Reporter’s notes: White House Press Briefing 2/27/18

Politics, US News, White House Press Briefings



These are the summarized notes from the White House Press Briefing held by Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. To view the complete briefing and see the full transcript of this briefing, go HERE. The original transcript contains over 4,500 words the summary below is under 1,600.

Notes from the briefing

Officially announced the new Chairman of Board of Advisors for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.,  former president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and is currently CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. This announcement along with previous executive action continues to demonstrate his commitment to HBCUs.

Senator Schumer’s tactics have led to 73 fewer confirmations than the next closest administration.  Half of President Trump’s nominees are still waiting for confirmation in the Senate. The obstruction is so out of control, even some Senate Democrats believe it is inappropriate.  Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said, “I don’t believe we should be holding nominees hostage…Enough is enough.  We need people who are qualified to fill these important positions in our government.” White House will be highlighting specific, qualified nominees who are, as the Senator said, being held hostage by Senator Schumer. Take, for instance, Ric Grenell, the President’s nominee to serve as Ambassador to Germany.  Mr. Grenell, a Harvard-educated, experienced diplomat, was the llongest-servingU.S. spokesperson at the United Nations.  He was nominated in September of last year.  He was reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with bipartisan support.  He is waiting to represent America’s interests and be our country’s top voice in a G7 country.

11-year-old Natalie Dalton, who offered to cook for president, and her 8-year-old cousin Celia, will be coming to the White House on March 23rd to work with the White House kitchen staff.

Q    Sarah, Admiral Mike Rogers, the head of the NSA, said that he has not been granted any additional authority by the President to confront Russia — Russian cyber intrusion, interference with our election systems.  Why has he not been given that authority?

MS. SANDERS:  $40 million is being given to the Global Engagement Center to begin providing immediate support to private and public partners that expose and counter Russian and Chinese propaganda and disinformation.  The Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, met with a number of both state, local, and federal officials working on ways that we can best prevent things like this in the future.  Nobody is denying him the authority.  This President has been much tougher on Russia than his predecessor.  Let’s not forget that this happened under Obama.  It didn’t happen under President Trump.  If you want to blame somebody on past problems, then you need to look at the Obama administration.

Q    Does the President or the White House supports a cap to lower the cost of credit waivers (for renewable fuels)?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President knows that there are a lot of differing views on this issue.  We’re going to continue having conversations.  He met, today, with Senator Cruz, Ernst, Grassley, and Toomey to discuss this and to continue that conversation.  They had a productive meeting, and we’re going to continue working with not only those members but others as we go through this process.

Q    Two questions, different topics.  If I could return to something that we talked about yesterday: the President’s support to raise the minimum age of buying a long gun from 18 to 21.  He expressed support for that idea in a tweet last Thursday.  He talked about it with the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  He didn’t mention it at CPAC.  He didn’t mention with the governors.

MS. SANDERS: The President still supports raising the age limit to 21 for the purchase of certain firearms.  We’re meeting with bipartisan members of Congress tomorrow.  We expect that to be a topic of discussion tomorrow.

Q    Jeff Sessions confirmed that he is going to open an investigation into FISA abuses during the election. Is the President happy now that Sessions is opening this investigation?

MS. SANDERS:  I haven’t spoken with him about it to determine his feelings.  But as you said, it’s something that he’s clearly had frustration over, so I would imagine he certainly supports the decision to look into what we feel to be some wrongdoing.  I think that’s the role of the Department of Justice, and we’re glad that they’re fulfilling that job.

Q    Admiral Rogers.  He said today, we are not where we need to be or want to be on cyber.  Does the White House, does the President plan to hold a National Security Council session to discuss, specifically, these concerns about having a menu of options to respond to a cyberattack, and one specifically in relation to Russia?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t know that a date is set (for a meeting).  There are constant conversations going on within the administration on this topic.

Q    Thank you very much.  House Speaker Ryan, today, disagreed with the President on arming teachers.  He says he thinks it should be up to the locals whether teachers should be armed.  What is the President’s response to not having support from the Republican leader of the House?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, as we’ve said, this is something that will continue to be part of the discussion with state, federal, and local officials as well as law enforcement.  The President is going to be meeting with bipartisan lawmakers tomorrow, and that will be another one of those topics discussed, and we’ll have further specific policy announcements later this week.

Q    Yes, Sarah.  Today, the White House announced that it’s cutting about $8 million in aid to Cambodia for what it calls, “Recent setbacks in democracy there.”  Can you talk a little bit about what went into this decision, and why, specifically, just Cambodia, and not other countries where there have also been recent setbacks to democracy, such as neighboring Thailand?

MS. SANDERS:  The elections that happened earlier this month failed to represent the genuine will of the Cambodian people.  That gave us great cause for concern.  These setbacks compelled the United States to review that assistance.  Based on the review, the government will suspend or curtail several assistance programs intended to support the Cambodian government.  I don’t have anything further at this point.

Q    Okay.  Second question.  The President is having several meetings, as you mentioned, with lawmakers of both parties this week on other topics.  Is he going to be talking to them about immigration?  His deadline that he set, March 5th, is next Monday.  Congress is nowhere near doing anything about that.  Is that still the deadline?  Is he encouraging them to get something done?

MS. SANDERS:  Absolutely, he’s encouraging them to get something done.  That’s why he laid out exactly what he expected to see in a proposal that would not only help solve the DACA problem, but also provide border security.  The President went above and beyond what previous administrations have done and offered on that program. The President is still hopeful, and we’re going to continue pushing forward and hope we get something done. President hopes that something happens on this and that Congress will actually do its job.

Q    Reverend Billy Graham’s funeral is this Friday.  We know the President will attend.  Has it been determined whether he’ll make any remarks, any eulogies?  Or will he be just there as a mourner and family friend?

MS. SANDERS:  He plans to attend there, as well as to head to the Capitol tomorrow for that stop.  But in terms of specific remarks, I don’t have any comment on that at this point.

Q    The President’s two immediate predecessors did a lot to build and expand the faith-based programs within the White House and throughout the executive branch of government.  Many governors followed that example; one of them your father.  It has been said that this President has not followed through on that; that there is no faith-based office within the White House now.  Your reaction?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, I don’t think an office is what determines the faith of the administration.  I think that we have a number of people. I think that’s something that the President has a faith council and a advisory council that regularly come to the White House and meet with.  But I think in terms of whether or not you have an office doesn’t determine the faith of the administration.  I think we probably have, actually, more people, front and center, speaking openly about their faith and advocating, and helping build on that foundation than probably any previous administration has.

Q    Will the White House will have a specific list that would be detailed, or an outline of the specific policies that the President would like to see in legislation on gun control, gun violence prevention this week?

MS. SANDERS:  Specific to school safety, yes, we expect that there will be some policy proposals that will be out by the end of the week.  As I’ve noted a couple yesterday, that the President has already voiced, and the administration has voiced, support for both the Cornyn legislation as well as the STOP Gun Violence Act [STOP School Violence Act].  Both are pieces of legislation that the administration supports.

Q    Does the President support the idea of universal background checks?  And would he be willing to support Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey’s legislation on that?

MS. SANDERS:  At this time, the President — the only two specific pieces of legislation that we are announcing support for are the two that I just mentioned.  Anything further will come later this week.

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