Updated: 2 min 28 sec ago

Statement from the Press Secretary on the Visit of Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon

1 hour 1 min ago

President Donald J. Trump will host Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the White House on July 25. The two leaders will discuss issues of mutual concern, including the fight against terrorism, the economy, and refugees. This meeting will serve as an important opportunity to strengthen the bilateral relationship and will encourage other international and regional partners to support Lebanon as it faces a wide range of challenges.

Remarks by the Vice President and Secretary Price at a Roundtable Discussion on Healthcare

3 hours 27 min ago

The Vice President’s Ceremonial Office

1:11 P.M. EDT

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  On behalf of the President, welcome to the White House.

I’m truly honored to be able to welcome organizations that literally represent millions of Americans and millions of businesses back here to the White House at such a critical time in our efforts to rescue the American people from the disastrous policies of Obamacare. 

I’m grateful to be joined by groups ranging from the Chamber of Commerce and NFIB, to Concerned Women for America, the National Taxpayers Union, American Conservative Union, Club for Growth and the like.  But thank you to each and every one of you for the way your organizations have stepped forward to make the case to the American people that we can repeal and replace Obamacare with policies that are built on freedom, that are built on state-based reform, and that will give the American people access to the world-class healthcare that they need and deserve.

As we gather today, we are just a few days away from a critical vote in the Congress, a vote to begin the debate on the repeal and replace of Obamacare.  And President Trump and I are urging every member of the United States Senate to vote to begin this debate.

Every one of the groups that are gathered here today -- the millions that you represent -- are here to speak with one voice to say to the Congress:  It’s time to vote.  It’s time to act.   It’s time to get on with a debate to repeal and replace Obamacare.

As President Trump said when members of the Senate gathered here at the White House just a few short days ago, inaction is not an option.  And frankly, as the President said, any senator who doesn't vote to begin the debate is essentially telling the American people that they're fine with Obamacare.

And that's just not acceptable because we all know the truth.  Obamacare is collapsing all across the country as we speak.  It’s putting a burden on working families and American taxpayers and job creators all across this nation.

We all remember the broken promises of Obamacare.  I have Dr. Price here.  He and I were both members of Congress when the debate over Obamacare happened in the Congress seven years ago.  I can still hear those promises ringing in my ears, can't you?  If you like your doctor, you can keep them -- not true.  If you liked your health insurance, you can keep it -- not true.  The cost of health insurance would go down if Obamacare passed -- not true.

We all know the facts.  Even though we were promised that families would save $2,500 a year in premiums if Obamacare became law, according to our analysis at HHS, the average Obamacare plan today costs nearly $3,000 more than a plan did as recently as 2013.  While premiums are soaring, choices are plummeting.  Next year at least 40 percent of American counties, including nine entire states, will have only one choice of a health insurance provider, which is essentially no choice at all.  And in many jurisdictions around the country, there’s not even one choice.  So the time has come for Congress to act.

The President and I are truly grateful to the organizations represented around here for lending your voices -- voices for working families, voices for businesses large and small -- to our effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.  And we just urge you in the days that remain between now and this vote early next week to reach out to people across this country and let them know that we're close.  We literally are just a few votes away from beginning a debate that will repeal and replace Obamacare in the United States Senate.

Congress needs to step up.  Congress needs to do their job.  And every member of the United States Senate should vote to begin the debate to rescue the American people from the disastrous policy of Obamacare, and we're grateful for your support.

With that, I want to recognize the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price, for this thoughts on this moment.

And let me just say this is a historic moment.  For seven years, the American people have seen the broken promises of Obamacare, and we are just days away and a few short moments and just a few votes away from being able to keep a promise that every Republican in the Senate, every Republican in the House has made to the American people.

And our message today, our message to each one of you and the groups that you represent is make sure the American people know that it’s time for Congress to act.  And it’s time for the American people to let their voice be heard.  There is no voice more powerful in Washington, D.C. than the voice of the American people.  


SECRETARY PRICE:  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  You’re right, it is an historic moment.  This is an historic room, and this an historic time for the American people and for your organizations.

I just want to thank you -- lend my echoing words of the Vice President -- but to thank each and every one of you for the productive and positive discussion and action that you have brought about over the past number of months.  Time is of the essence.  The fact is that the American people deserve and demand that Washington addresses their problems and their challenges, and this is a challenge that is not unknown to anybody who has been paying attention at all.  And that is that the American people desire that healthcare be in the hands of people, in the hands of patients and their families and doctors -- not in the hands of Washington, D.C.  That’s what this is all about.

There are decisions that will be made over the next few weeks in states all across this land about what 2018 looks like from an insurance standpoint, and the decision that is made in the next few days in this town will dictate and determine what those decisions will be.  So as people are wont to say, this problem demands an act of Congress, and so it’s an act of Congress that must happen.  And we, once again, just can’t thank you all enough for being that positive and productive influence on this discussion and this debate.

Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Tom.  Let’s send a very clear message in the days ahead that the beginning of the end of Obamacare is when Congress votes to start the debate on a bill that will repeal and replace this disastrous policy.

Early next week, every Republican in the Senate will be called upon to vote to begin the debate, and we urge each and every one of you on all the platforms that you have and all the millions of Americans that you reach to make sure every American knows that every Republican in the Senate should vote to begin the debate.  Because once we begin the debate, the President and I are confident, working with all of you, working with the majority in the United States Senate that we will pass legislation out of the Senate, we will move this legislation forward, and we will rescue the American people from the disaster of Obamacare.  

So let’s go to work.  Thank you all very much.

1:19 P.M. EDT

Presidential Executive Order on Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States

4 hours 7 min ago


- - - - - - - 


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  A healthy manufacturing and defense industrial base and resilient supply chains are essential to the economic strength and national security of the United States.  The ability of the United States to maintain readiness, and to surge in response to an emergency, directly relates to the capacity, capabilities, and resiliency of our manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains.  Modern supply chains, however, are often long and the ability of the United States to manufacture or obtain goods critical to national security could be hampered by an inability to obtain various essential components, which themselves may not be directly related to national security.  Thus, the United States must maintain a manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains capable of manufacturing or supplying those items.

The loss of more than 60,000 American factories, key companies, and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 threatens to undermine the capacity and capabilities of United States manufacturers to meet national defense requirements and raises concerns about the health of the manufacturing and defense industrial base.  The loss of additional companies, factories, or elements of supply chains could impair domestic capacity to create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore capabilities essential for national security.

As the manufacturing capacity and defense industrial base of the United States have been weakened by the loss of factories and manufacturing jobs, so too have workforce skills important to national defense.  This creates a need for strategic and swift action in creating education and workforce development programs and policies that support job growth in manufacturing and the defense industrial base.

Strategic support for a vibrant domestic manufacturing sector, a vibrant defense industrial base, and resilient supply chains is therefore a significant national priority.  A comprehensive evaluation of the defense industrial base and supply chains, with input from multiple executive departments and agencies (agencies), will provide a necessary assessment of our current strengths and weaknesses.

Sec. 2.  Assessment of the Manufacturing Capacity, Defense Industrial Base, and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States.  Within 270 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, Energy, and Homeland Security, and in consultation with the Secretaries of the Interior and Health and Human Services, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of National Intelligence, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the heads of such other agencies as the Secretary of Defense deems appropriate, shall provide to the President an unclassified report, with a classified annex as needed, that builds on current assessment and evaluation activities, and:

(a)  identifies the military and civilian materiel, raw materials, and other goods that are essential to national security;

(b)  identifies the manufacturing capabilities essential to producing the goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, including emerging capabilities;

(c)  identifies the defense, intelligence, homeland, economic, natural, geopolitical, or other contingencies that may  disrupt, strain, compromise, or eliminate the supply chains of goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section (including as a result of the elimination of, or failure to develop domestically, the capabilities identified pursuant to subsection (b) of this section) and that are sufficiently likely to arise so as to require reasonable preparation for their occurrence;

(d)  assesses the resiliency and capacity of the manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains of the United States to support national security needs upon the occurrence of the contingencies identified pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, including an assessment of:

(i)    the manufacturing capacity of the United States and the physical plant capacity of the defense industrial base, including their ability to modernize to meet future needs;

(ii)   gaps in national-security-related domestic manufacturing capabilities, including non-existent, extinct, threatened, and single-point-of-failure capabilities;

(iii)  supply chains with single points of failure or limited resiliency, especially at suppliers third-tier and lower;

(iv)   energy consumption and opportunities to increase resiliency through better energy management;

(v)    current domestic education and manufacturing workforce skills;

(vi)   exclusive or dominant supply of the goods (or components thereof) identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section by or through nations that are or are likely to become unfriendly or unstable; and

(vii)  the availability of substitutes for or alternative sources for the goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section;

(e)  identifies the causes of any aspect of the defense industrial base or national-security-related supply chains assessed as deficient pursuant to subsection (d) of this section; and

(f)  recommends such legislative, regulatory, and policy changes and other actions by the President or the heads of agencies as they deem appropriate based upon a reasoned assessment that the benefits outweigh the costs (broadly defined to include any economic, strategic, and national security benefits or costs) over the short, medium, and long run to:

(i)    avoid, or prepare for, any contingencies identified pursuant to subsection (c) of this section;

(ii)   ameliorate any aspect of the defense industrial base or national-security-related supply chains assessed as deficient pursuant to subsection (d) of this section; and

(iii)  strengthen the United States manufacturing capacity and defense industrial base and increase the resiliency of supply chains critical to national security.

Sec. 3.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


July 21, 2017.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration

22 hours 32 min ago

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

John R. Bass of New York to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.  Mr. Bass, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1988.  He is currently Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, a position he has held since 2014.  He also served as Ambassador to the Republic of Georgia from 2009 to 2012.  Mr. Bass has spent much of the past decade supporting Federal Government efforts to mobilize allies and marshal resources to combat terrorism and instability in Iraq, Syria, and Southwest Asia.  He has served at six U.S. Missions overseas and in senior leadership positions at the Department of State.  Mr. Bass earned an A.B., cum laude, from Syracuse University. 

Michael James Dodman of New York to be the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.  Mr. Dodman, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is currently Executive Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment at the Department of State.  A career diplomat since 1987, Mr. Dodman’s previous assignments include Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, Pakistan; Economic Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the European Union; and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.  Mr. Dodman received a B.S. from Georgetown University, an M.A. from Boston University, and an M.P.P. from Princeton University.

C. J. Mahoney of Kansas to be Deputy United States Trade Representative, Investment, Services, Labor, Environment, Africa, China, and the Western Hemisphere, with the Rank of Ambassador. Mr. Mahoney is a partner at Williams & Connolly LLP where his practice focuses on international disputes and arbitration.  Prior to joining Williams & Connolly, Mr. Mahoney clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for Judge Alex Kozinski and at the Supreme Court of the United States for Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.  A native of Russell, Kansas, Mr. Mahoney holds an A.B. in Government from Harvard College and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal.  Mr. Mahoney also serves as a Visiting Clinical Lecturer at Yale Law School, teaching a course on international arbitration.

Michele Jeanne Sison of Maryland to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Haiti.  Ms. Sison, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, has served as an American diplomat since 1982.  She currently serves as Deputy Permanent Representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, a position she has held since 2014.  A three-time Ambassador, Ms. Sison has been a leader, policymaker, and manager of complex programs in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and in Washington, D.C.  She has served at eleven U.S. Missions overseas and in senior leadership positions at the Department of State.  Ms. Sison earned a B.A. from Wellesley College.  She speaks fluent French and basic Haitian Creole and Arabic.


President Donald J. Trump Announces Intended Appointments to the Federal Service Impasses Panel

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to appoint the following individuals as members of the Federal Service Impasses Panel:

  • Mark Anthony Carter of West Virginia, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring January 10, 2022.
  • Andrea Fischer Newman of Michigan, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring January 10, 2022.
  • David R. Osborne of Pennsylvania, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring January 10, 2020.
  • Karen Czarnecki of Virginia, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring January 10, 2020.
  • Donald Todd of Washington, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring January 10, 2019.
  • Jonathan Riches of Arizona, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring January 10, 2019.
  • Vincent Vernuccio of Michigan, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring January 10, 2019.

Three Nominations Sent to the Senate Today

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 23:49


Bart M. Davis, of Idaho, to be United States Attorney for the District of Idaho for the term of four years, vice Wendy J. Olson, resigned.

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., of Utah, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation.

Joshua J. Minkler, of Indiana, to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana for the term of four years, vice Joseph H. Hogsett, resigned.

Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, 7/20/2017

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 23:15

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:27 P.M. EDT

MR. SANDERS:  Good afternoon.  Before we get into the briefing today, I wanted to reiterate the President's statement from last night and say that the thoughts and prayers of the entire administration are with Senator John McCain, his wife Cindy, and their entire family.  

As the President said, throughout his life, a distinguished career in public service, Senator McCain has always been a fighter, and we know that he will bring that unflappable spirit to his latest challenge.

This morning, the Office of Management and Budget released the first unified agenda update of the Trump administration, which shows that we are blowing away our initial one in and two out goal for regulatory reform.

And with that, I'd like to bring out Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, to talk more about the administration's war on waste, and how it's helping our economy grow.  

Also, as a few of you may know, tomorrow is the Director's birthday.  While I don’t want to insult him by getting into too many specifics, I can tell you that the CBO estimates that this will be his 75th birthday.  But actually -- (laughter) -- took a couple of you a little longer to pick up on that.  But actually, it's just the last day he can answer questions as a man in his forties.  So please do a favor and speak really loudly so you can make sure that he can hear you.

And with that, Director Mulvaney.

MR. MULVANEY:  Thank you.  That's absolutely lovely.  Thank you.

Q    Before you begin, Director, the visual aids, is it still off-camera given that you guys have this?  I just had to ask.


MR. MULVANEY:  Good.  I'm glad we got that out of the way.  Yes, happy birthday to me.  This is a great way to spend my birthday.  We actually started a Twitter account this morning for the sole purpose of getting into a Twitter war with my good friend, Congressman Gowdy, who tweeted out this morning that he thought I had turned 50 a long time ago.  I tweeted back that he had two deep, dark secrets; one of which was that he's a lot older than I am -- which is true -- and also that he needs help counting to 50 -- which is also true.  

I'm going to talk a little bit about MAGAnomics, talk a little bit about what used to be called the unified agenda, which is a terrible name.  And we'll talk about that in a second, and then take your questions.

Thirty-five years ago, the situation the country was in had some similarities to where we were as we ended the Obama administration.  Things were kind of rough.  I was in the homebuilding business.  My dad was; I was only 13 at the time.  And I remember what it was like.  We had stagflation, we had malaise, we had all these challenges that the country faced economically.  

And in response to that, Ronald Reagan came out with Reaganomics -- a term, by the way, that I'm not even sure he created.  I think his opposition used that as a derogatory term to begin with, but it came to be associated with his presidency.  

And I think if we look back on it, we know what its basic, fundamental tenets were.  It was a monetary policy to fix inflation, tax cuts, spending restraints, and a little bit of regulatory relief.  

Fast-forward to where we are today, here we are.  It's been more than 10 years since our last year of a really healthy American economy, which we define as greater than 3 percent -- or 3 percent growth.  And we think it's time for the next iteration of that, the next plan.  And that is what we've put together as MAGAnomics.  It's supposed to be this unifying theme of just about everything that we do.  

You all have seen me up here before, when we walk through the budget.  You say, "Mulvaney, why are you doing this?  Why are you doing that?"  And I talked about the importance of getting back to 3 percent growth.

I talked about the historical importance of that, the historical achievability of that -- about how if you're 30 years old in this country, you've never had a job during your adult lifetime, in a healthy American economy, and you think that 1.9 or 2.1 or 2.5 percent growth is typical, and it doesn’t have to be.  It's not.  

I remember in the mid-1990s, when I had my first real job -- if I had been fired, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal because I knew I could go find something else, because you could do that in a healthy economy.  I actually ended up quitting my job so that I could start my own business, because you know you can do that in a healthy economy.

It's been a long time since we've been there.  And our fear is that if we don’t get back there quickly, there will be people who never know what 3 percent means.  There will be people who have forgotten what 3 percent can be like.  And I don’t think it should come as a surprise that there are some people who don’t want you to remember what 3 percent growth would be like, because it would be a tremendous sort of damnation of what happened in the previous administration.

So, what is MAGAnomics?  It is tax reform.  It is, what we're calling the "regulatory accountability project" -- regulatory accountability project.  It's longer, but it's at least a little bit more descriptive than "unified agenda."  Took me about six months here to figure out what the unified agenda was.  And they told me, and I said, what is it really?  And they said, well, it's a way to bring to some accountability to regulations.  I said, great, it's now the regulatory accountability project.

Energy dominance is part of this.  Welfare reform is part of this.  Infrastructure is part of this.  Our trade policies is part of this.  Even the spending restraint that we tried to introduce in the budget is part of this.  All of those things are designed towards one common end, and that is 3 percent sustained economic growth in this country again.  We've done it before.  In fact, we've always done it.  The last 10 years was the first time we have not been able to do it, I think, ever.  We can do it again.  We absolutely fully believe that.  

And I want to talk a little bit today about one piece of that, which is our deregulatory agenda.  The regulatory accountability project -- used to be called the unified agenda -- released -- last night?  Today?

MR. CZWARTACKI:  This morning.

MR. MULVANEY:  This morning.  When the President came into office, he gave me some pretty specific instructions over the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs -- what we call OIRA -- O-I-R-A -- part of OMB.  In fact, I still think OMB should be called OMBRA -- the Office of Management and Budget and Regulatory Affairs.  That's how important it is to us.  That's the priority that the President has set for it over at OMB.  He said, look, get over there and tell everybody at all the agencies that we're on a two-for-one policy on new regs.  

You cannot put out a new reg until you get two old regs off the books.  That was our two-for-one policy.  He also said -- and no new burden.  No new financial burden.  If you come out with a new reg that raises the burdens on the private sector by a dollar, you got to go find me a reg you get rid of to reduce that burden by a dollar.  So, zero net impact on the regulatory financial burden in this country.

This is our first chance today to sort of get a temperature check on how we are doing on that.  So the goal is two-for-one.  When it comes to major actions -- we're at 16 to 1.  Sixteen major deregulatory actions in the first six months of this administration.  There's one new one.  Is anybody going to guess what it is?  Does somebody know?  No dentists here?  You know what it is?  Yes.  The dental amalgam rule.  Apparently we're now regulating something to do with the stuff we put in our teeth when we get --

Q    Mercury and waste water.

MR. MULVANEY:  There you go.  All right?  So that's the only significant new reg we put out in the first six months.  We've gotten rid of 16.  Twelve of those are CRAs you're probably familiar with, and four of them have gone through the agency process and so forth.  

But it doesn't -- it's not just those big ones, okay?  The number that I use -- 860 regulatory actions removed or withdrawn -- 860.  

By the way, I asked for a list of them, and I got news for you:  None of them are very sexy.  None of them are very glamorous.  None of them really rise to the level of getting national attention.  But think about that -- 860 of them.  I describe it as that -- sort of that slow accretion, that slow cancer that can come from regulatory burdens that we put on our people.

Ryan Zinke, over at the Department of Interior, has already made some changes on how they streamline the paperwork for outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen -- people who want to go out in our national parks.  That's really small.  We know that.  It's not going to change the world.  But when you do that 860 times in the first six months, it can have a benefit.  Plus, if you're a citizen and you're not out there and it's now easier for you to use the national parks, to use our public lands, that's got to have a positive impact on you.  We think that it does.

By the way, of the 860, and this is one that I think -- I don't think anybody knows about this because I didn't know about it until about 24 hours ago.  The Obama administration had a secret list of regs.  Back in 2011, they were doing their unified agenda.  They had a bunch of things that they wanted to regulate.  And what we're hearing is that they just didn't want to tell you about it.  They thought it would be bad for their reelection prospects in 2012, so they created a secret list of regs that were not disclosed to you folks, and we are disclosing it.

And by the way, when we threatened to disclose it, a lot of the agencies came up with those 860 things that we got rid of.  So there will be no more of that, by the way.  There will be none of that in this administration.  We will not have a secret list.  We will not have a hidden list of regulations that we're thinking about doing but we're not going to tell you about.  That's going to end effective immediately.  In fact, it has already ended.  We're not going to do that anymore.

By the way, where's my stack?  So I'd love a little graphics.  This is the last week of the Obama administration -- the regs put out by the Obama administration in their last week in office.  This is ours from our first week in office.  I can't lift both of those together, can I?  I don’t think I can.

In the last six months here, the Obama administration put on over $6 billion in new regulatory burden.  The last six months, just over $6 billion.  We had zero.  In the first five months in their administration back in 2009, they had over $3 billion of new regs.  We cleared the decks of $22 million of regs.  So we actually went the other way.

So I cannot express to you enough how much things have changed when it comes to the regulatory burden, the attitudes towards regulations in this country, and you're just going to see more of that for the next eight years.

So I think that's everything I wanted to cover.  Is it? I forget.  So if I got any questions -- yes, sir.  Right there.

Q    Thank you, Director.  You talked about regulations in terms of the cost to business.  Is there any other metric that you think is appropriate for measuring the effectiveness or necessity of regulations, such as whether they improve people's -- improve quality of life, improve safety in products, improve any sort of thing?  Because it seems like all you talk about is how much this costs business.  So is there any other metric that you look at?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Yeah, in fact, we're required by law to do exactly that.  We're required by law to do cost-benefit analyses before we put on new regs or take off old regs.  It's what we're supposed to do.  Our attitude has been, and our philosophy has been that the previous administration fudged the numbers, that they either overstated the benefits to people or understated the costs.  And we're going to look at it in a much more pragmatic perspective.

Q    I mean, the reason I ask is because, you know, you just talked about the previous administration overstating the benefits.  Are there benefits?  I mean, talk about the regulations --

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Were you healthy and safe before this came out?  Yes, you were.  And you'll be healthy and safe with this gone. 

Q    I don't know what's in those, Director.  What I'm asking you is -- and you just said it; you talked about benefits to people.  Is there any other measure?  Because all you do is talk about the cost.  And you talked about what your first week in office -- you know, what the benefit to the ones that you held up for you all's first week?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I think I answered that question.  Yes, we are going through a cost-benefit analysis.  We are obligated by law to do that and we continue to do that.

Yes, ma'am.

Q    Can you tell us more about the secret list from the Obama administration?  (Laughter.)  What it was and what was in it?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  I don't know.  John, have we got details on that?  You want to push that?

MR. CZWARTACKI:  They called it a "pending list."

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  They called it the "pending list" or something like that -- previously undisclosed.  We can get you a list of the examples that came off of it.  

Q    So it wasn't available anywhere? It was completely secret?

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  2011 -- I think they did a unified agenda in the spring of 2011? 

MR. CZWARTACKI:  Yeah, in the fall, they did 2011.  But the '12 spring agenda, they didn't do.  

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  They didn't do it.

MR. CZWARTACKI:  And instead, they put things they wanted to advance -- they kind of parked them on something they called the "pending agenda" and they kind of just went with that.  And so when the fall full agenda came out, conveniently after the election, it was missing some things.  So it was a trigger to a lot of academics who said, something's not right here, because there was this secret list being held back that was filled with all this.

DIRECTOR MULVANEY:  Fast forward to when we started this process and we started asking the agencies to send us their ideas about de-reg.  Listen, it's been a challenge.  Start to think about the last time that the federal government has engaged in a full board deregulatory type of action and attitude.  There's a lot of folks who work for the federal government who have never been asked to do this.  

In fact, one of the anecdotes we've got is that -- I can't remember which agency it was -- but there was actually -- there was no box they could check on whether or not an action was deregulatory or regulatory.  There was no column for deregulation.  We're asking the federal government to use muscles it hasn't used in a long time, and it's hard to do. 

But I will tell you this, when we first started looking at this a couple months back, and we noticed there wasn't -- we had done a pretty good job at all the agencies of slowing new stuff, but we hadn't done a very good job of clearing the decks of the old stuff -- the stuff that was already in the pipeline -- getting rid of it until we found this secret list and threatened to go ahead and expose it.  And then they said, well, you know what, maybe we’ll get rid of those.  And that's how we ended up with our 860 here --

Q    Can you assure us -- on one side of the ledger, then, you have secret lists from the Obama administration of potential new regulations.  Can you assure us that there are no secret lists and will be no secret lists in this administration of regulations you want to do away with?  Is all that public?


Q    You have no secret lists anywhere?

MR. MULVANEY:  I like questions like that.  That’s an easy one.  

Q    When you went back up on the Hill -- last time you were on the Hill -- some of your critics had said that 3 percent --

MR. MULVANEY:  I have critics on the Hill?  Really?

Q    Yeah, can you believe it?  (Laughter.)  They were saying that you had -- that it’s a pie-in-the-sky to believe that we can reach 3 percent.  What is your response to those critics who say that you’ll never reach 3 percent?

MR. MULVANEY:  It’s outrageously pessimistic.  You guys have heard my answer on that before.

Q    Specifically.

MR. MULVANEY:  Specifically is this -- is that, yeah, you can get there again.  They say, oh well, there’s not enough people here anymore, all right.  We’re a graying population.  There’s almost 7 million people right now in between -- and I hate to get too technical -- U3 and U6.  U3 is the general broad measure of unemployment.  U6 are the folks who are working part-time or temporarily against the -- they want to work full-time but they can’t find it.  Almost 7 million people in that gap between U3 and U6 who could move into the full-time workforce tomorrow if they had the opportunity to do that.  They want to do that, we just haven’t given them the chance to do that.  There’s a big part of your workforce base -- move to productivity, okay.  We also need productivity to be higher than it has been in the past couple years.  

