the White House last week, Sarah.
  • Sorry.
  • Anthony Scaramucci said this morning that the President might veto the Russia sanctions bill, even though Senator Corker has now withdrawn his objection and that the same version that we’ve already seen from the House is going to be up for the Senate vote. Is that, in fact, possible? Would he veto that passed with just three negative votes in the House and two negative votes in the Senate?
  •  In terms of working with the DOD on this new policy, how long is it going to be before you find out what the details are? Weeks, months?
  • Will it be this year?
  • Sarah, thanks. Several Senate Republicans have sent signals to this White House: One, don’t make a recess appointment because we’re not going to allow it; two, there’s not going to be a confirmation if there’s a new Attorney General nominated. There is a signal being sent: Don’t do what we fear you might be contemplating. Can you, for the betterment of the Senate Republicans who are working with this White House on a lot of issues, put to rest once and for all the status of the Attorney General — that he’s not going to be fired, there’s not going to be a need for a recess appointment, and this issue can be laid to rest, for the country and for Senate Republicans who appear, based on their public statements, to be anxious about this prospect?
  • But when you don’t say the President has confidence, and the President says “time will tell,” as he said earlier this week, I’m only telling you what Senate Republicans, who are in a position that have to deal with this, are saying.
  • Thanks, Sarah. This is a little — maybe just a little bit off topic.  I want to run it by you anyway. Is the President aware of this story —
  •  Yeah, why not — right? Is the President aware of the story of the IT staff — of the congressional IT staffer who most recently worked for Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Imran Awan, who was recently arrested attempting to leave the country, although he said he was not trying to flee the country? Is the President aware of that particular circumstance? And is he satisfied with the pace of the investigation?
  • Since we only have one question, I’m going to ask you about the Boy Scouts
  • Their chief wrote this to family members who were at the President’s event earlier this week: “I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who are offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.” Does the President owe the Boy Scouts an apology?
  • But the head of the Boy Scouts has acknowledged that there was a problem. A lot of parents have expressed frustration in the wake of those comments and felt the need to actually write a letter about it. So does the President owe them an apology?
  • Thanks, Sarah. I have two for you real quick, if you don’t mind.
  • I’m going to be quick  First on Anthony Scaramucci on CNN this morning, he said he had a conversation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about these supposed leaks. That would appear to violate DOJ guidelines. So I was hoping you could provide some clarity on that front. And secondly, out of Alaska today, the local paper there is reporting the Senator Murkowski received a phone call from the Secretary of Interior Zinke, threatening the people of — essentially threatening the services and federal dollars that were spent — that the administration (inaudible) toward the people of Alaska if she voted a certain way on the healthcare bill. I was hoping if you could confirm that and discuss whether that sort of conversation, if it happened, would be appropriate.
  • Thank you, Sarah. You suggested that the President continues to have confidence in Reince Priebus based on the fact that he’s still in the position, and he’s a friend of Anthony Scaramucci who’s coming into the administration. At this point, based on what we’ve seen quite publicly playing out, though, does he think they at least need to sit down and talk, as House Speaker Paul Ryan said, and get whatever this is out of their system so that they can start off the one right foot here?

 

 

 

TOWOIT #170

July 9, 2017… Day 171

Ava goes first because she’s pithy and because there’s a new study that says women of color get short shrift on Twitter, and I quoted a shitload of white guys lower down in the round-up.

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You don’t even have to know the specific thing she’s quote-tweeting. This is just the feeling after G-20.

News alert today:

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When what they SHOULD be worrying about is the bears.

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This morning I was so worried right off the bat by tweets/headlines that I examined how much of my three-year plan was completely dependent on living in a free society. I was thinking about things like net neutrality, health care, death of middle class, and cultural crackdown on media and the arts. None of it felt outlandish or alarmist. Basically my three-year plan is completely pointless, undoable, unsafe, and foolish in Trump’s America. So I’ll keep checking in with that. It’s not giving up, it’s not personal, it’s just knowing the environment you’re working in. In the meantime, I did my first writing assignment for a political essay class I just started.

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Thinking Republicans were upset — the usual Never Trumpers, the Sometimes Critics, and even Marco Rubio (please take with deer-sized salt lick).

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But then there’s the rest of the Republicans.

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When the backdrop is so grim, anything that makes you feel like you’re not crazy is reassuring, even if it’s bad news. Any bad news that feels like it will push through to a breaking point that leads to airing out and sanity — that’s welcome. It’s a push toward honesty and having things out on the table. Knowing what we’re dealing with. Someday agreeing on basic facts again.