Look at our tax plan.  That’s why the whole thing has worked together.  That first answer, by the way, was welfare reform.  How do you get people from U6 to U3?  Economic opportunity plus welfare reform.  Now we look at tax reform and its impact on productivity.  We have to have the capital investment necessary to boost productivity, and we have to get that -- we can get that --through our tax reform.  It’s why we focus so heavily on corporate tax reform.  We need those businesses to invest in capital in order to increase their employees’ productivity because that’s how we get to 3 percent GDP.    

Q    Just a quick follow up, though.  Isn’t -- just real quick.  Your critics say that what that will do is help further destroy the tax base and the middle class.  How do you address that?

MR. MULVANEY:  The tax base is -- I wish they had asked me that -- how is the tax base eroded by having people go back to work?  That’s absurd.  So no, we are going to broaden the tax base by making sure there’s more folks working.

Yes, ma’am.

Q    Two part question.  First, in terms of the 3 percent growth, can you give us your latest target for when you think that might be possible?  

And then as the second part of that, you talked about tax reform.  Without overhauling Obamacare, if you don’t get those tax cuts repealing the Obama-era tax cuts that you’re looking toward, can you actually achieve comprehensive tax reform or do you then go to a series of tax cuts?  What’s your latest thinking in terms of what’s --

MR. MULVANEY:  Okay, let me see if I can get this right.  The first question is, what’s our sort of schedule, our plan, or how do to get to --

Q    When you can achieve 3 percent --

MR. MULVANEY:  I don’t think we’ve adjusted the -- we put out the midseason report or the midyear report, something like that, a couple weeks ago.  That’s where you may have seen we changed sort of our -- we’ve measured actual receipts in the deficit and so forth.  The deficit was a little bit higher than we expected.  So we sort of go back in and say, well when we introduce our budget this is what we thought the world would look like.  Here’s what it looks like today.  That would have been an opportunity for us to change our economic projections from the budget.  We didn’t do that.  I think our projection for this year is still 2.3 percent and then 2.5 percent and then 2.7 percent or something like that.  So the goal is to be at that 3 percent plateau in about three or four years. 

To your second question about the Obamacare taxes and so forth, let me answer it this way and see if I’ve answered your question.  Yeah, I think we’re a little disappointed.  The most recent proposed version of the Senate healthcare bill left some of those taxes in place, but I agree with many of my Republican colleagues on the Hill who say well, yeah, but you get another bite of that apple on tax reform.  Is that your question?

Q    Do you think you can do comprehensive tax reform if you don’t repeal and replace Obamacare?  Or do you then have to go to a series of tax cuts?

MR. MULVANEY:  I think it becomes easier to do comprehensive tax reform after healthcare for political reasons, for reasons of momentum and so forth, but I don’t --

Q    The math --

MR. MULVANEY:  Well, the math comes back to the issue of the deficit, so let’s talk about that for a second.  What is OMB’s thoughts on this, right?  You know that I've worked with Paul Ryan for many, many years.  I believe that we should be willing to take on short-term increases on deficits if it’s what it takes to get an increase in our long-term sustained growth.  

By the way, that’s one of the big fiscal hawks in town saying that.  Okay?  That I’m okay with larger deficits in the short run if the tradeoff is 3 percent growth, and if we need more aggressive tax reform in order to get to 3 percent, then I’m more than willing to argue that despite the fact that it may increase the deficit.  

By the way, where did I learn this message about how important growth is in order to save the country long-term?  Does anybody know?  From Paul Ryan.  So I can tell you, I think I’ve studied with some of the best, and I think I can make the case to him that while I appreciate and understand his position on deficit neutrality, when it comes to the tax reform, I think that growth needs to be paramount in that and that we’re willing to take on short-term deficit increases.

We got one question here, and then I have to give it back to Sarah.  Yes, sir.

Q    Okay.  Two-parter, one on the regulation and one on tax reform.  On tax reform, there’s a current-law baseline in the House budget that assumes that current tax cuts are going to expire, which means you’ll have to pay for them.  Is that going to make it hard -- will that make tax reform harder?

MR. MULVANEY:  I’m sorry, there are no --  the current tax cuts that are proposed?  Because there are no current tax cuts.  Are you talking about like when the Bush tax cuts were going to expire a couple of years ago?  

Q    Right.

MR. MULVANEY:  Those are all taken care of.  I don’t think -- if there are tax cuts on the books right now that expire in the future, I’m sorry, I’m not aware of those.  Maybe I don’t understand your question.

Q    Fair enough.  Let me ask you one about the regulation then.  Bigger picture here, does this make it cheaper to run your regulatory agencies, and will you have a cut following '18 or '19?

MR. MULVANEY:  Well, you saw some of our proposals in our budget and our budget blueprint about some of the reductions we made, for example at the EPA.  And yes we do foresee a fundamental difference in the way that agency functions, and we think they should be able to function in the future with a much smaller workforce.  That’s a reasonable conclusion from the proposals that we made in the budget, but I don’t think it’s fair to say we’re doing this in order to make it cheaper to run the government.  What we’re doing is making it easier to run a country.  That’s what’s driving the regulatory reform. 

Listen, I’d love to do this again, but I promised Sarah the last 10 minutes.  Thanks very much, and thank you for not making a big deal about the fact that I’m getting old.

MS. SANDERS:  We’ll let you leave those there so you don’t throw your back out carrying those out of here.  Thank you, Director Mulvaney.  

As the Director pointed out, today also marks six months since President Trump took office.  On top of the historic results of our efforts to streamline regulation led by Director Mulvaney, the President has also made significant progress toward the rest of his top policy priorities.  

In part due to the deregulation, our economy is booming again, and Americans are going back to work in construction sites, mines, and factories across the country.  And those workers can rest easy knowing that they have a staunch defender in the White House, as the President shows time and again that he is putting America first in trade negotiations, pursuing reciprocal agreements with our trading partners so that everyone benefits.

He’s prioritized the enforcement of immigration laws to protect all Americans and ensure that our system treats everyone fairly.  He’s opened up American energy after years of political opposition, putting us on track for energy dominance.
Secretary Shulkin and his team at the VA are making sure our veterans get the care they deserve after the sacrifices they’ve made for our country by holding failing employees accountable.

And in these first six months, President Trump has put America first in world affairs and national security, delivering historic speeches calling on our allies to come together in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism and calling out our enemies for the destructive behavior the previous administration neglected to address.

As you can see, President Trump has taken serious action on everything from energy to defense to immigration, even as he faces historic obstruction from Senate Democrats, who are pulling every trick in the book to prevent him from putting his team in place. 

This week, we’ve seen even more evidence of Senate Democrats’ pattern of holding up this administration’s qualified nominees in unprecedented fashion. Here are some startling facts.  To date, Senate Democrats have filibustered 34 of the 54 nominees that have eventually been confirmed. By contrast, in President Obama’s entire term, his nominees faced four filibusters in total.

This President’s Cabinet nominees faced more Senate filibusters than all other Presidents combined.  And as we’ve mentioned they’ve filibustered nominees that enjoyed unanimous support, including a judge that President Obama had previously nominated, and who was eventually confirmed by a vote of 100-0. 

They’ve filibustered key national security positions, like Patrick Shanahan to be the number two at the Department of Defense, who enjoyed bipartisan support and eventually received over 80 votes.

And recent reports show that their refusal to hold votes on the President’s nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which approves potential new pipelines, is preventing an estimated $14 billion in pipeline projects.  These are projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will create 17,000 new jobs and $2.7 billion in economic activity in Virginia and North Carolina, just through construction, while generating $377 million in annual energy cost savings.

There are thousands more jobs like these that won’t happen, and the Democratic senators of states like Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are standing by as party leadership puts politics over what’s best for their constituents.

To be clear, they’re slow-walking because they can’t justify blocking these nominees who are both qualified and non-controversial, but this is part of a deliberate strategy to obstruct this President’s agenda and resist the will of the American people. 

Consider this fact:  At this pace, it would take an astounding 11 years to confirm all of this President’s qualified nominees and finally have these important leadership positions fully staffed -- 11 years, clearly well after the President's two terms.

We call on Senator Schumer and Senate Democrats to stop this reckless partisanship, which is undermining national security, undermining our judiciary, undermining health care, job creation, energy production, and our basic functions of government, and swiftly approve this President’s qualified nominees. 

And with that, I will take your questions.

Q    Sarah, thank you for the question.  Does the President have confidence in his Attorney General?  Does he want the Attorney General to stay in this post?

MS. SANDERS:  The President said -- as the President said yesterday, he was disappointed in the Attorney General Session's decision to recuse himself.  But clearly he has confidence in him, or he would not be the Attorney General.

Q    Sarah, can I follow up on that one?  You said the President has confidence in the Attorney General.  Does the President believe that the Attorney General serves the President or the Constitution?

MS. SANDERS:  I believe that the President -- I think that's kind of a both.  Obviously, the Attorney General's job is to follow and uphold the Constitution.  But also, every member of the Cabinet and the administration serves at the pleasure of the President.

Q    Would the President prefer the Attorney General resign?

MS. SANDERS:  I believe I've answered that question.

Q    It's a little bit of a slightly different nuance, so that's why I'm asking it.  You say he has confidence in him.  Does that mean he does not want him to resign?

MS. SANDERS:  I think you know this President well enough to know that if he wanted small business to take an action, he would make that quite clear.

Q    But clearly there's a difference of opinion here because the President thinks what the Attorney General did was improper, yet the Attorney General, in recusing himself last spring, believes that he was taking the appropriate action, given the potential conflict of interest in him leading the Russia investigation.  So how do you explain that split?  And what --

MS. SANDERS:  As I said, the President is disappointed in the decision and I think he's spoken about his feelings on this quite clearly.


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  A question about healthcare.  The President has repeatedly said that 21-year-olds can pay $12 a year for health insurance under the Republican plan.  He said it again yesterday to the New York Times.  What does he mean by that?  Is the White House aware of a health insurance plan that charges only $12 per year?  And if not, why does the President keep making that claim?

MS. SANDERS:  I'll have to check on the specifics.

Q    Can you get back to me on that --


Q    -- because the CBO estimates that it would be about $1,100 dollars a year, even for the lowest income 21-year-olds.

MS. SANDERS:  Okay, I'll check on that.

Q    The President said that if Robert Mueller were to look at his finances or the family finances, it would constitute a red line.  How is that not a threat to the special counsel?

MS. SANDERS:  I think that the President -- the point he's trying to make is that the clear purpose of the Russia investigation is to review Russia's meddling in the election, and that that should be the focus of the investigation.  Nothing beyond that.

Q    That should not be viewed as a threat, as a warning to what the special counsel should or should not be looking at as it relates to the President’s and his family’s finances?  

MS. SANDERS:  The President is making it clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation.  

Q    Let me try to come at this one different way.  

MS. SANDERS:  I have a feeling we might do this for a little while.

Q    Why does the President have confidence in his Attorney General?  Maybe you can explain it that way.

MS. SANDERS:  I believe that the Attorney General has made significant progress in terms of things like MS13.  They’ve taken great action on that front -- certainly on the front of immigration.  He spoke today about some of the cybersecurity measures that they’re taking, and I think those are great examples of successes that they’ve had at the Department of Justice.

Q    It was reported last month that there was this rift between the President and the Attorney General and it ended up that the Attorney General had offered his resignation.  Did that happen?  How did that process play out?  And why did the President at that time decide not to accept the resignation?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not aware of that taking place so I can’t speak to that.

Q    One more question.  From his sickbed, Senator McCain today issued a statement that questioned why, six months into the administration, there still is not an Afghanistan strategy.  He said they’re still waiting.  Why is there still not an Afghanistan strategy, and when can we expect it? 

MS. SANDERS:  I believe that the President has empowered Secretary Mattis to make decisions on that front, and I would refer you to the Department of Defense for those specific questions.


Q    Sarah, thanks.  I want to go back to the President’s comments about Robert Mueller.  He was asked if Mr. Mueller does, in fact, look into his finances as part of his special counsel, would he consider firing him.  The President said, I can't answer that question because I don't think it’s going to happen.  

Does that mean that firing the special counsel is something that's on the table for this President? 

MS. SANDERS:  I’ve answered this question several times before.  Although the President has the authority to do so, he doesn't intend to do so.

Q    And, Sarah, if the President is not concerned about this probe, why does it matter?  Why does he care if Robert Mueller looks into his finances?

MS. SANDERS:  I think it’s clear that the President is frustrated by the continued witch hunt of the Russia investigation, and he’d love for this to come to a full conclusion so that everyone can focus fully on the thing that he was elected to do.  And that's what he’d like to be focused on.

Q    And just one more about Senator John McCain.  The President, like so many others, sent out letters of prayers last night to the Senator.  Has he had any time to reflect on some of his past comments about Senator McCain?  Does he regret saying he likes people who weren’t captured?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not sure about that.  I do know that he certainly hopes that the Senator makes a full and speedy recovery.  I don't have anything beyond that.

Q    Sarah, it’s been over a month since the President promised a press conference on discussing the administration’s ISIS strategy.  The Daily Beast had an article about this ISIS strategy document, and so can we expect this press conference to take place soon?  And if the strategy is completed, then what’s the delay about having this so far?

MS. SANDERS:  We’ll certainly make sure that there’s an announcement if there’s a press conference and that you are all invited.


Q    Sarah, can you tell us a little bit more about the President’s meeting today at the Pentagon?  What was discussed?  What was sort of the main focus there?  

MS. SANDERS:  Sure.  Obviously, it’s important for the President to have continued conversations and dialogue.  The President met with members -- key members of his Cabinet and national security team, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, primarily to discuss challenges and opportunities.

They discussed how to integrate U.S. actions around the world to promote American prosperity, enhance American security, and extend American influence.

Q    So was it a certain part of the world?  Or all parts of the world?  

MS. SANDERS:  It was a broad discussion.

Q    Did North Korea come up?

MS. SANDERS:  I cannot get into the specifics of the detailed conversation.

Q    Sarah, a finer point on Mueller:  The President said if he does investigate his or the family’s finances, that's crossing a red line.  There’s a report today that Mueller is investigating a broad range of the family’s financial transactions.  If that report is true, then he has crossed the red line.  Does that mean he fires him?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, as I said earlier, the President has no intention to do so at this time.

Q    Even if he crosses the red line?  So the red line doesn't mean anything?

MS. SANDERS:  That's not what I said.  I don't believe everything I read in the paper.  We’ll have to see as we get more details on that.

Q    But he said that.  It’s on audio.  He said, that's crossing a red line.  That's not something you read in the paper.  You can listen to the audio.

MS. SANDERS:  I’m talking about the investigation looking into the finances.  

Q    But if it's true -- 

MS. SANDERS:  The President has been clear many times before that he has no financial dealings whatsoever with Russia.  The point the President is making is that the investigation should stay within the confines of meddling -- Russia meddling in the election and nothing beyond that.

Q    And if it doesn't, he fires him.

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not going to get into that.

Q    Why does the President expect loyalty from his aides, from members of his Cabinet when he’s constantly criticizing them and undercutting them and contradicting them in -- particularly in media outlets that he constantly tries to discredit?

MS. SANDERS:  I don't believe that the President is undermining them.  I think he was being very candid about feelings that he had.  But as I said, he has confidence in his ability.


Q    Sarah, how does the process play out when the President is very candid about what he thinks about his Attorney General, about what he thinks about Mueller?  How does this process play out?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m sorry -- what?

Q    The investigation -- the investigation, the whole process of relationships between Sessions and the President; the process of this investigation by Mueller.  How does this play out with the President being very upset over the process and openly criticizing everyone and people in fear?  

MS. SANDERS:  I think it’s pretty clear how the process will turn out from our side is that this will be proven to be the witch hunt that it is, and that nothing further will happen.


Q    I have two more questions.

MS. SANDERS:  Two more?

Q    Yes, two more.  There’s a belief that these conversations with the New York Times, with -- whatever reporters are pieces of intimidation to go to Mueller, to go to Sessions.  What do you say to that?

MS. SANDERS:  I think that's ridiculous.  

Third question. 

Q    And then lastly, Baltimore.  Does the President regret what he said about Baltimore?  He threw Rosenstein under the bus for the wrong city.  He’s not from Baltimore, he’s from Philadelphia.  And there are people in Baltimore saying there are a lot of Republicans there even though the city is led by a Democratic mayor.

MS. SANDERS:  I think he’s making a general statement.


Q    But it was wrong.  The statement was wrong.

MS. SANDERS:  He’s spent a lot of time and has worked pretty extensively in Baltimore. 

Q    Has President Trump spoken with the Attorney General in the past 24 hours?

MS. SANDERS:  No, not that I’m aware of.

Q    And a follow-up, does he regret appointing Jeff Sessions to be his Attorney General?

MS. SANDERS:  I don't believe so.  I think if he did, then he probably wouldn’t be in that position.

Q    And a quick one on Afghanistan policy:  Following his meeting this morning at the Pentagon, is the President any closer to unveiling a policy towards Afghanistan?  And should the American people expect that we will be sending more troops to the region?

MS. SANDERS:  As I said earlier, the President has empowered Secretary Mattis in that front, and I would direct you to the Department of Defense.

Q    Sarah, can we just reconcile what you just said?  You said the President does not regret appointing Jeff Sessions, yet he said in that interview with the New York Times that he does regret it because had he known what he was going to do before he appointed him, he would have said, sorry, Jeff, I’m going to get someone else.

MS. SANDERS:  I think --

Q    So I just wondering, how do you come to those two thoughts?

MS. SANDERS:  Sorry.  I may have misunderstood what Trey was asking.  My understanding --

Q    He asked, does the President regret appointing Jeff Sessions -- 

MS. SANDERS:  I’m sorry.  I thought you’d asked if he regretted not taking action to remove Jeff Sessions.

Q    So does he regret appointing Jeff Sessions?

MS. SANDERS:  The President has spoken very clearly on this in the interview yesterday.  And as he said, he was disappointed that the Attorney General made the decision to recuse himself and certainly that he didn't tell him that before taking the job.

Q    But he also said had he told him that he wouldn’t have appointed him.  So does he regret now in retrospect appointing Jeff Sessions?

MS. SANDERS:  I haven’t asked him specifically.  

Q    When asked about Mueller today a couple of times you've used conditional language that he doesn't intend to -- it’s at this time.  How can his independence be guaranteed if you're saying in conditional tense that he’s not going to try to have him removed?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, I can't predict everything that could possibly take place in the future and what Mueller could potentially do that might create an outrageous reason not to take action, so I’m not going to talk about hypotheticals.  I can talk about where we are today, and that's the position of the President.

Q    Sarah, you've been asked multiple times today about the war in Afghanistan.  Both times you referred us to the Defense Department.  But President Trump is still the Commander-in-Chief.  Does he take full responsibility for whatever happens on the conflict in Afghanistan? 

MS. SANDERS:  I would think so.  But again, he has empowered Secretary Mattis in terms -- I’ve been asked specifically about troop levels and decisions on specific instances, and in that regard, I would refer you to the Department of Defense. 


Q    Thank you, Sarah.  You spoke earlier about -- apparently about confidence in General Sessions staying there.  Does the President have the same confidence and lack of regret in name Ron Brownstein [sic] deputy attorney general?  Mr. Brownstein being -- 

MS. SANDERS:  Rosenstein, Rosenstein.  I don't know who that guy is, but -- (laughter).  So I’m not going to speak about him.  But Rod Rosenstein, as I stated, if the President didn't have confidence, he wouldn’t be in that position.

Guys, I hate to cut us short today, but the President has -- hold on, I’m not finished.  The President has an announcement that he’ll be making here shortly -- 

Q    Here at the podium?

MS. SANDERS:  No.  (Laughter.)  Here at the White House, and so I’m going to cut it short today.  Thanks, guys.

3:06 P.M. EDT

A Message to the Congress of the United States

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 23:01


Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.  In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to significant transnational criminal organizations declared in Executive Order 13581 of July 24, 2011, is to continue in effect beyond July 24, 2017.  This notice superseded the notice regarding this topic submitted to the Federal Register on July 19, 2017.

The activities of significant transnational criminal organizations have reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.  Such organizations are increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States; they are increasingly entrenched in the operations of foreign governments and the international financial system, thereby weakening democratic institutions, degrading the rule of law, and undermining economic markets.  These organizations facilitate and aggravate violent civil conflicts and increasingly facilitate the activities of other dangerous persons.

The activities of significant transnational criminal organizations continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.  Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13581 with respect to transnational criminal organizations.


    July 20, 2017.

Notice of Withdrawal Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 23:00


- - - - - - -


I hereby withdraw the notice "Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations," submitted on July 19, 2017, and submit in lieu thereof the following:

On July 24, 2011, by Executive Order 13581, the President declared a national emergency with respect to transnational criminal organizations pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701–1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the activities of the significant transnational criminal organizations.

The activities of significant transnational criminal organizations have reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.  Such organizations are increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States; they are increasingly entrenched in the operations of foreign governments and the international financial system, thereby weakening democratic institutions, degrading the rule of law, and undermining economic markets.  These organizations facilitate and aggravate violent civil conflicts and increasingly facilitate the activities of other dangerous persons.

The activities of significant transnational criminal organizations continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.  For this reason, the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13581 of July 24, 2011, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond July 24, 2017.  Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to transnational criminal organizations declared in Executive Order 13581.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.




    July 20, 2017.

Remarks by President Trump at Pharmaceutical Glass Packaging Initiative Announcement

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 21:50

Roosevelt Room

3:05 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  Very exciting -- and exciting times at the White House.  A lot of things happening that are so great for our country.  I want to welcome Made in America Week.  This is what we call Made in America --right here, and they’re all here.  Some of the great business minds, businesses geniuses.  Congratulations fellas, that’s not a bad statement.  (Laughter.) 

But they’re right here with us, and I’ll tell you it’s an honor to have them.  We’re continuing our celebration of American manufacturing, and it has been something very important to us -- Made in the USA, Made in America -- and our tribute to the skill, dedication, and grit of the American worker.  We’re showcasing products from all around the country that are stamped with the beautiful letters "Made in the USA."  

Today I’m proud to welcome three more great companies -- we’ve had quite a few wonderful companies -- a little smaller generally speaking than yours, but every company is smaller than yours when you get right down to it to it -- to the White House for really a major announcement which you’ll be hearing:  Merck, Pfizer, and Corning. 

These three companies are announcing that pharmaceutical glass packaging will now be made in America.  That’s a big step.  That’s a big statement.  We’re very proud of that.  Thank you very much, by the way.  And I know they wouldn’t have done it under another administration.  I feel confident. 

These companies have formed a groundbreaking partnership to create thousands of American manufacturing jobs with this innovative new product.  It’s an incredible product.  Merck, Pfizer, and Corning are coming together to create an advanced pharmaceutical glass packaging operations, which include an immediate investment of at least $500 million and the creation of nearly 1,000 new jobs -- and quickly.  

The initial investment will be spread across facilities in New York, New Jersey, and a new manufacturing plant in southeast of the United States -- they’re looking right now -- which Corning will be announcing in the coming months, and there’s some pretty good competition.  I know they’re going to make a great deal.  

Eventually, the companies here today expect a total investment in this initiative to reach at least $4 billion and create some 4,000 American jobs.  And it’s very innovative on top of it.   

This initiative will bring a key industry to our shores that for too long has been dominated by foreign countries.  We’re moving more and more companies back into the United States, and they’re doing more and more of these products.  And that would have been unheard of even a couple of years ago.  

These companies have achieved a breakthrough in pharmaceutical glass technology that will be used to store and deliver injectable drugs and vials and cartridges.  This technology is not only great for American jobs and manufacturing, it’s great for patients who now will have access to safer medicines and vaccines.  

It’s also great for the healthcare workers who can administer the drugs -- makes it much, much safer for them and safely without having any problems and worrying about vial-breaking, which, as I understand, is a tremendous problem that we’re not going to have anymore.   

I know that Secretary Price and the FDA are committed to working with innovative companies like these.  We have tremendous excitement going on at the FDA.  Amazing things are happening there, and I think we’re going to be announcing some of them over the next two months.  We’re going to be streamlining, as we have in other industries, regulations so that advancements can reach patients quickly.  You’re going to see a big streamlining -- I think you already have.  To a large extent, you already have.  Very proud of that.   

I especially want to thank Ken Frazier, Ian Read, and Wendell Weeks -- so three of the great, great leaders of business in this country -- along with all the great people at Merck, Pfizer, and Corning for believing in America and the American workers.  This announcement reflects a central theme of my administration that when we invest in America, it’s a win for our companies, our workers, and our nation as a whole.

Every day, we are fighting to bring back our jobs, to restore our industry, and to put America first or, as you’ve heard, make America great again.  That’s exactly what we’re doing.  Some people have heard that expression.  It’s been fairly well-used, I think.  

I want to thank you all for being here, and I want to thank you for your dedication to Made in America.  Really appreciate it very much, and I’d like to have you say a few words.  Come on up.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  

3:10 P.M. EDT  

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on House Passage of the Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2017

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 20:20

I commend the House of Representatives for voting today to reauthorize, for the first time, the Department of Homeland Security.  Since its formation nearly fifteen years ago in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, DHS has been on the front lines of the Federal Government’s efforts to keep the American public safe.   
The United States continues to face evolving security challenges posed by terrorists, natural hazards, transnational criminal organizations, human traffickers, drug smugglers, and adversaries waging attacks in cyberspace.  The Homeland Security Authorization Act ensures that Secretary Kelly and the more than 240,000 DHS employees and contractors who work tirelessly to protect our country, and ensure our national preparedness, have all of the tools necessary to carry out their mission. 
The Homeland Security Authorization Act also authorizes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the first time.  Enforcement of our immigration laws is at its core a public safety issue. Secretary Kelly has already made tremendous progress, and this bill reflects my strong commitment to ending illegal immigration and fully enforcing the laws of the United States. 
As President, there is no more solemn responsibility than my duty to keep this country safe.  I look forward to signing this important legislation and I encourage the United States Senate to take it up without delay.

Gorka: With Trump, America is back

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 19:46

“We are only one-half year into Donald Trump's presidency. In that very brief period, we have seen the nation's economy re-energized, illegal migration plummet, the NATO alliance revitalized, and the president order new measures to secure America from terrorists.”

America is back with the first 6 months of Trump
By Sebastian Gorka
The Hill
July 20, 2017 

Donald Trump won the presidential election against Hillary Clinton with a very simple message: I will fix the economy, build the wall, and destroy ISIS.

In this, he channeled the simplicity of Ronald Reagan's own election platform. Then-Gov. Reagan promised to restore Americans’ faith in our nation, to fix the economic “malaise” of the Carter years, and to defeat the Soviet Union once and for all.

For the Trump campaign, and now the Trump administration, our approach is summarized under the “Make America Great Again” motto, or #MAGA.


The first principle of our administration is plain for all to see. America is back. And under President Trump, so is American leadership. American influence is a global good and this recognition is a first step toward advancing our leadership, which in turn can help set the conditions for the security and prosperity of the United States and its allies. The era of apologizing for America is over.

We have openly rejected the passive and reactionary ideas central to the Obama years, especially “leading from behind” and “strategic patience.” It is our key assumption that a world without American leadership, in which the president does not forcefully stand up for the eternal truths upon which the Republic was founded, is a very dangerous world. 


We are only one-half year into Donald Trump's presidency. In that very brief period, we have seen the nation's economy re-energized, illegal migration plummet, the NATO alliance revitalized, and the president order new measures to secure America from terrorists.

Most striking of all is what President Trump has managed to achieve in just 25 weeks with regard to the totalitarian menace that is the Islamic State.

Just as America was crucial to the defeat of the totalitarians of the Third Reich, and to the ideological defeat of the communist threat posed by the Soviet Union, we will defeat the newest totalitarian threat to the West, radical Islamic terrorism under the leadership of the current American president. This is but the beginning of translating MAGA onto the global stage.

Read the full op-ed here.

Navarro: A Made in America Presidency

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 17:06

“This is ‘Made in America Week,’ and the president’s actions have already shown that this will be truly a Made in America presidency.”

Trump White House: We’re seeing strong results
By Peter Navarro
USA Today
July 20, 2017

President Trump has been hard at work to save our jobs and revive manufacturing.

He signed an executive order targeting the abusive use of waivers and exceptions to “Buy American” laws, which are meant to prioritize U.S. government spending on American companies, and we are already seeing strong results.

He signed an executive order promoting more flexible apprenticeships to fully equip our workers for the jobs of the future. Around the country, companies are responding by dramatically boosting their workforce training initiatives.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the disastrous Paris climate accord will save the U.S. economy an estimated 6.5 million industrial-sector jobs, and his regulatory rollbacks have already saved more than $60 billion in unnecessary costs for American companies.

He has unleashed America’s energy potential — a great boon for American manufacturers and consumers. And employment in the coal industry is up, contrary to the cynics’ forecast.

This is “Made in America Week,” and the president’s actions have already shown that this will be truly a Made in America presidency.

Read the full op-ed here.


President Donald J. Trump's Six Months of America First

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 16:55

“Together, we are working every day for the citizens of this country: protecting their safety, bringing back their jobs and, in all things, putting AMERICA FIRST.” – President Donald J. Trump


BRINGING ACCOUNTABILITY BACK TO GOVERNMENT: In six months in office, President Trump has followed through on his promise to the American people to bring accountability back to government.

  • President Trump fulfilled his promise to the American people by nominating and, after Senate confirmation, appointing Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • President Trump implemented higher ethical standards to make sure his Administration works for the American people.
    • President Trump signed an Executive Order implementing tough new lobbying standards for political appointees, including a five-year ban on lobbying and a lifetime ban on lobbying for foreign countries.
    • President Trump has donated his salary, following through on his promise to the American people.
  • To make sure the Government serves the needs of all Americans, President Trump has called for a comprehensive plan to reorganize the executive branch and has used his budget to begin to implement his plan.
    • President Trump created the Office of American Innovation to streamline and improve the Government for future generations.

SPURRING JOBS CREATION: President Trump’s impact on the economy has been immediate, spurring job creation across the country.

  • President Trump signed the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order, prioritizing the interests of American businesses and workers.
    • “Buy American” promotes American industry, protecting it from unfair competition by targeting the abusive use of waivers and exceptions to laws on the books.
    • “Hire American” calls for the reform of our visa programs, ensuring that they no longer displace American workers, while fully enforcing laws governing the entry of foreign workers.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order, making it easier for businesses to start and expand apprenticeship programs.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased 17 percent since election day, hitting new highs 25 times this year already.
  • Since January, the economy added 863,000 jobs, including 821,000 in the private sector.
    • 79,000 construction jobs added since January.
    • 42,000 mining and logging jobs added since January.
    • 41,000 manufacturing jobs added since January.

CUTTING DOWN JOB KILLING REGULATIONS: Just six months in office, President Trump has taken historic action to eliminate wasteful and costly regulations that have stood in the way of hardworking Americans.

  • The American Action Forum estimates a potential $70 billion in costs reductions from President Trump’s actions to cut back regulations.
  • President Trump has signed 14 Congressional Review Act resolutions into law, ending burdensome Obama-era rules and regulations, more than all other Presidents combined.
  • By withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, President Trump protected America from a bad deal that would have harmed our economy.
    • According to a study by NERA Consulting, meeting the Obama Administration’s obligations under the Paris Climate Accord could have cost the United States economy nearly $3 trillion.
    • According to the same study, 6.5 million industrial sector jobs could have been lost, including 3.1 million manufacturing sector jobs.
  • In order to control regulatory costs, President Trump signed an Executive Order mandating that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.
  • Through infrastructure reform and investment, the Trump Administration aims to dramatically reduce permit approvals for projects from 10 years to 2 years, spurring investment and job creation.

OPENING UP AMERICAN ENERGY: In six months, President Trump has turned around America’s policy on energy production after years of opposition.

  • President Trump has acted aggressively to increase exports of our energy resources to a global market.
    • Updated guidance from the Treasury Department to allow the United States to export coal.
    • Expedited the permitting and approval processes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals and exports, including the approval of the Lake Charles LNG terminal in Louisiana.
  • President Trump has unleashed oil and gas development in the United States by expanding access to resources and the infrastructure needed to get them to market.
    • Approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, creating over 42,000 jobs and $2 billion in earnings.
      • Signed an Executive Order mandating future pipeline work to be done by American workers and with American steel.
    • Expedited new pipeline approval and production, such as the New Burgos Pipeline to Mexico.
    • Signed an Executive Order to extend offshore oil and gas drilling and reissued a leasing program to develop offshore resources.
    • Boosting oil and gas development on Federal lands.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering an Obama-era rule on greenhouse gas emissions that is estimated to cost oil and natural gas operators as much as $530 million annually.
  • President Trump kept his campaign promise to coal miners and rolled back the previous Administration’s “Stream Protection Rule,” which targeted the beleaguered industry with estimated costs of at least $81 million a year.

A FREE AND FAIR TRADE AGENDA: President Trump is putting America First in trade negotiations, pursuing reciprocal agreements with our trading partners so everyone benefits.

  • One of President Trump’s first actions was to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after the Obama Administration’s efforts failed to protect American workers.
  • President Trump announced he will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to better reflect our modern economy while benefitting all parties so involved.
    • This week, the United States Trade Representative released its objectives for upcoming NAFTA negotiations.
  • Last week, the President began the process of renegotiating the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
  • Negotiations President Trump started with China on economic cooperation have already produced results for American businesses.
    • For the first time in 14 years, American beef imports have returned to China.
    • China is welcome to negotiate contracts to import American liquefied natural gas.
  • President Trump delivered on his campaign promise to roll back the Obama Administration’s bad deal on Cuba that benefitted the Cuban regime at the expense of the Cuban people.

RESTORING LAW AND ORDER TO IMMIGRATION: President Trump has prioritized enforcing immigration laws in his first six months to protect all Americans, ensuring that our immigration system treats everyone fairly.

  • President Trump instituted tough immigration policies that have reduced illegal border crossings by 53 percent compared to the same time last year.
    • The President ordered the hiring of 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, including 5,000 additional border patrol agents.
  • Within the first 100 days of President Trump signing his executive orders on immigration enforcement, ICE conducted nearly 40 percent more Enforcement and Removal Operations compared to the same time last year.
    • Arrests of convicted criminal aliens climbed by nearly 20 percent in this time compared to the same time last year.
  • In fiscal year 2017, ICE has removed over 2,700 criminal gang members, compared to 2,057 criminal gang members in all of fiscal year 2016.
    • ICE has specifically targeted MS-13 criminal gang members for removal on immigration violations.
  • To jumpstart construction on the border wall, the President ordered the Department of Homeland Security to use $100 million of unspent appropriations in its account for border security, fencing and infrastructure.
  • President Trump directed executive agencies to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States, including clamping down on sanctuary cities.
    • Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented new charging guidelines to end catch-and-release policies.
  • President Trump ordered the creation of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office at DHS, ensuring that our Government can no longer ignore the victims of criminal acts by illegal aliens.

PROVIDING FOR OUR NATION’S VETERANS: President Trump is making sure our veterans get the care they deserve after they have sacrificed for our country.

  • Under President Trump, Department of Veterans Affairs fired over 500 employees, suspended 200, and demoted 33, as part of President Trump’s efforts to restore integrity and accountability to a department charged with supporting our Nation’s heroes.
    • 22 senior leaders were disciplined.
  • President Trump signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, enabling senior Veterans Affairs officials to fire failing employees while establishing important safeguards to protect whistleblowers.
  • The Veterans Affairs administration is shifting veterans’ electronic medical records to the same system used by the Defense Department, ending a decades-old rift in sharing information between the two agencies.
  • President Trump signed legislation allowing our veterans to receive care outside of the Veterans Affairs medical system.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has acted to increase transparency and accountability by launching an online “Access and Quality Tool” to provide veterans a way to access wait time and quality of care data.

AMERICA FIRST FOREIGN POLICY AND NATIONAL SECURITY: In the first six months of his Administration, President Trump has put America First in world affairs and national security.

  • During his historic speech in Poland, President Trump reasserted that America would defend its interests and allies after years of neglect by the previous Administration.
  • President Trump brokered a ceasefire in southwest Syria as part of his commitment to end the conflict, reduce human suffering, and defeat ISIS.
  • During his first international trip, President Trump supported the opening of a new “Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology” in Saudi Arabia, created to empower Muslim-majority countries to more effectively combat radicalization.
  • President Trump has increased pressure on Iran to end its destructive and destabilizing actions in the Middle East, including its continued ballistic missile research.
    • The Department of the Treasury sanctioned over 25 entities and individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, ensuring our ability to monitor potentially malicious actors while preventing future acts of terrorism.
    • This week, the United States sanctioned sixteen entities and individuals that have supported Iran’s military and Revolutionary Guard Corps in the development of drones, fast attack boats, and other military equipment.
  • President Trump has allowed the military to push back against threats to our interests and allies.
    • In his first six months, President Trump worked with our partners and allies in the Middle East to defeat ISIS, leading to Iraqi forces recapturing Mosul.
    • After the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against civilians, President Trump authorized strikes against the airbase that launched the chemical attacks, demonstrating our national commitment to preventing further atrocities.
    • President Trump has lifted restrictions that had prevented the Secretary of Defense and our commanders in the field from fully using their judgement and expertise.

Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders - 7/19/2017

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 03:49

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:58 P.M. EDT

MS. SANDERS:  Good afternoon.  Thanks for being patient.  Wanted to make sure we had time for the lunch the President was holding to wrap up.  I know there is a pretty high level of interest in that.  And so due to that, we have Marc Short, the President's Director of Legislative Affairs, here to give a quick rundown of the discussion and answer any questions that you all may have.  And then, as always, I'll be back up to follow up with any other questions.  Thanks.

MR. SHORT:  Thanks, Sarah, and thank you all for being here.  As you probably saw in the opening remarks from the President, he made the case to the American people and to the members attending the lunch that inaction is not an option.  That Obamacare has continued to implode.  That promises of reductions in premiums of $2,500 have not proven true, and instead insurance premiums, on average, have increased by roughly $3,000.  That in fact, premiums are so high that today 6.5 million Americans chose last year not to sign up for a plan on the insurance exchange and instead just pay the penalty to the IRS.

He discussed the fact that, right now, forecasts are that if Obamacare is not repealed, there will be over 1,300 counties across the United States with only one insurer.  And in fact, 40 counties will have no insurers on the exchange.

He encouraged senators that they should not leave town until a deal is done, until a bill is presented to him.  He reminded them that he has pen in hand and is ready to sign the bill, and that he's asking members of Congress who have made promises to repeal Obamacare for the last seven years, since they started running in the midterms of 2010, that now is the time to deliver on that promise and he's anxious to sign the bill.

There were additional conversations about Senator Lee's and Senator Cruz's Consumer Freedom amendment.  I think there was shared analysis that had been done by HHS on what the impact of that amendment would be, both on premiums as well as on rates.  There was some discussion about additional -- continuing to devolve programs down to the states and what additional flexibility could be provided to states.  A lot of enthusiasm from some of the members who I think had been holding out behind a notion that we could continue to amend the bill to provide more flexibility to governors.

I think that, though, in general, there was a general enthusiasm for recognizing that this is not something that we can walk away from.  And this is a promise that's been made, and that members are anxious to continue to work to get it done.  And to that end, there was announced a meeting tonight, at the Senate, for those members who are still having challenges about getting to yes, for them to work out their differences tonight on Capitol Hill.  And I think that the administration will be represented in that meeting as well to continue the conversations.

But in general, I think that the mood inside the room was recognizing that this is, again, a promise that has been made.  It's something we need to do.  And I think they're anxious to get back to work to complete this.  So that's where we stand.

Q    Hey Marc, what is the President's current position on what he want Congress to do?  Is it repeal and replace?  Repeal now, replace later?  Or is it let Obamacare fall apart?

MR. SHORT:  I think the President has been clear that what he wants is repeal and replace.  That's what he said during the transition, that's what he has said ever since.  He has mentioned that, if Republicans cannot find consensus on what the replacement plan is, then we should at least deliver on a promise to repeal.  But his preference is the Senate bill, as it's constructed right now, he expressed that openly in the meeting, and walked through many of the benefits that are included in the bill, including the tax-free health savings accounts and additional monies that are provided there to pay for premiums.

He mentioned talking about the opioid resources that are being provided for those senators in many of the Midwestern states that are particularly stricken by that epidemic.

And also, there was a lot of discussion about -- conversation about Medicaid.  I know there's been a lot of coverage about the cuts in Medicaid.  But I think inside the room, there was clarity in recognizing that this bill continues to increase the absolute dollars in Medicaid spending to put it on a sustainable path.  It is currently not on a sustainable path.

What the bill will do -- what current law will do is it will bankrupt Medicaid and it will not be there for people.  And what the President and those in the room were talking about is that the Medicaid expansion and the continued growth rate is a reduction in the growth rate, but that is not a cut.  That is increased actual dollars.

Q    Marc, so a question for you.  Can you kind of explain a little bit -- the President said today -- I mean, as the bill stands right now, not enough senators support it for it to proceed.  Yet the President said today, publicly, that they were close.  So in what ways do you guys think you are close?  Did senators give you any indication today that they're going to get behind this thing?  And this kind of very public push from the President, it's not often we see him in this setting.  Is this too little too late?

MR. SHORT:  No, I think that the President is not too little too late.  I think the President has been engaged throughout.  As many of you know, he was making calls to senators when he was over in Paris, earlier last week.

Q    But this is a public push, right?

MR. SHORT:  This is a more public push, but he was certainly very public during the House debate.  I think there's a difference when you have 240 House Republicans versus 52 Senate Republicans.  And so the number of members who we're trying to convince at this point is much smaller.  So some of the public display of that is going to be less.

But I will say that, to your question initially about what is it that we're going to be moving on to as far as the motion to proceed, I think that if you are not willing to vote on a motion to proceed, it's a little bit like Leslie Nielsen in "Naked Gun" with an explosion behind you, and saying, "There's nothing to see here."  

What we're saying is that if you're not willing to move to proceed, you're basically acknowledging that there's nothing wrong, that Obamacare is fine.  And we believe that Republicans have their opportunity to amend the bill, but you have to get on the bill first.

And the President was making that case and so was Leader McConnell, that, look, for all of us who are trying to deliver on the promises we made to repeal Obamacare, we have to first get on the bill.  You can't pretend there's not an explosion behind.  You can't pretend that Obamacare isn’t collapsing.  You got to move on to the bill, and that's what the discussion was.

Q    What time is the meeting tonight?  And who are some of the members who were invited?

MR. SHORT:  The meeting is at 7:30.  It's pretty much open to all members.  But I think that it's focused on those that are still in the undecided category.

Q    Marc, two questions really fast.  On Medicaid, did you get into the weeds in the conversation with the senators?  I mean, not just talk about how we're going to make sure this is sustainable and make sure that people still have services.  Did you get into the weeds -- because people are concerned about hearing these grandiose topics for "this can be done," but they don’t have the substance behind it.  Did you get into Medicaid?  Did you get into the opioid issue?  Did you get into the other issues, in the weeds, when you were in the conversation?

MR. SHORT:  There was more conversation regarding Medicaid.  There was an acknowledgement and discussion upfront of the work of Senators Capito and Senator Portman on the opioid dollars that are inserted into the bill.  But there was more discussion, I think, on the growth rate of Medicaid, and particularly I think Senator Toomey making the case, and again that I articulated here, that we don’t believe the current path is sustainable.  And so the reforms that are in there help to make sure that the program is viable for future consumers.

Q    Last question.  Mitch McConnell said they didn’t have 50 votes.  The President said, you know, we're close.  But let's go beyond next week.  Let's say maybe it doesn’t pass after this vote passes.  What's plan B?  What's plan C?  

MR. SHORT:  We are confident we will get this bill passed.  We are confident that, at the end of the day, we will deliver on the promise that's been made to repeal and replace Obamacare.  So all of our efforts right now is to get on to a vote.  

To answer your question, it depends on what the amendment process is.  That's the great thing about the greatest body in the world, is you can offer open amendments.  And so this is an opportunity for members to make changes to the bill.  But you can't make changes if you're not willing to at least have the conversation about it.  So we're asking them to get on the bill first.

Q    So you're not going to give up at all?

MR. SHORT:  No.  I don’t think --

Q    If the amendments are not to your liking, you're not going to give up?

MR. SHORT:  No, I think there's a lot of people that underestimate this President before.  He's not one to give up.

Q    Two questions.  One is, you mentioned the meeting being open to everyone.  Does that include Democrats?

MR. SHORT:  The meeting is open to the Republican conference.  I think that if there are any Democrats who are willing to work with us on the repeal and replace effort, I'm sure they'd be welcome to.

Q    And second of all, does the White House approve of FreedomWorks giving out traitor awards to those who vote "no" on the motion to proceed?

MR. SHORT:  I don’t think we have any comment on what FreedomWorks is doing.

Q    Do you support it?

MR. SHORT:  I'm not familiar with any traitor awards that they're giving, so it's hard for me to comment on that.

Q    Senators Murkowski and Moran have said that the President had strong words for them, including some negative words for them once the cameras were out of the room.  How productive do you think it is for the President to essentially be calling out people who voted against this or have severe questions about this?

MR. SHORT:  I don’t think he had strong words.  I think that the conversation was very respectful and it was one of disagreeing on a couple of points.  But I don’t think that there was any badgering.  I think the President was trying to be an encourager and say, here's how we need to get there, guys, and let's get it done.  Because not only is this a promise he made to the American people, there are Americans who are suffering right now.  They're suffering without us delivering on the promises that we made.  It's time to solve that problem for them.

Q    If he's asking them to stay for the August recess, what is he going to do differently in the coming weeks?  The approval for this bill is still incredibly low.  Does he have any more plans of traveling to some of these red states where they're from to try and explain the bill more, with the megaphone that only he has?

MR. SHORT:  I think you'll see that in one form or another.  I think that several senators raised the notion that the President could be extremely helpful to them in making that case.  And I think that he was receptive to that.  I do think that, overall, collectively, that it's often easier to be against something, and that messaging is easier than it is to communicate what you're for.  But I think there's a lot of things in this bill that -- the President started his remarks by saying, look, guys, here are all the things that we are doing in this bill that we should be talking about that are positive for the American people.  And so I think you'll see that engagement.

Q    You're talking about the President being open to going out and trying to solve this.  The President is a branding person.  You talked about the need for Republicans to recognize you can't bet on Obamacare imploding.  But it seems like -- that the brand you're selling is "Obamacare is failing," not "here is what the plan is."  Are you recognizing here that there hasn’t been a clear message from this White House as to what it stands for in this healthcare bill?  What do you mean when you say the President was receptive to what the senators were asking him?  And what does "close" mean?

MR. SHORT:  In which part?

Q    The President said "we're close."  Are you talking about votes?

MR. SHORT:  Yes, I think he's talking about how close we are in the votes; that he's had conversations over the last couple of days from some of the senators who have publicly come out and said they wouldn’t vote for the motion to proceed but they've communicated to him that, actually, I was getting a lot closer, and so give me a little bit more time, let's work through a couple more things, and we can get there.  So I think that's what he was communicating when he says that we're close.

Q    But in terms of what the message is that the President is going to be selling in these states, if he visits them, what is the message, other than "it's not Obamacare"?

MR. SHORT:  Well, I think that there's several things.  There is part of that that I think Americans have rebelled against, which is the individual mandate.  Part of that is the taxes that are buried inside the bill.  And I think that relieving Americans of that makes a big difference.  Another part that we will sell is that we will be reducing costs, which I think is an important component.  Estimates of 30 percent over the next few years, and I think some estimates with consumer freedom options suggested that it's even greater than that.

One of the things we're selling is that we're actually trying to return the relationship between a patient and a doctor as opposed to the government being in the middle.  And I think there's also protection of life that, for many of our constituents, is really essential and important.  And that's a promise the President has delivered on and that many of our supporters cherish.

So there's a lot of things in this bill that we can trumpet, and I think you will see it happening.

Q    Did the President recognize he hadn't done those things?

MR. SHORT:  No, I think that the President has continued to be active in this effort.  I think that he's hearing from senators who say, you know, your efforts in being able to communicate on this is a bully pulpit that is greater than ours, and so we welcome it even more.  But I don't think there's a sense that he hasn't been active.

Q    To get some of the senators who are concerned about the Medicaid expansion on board, is it being discussed at all about increasing the growth rate for the Medicaid program beyond where it is now in the GOP bill?  What if we increase it a little bit more beyond where it is right now in the Senate bill?

MR. SHORT:  I think there's been a lot of resources provided in the stabilization fund that's continued to grow so that it's now $180 billion in the most recent draft of the bill that will provided, in many cases, to help with that transition.  The growth rate doesn't slow until eight years into this process, and I think that the vast majority of members in the Senate conference are very comfortable with the way it's written right now.

Q    And just one more follow-up.  The President had some pointed words for some of the senators in there.  Is he sending a signal that if you don't support, if you don't vote on this bill, I won't be there to support you in two or four years?

MR. SHORT:  No.  There's not a sense of a veiled threat.  The President has been pretty direct in his words, and he's right now saying, this is what you promised.  I want to live up to my promise.  I'm ready to sign the bill.  Get me the bill so we can get this done for the American people and then we can also move on to tax reform and other items that are part of our agenda.

Q    Marc, on the issue of subsidies, the President said, we pay hundreds of millions of dollars a month in subsidies that the courts don't even want us to pay, and when those payments stop, it stops immediately.  Is the President actively considering ending the cost-sharing payments, especially if it just doesn't pan out in the Senate?

MR. SHORT:  I think he's basically stating a fact.  The courts have ruled that the Congress never appropriated those dollars.  And he's acknowledging that and saying that, you know, here we are propping it up in ways that are keeping Obamacare afloat that the courts have already ruled we arguably shouldn't be doing.

So yeah, he's concerned about that policy, and he continues to evaluate it each month.

Q    He needs to make a decision next week on whether to fund for the next month, correct?

MR. SHORT:  He is continuing to evaluate that.  It's on an ongoing basis.

Q    But the President asked senators to stay in town until he's got a bill on his desk.  Is he going to stay at the White House until that happens?

MR. SHORT:  I think the President will be traveling, but I would imagine that members would be traveling too.  So I don't know that that's a fair comparison.  But he will be here working on it as long as they are, and he wants to get it done.