So that was this today:

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Poor Mosul has been through such hell, but there is this:

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And the Trumpsters can’t stop this country from becoming more Latin American and more Latin influenced. Not yet anyway. Song of the summer.

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McCain could be exaggerating to lull everyone into a false sense of security, but:

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Last word, from this gent:

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TOWOIT #159

June 28, 2017…. Day 160

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List of possibly somewhat reassuring things:

  • Burr and Warner working together in the Senate
  • Sally Yates says we should have confidence in Robert Mueller
  • Jim Comey says we should have faith in Robert Mueller
  • Delay of healthcare vote; no one is letting up though
  • Keith Ellison — he just makes me feel better
  • 43% of Republicans think Trump’s Twitter practices are “distracting and reckless” (according to NPR this morning)
  • More GOP defecting from the bill than I expected. Non-craven.
  • Overheard Trump-voter at the office: “I’d rather there be NO healthcare bill than something that caters to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Anything that Ted Cruz thinks is acceptable, I don’t.”
  • Overheard Republican at the office: “I mean someone can go on TV and say out loud that the president is a moron, and it’s just the truth. It’s discouraging. It’s setting a whole new standard.”
  • Nicholas Burns and the other three panelists in front of Burr and Warner’s committee in the Senate today talking about Russia’s election-meddling. Burns had a lot of sharp words for Trump and the Trump administration. Risch and Cotton were garbagey to the panelists, but many of the Republicans were NOT.
  • 39% of Republicans say they don’t know enough about the health care bill to say whether they like it or not. Joy Reid cited this as a disturbing statistic, but if the approval rating for the bill is 17% with that many Republicans essentially in the dark about it, then this is even worse for the Senate Republicans than I thought. I need to know that some people are just really busy and preoccupied with their lives. It’s either that or they are all completely in the grip of Fox News, and I’ll take the blank slate over that.
  • Seen in Seattle:

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s off-camera press gaggle:

Continue reading TOWOIT #159

TOWOIT #150

June 15, 2017… Day 147

Hidey didey Christ Almighty.

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I didn’t say anything about the Congressional baseball shooting yesterday. It’s not that I wasn’t affected by it. I just had a lot of swirling emotions, and I was biting my tongue a little. Here’s how I feel about it, if anyone cares.

  • I hate violence
  • I hate the idea that we’re tipping into increased political violence here
  • I hate toxic masculinity
  • I hate that this guy has a history of domestic violence
  • I hate that the Cosby jury is deadlocked
  • I hate that everything is related like this
  • I hate that they keep interrupting Kamala Harris in the Senate
  • It really is all related
  • I hate that he had a gun
  • I hate that those people had to live through something so scary
  • I hate that someone’s hip and pelvis got torn apart
  • I hate that two capitol police officers got shot
  • I hate that the shooter is being framed neutrally in the media because he’s white
  • I hate that Senator Scalise was protected by an African-American lesbian officer who took a bullet for him, and yet he (and the other Republicans) will still probably endorse racist policies, make life harder for gay people, and fight against any kind of common sense gun control
  • I hate that we’re this divided, and that this incident seems to just prove it more than ever. I hate that we live in two different realities.
  • I hate that Fox News is trying to pin this on Democrats in general
  • I hate puns and the fact that this is a bulleted list is not a pun

Trump sent four unhinged Tweets today. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in another off-camera briefing, referred reporters to outside counsel when asked about Trump’s tweets.