Q    But how is that not a fair comparison --

MR. SHORT:  Well, because members will be traveling home on weekends too.  So it's not a matter of being here, it's a matter of whether you recess the Senate.  And he's encouraging that they stay focused on in-town until it gets done.

Q    Marc, you mentioned this idea that they can proceed to debate and then they can offer amendments.  But hasn't the issue been that there are factions in the Senate and throughout the Republican Party that have just very different ideas of what they would want out of a bill?  So what amendments do you think could be offered that would satisfy both the conservatives and the moderates who have raised concerns about these bills?

MR. SHORT:  I don't want to try to limit that because it's an open amendment process, and I think that there's a lot of different options.  But certainly I think that Senator Lee is interested in expanding it from a single-risk pool to a two-risk pool.  I think there are moderate members who want to see additional dollars provided in Medicaid funding.

So I think there's a lot of different amendments that could still be offered;  Some who want to block grant more dollars down to the states.  Those are certainly a few, but I think that there's a lot of creative ideas that members have that they could continue to improve the bill, and we're open to that.

As I said from the start, I think if you're saying that you're not willing to move to the bill, what you're in essence conceding to the American people is you're comfortable with Obamacare and all the campaign promises that you made were hollow.  So it's time that we get on the bill and we can then amend it and fix it.

Q    Did something change between yesterday at lunch, when the President said he's very disappointed -- he's learned that he needs more Republicans in the Senate because there clearly aren't enough now?  That was yesterday.  And then today at lunch, he said, you know, let's do this.  Did you advise the President to give it one more go?  Did Leader McConnell say they were going to have this vote next week, keep the momentum going?  What changed between yesterday and today?

MR. SHORT:  I'm not so sure it's inconsistent to be able to say, hey guys, we need to keep working at this until we get it done, and also expressing the desire that we wish there were more Republicans in the Senate because some of these efforts we could move more quickly.  I don't think that that's inconsistent.

Q    So does the President not think that he needs more Republicans?  He has enough now?

MR. SHORT:  I think that you will see him in 2018 working hard to make sure that the number of Republicans in the Senate continues to grow.

Q    Marc, at what point do Republicans own healthcare in America?

MR. SHORT:  I think that's a good question.  And I think as soon as we're able to replace Obamacare with our solution, then at that point it will begin the ownership.  There will likely be a transition period.

Q    But to be clear, so right now, you control the Senate, Republicans control the House, they control the White House.  So why, if they're unable to accomplish it now, aren't they responsible?

MR. SHORT:  Well, at this point -- well, I think that there's a difference between saying responsibility and owning it.  I think that we all feel a level of responsibility.  That's why we're trying to change it, in all honesty.  But as far as owning the Obamacare policies, I'm not familiar with any Republicans who voted for Obamacare.

Q    Not Obamacare, but healthcare in general.  Americans don't care about Obamacare now.  They just care about their own healthcare.

MR. SHORT:  Sure.  But I think in many ways, that's one in the same, Peter.  At this point, there was not a single Republican who voted to pass Obamacare.  And so I do think that that is still the law of the land.  Until we replace it, I just think that they own it.

Q    Quick follow-up on this conversation here.  The President tweeted recently that "the Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes."  Is the President not concerned that perhaps somewhere down the line, the Democrats might try to re-repeal the -- what will then be healthcare bill, especially as there aren't any Democrats that are supporting it now?

MR. SHORT:  I think that, in general, I think it's better for us to leave the rules of the Senate to the Senate.  But I think the President's comment is making the case that he feels very certainly that, if Senator Schumer were in control, he would change the rules of the Senate in a heartbeat.  And so I think that's what his concern --

Q    Sure.  But then why wouldn't they go back and forth every four to eight years?

MR. SHORT:  It's possible that it would.  I just think he's acknowledging that Schumer would do this if he had the opportunity.

Q    But is that a solution, though?  Temporary --

Q    Can I clarify something in your answer to Ken?  Under the option of repeal and delay -- one option -- or the option of failure and the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, there's a period of time in which the President is in charge of the Affordable Care Act.  

In response to your -- the question from Ken, you suggested the President is considering withdrawing the subsidies.  My question to you is, if he is in charge of the Affordable Care Act under either of those two options, you do not think there will be political repercussions if the President were to withdraw and try to hasten the demise of the existing law?

MR. SHORT:  I think that the President wouldn't view it as what are the political consequences.  He's going to view it as what's right.  And right now, there's a legal opinion on that.  And I think that there's additional opinions being researched within our White House and giving him different advice on what should be the best course of action on those.  

I know where his heart is.  I think he's expressed that very openly what he thinks of those payments.  But as far as what the next step is, I think that we'll find out in the near future.

Q    To follow on, to the members that he talked with today, they would not have any political repercussions to face?

MR. SHORT:  I don't know.  I don't know.  I think that if the courts have said that this is -- right now, it's an unconstitutional payment but we've put it aside as it continues on appeal, I think that that's something that we need to consider is to what should be the right action of our administration.

Q    The President has specifically raised Dean Heller's race next year, saying that he would like to remain a senator, aka get on board with Obamacare.  Did he make some kind of specific promise to Senator Heller that, if he supports this bill that the President will be there to campaign for him next year?

MR. SHORT:  Look, there is not a quid pro quo, but I'm sure that the President looks forward to supporting Dean Heller's reelection.

Q    Can I follow up to that, please?  Was there some thinking behind the seating arrangements, that Dean Heller (inaudible) Capito, Murkowski because -- are these the people he thinks are easier to get to "yes" or harder to get to "yes"?

MR. SHORT:  I think that the President, I think welcomed a chance to have one-on-one conversations with Dean Heller during the lunch.  I think that that's an observed fact.  But I don't want to comment on exactly how strategic this meeting was.  That's just -- that's part of our job.


Q    Thank you, Marc.  Supporters of repeal and delay say that they are not worried about enactment of the Biggs amendment in the House.  In the Senate, three Republicans have said they are against it so far -- Senator Capito, Murkowski, and Collins.  Are those people that, if repeal and delay got to the Senate for a vote, the President would try to influence and talk to to support repeal and delay?

MR. SHORT:  Again, I don't want to really differentiate those, John, because I think the President is trying to say, we need to get on the bill to amend it.  And if you're not willing to do that, you're basically saying there's no problem here.  And so, yes, McConnell has said the first bill he'll bring up is the 2015 bill, and that's the first step.  But there will be an open amendment process to continue to bring in a replacement effort too.

Q    Marc, two questions for you.  Following up on Peter's -- I understand that the White House's argument is that Democrats own this as a policy matter.  But from a political matter, as you mentioned, this is the President in the room with Republican senators.  If they can't get this done, and I know you say that you're confident that they will, but if they can't get this done, is it politically the problem of the people in that room for not being able to get it done?

MR. SHORT:  We're going to get it done.

Q    Okay.  I get that as your answer.  Let me go to one other thing that you said.  You said the President has always said that repeal and replace is his policy.  And that's certainly what he's saying today.  Just yesterday, he tweeted and said, as I've always said, let Obamacare fail and then come together.  Since there are two versions here of what the President has always said, can you at least acknowledge that the White House has been somewhat inconsistent on this?

MR. SHORT:  What I think I said to start is the President's preference has always been repeal and replace.  If I didn't, I apologize.  But that's what I -- the President's preference has always been repeal and replace.

Q    Okay, just looking at the President's own words, the four or five different positions in the last 48 hours, there's been some inconsistency here from the President, correct?

MR. SHORT:  The President is committed to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a better solution.

Q    You don't think there's been any inconsistency?

MR. SHORT:  I think that we are for repeal and replace.

Q    Marc, can I ask you about conversations that President has had with Senator McCain who obviously couldn't be here today but, as you know, issued a statement on Monday night saying he wanted to start from scratch with the Democrats because he didn't want it to be a single-Party issue the way it was during the last administration.

MR. SHORT:  I think that the President has wished Senator McCain well.  Our thoughts and prayers are with him, but I’m not going to divulge any private conversations they've had on that matter.

Q    Marc, you mentioned the protections to life in this bill.  Tell me exactly what you meant by that and why the President (inaudible)?

MR. SHORT:  So the tax credits have a Hyde amendment protections in them to ensure that the dollars are not used to pay -- taxpayer dollars are not used to pay for abortions as well.  There's a year prohibition of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Q    Can you talk about the priorities of that to this President?  How important is that?

MR. SHORT:  I think that the President, from the very first day of the administration, has pursued pro-life policies.  He promised that on the campaign.  You look at Mexico City and the reversal he did there from the very start.  He expanded even to include international beyond that -- international funding of abortions.  

I think that this was the first Vice President to speak at the March for Life rally.  The President has been, I think, very consistent in putting forward federal judges who respect life.  And so I think that it's been a consistent part of the administration.  And so, sure, it's a priority in this bill too.

Q    Marc, thank you.  You’re giving us a lot of ambiguity here on the issue of CSR payments and whether the President is going to make them or not.  The number of insurance companies --

MR. SHORT:  Well, I -- you know, look it.  I think it's the President's --

Q    -- that it's that ambiguity that’s causing them to have to raise premiums going into next year because they don’t know whether those payments are coming or not.  What do you make of the argument that says that it’s actually the fact that they can’t plan for next year that means the prices are going up for consumers?

MR. SHORT:  I think the price has been going up for consumers for quite some time.  Would you not disagree with that?

Q    Clearly that’s your position.  My question is, are you adding to the price increases by putting that ambiguity --

MR. SHORT:  I think that there were promises that insurance plans would decrease the forecast by $2,500 per plan and they increased by over $3,000 before this President came into office.  To suggest that the premium increases are a result of our stance on CSR payments -- I don’t think it stands.  

Q    With the deadline looming, what should insurance companies do?

MR. SHORT:  Let me also offer this.  That despite the fact we’re still considering what to do with it, this administration has continued to pay them, so it makes it additionally harder to say there’s any price increase that’s been related to that to date.


Q    Marc, does the White House support the Senate bill introduced by Rob Portman and Ben Cardin that would outlaw Americans supporting an international movement to boycott Israel?

MR. SHORT:  I’ll have to get back to you on that one.  Sorry.


Q    Yeah, thank you.  I’m curious about a lot of (inaudible) concern about how Planned Parenthood funding might be related to the stall in this healthcare agenda.

MR. SHORT:  I’m sorry, your question is how the Planned Parenthood is related to the stall?

Q    How could Planned Parenthood funding, could be related to the stall in healthcare?  

MR. SHORT:  I’m not sure it is related to the stall.  I think that there’s support for the position right now, and when the bill passed ten times in repeal only it denied Planned Parenthood funding.  So I think that’s been a consistent position that has support from the conference.

Q    Last week during the debate on the Defense authorization bill, there was an amendment that was voted upon and rejected that would have banned any kind of funding for transgender people in the military.  In defense of his vote against that Representative Justin Amash said that Secretary Mattis and the White House urged a "no" vote to combat that amendment.  Did the White House urge lawmakers to vote "no" on that amendment?

MR. SHORT:  I’m not familiar with the White House urging a "no" vote.  I do think that there was a position as to whether or not that amendment belonged on NDAA, and there was some discussion about withdrawing, but I’m not familiar with us whipping the vote one way or the other.

Q    Would the White House assert a position that the memo was sent out (inaudible)?

MR. SHORT:  I’m not saying it's (inaudible).  The position was whether it belonged on NDAA.  

Q    Marc, can you say if Corey and David Bossie were working as your lieutenants on this bill?

MR. SHORT:  No, I wish that Corey and Dave Bossie were my lieutenants on some days, but no, that’s not the case.

Q    Were they freelancing?  What were they doing?

MR. SHORT:  I don’t know what you’re referencing.

Q    There’s a story that they were working --

MR. SHORT: I haven’t seen the story.

Q    (Inaudible.)

MR. SHORT:  I’m not familiar with that.

MS. SANDERS:  We’ll take one last question.

Q    Senators Graham and Durbin are reviving a piece of legislation that would address Dreamers through a legislative process.  What’s the administration’s position on that?

MR. SHORT:  I think that the administration has opposed the DREAM Act and likely will be consistent on that.

Thank you all very much.

MS. SANDERS:  Thank you, Marc.

Later this afternoon, the President, along with the Vice President, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, and Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Peter Navarro, will host representatives from small and medium-sized companies that manufacture products here in the United States.  We’ll be highlighting products made in American factories by American workers to our economy and how the process of certification ensures the integrity of the iconic Made in America label.

The Trump administration is dedicated to helping build, certify, and defend the Made in America brand so that American products can reach every shore and stock every shelf and American workers can reap the benefits.  Unfortunately, the Made in America brand is under attack from a flood of illegally subsidized imports and counterfeit goods.  Through a comprehensive plan involving multiple government agencies, the administration will continue to build and defend Made in America’s status as the world’s standard for quality and craftsmanship.

Over on the Hill this afternoon, the House Ways and Means Committee will be holding a hearing on another major administration initiative that will provide relief for American businesses: reforming our overcomplicated and broken tax code.  The House hearing today will emphasize how simplifying our tax code will help individuals and families, and small businesses like the ones visiting the White House this afternoon.  Taxpayers will spend nearly 7 billion hours and over $250 billion annually to comply with the current system.  The hours and dollars that businesses spend on compliance could be much better spent to grow their operations so that they can put even more Americans in well-paying positions.

The Trump Administration is working from all angles to bring jobs back to our country by making it a better place to do business.  This morning, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that the first round of negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement will take place here in Washington from August 16th to the 20th.  These negotiations are beginning on the first possible day allowed by statute, and USTR’s swift actions are reflective of the priority the President has put on renegotiating this deal so that it is better for America’s workers, farmers, businesses, and manufacturers.  USTR will be able to help you out with further inquiries on those negotiations as they proceed.

President Trump’s plans to strengthen our Southern border, which is another central part of his agenda to make America safer and more prosperous.  The Army Corps of Engineers has begun to lay the groundwork for the construction of a wall along our Southern border, including drilling and taking soil samples in New Mexico, California, and South Texas.  In addition, Customs and Border Protection, is currently evaluating design proposals, and we’re already seeing the results of the President’s focus on immigration enforcement.  Since the President entered office, illegal border crossing are down by almost 70%, which is a historic low.  The President is glad to see serious progress being made on one of his biggest promises he made to the American people.

Finally, I want to welcome senior government of Iraq spokesmen and media directors who are visiting Washington as part of a State Department sponsored exchange program.  During their visit, they participated in last week’s Coalition meetings and participated in a series of briefings at the Department of State. They’ve also done some press, both at the State Department and last week at the Pentagon, where they held a joint Press Briefing with Coalition spokesperson, Colonel Ryan Dillon.  We’re glad to have them here with us today.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.  Jim.

Q    Sarah, the Obamacare repeal has about one trillion dollars in cuts over time.  If it doesn’t pass, those cuts would obviously be off the table.  How then, can Congress cut taxes and move on to tax reform without jacking up the national debt?  And will the President push for tax cuts knowing this will probably balloon the deficit?  

MS. SANDERS:  I believe you heard from Marc that we’re confident that this will go forward, and we’re continuing to push for tax reform.  At the same time, we’re working on developing that further and we’ll continue to do so and making progress on that front.


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  President Trump said millions of people voted illegally and cost him the popular vote, but it was said repeatedly at today’s Voter Integrity Commission meeting that the committee has no preconceived notions or preordained results, and Trump himself said that the committee should have conclusions already drawn.  So which is it?  Did millions vote illegally or do you guys not know?  Because the White House has now said both.

MS. SANDERS:  No we haven’t.  The President --

Q    Well, you have, as I have just indicated.

MS. SANDERS:  Hold on.  I let you finish your question.  I’ll answer now.  The purpose of the commission, I think we can all agree, both Democrats and Republicans, that we want the highest standard and the greatest level of integrity when it comes to our elections.  And the purpose of the commission is exactly what you said.  It’s fact-finding.  That doesn’t mean that the President doesn’t have any thoughts and opinions, but the purpose of the bipartisan commission is to come together and to look at voter integrity across the board on a litany of different issues.  We know there have been a lot of previous studies that have taken place.  They’ll take those into account, but also not make any pre-determined decisions on anything based on those studies but conduct a full review of their own.

Q    But the President made the conclusion that millions voted illegally and cost him the popular vote.  Today he’s saying he doesn’t want this commission that he formed to investigate that to have any of their own conclusions.  I’m still not understanding how he --

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t understand how the President isn’t allowed to have an opinion while encouraging a committee --

Q    So that's just opinion.

MS. SANDERS:  -- to take a full review of the election process, which is what it’s setup to do.  I mean, there are, again, a lot of studies that have been conducted on this that have facts that they will take into account, but the point is to have a full and complete review, which has never been done from all 50 states, and to make sure it’s as thorough as possible.  And that’s the purpose.

Q    Sarah, there was a report that just posted that Trump will make the cost-sharing payments to health insurers this month.  Is that correct?  Has that decision been finalized that he will make those cost-sharing reduction payments?

MS. SANDERS:  I believe that the decision has been made to make those through this month and determine beyond that.


Q    Sarah, it’s triple play Wednesday, if you don’t mind.  First of all, there’s been a lot of talk about what happened in this chance encounter, or whatever you want to call it, at the G20 dinner.  Can you set the record straight as to how long the President spoke with President Putin and to the best of your knowledge, what they spoke about?

MS. SANDERS:  I think that once again the Russia fever has caught up with the media, and everybody ran out and tried to create a story that simply didn’t exist.  There was an official dinner.  It was made very public by the release of the President’s schedule as well as the official schedule of the G20 that the President would be at the dinner, that he would participate, that the First Lady would be at the dinner and participate.

This was something hosted by Chancellor Merkel. The seating arrangement were determined by the host, and you know, there were 40 people there to make it look -- actually there were more than 40 because you had all the leaders, plus each delegation was allowed one translator to be present -- and to try and create that there was some kind of private conversation in a room with 40-plus people seems a little bit ridiculous.

Q    Sarah, how long did they talk?  What did they talk about?

MS. SANDERS:  They had a brief conversation, and I’m not going to get in the specifics of the conversation.  But again, this was a social dinner where the President spoke with many world leaders, as is the purpose.  I think it would be incredibly awkward for them to all sit a dinner and not speak to each other, and I would imagine that all of you would agree with that.  

Q    Sorry, triple play Wednesday.  Can you confirm that the President has ended the CIA’s program to arm moderate Syrian rebels, which is something that Russia was looking for?

MS. SANDERS:  I can't at this time.

Q    And then the third question -- 

MS. SANDERS:  This is like eight play.

Q    No it’s not.  (Laughter.)  You force the follow-ups.  Does the President support the security (inaudible)?

MS. SANDERS:  Yes, the White House does support that.

Q    Secretary of State on the Russia meeting -- the Secretary of State provided a pretty full readout of the President’s conversation with President Putin in the actual one-on-one.  Why not provide some sort of inkling of what was said in that conversation at the dinner?  And secondly, why did it take so long for the administration to talk about this conversation?

MS. SANDERS:  First of all, the first account given by Secretary Tillerson was a formal bilat, which is very different from a social working dinner with all of the leaders.  He was seated next to the First Ladies of Japan and Argentina, and we didn’t offer readouts of either of those conversations.  

As a set precedent, President Obama had a pull-aside in 2011 at the G20 where there also was not a readout.  In fact, ABC said at the time that it wasn’t necessary because it was a private conversation of a social gathering.  There’s a very different standard that you guys like to draw between this White House and previous administrations, and you try to create a situation that frankly just wasn’t there.

In terms of how long, again, this was a publicly disclosed event.  The President participated in an official dinner of the G20 that was part of his schedule that was released publicly.  You guys came and took pictures of it.  It wasn’t like this was some sort of hidden dinner.  The pictures have been replayed over and over.  It was part of the official G20 schedule, so to act as if this was some secret is just absolutely absurd. 

Q    There's a great deal of public interest in the candid exchange between these two leaders.  Why did it take so long?

MS. SANDERS:  Why did it take so long for what?  I’m lost on your question here.  I’m not trying to be dismissive, but it seems silly that we would disclose a dinner that we had already announced he was participating in.  I’m not sure what other announcement should have been made.  You guys have pictures of the event taking place, and it was on both the President’s schedule as well as the G20 schedule.  

Q    But not pictures of those two together in their private meeting.

Q    Sarah, is the President confident that the Kremlin translator was accurately conveying what he meant to convey to Vladimir Putin?  I mean, it is typical protocol to have another official or translator there so that the Presidents can understand each other properly.  Did he trust the Kremlin translator to portray what his thoughts were accurately?  

MS. SANDERS:  I believe so.  Even members of the previous administration from the State Department said that it wouldn’t be advantageous for that translator not to be fully accurate.

Q    Do you mean to say, though, that it wasn’t in depth enough or sensitive enough that he felt it a matter of a need to have accuracy and have someone else there?  Because obviously there was a staffer -- he was staffed for the Japanese translator.

MS. SANDERS:  Right.  Again, this was a social dinner and that was the nature of the evening.

Q    I’ll go for the double play, Sarah, but let me follow up on Margaret here, and John, because this news from the Washington Post that the President is now going to end this program to arm anti-Assad rebels is obviously significant.  Did this come up in that conversation at dinner?

MS. SANDERS:  Not that I’m aware of.

Q    Okay, so the second question then on the Election Voting Commission.  The person that the President has installed to be the vice-chair, Kris Kobach, is now saying that nobody -- we may never be sure if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.  Also saying it’s possible, if that’s the case, we may never be sure if Donald Trump won the Electoral College.  Is that the position of this White House?  That it’s unclear whether Hillary Clinton won the popular vote?

MS. SANDERS:  I think it’s clear who’s the President based on the fact of who’s sitting in the Oval Office.

Q    So then does he not trust Kris Kobach to be running this commission given those comments?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m sorry?

Q    Given those comments and if the President in fact does believe that the vote tally was accurate, does he not trust Kris Kobach to run this commission?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, once again, the purpose of the commission is to look at how we can best uphold integrity in our election process.  We’re not going to make any pre-determined comments on their fact-finding mission, but what I can tell you is Donald Trump is the President of the United States, and he was elected by the people of this country, and he’s serving them very well.


Q    Sarah, given the private conversations that the President had with the Russian ambassador and the Russian Foreign Minister here in the White House where it was later learned that he revealed some sensitive information -- classified information -- to those Russian leaders, can you say with certainty that the President revealed no sensitive or classified information in any way to Vladimir Putin during that private conversation?

MS. SANDERS:  Once again, I haven’t had a conversation about the details, but I know the nature of the evening was a social dinner.


Q    Sarah, piggy-backing off of Peter, why didn’t you have a conversation with the President about it?  Especially since it has been in the news.  It’s, again, another cloud of secrecy, controversy, omission.

MS. SANDERS:  It’s not a cloud of secrecy.  You guys want to create one, but it just doesn’t exist, April.  Sorry.

Q    But have you thought about asking the President so that you can put to rest all of these questions?

MS. SANDERS:  I haven’t had a chance to talk to him today.  He’s been in the lunch for the last several hours.

Q    And lastly, the NAACP said they sent a letter to President Trump in January for an invitation to be a speaker at their convention next week.  Presidents going back to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush -- a Republican President -- and Barack Obama, have spoken at the convention.  They have not received one word from this administration as to the President or any administration official, be it cabinet secretary or what have you, to speak.  Is it under consideration or what is it?  Because they said they have a lot of issues, to include issues of healthcare, they want to hear from the President about, and it’s not an organization that’s leaning to one party or another.  It’s a 501(c)(3) (inaudible).

MS. SANDERS:  My understanding is that the invitation has been declined for this year, but certainly the invitation for dialogue with that group would happily take place, and we would certainly like to be able to continue to do that. 

Q    When was the organization?  When did they get the letter?

MS. SANDERS:  I’d have to check on the exact date.

Q    Because as of last night, they had no word of any kind.

MS. SANDERS:  Again, I’ll have to check on the exact details, but that’s my understanding.  

Q    Yesterday you rejected any suggestion that the President would be responsible for the healthcare bill failure.  

MS. SANDERS:  The Obamacare failure.  I’m sorry.

Q    Yeah, right.  Four years ago he tweeted, “Whatever happened, you’re responsible.  If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.”  If the healthcare repeal doesn’t move forward, will the President shoulder any blame for what happened?

MS. SANDERS:  As I said yesterday and as Marc said earlier today, when we’re talking about the responsibility of the failure of Obamacare, no, the President is not going to own that.  We are committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare and expect that to take place.


Q    Thank you, Sarah.  You previously said that the President and Vladimir Putin only talked about the sanctions related to election meddling.  It now sounds like you haven’t spoken to the President about what they may have discussed at that dinner.  So would it be true to say that you don’t know, at this point, whether other sanctions came up?

MS. SANDERS:  My understanding is that the President only spoke with him about that specific type of sanction, and that was, I think, across the board comment from him.

Q    And then I had a question about the travel, following up on Mr. Short’s comments.  Will the White House commit the President to not taking any personal travel and staying in Washington for anything but the personal travel until the healthcare bill is done?  That would specifically include the weekend trips to Bedminster or any of his other golf courses.

MS. SANDERS:  As Marc said, that the President is committed to being here and working on the healthcare bill.


Q    Thank you, Sarah.  Two questions.  Mark Walker, the Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said that the RSC draft budget is pretty much in line with what the administration wants except it wants to reform the three entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  The President wants to preserve them, and he hopes to talk to the President about.  I believe he’s already talked to Director Mulvaney.  Is this something that the President is in cement on or that he would negotiate on?