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  • Sarah, yesterday the President stuck to the script in his televised remarks. He didn’t lash out at opponents yesterday. He didn’t tweet about the Russia investigation. He stuck to a message of unity. That changed this morning with the President’s tweets. Why did the President decide to weigh in again on the Russia investigation this morning?
  • Can I follow up on that? I mean, the stories that came out, actually, were that Mueller was investigating the President for potential obstruction of justice. Given that the White House has been referring questions to Trump’s personal lawyers, why is it the President feels like he, personally, should be weighing in on this?
  • I just have a follow, and then one more question — and I know you’re going to refer a lot of this to outside counsel — but given the reports that have come out over the last 12 to 18 hours, does the President still feel vindicated?
  • And who are the “bad” and “conflicted” people he mentioned in that tweet?
  • Christopher Wray is your pick for the new FBI director. His nomination has not been formally sent over to the Senate. Can you explain what the holdup has been and where that goes from here?
  • Are you talking about security clearance? Or is it —
  • Was that announced too early then? Or was the President appropriate when he announced that?
  • Well — but is there some messaging confusion there? Why can’t you come out and answer questions about it if he’s tweeting about it? Clearly, he feels comfortable speaking about it.
  • And let me just try one more time on the tweet — to Hallie’s point — “they made up a phony collusion.” Is that Democrats? Who is that? Who is he referencing?
  • Okay. And, Sarah, has anyone at the White House gotten a request from Mueller for any documents related to the investigation?
  • Over the last day, since the shooting occurred yesterday morning, there’s been a lot of talk about rhetoric and the extent that political rhetoric in this country may be fueling the kinds of incidents that happen. You saw the President — it was just referred in the first question — the President took a real, sort of, unity tone in that first statement, but he returned to the kind of divisiveness and tone that he normally does in the tweets this morning. So I guess the question is, does the White House feel like the President and the White House, more broadly, have any responsibility to adapt a kind of different tone going forward, the way that many of the members on both sides of the aisle are calling for in the last 24 hours?
  • Well, I guess, when it comes to a tweet, and not on the substance of the Russia investigation — but when you call people “bad people” and “witch hunt,” and sort of attacking — impugning motives of your adversaries, that’s the kind of rhetoric I think that people are talking about.
  • Sarah, how does he plan to do that? Does he plan to use this moment as a teachable moment and try and urge people to, beyond the speech yesterday, try and urge people to bring down the heat of the rhetoric here? Or how does he view this as his leadership moment?
  • Does he plan to do anything differently, though, in terms of give a speech solely on this or perhaps reach out to Democrats? What specifically does he plan to do different, if anything else?
  • One final thing. Does he still have confidence, or does he have confidence in the special counsel?
  • You said you didn’t know, though, if he had confidence on Air Force One, I think. Do you think he has confidence in Bob Mueller?
  • The Secret Service says that they have no recordings of the President’s conversation while he was in office. Is that case closed for this White House? Does that answer the question of whether there are tapes or not?
  • Is that then where this answer is going to come from? Because, just a few days ago, the President said he would tell America —
  • Should we expect that to happen this week? The President’s legal team said on Sunday that it would happen this week.
  • Today, the Senate passed new sanctions on Iran and then also on Russia as well. Secretary Tillerson said he felt that he didn’t want to be handcuffed by this. White House have a position?
  • Does the White House feel handcuffed, though, in terms of being able to reach out with the Senate action?
  • Why has the President decided to give Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authority to increase troop levels in Afghanistan?
  • How many more troops does the President want to see added to U.S. forces in Afghanistan?
  • Two questions. First, on executive privilege. About a week ago, you said that in order to facilitate the swift examination of the facts sought by the House Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege about Jim Comey’s testimony. Does that still hold for the Attorney General, Mr. Sessions? Does the President have any reason to invoke executive privilege or say that Mr. Sessions should not answer the questions from the Intelligence Committee?
  • Okay, thank you. Last week, Sean put out a very strong statement about the Russian crackdown of dissidents, and this won wide applause from the Russia expatriate community, Mr. Khodorkovsky and Vladimir Kara-Murza, both prominent Russian dissidents. Mr. Kara-Murza called on the President to go a step further and bring up the plight of the hundreds of Russian dissidents who have been jailed in the last few days when he meets with President Putin in Hamburg at the G20 Summit. Does he plan to bring that up?
  • Thank you. Was based on — almost within a period of days after the strong statements from the President and Secretary Tillerson about Qatar, that the United States entered into a $21 billion arms deal with Qatar, and that includes $12 billion, I believe, for fighter aircraft. Does this mean that Qatar is following the U.S. example and cutting back on its ties to those the President considered unacceptable?
  • Thanks a lot, Sarah. The President, obviously, based upon his tweets, is not pleased with the investigation that is ongoing by Robert Mueller. Does the President, Sarah, believe it’s in his power to shut down that investigation?
  • On a separate topic, can you give us a little background about the President’s visit with Congressman Scalise last night in the hospital, just beyond what we heard last night from Sean?
  • Sarah, one logistical one and one policy one. The logistical one is, while I love air conditioning, the fact that it’s running and the fact that you’re not on speaker is it would be great if we get the transcript because it’s going to be really hard to get audio off this. And the policy one is, does the President plan to nominate a Cuban ambassador, or will he leave that position vacant during his presidency?
  • Sarah, on Bob Mueller, is there anything you can tell us more about when he came in to interview for the job, what the President was looking at offering him? Was it acting FBI director? Was it actually FBI director? Why didn’t the White House tell us more about that at the time when you did announce other people who were coming in for the director job?
  • But it was a job interview?
  • And does the White House believe that that presents any kind of conflict, that sequence of events you just described? The day before he’s supposed to be the independent, outside counsel, he was meeting, presumably, with the President directly to talk about —
  • Sorry, the President wasn’t aware of —
  • So it’s not a conflict?
  • Thank you, I appreciate it. So a couple of political things. Virginia had its elections the other day. That’s the biggest — big election of this year. I’m wondering if the President would campaign for the Republican nominee for governor, or any of the nominees; if he’s spoken to Ed Gillespie, if they’ve had any conversation or any plans to do anything together.
  • And you don’t know if he would campaign for him later in the year?
  • How about next week for the final week of the Georgia election? Any other —
  • He wouldn’t do anything? Calls?
  • Two questions on healthcare. Is anything the President would be willing to see happen in the Senate bill that would make it more palatable to conservatives? Because right now, centrist Republicans seem to be pushing more in the direction that’s (inaudible) for them —
  • Specifically, is it better for them?
  • And on cost-sharing reductions, has the President made a decision yet — has the White House made a decision yet on whether it will pay the cost-sharing reduction subsidies for the month of June?
  • Who from the administration is planning on going to the baseball game tonight? And is there any other message to people that — the teams that are playing, players in the game?