MS. SANDERS:  I’ll check and get back to you.


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  Two questions for you.  To follow up on Adrian’s question, where does the responsibility lie from the perspective of the White House on the pace at which the healthcare process has unfolded?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m sorry, on the pace?

Q    How quickly it’s unfolded and been addressed.

MS. SANDERS:  As I’ve said before, we’re not as focused on shoving this through but making sure we get it right.  We’re going to continue to push to fully repeal and replace Obamacare and make sure that gets done.

Q    You’ve obviously spoken to the President about the healthcare push from the White House.  Has he expressed any sort of concern about his domestic policy agenda and the speed at which healthcare has gone through?  Is he concerned that this could affect tax reform, immigration, other agenda items that he has.

MS. SANDERS:  He hasn’t mentioned that to me.  

Q    Sarah, let me pick up on that.  An answer that you gave yesterday -- I was hoping you could clarify as it related to healthcare and taxes.  You said, “We’re not done with the healthcare battle.  We’re going to continue pushing forward on that and hopefully get that completed and then transition fully to tax reform after that’s over.”  It sounded like there you were saying that healthcare has to get done in order to move to tax reform.  We know that healthcare reform is kind of in this neutral position right now.  Is that indeed the case that tax reform still has to wait until whatever happens with healthcare gets settled or are you willing to walk from healthcare at a certain point and say we got to get going on taxes?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t believe it has to wait, but that’s certainly the preference. 

Q    Sarah, thank you.  I just want to go back Marc’s answer on the President’s commitment to stay or go to stay in town.  What he said was the President will be traveling, but I imagine the members will be traveling too.  So why is it not fair to ask that the President stay in town if he’s asked the senators to do the same?

MS. SANDERS:  I think Marc was referring to the weekend but not specifically taking recess.  I think that is the expectation -- is that they don’t take a full August recess until the healthcare bill is complete.

Q    So we can expect to see the President go to Bedminster, perhaps, during this time?

MS. SANDERS:  As always, we’ll keep you guys updated on specific details of the President’s schedule, but as Marc said, we plan to be here while the Senate is in session and get the healthcare bill completed.

Q    Two questions.  Just to clarify on the conversation between President Trump and President Putin at the dinner.  So you’re saying it was very brief.  Is that less than an hour, less than a half-hour?  Do you have any timeframe for how long that talk was?

MS. SANDERS:  We weren’t following him around with a stopwatch, but like I said, it was a brief conversation and certainly not an hour.

Q    And then the second question on a different topic.  So the U.S. and China were having economic talks today about trade, and there were two press conferences planned for both sides.  Both of those press conferences have been canceled.  Should we take that as maybe there’s some issues with these economic talks going on -- the trade talks going on with China?

MS. SANDERS:  I would refer you to the Department of Treasury to talk about the details of those plans and whatever schedules they may have changed.  I can’t speak about their schedule.


Q    Sarah, just a quick question.  I think this was sort of brought up with Marc when he was just here, but did anyone at the White House ask Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie to go to the Hill on the President’s behalf to lobby lawmakers on the healthcare bill?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not sure of any asks that took place.

Q    Are you guys aware that they are there doing this?

MS. SANDERS:  I read a report saying that they were there, but beyond that I don’t have any knowledge of a specific ask made of them.

Q    Is it possible that they were asked to do that from someone in this administration?

MS. SANDERS:  I mean, I think these are both two people that strongly support the President, support his agenda, and that certainly I think very public given that they have been supportive of the President throughout the campaign and even in the administration.  And I don’t find it surprising that they would advocate for the agenda of the White House at any opportunity they get.  Just like many other supporters that were part of the campaign also support the President on many fronts. 

Thanks so much guys.  The President is going to have an event here in a few minutes.

3:48 P.M. EDT  

Statement from President Donald J. Trump

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 03:47

Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon. 

Statement from the Press Secretary on Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 03:27

The United States is very concerned about tensions surrounding the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, a site holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and calls upon the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to make a good faith effort to reduce tensions and to find a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site and maintains the status quo.  The United States will continue to closely monitor the developments.

Remarks by President Trump at Made in America Roundtable

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 01:25

State Dining Room

3:49 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, who's going to make the first presentation?  I want to buy something.  (Laughter.)  But only if it's made in America, right?  (Applause.)  I want to thank you all.  

And Michael was a supporter of ours right from the beginning, which I really appreciate.  It's good to see you here.  It's fantastic.  And I actually bought a couple of pillows, and they're very good.  I have to tell you, they're great.  I've slept so much better ever since.  (Laughter.)  So, thank you very much, Michael.

Good afternoon and welcome to the White House.  We're here today to continue our celebration of American manufacturing as part of Made in America Week.  The leaders and innovators around this table create the products that fill our homes, defend our nation, and enrich our lives.  And each one of these products proudly carries the label, Made in the USA.  Do you remember in the old days?  We used to say "Made in the USA."  That was when we really had great pride in our product.  And you do -- but unfortunately we've lost a little something, but we're gaining it back very quickly.   

You see the stock market hit a new high?  Jobs are the lowest they've been.  Best jobs before we've had in, I think, 16 years.  Unemployment numbers -- fantastic, how we're doing.  But we're also going to take care of the 95 million people out there that aren’t working.  And we have to remember that's not really part of the statistic.  I've been talking about that for a long time.

And when we got those great reports, I kept saying, you know, those numbers -- whether it's 4.2, 4.3 -- I said, for a long time they don’t matter.  But now I accept those numbers very proudly.  I say they do matter.  But we're doing very well with the jobs and the jobs reports, and we're doing very well with companies.  We're really moving along.

From day one, my administration has been fighting to bring back our manufacturing jobs and to crack down on foreign countries that cheat.  Got a lot of them.  We will end the theft of American prosperity, and we will stand up for our companies, our factories, and our workers.  Is that okay with you, Michael?  Good?  (Applause.)  

Made in America is more than a label or a product, and it's just something so important to us.  It's a stamp of excellence.  It's a badge of honor and a tribute to the tremendous skill of the working men and women who design and build these incredible masterpieces and different products of all types.

When American workers have a level playing field, they cannot be beaten.  They have not had a level playing field in a long time.  But you see what's happening.  It's step by step.  We've gotten rid of regulations and a lot more are coming.  We have some statutory requirements where we're not allowed to do it until certain dates.  But they're coming as fast as those dates come.  We've opened it up, and it's made a big difference for the farmer, for the homebuilder, for so many -- and for the manufacturers.

That's why we want to ensure the integrity of the Made in America label.  My administration is committed to working with the private sector to ensure the protection of Made in America and the label through efforts like certification, greater transparency, and stricter enforcement efforts by agencies like the Federal Trade Commission.

We will have zero tolerance for illegal counterfeiting, piracy, theft, or intellectual property.  And they, really -- they take our intellectual property like we're a bunch of babies.  But no longer.  And false claims that a product is made in America.  And as time goes by, the value of Made in America is going to be greater and greater, so you're going to see more and more of this.  There was a time when people didn’t want to use that name and they wouldn’t take that name.  Now they're taking it, and that's because it's become -- we've become very proud of it again.

Around the world, the Made in America label is the gold standard for craftsmanship quality and artistry.  And that is one more reason why we have to protect it.  I mean, we have to protect it.  Not for you, not for me, but for your children and for your grandchildren -- because that's what's happening.  So we must protect it from illegal theft and from abuse.  

The Made in America movement is growing rapidly under my administration, and we're more determined than ever to protect our jobs, our industry, and our workers.  Every day we are putting America first.  And, as you know, during our campaign, I had a slogan -- a few of you may have heard it -- it's called "Make America Great Again."  Did you ever hear that slogan?  I think so.  (Applause.)  

And I want to thank our great Michael.  Thank you for being here, by the way.  And Secretary Acosta is here.  And you have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time.  And I know you are going to say a few words, so why don’t you go ahead?  

Thank you, Mr. Secretary. 

SECRETARY ACOSTA:  Mr. President, thank you.  And thank you for your leadership.  While we were waiting for you to walk in, we had short conversations.  And I just wanted to tell you a few things that I heard from your guests here today.  American workers are the best in the world.  American workers are passionate.  Made in America matters, because when products are made in America, Americans care about what they're doing, they care about their products because they know the product impacts American lives.

And so those are examples of what your guests here told me, and I think examples of why Made in America is so important to this nation, to the economy, and to this nation's workers.  

And so thank you for your leadership on this issue.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.   So what label do you like better -- Made in America or Made in the USA?  Tell me.  Think about it.


THE PRESIDENT:  Think about it.  What do you like better?  Made in America or Made in the USA?


THE PRESIDENT:  What do you like?  Secretary, how do you feel?

SECRETARY ACOSTA:  I think Made in America is what we've been talking about.  It's known throughout the world.  And Made in America works.

THE PRESIDENT:  It used to be Made in the USA, I think the label that was on a car.  Do you know, they were telling me that in Czechoslovakia and other communist countries many years ago, they were so proud of a car if it was made in the United States.  They used to take a single dollar and they'd Scotch-tape it up their windshield just to show an American dollar.  And that was a long time ago, but that's what they used to do.  And maybe somebody is going to be doing that in the future.

How do you feel, Michael?  Made in the USA or Made in America?

MR. LINDELL:  I feel Made in the USA.  But you know, I've done both.  My ads have all been done in the USA.  It's the way I feel.  

THE PRESIDENT:  How many pillows did you make last year in the USA?

MR. LINDELL:  10 million.

THE PRESIDENT:  It's nuts.  I mean, can you imagine?

MR. LINDELL:  30 million so far.

THE PRESIDENT:  30 million since.  That's fantastic.  I know, it's amazing.  I heard it's amazing.

Peter, what do you like?

PARTICIPANT:  I love Made in America because it fits in with our Buy American and Hire American -- the two simple rules of the Trump administration.  

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  What does the media like?  Do you like Made in America or Made in the USA?  Steve, what do you like -- Made in America or Made in the USA?  Huh?

PARTICIPANT:  Either way.

THE PRESIDENT:  Either way.  They're so quiet all of a sudden.  (Laughter.)  Well, you make your decision.  I think, specifically, Made in the USA was what they had -- Made in the USA.  But either is great.  Or both.  I mean, you could really go both.  Although, I think we probably like to settle.

What do you like, Mike?

PARTICIPANT:  I think Made in America.  That's just what I've always thought.  And to make America great again, you got to make it in America.  And I like that.  
THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, good.  Very good.  Are you going to show me some things?  Let's go.

3:58 P.M. EDT

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 01:25

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Joseph Balash of Alaska to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Mineral Management. Mr. Balash currently serves as the Chief of Staff to Senator Dan Sullivan. He is the former Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, which has management responsibility for one of the largest single portfolios of land and water resources in the world. Previously he served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources from 2010 to 2013. From 2006 to 2010, he advised two governors on natural resource policy, permitting, and energy. Prior to that, from 1998 to 2006, he served in a variety of legislative staff positions, including Chief of Staff to the President of the Alaskan Senate. He graduated from Ben Eielson Jr.-Sr. High School in 1993. He is married with two children.

Samuel H. Clovis Jr. of Iowa to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics. Mr. Clovis is the Senior White House Advisor to the United States Department of Agriculture. Most recently, he served as the chief policy advisor and national co-chair of the Trump-Pence campaign. He came to the campaign from Morningside College where he was a professor of economics. Mr. Clovis holds a B.S. in political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University and a Doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama. He is also a graduate of both the Army and Air Force War Colleges. After graduating from the Academy, Mr. Clovis spent 25 years serving in the Air Force. He retired as the Inspector General of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the United States Space Command and was a command pilot. Mr. Clovis is married to the former Charlotte Chase of Piketon, OH. He is originally from rural central Kansas.

Daniel Alan Craig of Maryland to be Deputy Administrator, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Craig was most recently a senior Vice President at the disaster preparedness and recovery consulting firm, Adjusters International, Inc. In this capacity, he oversaw firm sales, business development, marketing, and relationships with clients. Before this position, Mr. Craig was the CEO and President of Tidal Basin Holdings, a company he founded in the emergency management industry. Mr. Craig previously served as the Director of Recovery for FEMA. He managed the Agency’s recovery services and funds given to individual victims and the public sector for damages from more than 120 Presidentially-declared disasters, emergencies, and fires, including September 11th, the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion, the Cerro Grande Fire in Los Alamos, and the Florida Hurricanes of 2004. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Purdue University as well as an M.B.A. from both Purdue University and Central European University.

J. Steven Dowd of Florida to be United States Director of the African Development Bank for a term of five years. Mr. Dowd has decades of executive experience in trade, logistics, and finance, with a significant focus on Africa. Mr. Dowd co-founded Ag Source, LLC, a global agriculture logistics, transportation, and finance company. His prior experience includes overseeing food aid operations and leading port infrastructure projects in Africa. Mr. Dowd also served as CEO of Marcona Ocean Industries, an international shipping and mining company. Mr. Dowd holds a B.S. in History from Manhattan College, and earned a M.A. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, where he was designated as a Georgetown Fellow in Foreign Service.

Mark T. Esper of Virginia to be Secretary of the Army. Mr. Esper is an Army, Pentagon, and Capitol Hill veteran who previously served as a Vice President for government relations at the Raytheon Company. Mr. Esper began his career as an Infantry Officer in the 101st Airborne Division, serving with distinction in the first Gulf War. He later served on active duty in Europe and on the Army Staff in Washington, DC, before transitioning to the National Guard and retiring after 21 years of service. He was an airborne ranger and recipient of the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medals, among other awards and qualifications. Mr. Esper worked national security issues on Capitol Hill for Senators Chuck Hagel, Fred Thompson, and Majority Leader Bill Frist. He was also a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations and House Armed Services Committees, and later a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. Mr. Esper’s private sector experience includes service as an Executive Vice President at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Policy Director for Fred Thompson for President during the 2008 campaign, and EVP of the Aerospace Industries Association of America. Mr. Esper is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, and George Washington University.

Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick of the District of Columbia to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Ms. Fitzpatrick, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1983. She is currently the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State. Ms. Fitzpatrick earned a M.S. from the U.S. National War College, a M.A. from Georgetown University and a B.A. from the University of Dayton. Her languages include Spanish, French, Russian, Dutch and some Arabic.

Daniel J. Kaniewski of Minnesota to be Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Kaniewski was most recently Vice President for Global Resilience at AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe risk modeling and consulting services firm, and a Senior Fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. Previously, Dr. Kaniewski served as the Mission Area Director for Resilience and Emergency Preparedness/Response at the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute. He was also an adjunct assistant professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where he taught graduate courses in the Security Studies Program. Before these positions, Dr. Kaniewski served on the White House staff, first as Director of Response and Recovery Policy and later as Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Senior Director for Response Policy. Dr. Kaniewski began his career in homeland security as a firefighter and paramedic. He holds a B.S. in Emergency Medical Services from George Washington University, a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from the Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from George Washington University.

Anthony Kurta of Montana to be a Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Personnel and Readiness. Mr. Kurta was most recently fulfilling the duties of Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, where he was responsible for health affairs, readiness, civilian and military personnel policy for Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, and civilian members of the Department of Defense. Mr. Kurta previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy and the Director of Navy Flag Officer Management and Development. In addition, Mr. Kurta served 32 years on Active Duty as a Navy Surface Warfare Officer, during which time he commanded the USS Sentry (MCM 3), USS Guardian (MCM 5), USS Warrior (MCM 10), USS Carney (DDG 64), Destroyer Squadron Two Four and Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). He is a recipient of Defense Superior Service Medals, Legions of Merit, Meritorious Service Medals, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award. Mr. Kurta is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Georgetown University, Air Command and Staff College, and was a National Security Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral.

Ted McKinney of Indiana to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. Mr. McKinney is director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, serving from 2014 to present under then Governor Mike Pence, and now Governor Eric Holcomb. Mr. McKinney grew up on a family grain and livestock farm in Tipton, Indiana. He also worked for 19 years with Dow AgroSciences, and 14 years with Elanco, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, where he was Director of Global Corporate Affairs. His industry and civic involvements include the National FFA Conventions Local Organizing Committee, Indiana State Fair Commission, International Food Information Council (IFIC), the U.S. Meat Export Federation, International Federation of Animal Health (IFAH), and the Purdue Dean of Agriculture Advisory Committee. Mr. McKinney was a 10-year 4-H member, an Indiana State FFA Officer, and a graduate of Purdue University where he received a B.S. in Agricultural Economics in 1981. While at Purdue, he received the G.A. Ross Award as the outstanding senior male graduate. In 2002, he was named a Purdue Agriculture Distinguished Alumnus, and in 2004, received an honorary American FFA Degree. Mr. McKinney and his wife Julie have three children and four grandchildren.

A. Wess Mitchell of Virginia to be an Assistant Secretary of State, European and Eurasian Affairs. Mr. Mitchell is an expert on NATO and transatlantic relations. In 2005 he co-founded the Center for European Policy Analysis and has served as its President and CEO since 2009. He serves on numerous policy boards in the United States and Europe. Mr. Mitchell earned a B.A. from Texas Tech University, a M.A. from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and recently completed his Ph.D. at Freie Universität, in Berlin, Germany. He speaks German and has studied Dutch and Czech.

Robert L. Wilkie of North Carolina to be Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Mr. Wilkie currently serves as Senior Advisor to Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina. He most recently served in the Presidential Transition Office, where he was a member of both the Defense Policy Team and Cabinet Affairs Teams. Previously, Mr. Wilkie served as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for CH2M HILL, one of the world’s largest engineering and program management firms. He also served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs as well as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush Administration. On Capitol Hill, Mr. Wilkie served as Counsel and Advisor on International Security Affairs for the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Honorable Trent Lott. Mr. Wilkie currently serves in the United States Air Force Reserve, and previously in the United States Navy Reserve. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University, Loyola University College of Law (New Orleans), Georgetown University Law Center, and the United States Army War College. He is also a graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff, the Joint Forces Staff College and the Air Command and Staff College.


Presidential Executive Order Establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 01:09


- - - - - - -


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  It shall be the policy of the executive branch to advance infrastructure projects that create high-quality jobs for American workers, enhance productivity, improve quality of life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic growth.

Sec. 2.  Establishment of Council.  There is established in the Department of Commerce the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure (Council).

Sec. 3.  Membership of Council.  (a)  The Council shall be composed of not more than 15 members.  The members shall be appointed by the President and drawn from the public with relevant experience or subject-matter expertise to represent the interests of the following infrastructure sectors:

(i)     real estate;

(ii)    finance;

(iii)   construction;

(iv)    communications and technology;

(v)     transportation and logistics;

(vi)    labor;

(vii)   environmental policy; 

(viii)  regional and local economic development; and

(ix)    other sectors determined by the President to be of value to the Council.

(b)  The President shall designate two Co-Chairs of the Council from among the Council's members.  The Co-Chairs may designate one or more Vice Chairs from among the Council's members.

Sec. 4.  Mission of Council.  The Council shall study the scope and effectiveness of, and make findings and recommendations to the President regarding, Federal Government funding, support, and delivery of infrastructure projects in several sectors, including surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resources, renewable energy generation, electricity transmission, broadband, pipelines, and other such sectors as determined by the Council.  In pursuing its mission, the Council shall make findings and recommendations concerning the following:

(a)  prioritizing the Nation's infrastructure needs;

(b)  accelerating pre-construction approval processes;

(c)  developing funding and financing options capable of generating new infrastructure investment over the next 10 years;

(d)  identifying methods to increase public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects, including appropriate statutory or regulatory changes;

(e)  identifying best practices in and opportunities to improve procurement methods, grant procedures, and infrastructure delivery systems; and

(f)  promoting advanced manufacturing and infrastructure-related technological innovation.

Sec. 5.  Administration of Council.  (a)  The Department of Commerce shall provide the Council with such administrative support, including staff, facilities, equipment, and other support services, as may be necessary to carry out its mission.

(b)  The Secretary of Commerce shall, within 60 days of the date of this order, submit questions to the Council for consideration in its work and report.

(c)  Members of the Council shall serve without any additional compensation for their work on the Council.  Members of the Council appointed from among private citizens of the United States, while engaged in the work of the Council, may be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, to the extent permitted by law for persons serving intermittently in Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707), consistent with the availability of appropriations.

(d)  Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.) (Act), may apply to the Council, any functions of the President under that Act, except for those in section 6 and section 14 of that Act, shall be performed by the Secretary of Commerce, in accordance with the guidelines that have been issued by the Administrator of General Services.

Sec. 6.  Report of Council.  The Council shall submit to the President a report containing its findings and recommendations.

Sec. 7.  Termination of Council.  The Council shall terminate on December 31, 2018, unless extended by the President before that date, or within 60 days after submitting its report pursuant to section 6 of this order, whichever occurs first.

Sec. 8.  General Provisions.  (a)  The heads of executive departments and agencies shall cooperate with and provide information to the Council as may be necessary to carry out the mission of the Council, consistent with applicable law.

(b)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or 

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(d)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

                                  DONALD J. TRUMP

    July 19, 2017.

Remarks by Vice President Pence and Elected Officials at the First Meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 21:16

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

11:40 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much, Mr. President.  And with that, ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to call the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to order.

Our first order of business is to recognize each of our members and to make introductions and brief remarks.  I'd like to start with a few comments of my own in addition to the remarks that I made from the podium.

First and foremost, let me commend each one of you for stepping forward to serve your country in this capacity.  As you heard from the President and from me earlier, we are truly grateful for your willingness to step forward.  This is a bipartisan group that will perform a nonpartisan service to the American people.  Our goal, as the executive order asserts, is to help promote free and honest federal elections.  Our charge is to study the registration and voting processes used in federal elections.  And, as I mentioned earlier, our charge is to explore vulnerabilities in the system that could lead to improper voting registration and improper voting.  

Let me reiterate the point I made earlier, now that we're on the record:  We have no preconceived notions or preordained results.  Our duty is to go where the facts lead and to provide the President and the American people with a report on our findings that can be used to strengthen the American people's confidence in our electoral system.  And as you heard, the President looks forward to what we accomplish, and so do I.  And I look very much forward to hearing from each and every one of you.

The President and I have a meeting scheduled soon after this with a number of senators, so my hope is that I'll be able to hear from each and every one of you before excusing myself to hear from members of the United States Senate on another matter.  But I'm very, very grateful that you're here.

We'd like to ask that you limit your remarks -- your opening remarks -- to five minutes or less.  There is a timer in the back, but I know we can go on the honor system here with each one of you, and we appreciate your sensitivity.

I'd like to start by recognizing our distinguished Vice-Chair, the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach.  And Mr. Secretary, you are now recognized, with the gratitude of the President and this administration, for your opening remarks. 

MR. KOBACH:  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  It's indeed a great honor to serve as vice chairman of this commission.  The charge of the commission is a significant one, as the President outlined:  to study the threats to the integrity of our elections; to quantify those threats, if possible; and, if it's the will of the commission, to offer recommendations to the President to help ensure the integrity of future elections in this country.  And most importantly, to share that information -- after the report is made to the President -- to share that information with the American public.

This is a mission of the highest order.  I've often thought that at the very foundation of our republic are really two bedrock things:  the American Constitution and the faith and reality that our elections are conducted fairly.  If you take away either of those two things, I believe that our republic cannot stand for long.

So, for a long time, there's been lingering doubt among many Americans about the integrity and fairness of elections, and it's not a new issue at all.  If you look at the polling data, it goes back decades.  Public opinion has been consistent on this in that there is a substantial number of people who wonder if our elections are fair.  A 2014 survey showed that only 40 percent of voters thought elections were fair to the voters, which indicates that 60 percent either did not think so or were undecided.

We owe it to the American people to take a hard, dispassionate look at the subject.  And throughout our country's history, there have been specific historical episodes that we may have learned of in school or in college of voter fraud, and those may have received a great deal of attention.  And individual states, from time to time, may have investigated specific allegations of voter fraud or have done some specific investigation of voter fraud.

For example, in my state of Kansas, we're engaged in litigation right now, defending our proof of citizenship requirements at the time of registration.  And we've engaged in extensive fact-finding for the federal courts involved, and have discovered 128 specific cases of non-citizens who either registered to vote or attempted to register to vote.  But that's just the tip of the iceberg.  One expert in the case estimated that the total number could be in excess of 18,000 on our voter rolls. 
But there's never been a nationwide effort to do some sort of analysis of this scope and scale -- to quantify and analyze the various forms of threats to our election's integrity.  This commission will have the ability to find answers to questions that have never been fully answered before and to conduct research that has never been conducted before.  And that research will not be buried.  We respect the voter's privacy and will not identify individual voters with our voter roll data, but we will lay out factual findings and systematic problems that we can identify in our electoral systems.  And those results, whatever they are, will be made public for the American people to draw their own conclusions from.

In 2013, President Obama established a Presidential Commission on Election Administration, and he did so, among other things, to analyze a problem that had been reported in several states in the 2012 election, and that was long lines at the polling places.  When someone drives to a polling place and sees a long line two blocks long, there's a chance that that person may decide it's not worth it for me to vote, and turn around and drive home.  

Similarly, if someone lives in a place where voter fraud has been known to occur in the past, and the elections in the past may have been stolen, there's a chance that he or she will decide that his vote is not likely to count or it will be counterbalanced by the fraud, and therefore decide not to vote in that case.