 

TOWOIT #141

June 6, 2017… Day 138

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Is everything accelerating or is my head just flying apart? The White House Press Briefing lived to see another day and the reporters’ questions are after my round-up of headlines and tweets. First, here’s some of the other stuff that happened today:

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(Oh good, I’m sure this will work out well for everyone.)

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Continue reading TOWOIT #141

TOWOIT #140

June 5, 2017… Day 137

Today I was squirrelly. Trump shenanigans, plus the nourishment of Wonder Woman (which just keeps on giving as more and more people see it and join the conversation), plus too much coffee, plus a small work kerfuffle that just seemed like ONE INDIGNITY TOO MANY. So I spent the whole day on edge and exuberant but irascible. It wasn’t comfortable at all. Now it’s late and I haven’t done this blog post yet. So I will at least get started tonight.

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Continue reading TOWOIT #140

TOWOIT #136

June 1, 2017… Day 133

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Palate cleanser for this steaming shit pile of a day: Hillary Clinton was lovely this afternoon, in a warm, hour-long conversation at the Book Expo in NYC. Among many other things, she talked about her love for Nancy Drew books when she was a girl.

The disgustingly hyped and teased announcement in the Rose Garden was today. There was a band playing. I didn’t watch that garbage. 

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Meanwhile, the country continues to be racist as hell:

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A black friend of mine was working her job in a shop in downtown Seattle yesterday and a white man saw her through the window, opened the door and yelled “F___ YOU, N____ !!” Just out of the blue. Just to yell at her.

In my sister’s primarily Mexican & Filipino neighborhood in California, white supremacists from somewhere else drive through looking for Black Lives Matter signs in yards and windows. They come back again and again once a house is identified, shouting at and threatening anyone they see in the yard or driveway or porch. The people she knows who have been targeted are white like she is. She’s afraid to put up a Black Lives Matter sign because she’s the only white person in her household — and if they’ll harass and intimidate white people with BLM signs, what would they do when a dark-skinned Mexican-Filipino man is the one associated with the sign?

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And then there’s Russia, other bullshit, and a Twitter dig from none other than sweet, square Ken Jennings. 

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TOWOIT #135

May 31, 2017… Day 132

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Sean Spicer’s briefing was listed on C-Span as Audio Only. Then it had the little “Live” button next to it but when you clicked on it, it said “Program Unavailable” which is not normal.

Then there was a headline that the White House asked outlets not to broadcast it live but said it would be available at some point. That was a real departure. A few outlets broadcast it live anyway, but some of them had weird things like the Veteran Affairs guy on camera, but then it cuts to just a picture of Sean Spicer, like there’s going to be audio, but the audio is only 12 minutes of elevator music.

Then on youtube I found the briefing, which was very weird. Very weird. All questions on Russia will now be addressed to the President’s private lawyer.

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And “covfefe”? That was intentional, not a typo. This caused howling and laughing and exclamations of “WHAT??” from the reporters. They were calling out, “What does it mean?” and “What is covfefe?” and “Why did it stay up so long?”

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Most of the questions were about the Paris climate accord, but there was also a question about how Ted Nugent called for Obama to be killed and then got invited to the White House by Trump. Sean, incredibly wearily, was just like “Yeah, I don’t know anything about Ted Nugent saying that.” And then you hear April Ryan’s stern voice, “Ted Nugent did say that, Sean.” He was already moving along to the next question he wouldn’t really answer.