These are both problems worthy of investigation and worthy of a presidential commission.  In Kansas, for the last 11 years, we've hosted the Interstate Crosscheck System, in which approximately 30 states participate.  We annually compare our voter rolls to each other, and in so doing we find literally millions of people that are probable double registrations -- where the same person is registered in more than one state.  With that information, the participating states can begin the process of keeping their voter rolls accurate and up to date.  It’s a starting point when the state can then call the voters in question, and, with the voters' consent, remove them from the voter rolls of the state in which he no longer resides, or else using a process laid out by the National Voter Registration Act. 

The program also develops leads where it appears that the same person may have actually voted twice in the same election in two different jurisdictions.  After further investigation, a prosecution for double-voting may be appropriate.  This program, hosted by Kansas and in 30 states, illustrates how a successful multistate effort can be in enhancing the integrity of our elections and in keeping our voter rolls accurate.  

I’m confident that this commission will be equally successful on the national level.  The talent, experience, and expertise of my fellow members of the commission is truly impressive.  Thank you all for giving your time and your energy to this endeavor.  I’m really looking forward to beginning our work together.  Thank you

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  Thank you for your opening remarks and thank you for your leadership on this commission.  We look forward very much to working with you.

With that, I’d like to recognize my friend and fellow Hoosier, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, for five minutes.

MS. LAWSON:  Well thank you, Mr. Vice President, Vice-Chairman Kobach, and distinguished commission members and fellow citizens.  It really and truly is an honor for me to join the commission today, and I want to thank President Trump for the chance to serve in this capacity.  

I am Connie Lawson.  I’m the Indiana Secretary of State.  I also serve as president of the bipartisan National Association of Secretaries of State, and in that role I co-chair the NASS Election Security Taskforce.  I think my background is uniquely situated to the issue of voting processes and election administration.  I served, on the local level, two terms as the Hendricks County clerk overseeing -- actually, after the 2000 election, it really and truly was the beginning of the move towards electronic voting and modernization of voting machines.

I was very involved in the association, becoming president and legislative chair as well.  Following my time in local office, I served 16 years as state senator.  During that time -- the entire 16 years -- I was a member of the Senate Elections Committee.  I did become the majority floor leader in the Indiana Senate, I think, as a result of my respect in that work.  In 2012, a vacancy arose in the Secretary of State’s office, and Governor Mitch Daniels appointed me to serve the remainder of the term.  And I was elected to a full term in 2014.  

It really and truly is an honor to be here with my distinguished fellow commissioners to discuss issues related to voting systems and processes around the country.  With statewide elections in New Jersey and Virginia this year, and many more contests to follow in 2018, there is no better time to analyze how we can improve voter confidence in civic participation.  

While it’s important to create an accurate understanding of the 2016 cycle, I believe that it’s even more important for us to be discussing what lies ahead.  This body has a great opportunity to outline constructive priorities as we begin our work.  I would submit that one of the most important goals we have is improving the partnership between federal and state authorities where election issues are concerned.  For instance, I and other secretaries have been frustrated by attempts to communicate with the federal Department of Homeland Security in their wake of their decision to designate election systems as critical infrastructure.  The situation is improving, but it doesn’t help when I’m still discovering facts about this decision through the media rather than from the decision-makers, and I’m hopeful that we can address this issue going forward.  

While I was state senator, significant updates were made to federal and state election law.  Among those was the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, passed in 2002.  It was passed to improve voting systems and voter access in response to the 2000 election.  This legislation created the Election Assistance Commission and addressed provisional voting, voting equipment, statewide voter databases, among other things.  A crucial point is that the HAVA standards were developed in a bipartisan, cooperative manner seeking input from multiple stakeholders in order to find points of agreement.  It’s my hope that this commission will operate in a similar manner as we get to work on behalf of the President, our states, and the American people.  Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Madam Secretary.  Appreciate your remarks very much.  And now the chair recognizes the former Secretary of State for the great state of Ohio, Ken Blackwell.

MR. BLACKWELL:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I’m honored to be a member of this commission.  I want to thank you, Vice President Pence, for your leadership in this endeavor and express my gratitude to all of my colleagues for their willingness to undertake this important work.  This commission and its task is to identify every threat to the integrity of the electoral process, both foreign and domestic.  We are to serve the American people by enumerating the vulnerabilities of our electoral system and recommending countermeasures to protect the voting rights of the American people as guaranteed by the Constitution.

I would like to offer, into the record, my work of constitutional law on this issue.  I co-authored this work with Ken Klukowski, a respected constitutional attorney -- I’m going to say, from Indiana.  (Laughter.)  And our law review article is entitled, “The Other Voting Right: Protecting Every Citizens Vote by Safeguarding the Integrity of the Ballot Box,” published by the Yale Law and Policy Review.  

We set forth that one way to articulate the right to vote secured by the Constitution is that every properly registered adult has the right to an undiluted vote.  Each elector has the right to a vote that carries its full weight and that, when it is tallied, has its maximum proper effect to give that citizen a full voice in determining who among us will be entrusted with the powers of government for a term of office.  

As we explain in our article, this really means the Constitution secures two voting rights.  The first is the one we talk about most often -- the franchise, the right to cast a ballot on Election Day.  Most voting laws combat abuses rooted in the past that denied Americans access to the voting booth.  But there’s a second right that accompanies the right to cast a ballot, and that is the right of the citizen -- a citizen’s legal ballot not being diluted or canceled by anyone else’s illegal activity.  

That activity could be voter fraud by casting a ballot in more than one precinct or state.  It could be a non-citizen voting, whether that non-citizen is a legal alien or an illegal alien -- if they are not citizens.  Then their ballots dilute the votes of American citizens.  The illegal activity could be voter intimidation or voter registration fraud, or it could be foreign interference in our elections, whether from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, or any other foreign power.  This other voting right is a fundamental constitutional right against any such dilution or cancellation, and it is our commission’s work and our mandate from the President of the United States to identity these threats and safeguard against them.  

Another topic explored in our article is that voting is perhaps our only fundamental right secured by the Constitution that is also a citizen’s duty.  We all have the right to the free exercise of religion, or to keep and bear arms, for example, but our form of government does not impose them upon us as duties.  But when it comes to voting, the Constitution enables election officials to presume that public-spirited citizens with due concern for the course of the state and national policy will be willing to satisfy reasonable regulations and shoulder incidental burdens in the fulfillment of their civic duty.  

My home state of Ohio is the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.  Among the judges on that bench is Alice Batchelder.  Two years ago, in Russell vs. Grimes, Judge Batchelder wrote, “Citizens cannot demand as constitutional entitlement an environment in which fulfilling this civic duty is effortless.  To the contrary,” Judge Batchelder added, “the Constitution allows for the possibility that citizens should be expected to overcome minimal obstacles when voting.”  

Every patriotic citizen who is a qualified elector has a solemn duty in our democratic republic to participate in public debate by casting their thoughtful, informed, and deliberate ballot on Election Day.  We are a self-governing people.  The machinery of democracy on Election Day is the cornerstone of how we govern ourselves.  This commission’s duty is to catalogue every threat to that machinery and determine how to thwart each threat and thereby safeguard the integrity of the ballot box.

Mr. Chairman, I ask that this article and my extended remarks be made part of the record today -- today’s proceedings and the work of the commission.  Thank you so much, sir.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Your law review article and your extended remarks are submitted to the record without objection.  And thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your opening remarks.

With that I’d like to recognize the Secretary of State of Maine, Secretary Matt Dunlap, for five minutes.

MR. DUNLAP:  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  I apologize I don’t have any prepared remarks, so I’ll try to keep it within the 45-minute allotment.  (Laughter.)  

Our experience in Maine has really been a truly gracious one, and we are very, very blessed to have the commitment of so many incredibly devoted and dedicated people across the state in the 503 towns and 425 unorganized territories of the state of Maine.  An area from Fort Kent to Kittery, and from Oquossoc to Eastport -- the people that I work with in elections -- you know, I’m the chief elections officer of the state of Maine, but the actual election is run by those local town officials who put an extraordinary amount of effort to make sure that their neighbors can freely and fairly exercise their constitutional franchise of democratic self-governance.  And we owe them a great deal -- and we have a great deal to be proud of.  

We, too, get questions from time to time about something that happens in an election.  We get a few hundred allegations of possible double-voting.  But because our clerks work very closely with each other and we communicate with each other, typically what happens is someone requests an absentee ballot, and they forget about it or lose it in a pile of seed catalogues, and then they show up at the polls and we divine pretty quickly that, in fact, they only cast one ballot and then the question is answered.  

But accountability is pretty important here, and I think that’s the entire purpose of this commission is to help bolster and instill confidence in electoral process that belongs to the American people.  And I hope that, in those considerations, one of the things we focus on is what works well.  What do we do right?  And certainly -- I listened very closely to the remarks of the President -- but no one who has spoken, including the President, has questioned the legitimacy of the outcome of the 2016 election.  I think that’s a great place to start from is, you know, what are the balance points between security and access?  

And I think that anything that we do to answer those questions, to reassure people that there are no goblins under the bed, and if there are, we deal with them in a way that is balanced, again, towards access of the voting public to participate in their government.  This is not ours.  It belongs to them.  

And I think as we move forward, the one thing I want to focus on -- and I tell our clerks this when we do our training every year -- is that this is a process that does not belong to us.  It belongs to the voters.  And everything we do, we must do with devotion to assure that the voters have their voice heard and that the ballots that are cast are done without question, and that the government that is installed to represent those people acts on their behalf with the confidence of the public.  And I want to make sure that we answer those questions and that we move forward as a group with that same level of confidence, and I’ll be very pleased to be a part of this.  So, thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thank you for those very thoughtful words, without notes and with great brevity.  I like it.  (Laughter.) 

With that, it would be my privilege to recognize the longest-serving secretary of state in American history, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner.  Secretary Gardner, you’re recognized for five minutes.

MR. GARDNER:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman.  I look forward to the work we have ahead.  

After our federal Constitution was ratified, a person asked George Washington this question:  What is the most important thing that a person can do for his country?  And Washington answered that in five words:  Express your view beyond yourself.  When I first became aware of that, I took it to mean everyone’s voice mattered.  Be willing to share your views, have dialogue with others, and let others share their views with you, for it will strengthen our country.  It can also be applied to voting, where we collectively express our views beyond ourselves by way of the ballot box.  And the more often we get to do that, the more we fulfill the will of our first President.  I would like more Americans to vote, not fewer.  

For over a half-century, since the Civil Rights era of the ‘60s, our federal government and the states have been trying to find more and more ways to make it easier to vote.  But when states try to balance that ease of voting with measures to increase voting integrity, it is often met with hostile resistance and charges of suppression.  

I will respect the facts that this commission receives, but it has been my belief over many years of administering elections that we will see an increase in voter turnout only when ease of voting is balanced with security and integrity.  Making voting easier by itself does not result in higher turnout, as we have seen in our recent elections.  Polls conducted just before the last presidential election found over half the country believes there's voter fraud.  And polls after the election show a declining level of confidence in the balloting.  

During this century, there have been three national election commissions previous to this one.  They spent time continuing the quest for ways to make voting easier.  In my opinion, we need to first understand why turnout has not increased as a result.  

One of the previous commissions recommended states adopt photo ID requirements for voting, and that commission was severely criticized for doing so.  We also need to compare states that have voter ID laws with those without.  I might add that the two highest states in turnout during the presidential primaries last year were both photo ID states.  

Why is it important for the public to have confidence in their elections?  The reason is contrary to common belief:  One vote does matter.  I have conducted nearly 500 recounts, all done by hand, counting paper ballots in a public process, including state-wide, congressional, and various smaller district races.  Eleven of those recounts have ended in a tie; 32 were decided by one vote; and a total of 202, by less than 10 votes.    

And while serving as state representative, back in the 1970s, my state had a U.S. Senate race that was decided by two votes.  The U.S. Senate, after that, tried to do a recount of that race and gave up after trying for five months.  I am a witness that every vote matters, and there doesn’t need to be massive voter fraud to sway the outcome.  These are the experiences I will bring to this commission, and I will work with all of you endeavoring to let the facts we receive speak for themselves.

Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary.  And thank you for those words and for your long service to the people of your state.

The chair now recognizes Judge Alan King of Jefferson County, Alabama for five minutes.

MR. KING:  Mr. Vice President and Secretary Kobach, it's a pleasure to serve on this committee.  I appreciate the invitation.  I'm Alan King.  I'm the presiding probate judge in Jefferson County, Alabama.  It's the largest county in the state of Alabama.  We have roughly 660,000 residents, and in 2016 we had almost 460,000 registered voters.  

We have two probate judges in Jefferson County, and I was elected in 2000 as the place two probate judge, and then in 2006 and '12 as the presiding probate judge.  I have a law degree, and I'm a former president of the Alabama Probate Judges Association.  

In Alabama, probate judges are the chief election official for his or her county.  I've been involved in 10 major elections as the place two probate judge, and I've been the chief election official for 39 major elections as the presiding probate judge. 

On August 15th of this year, we will have a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  

I have a certification, through the Election Center, which the premier -- or one of the premier election training organizations in the United States.  And so I'm involved in elections, have been involved in elections for 16.5 years.  I bring a wealth of experience from a county level.  So to speak, I've had boots on the ground in every aspect of elections.  I would consider myself to be an election expert on everything that involves elections.

In the national organizations that I'm a member of, it's been my great pleasure to meet other election officials on the national level.  I have talked extensively with men and women for the last few years.  

I feel inclined, since I'm the chief election official for Jefferson County, Alabama, to say that, in my 16.5 years in the Jefferson County probate judge position, that I have not seen evidence of voter fraud in Jefferson County.  I had one situation -- I think it was in 2014 -- where it was a father and a son had the same name.  I became aware of that.  I submitted this information to our district attorney, and the district attorney chose not to pursue any charges against either the father or the son.

The executive order that created this commission refers to voter confidence and voter processes.  And again, since I'm a county official, I feel inclined to say that one of the most massive problems that will be facing this nation in the years to come is technology, and it's the technology of the voting machines.  And I've seen it in the legal profession, from discovery and cases that have come before me in court.  I'm in court virtually all day, every day.  

And bottom line:  Technology is moving so fast that society is not able to keep up with the legal profession.  My wife is an elementary school librarian -- now called a school media specialist.  She's not able, educators are not able to keep up with technology.  And I would venture to say, Mr. Vice President and Secretary Kobach, that we have a huge challenge in this nation with keeping with voting machine technology.

And in 2002, the U.S. Congress and HAVA -- Help America Vote Act -- passed -- had funding that was filtered down to the states and to each county.  And so from a county-wide standpoint, these voting machines are outdated.  There's no money there.  Counties don’t have money.  States don't have money.  We need money.  I was -- thankfully, four years ago, I got on top of this issue.  I was able to convince my county commissioners to fund the next generation of voting machines in Jefferson County.  We did that in the 2016 election to the tune of $3.1 million.  But not every county can do that.  Not every state can do that.  

And as we go down this process, it is my hope that we will -- that will be an issue that we will discuss.  Because we can discuss a lot of things about voting, but unless we have the technology, unless the technology is keeping up with voting, then we're not using our time very wisely, in my opinion.

So I hope that that's an issue that we will get into.  I hope that's an issue that we will discuss and discuss freely.  And I hope that's a recommendation that this commission makes to Vice President Pence, to you, and to President Trump. 

Again, thank you so very much for the opportunity to serve on this commission.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Judge King.  Thank you for bringing your extraordinary experience at the county level, and those thoughtful opening remarks today.  We look forward to working with you very much.  An honor to have you here.

With that, the chair recognizes Commissioner Christy McCormick, who is also a member of the Election Assistance Commission, for five minutes.

MS. MCCORMICK:  Thank you.  Mr. Vice President, Secretary Kobach, and my fellow distinguished commission members:  I'm very much looking forward to participating in the mission of this commission.  

I started working in elections almost 30 years ago as an assistance voter registrar in East Haven, Connecticut.  And since then, I've worked in several capacities in elections and voting, including eight years in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division's Voting Section, litigating and defending our federal voting statutes, including the Voting Rights Act, the NVRA, UOCAVA, and the MOVE Act.  

I was detailed to Baghdad for a year as the Department of Justice's expert in elections to work on the Iraq national elections.  And I have since served, since January of 2015, as the commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which is dedicated to making election administration better across our country.

I have worked directly with state and local election officials from every state and territory, and I see my role on this commission as representing a wide range of election officials.  I have also regularly interfaced with voting system vendors and not-for-profit voting and elections organizations, and I will always take their concerns and interests into consideration.

Our Constitution provides that our states have the authority and responsibility to run our elections, and I fully support this provision.  However, I also believe that our federal government does have an interest in elections being free, fair, and secure from outside and improper influences.  Our nation as a whole should be dedicated to ensure the survival of America's representative democracy.

Over the past year and, quite frankly, much longer than that, we've heard that our election system is in danger.  It is appropriate for us to examine any threats or dangers to our system, the integrity of our system, and the fairness of our system.  We need to ensure that every American citizen who is eligible to vote may do so freely and privately, and that his or her vote is not diluted by improper votes or influence.  

We need to ensure that persons who are eligible to vote are not disenfranchised, and that voters have confidence that our system is producing accurate, secure, and expeditious results.  

With that in mind, I would like to see this commission, at a minimum, look at some of these questions:  How we keep ineligible, and those operating in bad faith, off of and out of our voting systems.  How we address the management of voter registration systems and the problem of inaccurate lists.  

I applaud the dedication and hard work of our election administrators across this country.  And, believe me, they have a hard, hard and extensively complex job.  

But I've also done election observation over the past dozen or so years, and I have yet to see a fully accurate voter list in any polling place across the country.  I have seen firsthand irregularities take place in the polling place and in some offices.  What causes a lack of voter participation and confidence in our system, and what actions should we consider that would hopefully boost participation and confidence in the voters' experience with our election system?  What methods are currently used to identify, deter, and investigate improper registration and voting, and are those methods sufficient?  And what are the methods currently used to identify, defer, and investigate voter intimidation or suppression, and are those methods working?

The entire world looks to the United States as a model for representative democracy and free and fair elections.  As a nation, we must continually review and investigate any possible issues with our voting system, and we must stay vigilant to protect our precious right to elect our leaders.  

I look forward to working with the Vice President and with other members of this commission.  I expect, as I believe the other members of this commission do also, full transparency, courteous discussion, and professional respect.

I appreciate, in spite of some of the media reports I've seen, that the commission has no preconceived results, that we are not afraid of the facts leading us to the truth -- whatever that looks like, and that any conclusions or recommendations will be based on these truths.

Finally, thank you to the President, Vice President for trusting me and allowing me to participate in this commission.  It is an honor to serve my country.  Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, Commissioner McCormick, thank you.  Thank you for those good words.  Thank you for bringing your vast experience in elections, at home and abroad, to this commission's work.  We're grateful to have you here.

The chair now recognizes J. Christian Adams from Virginia for five minutes.

MR. ADAMS:  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  Thank you, Vice Chairman Kobach.  I'd also like thank President Trump for initiating this long overdue effort.  I would like to thank the other members of the commission for their willingness to examine the integrity of our electoral systems, and to seek the truth about vulnerabilities in these systems and contemplate ways to improve the process.

Most Americans value truth and value election systems deserving of our faith.  It has been said that truth enlightens our intelligence and helps shape our freedom.  Clean elections protect our freedom.  Elections tainted by fraud disrupt the consent of the government.  I believe that all the commissioners are dedicated to an inquisitive and robust search for the data and for the truth about vulnerabilities in our elections, and ways to improve the systems.

There are areas of serious concern.  For example, there are recurring indications that individuals are getting registered to vote even though they are marking the voter registration forms "no" to the question, "Are you a United States citizen?"  Again, they are checking the box on the registration form that they are not American citizens, but are still getting registered to vote.  What fair-minded American could support this?  What serious, inquisitive American wouldn't ask, "How does this happen?  How often does this happen?  How can we improve the system?"

Yet, there are plenty of interests that would rather see these questions not be asked.  The truth is more important but these individuals do not want the questions asked, and that is the wrong approach.  Americans have never assumed that we could not accomplish the mission, could not improve the way things work.  There are ways to examine and reach the truth about our elections without harming a single legitimate voter registration.  I'm sure the members of the commission will do their best, as I will, to improve our election system.

For the first time, we have the tools, we have the will, and we have the support of the majority of the American people who are concerned with voter fraud to document these vulnerabilities in our systems and suggest improvements.  And so I'm excited to help, and thank you for this effort.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Mr. Adams.  We're grateful to have you on the commission, and thank you for those opening remarks.

The chair now recognizes the clerk of Wood County, West Virginia, Mark Rhodes, for five minutes.

MR. RHODES:  Thank you, and thank you for permitting me to be on this commission.  It is an honor.  As county clerk, yes, I am in charge of the elections, and several of the things that I've even heard discussed here, I can say it's happened to me.  

I started working in our IT department in Wood County in 1997.  I believe if you check my voting registration record for the year 2000, you'll find that I voted a provisional ballot.  And the reason being was, I was deceased.  We were doing a -- before we had a statewide voter system, we had to do a data upload monthly to the Secretary of State's office.  It wasn't working properly.  I'd marked myself deceased, ran a test, and never revived myself.  (Laughter.) 

I walked into the precinct.  I went over to Janice, who was our poll worker.  She said, you're not in the book.  I should be.  I voted a provisional ballot because I was not in the book.  I appeared at the county commission meeting during canvass, and they went, yep, you're alive, and my vote did count.  So it's one of those -- there are things that do happen.  And we try to make sure that every legally-cast ballot counts.  

In 2014, when I ran for my first election as county clerk, I won by five votes out of over 24,000 votes that were cast.  So it's one of those -- we need to have fair, clean, honest elections, and there should be no doubt that those five votes -- you know, my win is the win and it's there.  There should be no speculation.  I just want to make sure that we have good, fair, clean, honest elections.  And thank you for permitting me to serve.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Clerk Rhodes.  We're grateful to have you here bringing that experience.  And I'm glad you're doing well.  You look fine.  (Laughter.)

Now the chair recognizes David Dunn of Arkansas for five minutes.

MR. DUNN:  Thank you, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Kobach.  I want to also thank President Trump for allowing me to serve.  I'm humbled and I'm honored to have this opportunity to serve my country.

Having grown up in the Delta and to a political family, and spent most of my life as an economic developer in one of the most economically depressed areas in our country, I know how important the democratic process is.  Anything that calls into question the integrity of this process undermines the entire democratic system. 

We were asked today to present our thoughts on what we expected of this commission.  I'm eager to learn -- and I have, today, a bit -- the priorities of my fellow commissioners, all of whom I have met for the first time today, and I look forward to -- with everyone how to tackle these complex issues. 

A vision for this commission is threefold.  First, it is my desire for us to look at a myriad of issues to determine whether there are significant problems involving the election voter integrity.  We should look at the way the states' elections systems are currently working, and what resources or support the have, and what might be needed to improve their accuracy and efficiency.  Whether there's an increase in training of election and poll workers, improved communication between the states and localities across states, updated voting machines, or providing funds to assist localities in carrying out their voting election work, I hope this commission will look at all the possibilities to help states in their effort to run competent and true elections.

Second, I hope that this commission will ensure the privacy of America's voting public.  I understand while the letter that was sent to the states asked for only publicly available voter information, it still raised concerns.  And I believe that any data, statistics, or information collected by us or by the state should be held in our trust and safeguarded from any political misuse.

And finally, I hope that the activity of this bipartisan commission are completely transparent and public.  It's important that our work be conducted with the highest level of integrity, and that a variety of views can be expressed and considered.  

I applaud Vice President Pence for putting together this commission.  I look forward, with each of you, to ensure that the voters in my great state of Arkansas and across the country know that they will not be unlawfully disenfranchised, and they can have confidence in the integrity of our election.  

Thank you. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Commissioner Dunn.  Thank you for those very thoughtful words and admonitions.  We value them and identify greatly with what you said.  Grateful to have you here.  

Lastly, let me -- let the chair recognize Hans von Spakovsky for five minutes.

MR. VON SPAKOVSKY:  Mr. Vice President, fellow members of the commission:  I want to thank President Trump for the honor of having appointed me to the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  

I come at this issue of election integrity from very personal history.  My German mother grew up in Nazi Germany as a child.  My Russian father fought and escaped communism twice.  They met in a displaced persons camp in Europe, after the end of World War II, before immigrating to the United States.  My childhood was filled with stories of what it's like living in a dictatorship.  And we were taught as children that the right to vote is a very precious right, it's one that can be easily lost, and that it was our duty to always vote and participate in the democratic process.

I want to ensure that every American who is eligible is able to vote, and that his or her vote is not stolen or diluted because of administrative mistakes, errors by election officials, or intentional wrongdoing by those who are willing to take advantage of what we have, which is basically an honor system.

I have almost three decades of experience in the field of voting and elections.  That includes not only legal experience as a lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice, enforcing federal laws that protect the right to vote, but I've also been a local county election official in two states, Georgia and Virginia.  So I know very well how hard election officials work to try to administer the voting process fairly.

But we do have problems that need to be fixed.  We have vulnerabilities in the administrative system that we have, and we also have a history of voter fraud in this country.  The Supreme Court itself said in 2008, when it upheld Indiana's voter ID law, the U.S. has a long history of voter fraud, and it could make the difference in a close election.  And we have many close elections in this country.