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Later, the briefing was removed altogether from the C-Span agenda for today, including the Veteran Affairs part of the briefing, which was weird. And then over on the White House website, a transcript of the Veteran Affairs part of the briefing was there, but it was like the Sean Spicer part of the briefing never existed.

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Maybe Christians shouldn’t be allowed to hold office. You know, until we can figure out what’s going on.

 

 

 

TOWOIT #119

May 15, 2017… Day 116

Where to begin. Where to even begin.

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Found this in a drawer today

Here’s stuff that came out before the Washington Post bombshell news alert:

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SO, here’s a ton of tweets and headlines about this thing which seems to be a bombshell (but inevitably, like always, will never be THE bombshell). Trump gave highly classified info to Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office last week. Info given to us by an ally, which they did not want Russia to have. Washington Post broke the story this afternoon. Two officials confirmed the story later for other outlets. H.R. McMaster came out on the White House lawn and barked at reporters for 90 seconds (literally 90 seconds), and then went back inside without answering a single question. I think that’s all the backstory you need.

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And before all that, these are the questions reporters asked Sean Spicer at the White House Press Briefing today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #119

TOWOIT #112

May 8, 2017… Day 109

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

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

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Red = Highest increase in Robots
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Red = Most racist places in the U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions they asked Sean Spicer today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #112

TOWOIT #105

May 1, 2017… Day 102

Glenn Thrush to Sean Spicer today:

First of all, you just described Kim Jong-un as somebody who led his country forward at an early age. The President has invited Duterte, who, as Annie pointed out, has talked about assassinating journalists. The President put out a statement after Erdogan won his referendum congratulating him. He said kind things about Putin during the campaign, said kind things about Saddam Hussein.

Does the President have a thing with these totalitarian leaders? 

May Day. Everyone in my office got out of downtown early. I’m sorry I missed the Aztec dancers, and I especially hope these kids are feeling good and empowered about their day:

I was feeling bad for not treating May Day like any other resistance event. I’ve marched for Black Lives Matter, for the catch-all women’s march, for science, for climate, for immigrants and refugees. How is this not just another in the sequence? Just because it’s entrenched in my pre-45 brain and starts to get violent as night falls, that doesn’t mean the daytime peaceful marches aren’t important.

Looking at the #MayDaySea hashtag, I’m seeing a lot of this:

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In other news, I started listening to the second season of Politically Re-active today (getting over my anger at the hosts for supporting and normalizing Jill Stein as a viable ballot option). Hari and Kamau are interviewing the social and racial justice leaders that I need to be listening to, so I’m going to pretend I don’t know what I know about 2016. We’ll see how it goes.

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You might not be able to tell from these questions, but at the press briefing today, a) there was more shouting and bids for attention from the reporters throughout the questioning, b) Sean Spicer was especially salty and curt in not allowing follow-ups, and c) as Sean left the room someone yelled “WHAT ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR??!! WHAT ABOUT THE PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS ON THE CIVIL WAR??!!” and then when the door slammed shut behind Sean Spicer, another reporter started to cackle maniacally.