Now, one of the documents I want to hand out to everyone on the commission -- and this is a printout, and it's easily available on the Heritage website -- is a database that we started about two years ago of voter fraud cases from around the country.  We are up to almost 1,100 proven cases of voter fraud, including almost 1,000 convictions of individuals in court.  These cases run the gamut and show all ways that voter fraud is committed in this country.  It includes impersonation fraud at the polls, false voter registrations, duplicate voting, fraudulent absentee ballots, vote buying, ineligible voting my felons and non-citizens, altering of vote counts, and ballot petition fraud.

We know we have problems with the accuracy of our voter registration lists.  Numerous studies have been done about this that show -- including the Interstate Crosscheck Program -- that we have literally hundreds of thousands of voters who are registered in multiple states, and we have many people who are deceased remaining on the voter rolls. 

No systematic, all-encompassing study has been done about these problems.  But we know that more must be done to improve the accuracy of our voter registration system and the security of our voting process.  

Now, I have full confidence in this commission, which is a bipartisan commission, and I look forward to working with my colleagues.  But I can't end my remarks without addressing what I consider to be the unfair, unjust, and unwarranted criticisms that have been leveled at this commission and some of its members.  My father passed on to me the belief that one of the best things about America is the ability to have spirited but civil debates, even on contentious issues.  Yet we seem to have lost that valuable part of our democratic process.

Members of this commission, including me, have already been subjected to vicious and defamatory personal attacks.  Those who want to ensure the integrity of the election process are only interested in preserving our great democracy.  The scurrilous charges that have been made are reprehensible and a tactic, frankly, to avoid a substantive debate on important issues and to prevent the research, inquiry, and study that is necessary to identify the problems in our election process, to determine what the solutions are, and to therefore ensure that we have the best election and best democratic system in the world.

Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Commissioner von Spakovsky.  Thank you for bringing your practical experience and your background to this commission.  We're truly grateful, and grateful for your stirring words.

Well, let me say, listening to all of the commissioners on this panel, I am more confident than ever that this bipartisan group is going to perform an enormously valuable non-partisan service to the American people.  I'm grateful for the words of admonition and challenge, one to another.  I can attest and promise you that we do go into this process with no preconceived notions or preordained results.  And the President has charged us to pursue the facts, and we will follow them with integrity, where they lead.

This will be a transparent and open process.  But knowing the background of all these commissioners, I can also promise you a spirited but also civil debate.  And we look very much forward to that. 

Our charge is simple.  In the executive order establishing this commission, let me reiterate:  It's to help to promote free and honest federal elections; to study registration voting processes used in federal elections; to identify vulnerabilities to the process that could lead to improper voter registration or even improper voting.  

We will live up to that and we will challenge one another to achieve that.  And I know -- I know in my heart that we'll do a great service to the American people.

With that, the chair would like to recess the meeting for a short lunch break.  Vice-Chair Kobach will reconvene in approximately 20 minutes to preside over the rest of the meeting's agenda.

But on behalf of the President and myself, I offer you my heartfelt thanks for being willing to serve your country at such a time as this, in this important work.  

So, thank you much.  And we're going to recess.

12:29 P.M. EDT

Eighteen Nominations and Two Withdrawals Sent to the Senate Today

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 19:36


Kurt G. Alme, of Montana, to be United States Attorney for the District of Montana for the term of four years, vice Michael W. Cotter, resigned.

Annemarie Carney Axon, of Alabama, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama, vice Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, retired.

Peter Henry Barlerin, of Colorado, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cameroon.

John J. Bartrum, of Indiana, to be an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, vice Ellen Gloninger Murray.

Liles Clifton Burke, of Alabama, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama, vice C. Lynwood Smith, retired.

Stephen Censky, of Missouri, to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, vice Krysta L. Harden, resigned.

Donald Q. Cochran, Jr., of Tennessee, to be United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee for the term of four years, vice David Rivera, resigned.

Russell M. Coleman, of Kentucky, to be United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky for the term of four years, vice David J. Hale, resigned. 

Peter E. Deegan, Jr., of Iowa, to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa for the term of four years, vice Kevin W. Techau, resigned.

Michael Dourson, of Ohio, to be Assistant Administrator for Toxic Substances of the Environmental Protection Agency, vice James J. Jones.

J. Cody Hiland, of Arkansas, to be United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas for the term of four years, vice Christopher R. Thyer, resigned.

Daniel J. Kaniewski, of Minnesota, to be Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, vice Timothy W. Manning.

Joseph Kernan, of Florida, to be Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, vice Marcel John Lettre, II.

Marc Krickbaum, of Iowa, to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa for the term of four years, vice Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, resigned.

Brian J. Kuester, of Oklahoma, to be United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma for the term of four years, vice Mark F. Green, resigned.     

Hester Maria Peirce, of Ohio, to be a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission for a term expiring June 5, 2020, vice Luis Aguilar, resigned.

Guy B. Roberts, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense, vice Andrew Charles Weber.

R. Trent Shores, of Oklahoma, to be United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma for the term of four years, vice Danny Chappelle Williams, Sr., resigned.


James Clinger, of Pennsylvania, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a term of six years, vice Jeremiah O'Hear Norton, resigned, which was sent to the Senate on June 19, 2017.

James Clinger, of Pennsylvania, to be Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a term of five years, vice Martin J. Gruenberg, term expiring, which was sent to the Senate on June 19, 2017.

Remarks by President Trump and Vice President Pence at the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Meeting

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 19:01

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

11:28 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, good morning.  Please be seated.  On behalf of the First Family, welcome to the White House.  And welcome to the inaugural meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Just over two months ago, on May the 11th, President Trump signed an executive order to create a commission to, in his words, help to “promote fair and honest federal elections” -- the foundation of our democracy.

Election integrity matters to every American.  President Calvin Coolidge reminded us, in his words, that the “whole system of American government rests on the ballot box.”  And President Reagan declared that the “right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties.” 

By establishing this commission, President Trump is taking action to ensure that the ballot box remains inviolate, and that the crown jewel shines brighter than ever before.

At the President’s direction, I'll have the honor to serve as chairman of this commission.  And it's a privilege to convene this first meeting today.  President Trump knows that the integrity of our electoral system transcends party lines, and I’m grateful this commission has brought together a distinguished group of bipartisan election experts and public officials from federal, state, and the local level.  And together, this bipartisan group will perform a truly non-partisan service to the American people.

I'd especially like to recognize our vice-chairman, who you'll hear more from after the President's remarks, a man whose long service has established him as a national leader on election integrity, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.   I also, as a point of personal privilege, would like to express my thanks and appreciation to Indian's Secretary of State, Connie Lawson, who joins us as a part of this panel.  

President Trump knows that the principle of “one person, one vote” is foundational to the American system of democracy.  This commission has been charged to study the registration and voting processes used in federal elections.  The commission will identify the laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that will enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of our electoral system.  We'll also explore the vulnerabilities in our system that could lead to improper voter registration and even improper voting.

This commission, let me be clear -- this commission has no preconceived notions or preordained results.  We’re fact-finders.  And in the days ahead, we will gather the relevant facts and data, and at the conclusion of our work, we will present the President with a report of our findings. 

I’m confident this commission will have a healthy and robust debate, but the President and I expect nothing less, because respectful debate is also a hallmark of our democracy. And I know that we'll find many areas of common ground, as well.

I’m pleased to report that the commission has already started its work, requesting publicly available data, and we are grateful for the more than 30 states that have already indicated their intention to provide this information, pursuant to the laws of their states.

Today is just the first of several meetings that the commission will hold in the coming months.  Today we will hear from each of the commission’s members.  Each of you brings a unique perspective based on your experience and your research, and we welcome your participation and your insights.

I’d like to note that our commission includes five current and former secretaries of state.  And Secretary Kobach and I look forward to working with each one of you, as the chief election officers from across America, to foster a collaborative and respectful relationship for the benefit of your states’ voters and our nation’s electoral process.

And finally, as the Commission on Election Integrity begins its work, I'd like to personally invite the American people to offer their public comments and input on our work, and the challenges and opportunities that face our electoral system. 

We want to hear the voice of the American voter -- because that’s really what this is all about.  You know, it's the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the integrity of America’s elections and the right of each and every American to see the sanctity of their vote protected.  

This President knows that the success of our democracy depends on the American people’s confidence in this electoral system.  And the President and I are both confident that this bipartisan commission will make the strongest democracy in the history of the world even stronger.

And so with gratitude for his commitment to fair and honest elections, it is my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to all of you the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Please, be seated.  Mr. Vice President, distinguished guests, and members of the media:  I’m honored to welcome you here today as the bipartisan Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity prepares to conduct its first official meeting.  Very, very important.  

This commission is tasked with the sacred duty of upholding the integrity of the ballot box and the principle of "one citizen, one vote."  Every time voter fraud occurs, it cancels out the vote of a lawful citizen and undermines democracy.  Can’t let that happen.  Any form of illegal or fraudulent voting, whether by non-citizens or the deceased, and any form of voter suppression or intimidation must be stopped.  

I’m pleased that more than 30 states have already agreed to share the information with the commission and the other states.   That information will be forthcoming.  If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about.  And I asked the Vice President, I asked the commission:  What are they worried about?  There’s something.  There always is.

This issue is very important to me because, throughout the campaign and even after it, people would come up to me and express their concerns about voter inconsistencies and irregularities, which they saw.  In some cases, having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states.  All public officials have a profound responsibility to protect the integrity of the vote.  We have no choice.  If we want to make America great again, we have to protect the integrity of the vote and our voters.  

This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue, it’s an American issue.  It’s about the concern of so many Americans that improper voting has taken place and canceling out the votes of lawful American citizens.  That is why President Theodore Roosevelt once said, it is the affair of every honest voter, wherever born, to see that no fraudulent voting is allowed anywhere.  

I want to thank Vice President Pence for chairing the commission.  I also want to thank Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for serving as vice-chair.  It's going to be a lot of work.  They’re going to work very hard over a fairly short period of time.  And I want to thank you both very much -- Kris, Mike.  

This is a bipartisan panel consisting of both Republican and Democratic leaders and experts on voter integrity.  I’d like to personally thank each of our panel members for serving.  Really do appreciate it.  

In addition to the chair and vice-chair, this distinguished bipartisan panel includes:  Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson -- thank you; New Hampshire Secretary of State, Bill Gardner -- thank you; Maine Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap; former Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell; Election Assistance Commissioner, Christy McCormick; former Arkansas State Representative, David Dunn -- thank you, David; Wood County West Virginia Clerk, Mark Rhoades; Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative -- a real expert -- Hans von Spakovsky; President and General Counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation -- great group -- J. Christian Adams; and Jefferson County, Alabama Probate Judge, Alan King.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Each of you has been entrusted with a great responsibility of helping to advance the cause of fair, honest, and lawful elections.  Your work will help protect our democracy.  This will be a very transparent process.  It’s going to be very open for everybody to see.  You will approach this important task with a very open mind and with no conclusions already drawn.  You will fairly and objectively follow the facts wherever they may lead.  

I look forward to the findings and recommendations your report will produce, and I share your report as soon as I can and as soon as possible with the American people so the full truth will be known and exposed, if necessary, in the light of day.  We call on every state to give its full support and total cooperation in this effort.  Most of them have really done brilliantly, and we appreciate it.  And the rest, all of that information will be forthcoming.  

Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President.  Thank you.  And, Kris, thank you.  Panel, thank you very much.  We appreciate it.  Do a great job.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  

11:39 A.M. EDT

A Message to the Congress of the United States

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 18:23


Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days of the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.  In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to significant transnational criminal organizations declared in Executive Order 13581 of July 24, 2011, is to continue in effect beyond July 24, 2017.

Significant transnational criminal organizations continue to threaten the safety of the United States and its citizens through the scope and gravity of their actions.  Such organizations derive revenue through widespread illegal conduct and overwhelmingly demonstrate a blatant disregard for human life through acts of violence and abuse.  These organizations often facilitate and aggravate violent civil conflicts and increasingly facilitate the activities of other dangerous persons.  As the sophistication of these organizations increases, they pose an increasing threat to the United States.

The activities of significant transnational criminal organizations continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.  Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13581 with respect to transnational criminal organizations.


July 19, 2017.

Notice Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 18:23


- - - - - - - 


On July 24, 2011, by Executive Order 13581, the President declared a national emergency with respect to transnational criminal organizations pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701–1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the activities of significant transnational criminal organizations.

Significant transnational criminal organizations continue to threaten the safety of the United States and its citizens through the scope and gravity of their actions.  Such organizations derive revenue through widespread illegal conduct and overwhelmingly demonstrate a blatant disregard for human life through acts of violence and abuse.  These organizations often facilitate and aggravate violent civil conflicts and increasingly facilitate the activities of other dangerous persons.  As the sophistication of these organizations increases, they pose an increasing threat to the United States.

The activities of significant transnational criminal organizations continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.  For this reason, the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13581 of July 24, 2011, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond July 24, 2017.  Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to transnational criminal organizations declared in Executive Order 13581.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.


July 19, 2017.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 01:18

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Governor John Huntsman Jr. of Utah to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation. Governor Jon Huntsman has had a distinguished career as a politician, diplomat, and businessman. He currently serves as Chairman of both the Atlantic Council, a premier foreign policy think tank, and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. His robust record of public service includes service as U.S. Ambassador to China and to Singapore, Deputy United States Trade Representative, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development. He was also twice elected Governor of Utah. In the private sector he is a director on numerous corporate boards including Hilton, Chevron, Ford Motor Company, and Caterpillar. He and his wife Mary Kaye are the parents of seven children.

Hester Maria Peirce of Ohio to be a Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission for the remainder of a five-year term expiring June 5, 2020. Ms. Peirce is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Financial Markets Working Group at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where she has worked since 2012. Ms. Peirce served on Senator Richard Shelby’s staff on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs from 2008 to 2011. From 2000 to 2008, Ms. Peirce served at the Securities and Exchange Commission as a Staff Attorney in the Division of Investment Management and as Counsel to Commissioner Paul Atkins. Before that, she clerked for Judge Roger B. Andewelt on the Court of Federal Claims and was an associate at a Washington, D.C. law firm. Ms. Peirce received her B.A. from Case Western Reserve University and her J.D. from Yale Law School.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 00:59

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation.  Governor Jon Huntsman has had a distinguished career as a politician, diplomat, and businessman.  He currently serves as Chairman of both the Atlantic Council, a premier foreign policy think tank, and the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.  His robust record of public service includes service as U.S. Ambassador to China and to Singapore,  Deputy United States Trade Representative, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development.  He was also twice elected Governor of Utah.  In the private sector he is a director on numerous corporate boards including Hilton, Chevron, Ford Motor Company, and Caterpillar.  He and his wife Mary Kaye are the parents of seven children.

Hester Maria Peirce of Ohio to be a Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission for the remainder of a five-year term expiring June 5, 2020.  Ms. Peirce is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Financial Markets Working Group at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where she has worked since 2012.  Ms. Peirce served on Senator Richard Shelby’s staff on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs from 2008 to 2011.  From 2000 to 2008, Ms. Peirce served at the Securities and Exchange Commission as a Staff Attorney in the Division of Investment Management and as Counsel to Commissioner Paul Atkins.  Before that, she clerked for Judge Roger B. Andewelt on the Court of Federal Claims and was an associate at a Washington, D.C. law firm.  Ms. Peirce received her B.A. from Case Western Reserve University and her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa’id Al Sa’id of Oman

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 22:45

President Donald J. Trump spoke today with Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id Al Sa’id of Oman. President Trump underscored the importance of close bilateral cooperation. The two leaders discussed ways to resolve regional conflicts, and President Trump emphasized the need to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 7/18/2017

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 22:19

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:34 P.M. EDT

MS. SANDERS:  The second door was already open.  You guys must be ready for me. 

I apologize for the delays.  Good afternoon.  Today, the Trump administration continued to shine a spotlight on the people, products, and principles that have made this country great with an event hosted by Secretary Zinke, celebrating the American outdoor recreation industry. 

The United States has a long tradition of preserving the all-American outdoor experience, dating back to the days of President Theodore Roosevelt.  And we've developed a booming industry to support that tradition that employs 7.6 million across the country, building boats and RVs, or supplying campers, fishers, and hunters.

The importance of exploring, innovating, and building here at home has always been a central part of our country's heritage.  And President Trump is proud that his administration is highlighting its continued significance to both our economy and our culture.

Yesterday, the United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, took the next step in renegotiating the outdated and unfair North American Free Trade Agreement by releasing the administration's negotiating objectives.

President Trump promised the American people, during the campaign, that he would renegotiate NAFTA to get a better deal for our workers, or he would withdraw from the deal.  These objectives are a framework for what the administration sees as a more fair NAFTA -- one that maintains the benefits for American farmers and ranchers who have obtained much-needed market access but provides relief for the manufacturing industry that has suffered particularly hard under the current agreement.  

They include addressing the United States' persistent trade imbalances in North America and obtaining reciprocal market access; eliminating unfair subsidies, market-distorting practices by state-owned enterprises, and burdensome restrictions on intellectual property; updating provisions throughout the agreement to support U.S. manufacturing; expanding market access for U.S. agriculture; adding a digital economy chapter; incorporating and strengthening labor and environment-side agreements; calling for the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to combat currency manipulation; and strengthening trade remedies, including the ability of the United States to enforce rigorously its trade laws.  

Politicians have been promising to fix NAFTA for years, but this is the first time that a modern United States free trade agreement has been renegotiated.  USTR will be making an announcement soon on the first round of negotiations as we work towards a NAFTA that benefits all Americans -- our workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers.

This morning, the Treasury and State Departments took strong action as part of the administration's broader strategy to keep America safe from the threat of Iran's destabilizing influence.  The Departments designated several individuals and entities for contributing to that influence.  These actions are separate and on top of the President's direction to work with our allies to explore options for addressing the serious flaws of the JCPOA.

Even as we continue to work to prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, we cannot look away while Iran threatens our country and our allies in ways beyond their nuclear threat.  All of these elements will be part of the comprehensive integrated strategy that the Trump administration is developing to address the full spectrum of Iranian threats to our national interest. 

And, finally, yesterday Sean was asked about the administration's position on the concept of net neutrality, and he said we'd get back to you.  The administration believes that rules of the road are important for everyone -- website providers, Internet service providers, and consumers alike.

With that said, the previous administration went about this the wrong way by imposing rules on ISPs through the FCC's Title II rulemaking power.  We support the FCC chair's efforts to review and consider rolling back these rules, and believe that the best way to get fair rules for everyone is for Congress to take action and create regulatory and economic certainty.

And with that, I will take your questions.


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  The President seemed fairly blindsided yesterday by the defections on the healthcare bill.  As the White House pivots and moves over to tax reform later in the summer, what are you going to change at the White House to make sure that he has a pretty good sense of where the votes are on tax reform as that legislative train tries to move (inaudible)?

MS. SANDERS:  The same thing we’ve been doing, and that’s continue to have ongoing, regular, consistent contact with members of Congress.  Ideally, some Democrats will want to participate in the process moving forward on a number of issues, including tax reform.  And maintaining that open line of communication, as the President often does, meeting here with members of both the House and Senate as well as having regular calls and also having members of his administration in touch daily with both leadership and members of both houses.

Q    And as you know, the debt ceiling vote is coming up later this year.  Is there any plan to have the President reach out and make a case personally?  And if he does, what is that case to lawmakers up on Capitol Hill on the debt ceiling talk?

MS. SANDERS:  In terms of actual tactics, I think we’ll make those decisions as we get closer to that point.  Certainly, I would expect the administration to be engaged in that process throughout.


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  Let me ask you a couple of questions about healthcare.  The President said a couple times in his remarks a little while ago that at this point he’ll just let “Obamacare fail.”  Why is it acceptable policy to let Obamacare fail?

MS. SANDERS:  I think in large part -- look, Democrats have refused to join in fixing the healthcare problems that have plagued our healthcare system, specifically in large part due to Obamacare and Obamacare’s failures.  And that sort of, I think, behavior is simply unacceptable, and hopefully with the collapse of the program that they put in place, they’ll be more willing to come to the table and help clean up the mess.

Q    I want to ask you -- another comment about the timing going forward.  The President said, “Something will happen and it will be good.  It may not be as quick as we had hoped, but it is going to happen.”  He also started talking about 2018 and the need for more Republicans to get elected.  So I guess in the short term, is it realistic for some sort of healthcare agreement to happen before the August recess, even, as the administration and Republicans on Capitol Hill had been hoping for?  Is this a much longer-term horizon now?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, as we’ve said many times before, we’re less focused on the timetable and making sure we actually get it right and get it done.  We’re continuing to focus on repealing and replacing Obamacare with a system that actually works, and those priorities and principles haven’t changed.

Q    So is it possible that this is a post-recess -- maybe even a 2018 event?

MS. SANDERS:  Ideally I think it happens as soon as possible.  But again, we’ve been clear about not saying "by X date, by X date," but more about "let’s get better coverage, let’s get a better plan and a better program."  That’s been our focus, not the timetable.  


Q    Sarah, three Republican senators -- Collins, Murkowski, and Capito -- have come out against this idea of repeal.  Collins, not surprising, she voted against it in 2015.  However, Murkowski and Capito both voted for repeal in 2015, and now they’re saying they’re against it.  Is this thing dead before it even leaves the barn?

MS. SANDERS:  I think the thing that’s dead here is Obamacare.  I think we’ve seen that it’s completely failed, and at this point Congress needs to do their job and they need to do it as quickly as they can, because every day that they don’t, we go further into collapsing under Obamacare.  And so I think that, at this point, inaction is not a workable solution, and so they need to come to the table and figure out how to reform the system and fix it.

Q    So what do you say to these two senators, Murkowski and Capito, who voted for repeal in 2015 but now say they won’t vote for it in 2017?

MS. SANDERS:  I think we say what the Vice President said today:  Do your job.  It’s time for Congress to do their job and do it now.

Q    Speaking to members of the House, Paul Ryan a short time ago said it’s pretty difficult to explain to your constituents why you voted for something two years ago but aren’t voting for it now.  Is that the tact that this White House will take, as well?   

MS. SANDERS:  I think that’s something that those senators will have to answer to their constituents.  That’s not something that the White House has to answer on behalf of those members.

Q    Sarah, will the Trump administration take actions to move Obamacare towards collapse, like stopping CSR payments or other things that have been threatened before?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t think that the White House has to take any actions for Obamacare to collapse.  I think you see the evidence every single day.  You’ve got dozens and dozens of counties that have no options on the exchange; premiums continue to skyrocket.  I don’t think the White House needs to do anything for the failure to continue.

Q    But what about the CSR payments to insurance companies?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t have anything further than where we’ve been the last several months on that.  Nothing new to update.

Q    Can I ask one more question about --

MS. SANDERS:  Sure.  Why stop now?  We’re on such a roll.  Everybody is having a good time.  (Laughter.) 

Q    The Afghan girls' robotic team is here competing down the street.  Ivanka Trump went there and visited today and met the girls.  How does the President find out about some of these individual cases that he’s interceded on, like Aya Hijazi or the Afghan girls’ team?  And sort of what ends up moving him on these individual cases?  

MS. SANDERS:  I mean, I can’t speak to every single way that he finds out about information.  Obviously, he has a large staff and an administration that pays close attention to a wide range of issues, and this is something that was flagged and something that he took a great deal of interest in, in making sure that the problem was solved.  And it was, and we're excited that they're here.


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  Two questions, if I may.  First, who is responsible -- primarily responsible for what appears to be the failure of this healthcare legislation?

MS. SANDERS:  I would say Democrats.  They're responsible --

Q    Can you explain to me how --

MS. SANDERS:  Sure.  

Q    -- given that they're in the minority?

MS. SANDERS:  Absolutely.  They're responsible for passing Obamacare.  They're responsible for creating the mess that we're in.  They're responsible for being unwilling to work with Republicans in any capacity to help fix a system that they know is completely flawed and have publicly said so.  I think that it’s pretty clear, and I think the responsibility lies on their shoulders.

Q    Great.  So then just a quick follow-up.  A bipartisan group of governors, including the Republicans John Kasich, Larry Hogan, Charlie Baker, Brian Sandoval, are calling for a seat at the table and a bipartisan process in healthcare reform.  Is the President open to that specifically, sort of starting over with a bipartisan look at this, bringing governors to the table?

MS. SANDERS:  The President has met with a large number of governors, talked to them regularly.  That certainly won’t stop at this point of the process -- not just on healthcare, but on a wide variety of issues.  In terms of bipartisan, I think the President laid out pretty clearly from the beginning of this process he was more than willing to sit down with Democrats.  I think they've been the ones that have been completely unwilling to even come to the table to be part of the discussion.

Hopefully now that Obamacare continues to completely collapse, maybe they’ll decide that they want a part of this process.


Q    Sarah, what is the President’s level of frustration with Republicans since they control both houses of Congress?

MS. SANDERS:  I think he’s frustrated.  He spoke about this earlier today.  Again, I think his primary frustration is that there is no progress in terms of over the last 24 hours of moving this further down the road and giving Americans the system that they deserve.  But I think he laid out pretty clearly that there’s a small number of people that he’s probably frustrated with.  But I think in large part, most of the frustration lies with the Democrats who created the mess but don't want to help fix the problem. 

Q    And when he says he’s not going to own it, what does he mean by that?