  • Thank you very much. So I wanted to go back to the comments that the President made this weekend on “Face the Nation” on healthcare regarding preexisting conditions. He said specifically that the bill he wants to sign would “mandate” the preexisting conditions be covered. Can you talk us through a little bit of what he meant there? Was he referring to something he wants to push to include in the bill? Was he talking about the language that’s already in there?
  • How does he ensure, though, that those people actually are treated affordably?  I mean, there was an estimate from AARP that if you’re looking just at the high-risk pool, the premiums can be as high as over $25,000 for somebody. What is he doing to ensure that that doesn’t happen?
  • Couple things for you, Sean, if I could. First of all, what do you say to conservatives who feel like they didn’t get a whole lot out of this spending bill?  There was no money for the wall, no cuts to sanctuary cities, funding for Planned Parenthood was maintained. What do you say to those conservatives?
  • But clearly, he did give up on some things.
  • And the other — I had, on the pending visit of Duterte from the Philippines.  Chris Coons said that the President is giving his stamp of approval to human rights abuses. Governor John Sununu, on the other hand, said this is part of the unpleasant things that Presidents have to do. What’s the White House’s perspective on Duterte and him coming here?
  • I wanted to ask you about the tax deductions. The White House has talked a little bit about that as a way to curb big tax breaks for the rich. Are you looking at any other policy changes when it comes to limiting breaks for the top 1 percent?
  • On healthcare, there seems to be a new optimism from the White House. How confident is the President that he will get a healthcare bill past the House this week?
  • On North Korea, today the President told Bloomberg he was open to meeting with Kim Jong-un if the conditions were right. How does the President define the right condition to have this meeting?
  • Thanks, Sean. Picking up on healthcare, it’s believed possibly that you might be down — Republicans might be down to maybe just a handful of votes away.  Here we are at 2:00 p.m. Monday afternoon. Is this the closest that you think you’ve gotten? I know you don’t want to talk about timelines, but is this as close to maybe getting to that magic 216 number that you’ve talked about?
  • Dodd-Frank — the President just gave an interview in which he said, “I am looking at that right now.” He goes on to say “There’s some people that want to go back to the old system, right, so we’re going to look at that,” meaning potentially breaking up the banks. So breaking up the banks, going back to Glass-Steagall, is that something that he’s just looking at, or is that something that is a preference of his at this point?
  • Thanks, Sean. So you’re saying that you’re not confident that the votes are lined up behind the healthcare bill. So this morning when Gary Cohn said that the bill was ready to be brought to the floor, did Gary Cohn misspeak?
  • Thanks, Sean. The President on the campaign trail raised alarm about federal debt and deficits. His spending bill get us through the end of the fiscal year doesn’t include any of the offsets really that the President requested in this year’s budget. Is the President — will the President sign this agreement that does increase the federal deficit?
  • He called for keeping that balance, essentially keeping —
  • On President Duterte, he made comments when asked about press freedom, he said that journalists are not exempt from assassination. Did the President know about those comments and about his record on human rights when he extended the invitation for him to visit the White House?
  • I wanted to ask you about the future of Sebastian Gorka. Can you tell us why he’s leaving the White House?
  • Thank you, Sean. I have a healthcare and Israel question. On healthcare, when the President talks about a guarantee for preexisting conditions, current law says insurance companies have to sell to people with preexisting conditions, and they can’t charge them more than someone else in that area. Is that the guarantee that the President wants?
  • Right, but people with preexisting conditions would continue to get access but not at the same price as other people.
  • Right. But high-risk pools could still charge them much more.
  • The President turned to Bibi Netanyahu at that press conference and famously said, settlements are not helpful. Israel is going to build 15,000 new homes in East Jerusalem. Does he think that Netanyahu is snubbing him?
  • Is he aware of that?
  • Thank you, Sean. I wanted to ask about some news the President made this morning in an interview that he conducted with Bloomberg. In that interview, he talked about the possibility of raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure spending. Of course, the President has put forward the idea of a trillion-dollar infrastructure spending plan. Can you talk a little bit more about this possibility of raising gas taxes?
  • As it relates to this idea that the gas tax in America hasn’t been raised for some time, what makes the President believe that now is the time that Republicans who have been opposed to this idea would be open to this idea?
  • You have not foreclosed this possibility of raising —
  • I have two questions, one foreign policy and one on domestic politics. First, last Wednesday, the Kremlin outlawed the Open Russia movement, the premier opposition group to the ruling regime in Russia. And the following day, security forces were forcibly closing down Open Russia’s office in Moscow and other places. Does the administration have a statement on this?
  • All right. My second question is, on Sunday, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a 14-term veteran of the House, past Chairman of the House, foreign affairs committee, announced her retirement. Her statement comes on the heels of a similar announcement by Congressman Chaffetz, and before that, only a few weeks ago, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas. That’s three respected Republican House members all calling it quits. Is the President concerned about the number of Republican House members who do not want to be on the ballot next time and are leaving Congress?
  • Sean, the President opted not to continue Obama’s tradition of holding an Easter prayer breakfast, but he is holding a National Day of Prayer event. Was that a scheduling issue, or did he think — what was the thought process there?
  • Thanks, Sean. Back to Glass-Steagall for a second. As you can imagine, the President’s comments today are getting a lot of attention on Wall Street, so can we be just very clear about this — does the President favor breaking up the big banks?
  • — take any steps toward that behind the scenes that we’re not aware of?
  •  Thanks, Sean. So the lack of border wall funding raises a question of just how serious the President is about getting the border wall constructed. Is it not urgent? Is it not an emergency anymore to build this barrier? What is the timetable and deadline that he has in mind?
  • So it will be built. Is there a time certain? Is there a deadline by the 2018? By?

  • Coming back to North Korea, the President didn’t just say he would be open to meeting with Kim Jong-un under the right circumstances.  He said he would be “honored” to meet with him. This is somebody who has starved his own people, somebody who has threatened to destroy the United States. Just last week he put out a video showing the Capitol getting destroyed by North Korea fighters. How could he be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong-un?
  • How could that be an honor?
  • What did he mean when he called him one smart cookie or a pretty smart cookie?

  • Sean, on North Korea and then on Philippines.  On North Korea, both of the President’s comment on Kim Jong-un and what Secretary Tillerson said, you seem to be making the offer that we could have direct talks with North Korea.  Who is going to be leading those?
  • Is that the White House?
  • But who would lead that? Is that the White House or the State Department?
  • And on the Philippines, when you have been asked about President Duterte and his human rights record, you continue to say the effort here is to isolate the Philippines from the North Korea, part of this coalition to isolate North Korea.
  • Are you suggesting that the Philippines has some sort of inappropriate contact with North Korea? Are you suggesting that we are requesting greater access perhaps to their military bases? What is it exactly —
  • Are you suggesting now that they are trading or conducting some kind of financial transactions —
  • When you say economic piece, that’s what I just want to clarify —
  • Sean, two quick, related questions. First of all, you just described Kim Jong-un as somebody who led his country forward at an early age. The President has invited Duterte, who, as Annie pointed out, has talked about assassinating journalists. The President put out a statement after Erdogan won his referendum congratulating him. He said kind things about Putin during the campaign, said kind things about Saddam Hussein. Does the President have a thing with these totalitarian leaders? Does he admire something about the way these guys conduct themselves?
  • What about this whole package —
  • One follow-up question. On Sunday, Chief of Staff Priebus, talking to this gentleman right here, said, with respect to the libel laws and the First Amendment, talking about news outlets that printed false articles, “I think it’s something that we’ve looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story.” Is that a project that is currently being worked on by the counsel’s office? Can you just tell me the status of that? Who is pursuing that?
  • Is the counsel actually investigating this?
  • Sean, two questions. One on — just to clarify on North Korea, were those conditions that you laid out to the earlier question, are those the conditions that would have to be met before there was any meeting — i.e. that North Korea would have to agree to totally disarm its nuclear program, stop threatening their neighbors? Are those the conditions?
  • Sean, on a separate subject. The chief executives of United Airlines will be on the Hill tomorrow. Is the President at all — does the President think that Congress should pass any laws after the incident last month where the passenger was dragged off? Should there be some — should there be more done to protect passengers on airplanes from those type of incidents?
  • Thanks. I just want to ask you to clarify something else the President said. He said, “I don’t stand by anything.” How is the American public supposed to digest that, supposed to trust what the President says when he himself says of his own comments “I don’t stand by anything”?
  • Just in this CBS interview with John Dickerson in the Oval Office.
  • About wiretapping.
  • It was about wiretapping. He was asked to — if he still believes President Obama is a bad or evil guy, do you still stand by those comments, and the President said “I don’t stand by anything.”  
  • Sean, I have two questions on the Philippines. First, is President Trump comfortable with the leader’s support of extrajudicial killings of drug users in the country?
  • But what —
  • Sean, I have a second question, if you don’t mind.
  • Looking at — there are three open patents with the Philippines government, one from Trump trying to get the Trump patented to — from Ivanka Trump for her clothing line. How do you respond to concerns about potential conflicts of interest with the leader of the Philippines?
  •  I just want to clarify something you said to Zeke. Is there a possibility that the President would not sign this spending agreement?
  • Are you still on track to issue the full fiscal year ’18 budget? Is it mid-May, or do you have a date for that?
  • Thanks, Sean. Just wanted to first ask what your expectation and what’s your hope for the meeting with President Abbas on Wednesday? And secondly, is the President still considering moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and will that be discussed?
  • Abbas.
  • The first question is your expectations going forward. What’s the hope from this.
  • Sean, quick follow-up on infrastructure. The President has been talking about a major infrastructure package for more than a year and in the campaign, but it doesn’t seem very clear right now what the mechanism is for the construction of whatever it is that he wants to push forward. He talked about maybe attaching it to the reconciliation package for healthcare. He talked about maybe doing that with the tax package. Can you update us on — is that still very preliminary in its invention? Does he have clear ideas? And what’s the mechanism and timing to get that done?
  • This year?

 

 

 

 

 

TOWOIT #101

April 27… Day 98

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Questions they asked Sean Spicer today:

  • Sean, what changes in NAFTA does the President hope to achieve through renegotiation?
  • Thanks, Sean. As you know, under both the Reagan and Bush administrations, concerns about tax cuts-fueled deficits were dismissed with promises of growth, and we’re hearing that same sort of rhetoric now. The deficit increased a great deal under both those administrations after the tax cuts. What’s different about the President’s plan that won’t lead to the same sort of ballooning of the deficit?
  • Thanks a lot, Sean. You may have seen the news about the Office of the Inspector General announcing that it’s launched an investigation into the payment that the former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn received prior to becoming the National Security Advisor from RT — Russia Today — which is an entity of the Russian government. What’s your reaction to that, first of all?
  • Are you satisfied with the vetting that was done of General Flynn by the transition team before he came on board as the National Security Advisor?
  • If he wasn’t fired by the President for lying to the Vice President, would he still have a job today, right here at the White House?
  • Given the progress that congressional Republicans have made on the healthcare talks, does the President want a vote on that bill this week?
  • If there’s no vote, does that mean the President won’t be disappointed?
  • Thanks, Sean. The President’s tax plan, we’re getting a little bit of mixed signals here on exactly what his vision is in terms of retirement savings. Can you lay out what the President’s vision is for 401{k}s, and particularly tax deductions surrounding those?  Does the President imagine removing those deductions entirely along with the other deductions, or is he going to protect those?
  • These tax deductions, though, of course, comes with its own group, its own lobby, its own interest group.
  • They fight very hard for these things. Are you guys prepared for a battle on all those tax deductions, eliminating all of those?  I mean, politically, that’s a big lift.
  • Just one more. Gary Cohn told us the retirement savings was protected.
  • Two on General Flynn. First, you said the Obama administration had reissued his clearance last year?
  • So is the implication there that should be taken that if the Trump administration was the one adjudicating his clearance, this year he would not have been issued that clearance, now that the White House knows everything that there is about General Flynn?
  • You’re not implying wrongdoing in the part of —
  • Finally, when you were here on February 14th, the morning after General Flynn was fired by the President, you said that the President asked him to leave the White House — the situation regarding the phone call with the Russian ambassador and the Vice President. But also “a series of other questionable instances.” I was hoping now you can provide some more information now that more — some of his financial dealings, in particular, now have come to light. Is that what led to his termination at the White House?
  • Not this —
  • To follow on a couple of things that have been brought up to you today. John’s question — not the process, but your own vet, meaning the transition — are you satisfied that that met the standard that should have been met with Michael Flynn? And then if there are any regrets that this White House has about bringing him in, knowing what you know about him now and seeing a behavior that would be plainly inconsistent with the standard that candidate Trump set during the campaign?
  • But that’s not the only question you asked Michael Flynn — it couldn’t possibly be the only you asked him.
  • As you just said to Zeke, it was not just the episode with the Russian ambassador, it was other instances. Those things have come to light. Any regret about bringing him in —
  • — to have this done and knowing what you know now did you miss something and you regret Michael Flynn in?
  • He regrets bringing him in?
  • On the question about — Gary Cohn and the Treasury Secretary left us with the implication yesterday when asked about retirement savings that they were protected. What you just said has indicated they might not be. Can you help us understand?

  • So General Flynn came in with just the Obama administration vetting, is that right, Sean?
  • Because that’s the impression you’re giving.
  • General Flynn came in and he walked through the door with just the clearance that was conducted by the Obama administration? That doesn’t make any sense.
  • I’m not the National Security Advisor. 
  • It’s a serious question.
  • And when Congressman Cummings accuses this White House of a cover-up, you say what?

  • Are there no other documents that you have at this point that could be turned over to this committee that would be relevant to this investigation?
  • Thank you. Two questions. One, does the President still feel that Mike Flynn should seek immunity?
  • But does the President?
  • And secondly, the President said he wants to start renegotiating NAFTA as soon as today. Has he notified Congress about that yet?
  • The President tweeted this morning about Puerto Rico — begin to default on their debt May 1st, pending some kind of solution.  There are millions of investors in the United States — senior citizens — who may not be aware that they hold funds within muni-bond mutual funds that expose them to a default in Puerto Rico. Is there anything the White House should do or the administration can do, one, to safeguard those senior citizens and their investments; and two, to prevent an increase in cost to states and municipalities that may have to pay more to borrow when they access the munibond market if Puerto Rico defaults?
  • I understand that the CR is different.  But if Puerto Rico defaults with or without the CR — is the administration working with Puerto Rico?
  • As the tax plan evolves and we start to get details, do you believe it is a fair question for anyone to ask how that plan personally affects the President and his family?
  • But is it a fair question to ask?
  • if middle-income Americans should feel empowered to ask how this plan affects them, why is it that Secretary Mnuchin today could not guarantee that no one in the middle class would pay more under this proposal?
  • So there is a guarantee from the White House? That’s the position of the White House right now — that middle-class American should not —