MS. SANDERS:  I think he’s not going to own the failure of Obamacare.  I think exactly what I just said to Matthew.  The failure of Obamacare I think rests solely on the shoulders of Democrats.  They created the program.  They pushed it through.  They made this legislation happen, and they need to own the failure of it.


Q    Sarah, back during the transition, at the press conference the President had at Trump Tower, he was asked about healthcare.  He said that there would be repeal and replace the same week, but probably the same day, could be the same hour.  Did this turn out to be a lot more difficult than he anticipated?

MS. SANDERS:  Certainly I think that after hearing members of Congress talk about repealing and replacing Obamacare for seven years, I think that most people thought that it would probably move a little bit faster.

Q    What did he learn about the way Congress works in this process?  What did he learn about this town?  What did he learn about the legislative process?

MS. SANDERS:  Probably that government always moves slower than it should.  


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  Two statements from the President.  One --

MS. SANDERS:  If you can speak up?

Q    Sorry.  Two statements from the President, one from him a year ago this Friday at the Republican National Convention as he accepted that party’s nomination.  He said, "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it." 

So if the President knew the system so well, does he owe his supporters an apology? 

MS. SANDERS:  For what?  For --

Q    That he couldn’t get healthcare across the finish line?

MS. SANDERS:  For what?  Having the stock market at an all-time high, creating jobs, putting ISIS on the run, getting rid of countless regulations that have made the business climate better?  Should he apologize for that?  Absolutely not.  We should be very proud of the progress that we've made in the first six months and the continued progress that we're going to make over the next seven and a half years.

Q    And second question, another statistic (inaudible) your response to Matt.  This is from November 8th, 2013, from the President:  "Leadership, whatever happens, you're responsible.  If it doesn't happen, you're responsible."

So why is the President trying to shunt responsibility over to Democrats?  Doesn't he own any of the blame here?

MS. SANDERS:  The blame of a program that was created and forced through before he took office?  No.  But the process of reforming healthcare is certainly not over, and we're going to continue to focus on reforming the healthcare system and putting one in place that isn’t a failure, like Obamacare. 


Q    Thank you, Sarah.  This seems like a multi-question day, so I’ve got two.  

MS. SANDERS:  I thought they were all multi-question days.  (Laughter.)  I didn't know that there was an option that we could do it different from day to day.

Q    We could also do it on camera, but just an idea.

MS. SANDERS:  I’ll consider that one, too.

Q    Is the failure of this Senate bill going to change the President’s approach on this at all going forward?  Will we see him take a more public role with rallies and speeches calling for healthcare legislation?  And also, how much should we expect to see him meeting with senators about this?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, the President has laid out the priorities of what he wants to see in healthcare reform.  And now it’s Congress’s job to legislate, and we're looking to them to work through some of that process.  But we're going to continue to be incredibly engaged, specifically on providing technical assistance, as well as looking at all options for best repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Q    And the second one.  One thing I’ve been hearing a lot is this notion that it might have been smarter to pursue infrastructure first because that had more bipartisan appeal and more likelihood of passage.  Do you think there’s any regret about not going for another agenda item first?

MS. SANDERS:  No, not necessarily.


Q    Sarah, a couple questions.  One, is the President going to go to the NAACP convention next week in Baltimore?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not sure, April.  I’ll have to check and get back to you.

Q    Is he considering?

MS. SANDERS:  I honestly don't know.  I haven’t see the schedule for next week.

Q    Okay.  When it comes to ACA, you're blaming Democrats.  But Democrats are saying there were 99 amendments by Republicans in ACA.  What do you say to that?

MS. SANDERS:  This is still a Democrat piece of legislation.  It was written -- it was forced through.

Q    But 99 written amendments. 

MS. SANDERS:  Ninety-nine amendments to how many hundreds of pages of legislation?  It’s outrageous to make this a bipartisan bill.  I think everybody knows exactly who was part of that process, and it certainly wasn’t Republicans.

Q    And last question.  Some congressional leaders -- particularly Democrats -- are very concerned about the trust factor when it comes to Jared Kushner and his security clearance, and also still remaining in the job.  What does the President have to say about his son-in-law, right now, in the midst of this storm -- the fact that more information continues to come out after he gave his initial statements, and their concern about the trust factor when he has a critical piece of security clearance that deals with issues of trust?  Is the President considering allowing him to stay or leave?  And should he keep his security clearance?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t know of any changes that would be made.  The President has confidence in Jared, and I'm not aware of any changes at all.

Q    Sarah, is it fair to say the President was blindsided last night?  Can you walk us through a little when he found out, when his senior staff found out?  

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not going to get into the process piece and the tick-tock and the back-and-forth.  Again, as we've said a dozen times, our focus is on the repeal and the replace, not the process piece of it, but making sure that we get this done.

Q    Also, Sarah, can you confirm the President did tell lawmakers again last night that they would look like dopes if they did not vote for repeal and replace?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not sure.  I'll have to check and get back to you.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  I want to ask you about the President's pledge to get more Republicans elected in 2018.  He said earlier today that he's going to be working very hard to make that happen.  Does that go for two Republican incumbent senators, Jeff Flake and Dean Heller, who were not onboard for this healthcare plan?

MS. SANDERS:  Due to legal restrictions, I'm not going to get into any potential election questions.

John Gizzi.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  Two questions, please.

MS. SANDERS:  John Roberts is bored today.  He's headed out.  (Laughter.) 

Q    John, stick around.

Q    If it were on camera, I might not.  

Q    Ooh -- 

MS. SANDERS:  Nice.  

Q    Two questions.  Even before Senator McConnell's statement last night and Speaker Ryan's press conference, the concept on an outright repeal was cause du jour in the House of Representatives at least.  There was this meeting of conservative lawmakers on Thursday who were adamant about it.  Congressman Biggs has since introduced the bill for a direct repeal.  Is there any possibility the administration would at least sit down and join the cause for a direct repeal before it pursued any new kind of legislation?

MS. SANDERS:  I think we're certainly open to having conversations on all fronts and the best way to move this process forward.


Q    All right, my second question --

MS. SANDERS:  Oh, sorry, number two.

Q    One of the things -- it's been concluded that the meeting that Ms. Veselnitskaya had with Donald Trump, Jr. was about eventually lifting all of the Magnitsky sanctions, which targeted top officials in the Kremlin.  Now, since January, Secretary Tillerson has said none of the sanctions will be lifted.  Many of the Russian expatriates and opponents of the Kremlin regime had suggested that if the President could put this issue behind him by supporting further Magnitsky sanctions.  Are there any plans to do that?

MS. SANDERS:  Specific sanctions, I can't speak to that today.  But once we have an announcement, I'll certainly let you know.


Q    Sarah, thanks.  The President has said many times in the past six months that we needed to get the healthcare legislation done first so we could go on to massive tax reform to help the economy.  Can you now proceed with massive tax reform that will give the biggest bang to the economy without having done the Obamacare part of it?

MS. SANDERS:  We're going to continue pushing forward on tax reform and laying out that plan.  I know this will surprise a lot of people, but we can walk and chew gum at the same time.  We're not done with the healthcare battle.  We're going to continue pushing forward on that and hopefully get that completed, and then transition fully to tax reform after that's over.


Q    Sarah, thank you.  You continue to say that this is the Democrats' fault.  The reality is, they were willing to sit down at the table with you guys and negotiate and try to improve Obamacare.  

MS. SANDERS:  I missed all of those phone calls --

Q    But they said they weren’t going to work with you guys on repeal and replace.  So isn’t it fair to say that you guys were dug in and wouldn’t find common ground with them as well?

MS. SANDERS:  Not at all.  We've been very clear from the beginning we're willing to sit down with Democrats and talk about how to reform the healthcare system.  And until they recognize the fact, I think, that Obamacare has completely collapsed and failed, I think it will be hard for them to move forward in the process.  I think that their unwillingness is pretty well documented.

Q    In 2012, @RealDonaldTrump’s Twitter account tweeted, “Obama’s complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda" -- and I'm quoting -- "are BS since he had full control for two years.  He can never take responsibility.”  Doesn't the President need to take some responsibility for this moment, Sarah?  

MS. SANDERS:  Look, I think we’re taking responsibility in terms of pushing new legislation through, but not the failures of legislation that happened before the President got into office.  I think you also have to take into account the outrageous obstruction that we’ve talked about pretty frequently up here, not just on healthcare but across the board in just allowing the President’s administration to be fully staffed and be able to fully carry out the duties of the office.

Q    And I understand what you’re saying, but this moment is not about the legislation that was passed before the President took office.  This moment is about the President and Republicans who campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare for seven years -- the President for the time he was on the campaign trail -- not living up to that promise to the American voters.  Doesn’t he need to take responsibility?

MS. SANDERS:  Like I said before, the debate and the battle over healthcare isn’t over.  We’re continuing to push forward to repeal and replace Obamacare, and we’re going to continue fighting for that every single day.  So you’re speaking as if this is over and done, and it certainly isn’t.


Q    Just curious whether the President would be willing to sign a repeal-only legislation if that ended up on his desk.
MS. SANDERS:  You know, I don’t have any announcement to make on specifics that hasn’t hit his desk, but I think right now we’re certainly open to considering all options to reform healthcare and make sure that Americans get the best care possible.  


Q    The President earlier today had a luncheon with servicemembers and said he wanted to hear ideas from them about the war in Afghanistan.  Can you tell us any of the ideas that he heard?  Also, he’s clearly not happy about how long the U.S. has been in Afghanistan.  Would he reject a plan from Mattis of keeping the U.S. there long term?   

MS. SANDERS:  In terms of specifics that were discussed at the meeting, I’ll see if I can get any of those ideas if that’s something that those individuals want to share.  But the President felt like it was important to talk directly to some of the servicemen that have been on the ground and hear some of their feedback and some of their thoughts about what’s taking place there and some of the progress being made.

Q    And (inaudible) Mattis came forward with a plan that kept the U.S. there long-term.  Trump has been complaining -- President Trump has been complaining that the U.S. has been there for 17 years.  Would he be supportive of a plan that kept the U.S. there longer?

MS. SANDERS:  The President is still reviewing what options he wants to take and what decisions he’ll make, and we’ll keep you guys posted when we have an announcement on that.

Jon Decker.

Q    Thanks a lot, Sarah.  Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was perhaps the biggest campaign promise that the President made when he was President.  Does the President believe, does he fear, that failing to do so will impact the Republicans' ability to hold on to the House and the Senate in 2018?  Is this something that he’s conveyed to members of Congress in his conversations with them?  

MS. SANDERS:  Again, we’re going to get the job done.  We’re still focused on doing what we set out to do.  But I would also argue that the President laid out a lot of priorities during the campaign:  creating jobs, creating a better job environment; getting rid of burdensome regulations; putting ISIS on the run; securing the border; protecting our country; taking steps every single day to help improve the lives of the forgotten man.  And I think he certainly delivered on a lot of those things, and we’re going to continue to do that every single day that he’s in office.  

Q    And then, Sarah, also, in terms of what the President said a little bit earlier and also what he tweeted earlier, he spoke about coming together.  Does that indicate that the President is open to some sort of bipartisan solution to fixing what is wrong with the Affordable Care Act?

MS. SANDERS:  Absolutely.  The President said all along that his primary goal is to find a solution, and he’s happy to work with Democrats to get that done.  


Q    Thank you, Sarah.  You said that the administration would want Congress to finish work on healthcare and then it would move on to taxes.  Previously, the White House had said that it wanted to see a draft plan for that tax reform before the August recess.  Is that still the case?  And do you still expect to get tax reform done this year, in light of what we learned about the healthcare bill yesterday?

MS. SANDERS:  We’re still very focused on moving forward on tax reform.  It's still a big priority for the administration.  And that certainly has not changed.

Q    In terms of getting it done before the end of the year?

MS. SANDERS:  We want to get the biggest tax reform as possible -- tax reform plan in place.  And we'll, you know, keep you guys posted on the timeline and announcements for that happening.

Q    One other topic, since it's multiple-question day.  I wanted to ask about the legal fees.  Is the President paying for his lawyers that are defending him in the Russia case or in the Russia allegations that are outside of this White House?  And is the President paying Mark Corallo, the spokesman, for -- Marc Kasowitz and Jay Sekulow and the lawyers on his team?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not sure what the structure is for that.

Q    Sarah, didn't the President, though, himself, as a candidate and as President, raise significant expectations about this legislation, saying it was going to be a beautiful plan, everyone was going to be covered?  And did he ever really have a plan?  And what does that say about his true knowledge regarding the healthcare system?

MS. SANDERS:  I think the President has shown he has extensive knowledge.  He's laid out the priorities that are important for him to be included in the legislation.  And once again, this is not a game-over situation.  We're continuing to push forward every single day and work hard to make sure that the American people get the type of healthcare that they need and deserve.


Q    Can I just clarify:  As long as the Affordable Care Act remains law and replacement legislation is in abeyance, is the President committing, through HHS, to support the subsidies, the executive sustenance that the law -- the existing law requires?

MS. SANDERS:  As has been the case since we got here, we'll continue to keep you posted as decisions and changes are made, or if they're not.

Q    And can I follow up?  You just said a few minutes ago, we are taking responsibility in terms of pushing new legislation through.  That sentence seemed to conflict with what you were saying earlier.  Can you clarify what you mean by "we're taking responsibility"?  What happened last night is the President's responsibility -- that's what you're saying?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm saying that our goal is to continue to push to repeal and replace Obamacare.  We're committed to doing that.  That hasn't changed.  Throughout the campaign, that was something we talked about and something we talk about every single day -- that we're here, we're focused on doing that, and we're going to continue pushing forward.  That's it.  


Q    So, outside of the White House, a couple of weeks ago, Mitch McConnell said either Republicans will agree to change the status quo or the markets will continue to collapse and we'll have to sit down with Senator Schumer.  So he was suggesting that sitting down with Democrats would be a consequence of Republicans failing to repeal and replace Obamacare.  Is McConnell and the President -- are they on the same page about whether or not they really do want to work with Democrats on this?  McConnell seemed to indicate that that was the plan B, not the plan A.

MS. SANDERS:  The President has said all along that he's happy and willing to work with Democrats on repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Q    But do you guys believe that that's the way the process has actually unfolded in the Senate?

MS. SANDERS:  In terms of Democrats being unwilling to come to the table, yes.

Q    In terms of whether the Senate Republican leaders have been open to Democrats participating in the process.

MS. SANDERS:  I think Democrats laid out very clearly from the very beginning of this process they were unwilling to come to the table and have that conversation.

Q    Sarah, I want to ask you about the Iran deal.  It's been reported that the President was reluctant to certify that Iran is in compliance.  Can you give voice to that reluctance?  Just how reluctant was he?

MS. SANDERS:  I think, as everybody in the room knows, the President has talked about this pretty extensively, and his opinions and his feelings on this deal have certainly not changed.  He still very much thinks it's a really bad deal and that the Iranians have not been fully compliant.  And we're going to continue through this process.  And I refer you back to his statement to see where he lays that out pretty clearly.

Q    One more question.  To follow up on the lunch today, he sat with enlisted men and he heard from them what they think should happen.  Was the President seeking a second opinion from what he's hearing from the commanders?  I'm just curious why he wanted to hear from the enlisted men.

MS. SANDERS:  I wouldn't call it a second opinion.  I think it's important for him to have that type of engagement.  I know that's something that matters to him, not just on specific policy issues, but just to be able to have that type of open dialogue with the guys that have the boots on the ground.  And he'll want to probably be able to continue to do that throughout, you know, his time in office.

Q    Sarah, both you and the President have suggested that Obamacare is simply dead.  In fact, though, there are millions of people who still depend on it.  And the President has decisions to make -- as was noted earlier, the payments to insurance companies and subsidies.  He can push this over the cliff.  As Senator Schumer said a short time ago, he has the power to do that.  It’s not simply going to fail on its own.  He has the power to do it.

MS. SANDERS:  I disagree with you.  I think we're seeing it fail day after day after day as millions of people -- 

Q    Well, if it’s already failed, it can't fail day after day after day.  You're saying it’s dead.  You're saying it’s dead.  It’s not dead.  There are still millions of people -- many of them, the forgotten men and women you like to talk about -- who still depend on it.

And he has the power to kill it, dead.  He has the power to push it over the cliff.  Are you saying he’s already made the decisions on subsidies and payments to insurance companies that would finally kill it?

MS. SANDERS:  No, that's not what I’m saying.  Again, in terms of Obamacare being dead, it’s an unsustainable program.  When something is unsustainable and it can't be revived -- 

Q    So you're saying it’s dying, you're not saying it’s dead.  There are people who depend on it, millions of people, many of them your supporters, his supporters.

MS. SANDERS:  Right, and that's why -- 

Q    How could it be dead?

MS. SANDERS:  That's why the process of repealing and replacing would need to make sure that those people continue coverage.  And that's been a big focus and one of the priorities of this process throughout -- from the beginning.

Q    Is he going to help push it over the cliff?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, I think this is already going over the cliff and doesn't need a push by the President. 

Q    Sarah, when you've spoken, you've spoken to the President earlier today -- said that this system will continue to collapse and we’ll get to a point where Democrats have to come back to the table and join in trying to find a way to fix it.  What specifically does the administration think would be that point where he would get a group conversation that has not happened yet?

MS. SANDERS:  I think that's a question, frankly, you’d have to ask the Democrats.  

Q    No, no, no, it's your --

MS. SANDERS:  I think they're the only ones that know what’s going to bring them to the table.

Q    No, you're the ones who keep saying that there’s going to arrive a point at which the system has failed to such a degree that suddenly there’s a willingness to compromise.  So, like, what are you envisioning?

MS. SANDERS:  Well, I can't imagine that -- 

Q    Failures of individual plans?

MS. SANDERS:  I can't imagine -- that as this program, as he laid out, goes deeper and deeper off the cliff, that --

Q    You're either off the cliff or not off the cliff.  (Laughter.)  You don't go deeper and deeper off a cliff.

Q    What is the point you're describing?

MS. SANDERS:  The point is Obamacare is simply unsustainable.  We've said this a hundred times.  It’s not a program that can be revived.

Q    But you're saying you're going to arrive at that point --

MS. SANDERS:  It’s not a program that can be revived.  It is essentially a dead program in terms of being able to provide the type of healthcare that Americans need and deserve.

And our point is the priorities that the President has laid out, we have to have a plan in place that actually provides care -- not just coverage; that brings the cost down; lower deductibles; across-the-board reform.  And at this point, hopefully Democrats will see how bad the system is and come to the table.

Q    But what specifically is going to happen to bring them back to the table?  You're saying it’s unsustainable, it can't be supported.  And the President is saying it’s going to get to a point --

MS. SANDERS:  I would think that those things alone should wake up Democrats and make them want to come to the table.  I would -- again, I’m not going to speak for the breaking point of Democrats, but I can't imagine that as we continue down this road, they don't come to the table to try to help save healthcare in this country. 

Q    Sarah, you spoke before of -- a question about Syria.  You spoke before about progress made (inaudible) ISIS.  And U.S.-backed forces have taken a couple more neighborhoods in western Raqqa recently.  I was wondering, does the President have an opinion on who should control the city after ISIS is expelled?

MS. SANDERS:  I haven’t had that conversation, but I would certainly refer you to members of the national security team, and they might be able to help lay that out more clearly.

Thanks so much, guys.

3:11 P.M. 

Remarks by President Trump at Luncheon with Servicemembers

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 20:03

Roosevelt Room

12:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I’m pleased to have Vice President Pence with us and four great soldiers who spent a lot of time in Afghanistan.  And I’m going to be talking to you about Afghanistan -- what you think, your views.  These are people on the ground -- know it probably better than anybody.  You know it pretty well, right?  

And we’re going to be getting some ideas because we’ve been there -- it’s our longest war -- we’ve been there for many years.  We’ve been there for now close to 17 years, and I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years, how it’s going, and what we should do in terms of additional ideas.  I’ve heard plenty of ideas from a lot of people, but I want to hear it from the people on the ground.  

So this is actually a very important luncheon, and it’s a great honor to have you with us.  And I look forward to the discussion.  We’ll wait until the media leaves.

I want to thank you, folks.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, are you angry at the Republicans who came out against your healthcare bill?

THE PRESIDENT:  Disappointed.  Very disappointed.  

Q    Is the healthcare bill dead?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think it’s dead, no.  But I’m certainly disappointed.  For seven years, I’ve been hearing "repeal and replace" from Congress, and I’ve been hearing it loud and strong.  And then when we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, they don’t take advantage of it.  So that’s disappointing.  

So I’m very -- I would say I’m disappointed in what took place.  We’ll go on and we’ll win -- we’re going to win on taxes, we’re going to win on infrastructure, and lots of other things that we’re doing.  We’ve won and are winning the war, as you know, at the border.  We are very much decimating ISIS.  You can see that -- you see that better than anybody sees it -- the soldiers that are with us today.  

We’ve had a lot of victories, but we haven’t had a victory on healthcare.  We’re disappointed.  I am very disappointed because, again, even as a civilian, for seven years I’ve been hearing about healthcare, and I’ve been hearing about repeal and replace.  And Obamacare is a total disaster.  Some states had over a 200 percent increase -- a 200 percent increase -- in their premiums, and their deductibles are through the roof.  It’s an absolute disaster.

And I think you’ll also agree that I’ve been saying for a long time:  Let Obamacare fail and then everybody is going to have to come together and fix it and come up with a new plan and a plan that’s really good for the people with much lower premiums, much lowers costs, and much better protection.  

I’ve been saying that -- Mike, I think you’ll agree -- for a long time.  Let Obamacare fail.  It will be a lot easier.  And I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail.  We’re not going to own it.  I’m not going to own it.  I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it.  We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us, and they’re going to say, "How do we fix it?  How do we fix it?  Or how do we come up with a new plan?"

So we’ll see what happens.  There’s some other things going on right now as we speak, but I am disappointed because, for so many years, I’ve been hearing repeal and replace.  I’m sitting in the Oval Office, right next door, pen in hand, waiting to sign something, and I’ll be waiting.  And eventually we’re going to get something done, and it’s going to be very good.  

But Obamacare is a big failure, and it has to be changed.  We have to go to a plan that works.  We have to go to a much less expensive plan, in terms of premiums.  And something will happen and it will be very good.  It may not be as quick as we had hoped, but it’s going to happen.

Q    Were the Republicans who came out against it disloyal?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they were not disloyal, they had their own reasons.  I was very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape, but they did.  And, you know, everybody has their own reason.  

But if you really think about it, you look at it, and we have 52 people -- we had no Democrat support, which is really something that should be said.  We should have had Democrats voted.  It's a great plan for a lot of people.  We had no Democrat support.  We have 52 people; we had four "No's."  Now, we might have had another one somewhere in there.  But essentially, the vote would have been pretty close to -- if you look at it -- 48-4.  That's a pretty impressive vote by any standard.  And yet you have a vote of 48-4, or something like that, and you need more -- that's pretty tough.

So the way I look at it is, in '18 we're going to have to get some more people elected.  We have to go out and we have to get more people elected that are Republican.  And we have to probably pull in those people -- those few people that voted against it.  I don’t know, they're going to have to explain to you why they did, and I'm sure they'll have very fine reasons.  But we have to get more Republicans elected because we have to get it done.  

We passed it in the House.  We would have gotten it very much -- yeah, you can't use his stand as a stand, right?  We don’t want that to happen.  You're messing with the wrong guy here.  

So we want -- I think we're going to do very well, actually, in '18.  I would be not surprised if something were done long before that.  But in any event, because the margin is so small -- the majority margin is so small -- we're going to have to go out and get more Republicans elected in '18, and I'll be working very hard for that happen, okay?  

It would be nice to have Democrat support, but, really, they're obstructionists.  They have no ideas.  They have no thought process.  All they want to do is obstruct the government and obstruct, period.  And, in this case, think of it -- so many good things.  We didn’t get one vote.  And their plan has failed.

And, by the way, Obamacare isn't failing -- it's failed.  Done.  So I think something is going to happen.  We'll find out.  Stay tuned.  Thank you all very much.

Q    Do you blame Mitch McConnell?


12:41 P.M. EDT

Remarks by the Vice President to the Retail Advocates Summit

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 18:10

Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 

10:35 A.M. EDT

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Thank you, Matthew Shay.  Thank you for that very kind introduction and your great leadership here.  And I offer all of you a warm -- very warm -- welcome to our Nation’s Capital.  Welcome to Washington, D.C.

It’s an honor to be here with you today with so many great American success stories, cornerstones of American communities, large and small, the members of the National Retail Federation here at the 83rd annual Retail Advocates Summit.  Great to see you all.  (Applause.) 

And I bring greetings this morning from a friend of mine, who’s a businessman who knows just a little bit about retail, who’s fighting every single day to unleash a new era of American opportunity and prosperity, I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America -- President Donald Trump.  (Applause.) 

From the very first day of this administration, President Trump has been fighting to restore jobs and opportunity and prosperity all across this country.

This President has signed more laws cutting through federal red tape than any President in American history and has already saved businesses and families up to $18 billion in red tape costs every year.

In fact, the President early in our administration ordered every agency in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before issuing any new federal regulations on American businesses large and small.  (Applause.) 

And with the support of our new Secretary of Labor, Secretary Alex Acosta, President Trump is striking the right balance in labor relations -- appointing two highly qualified experts to the National Labor Relations Board.  And as we speak, our administration is rolling back the Joint-Employer Rule.  (Applause.) 

And in case you didn’t notice, the American people elected a builder to be President of the United States, and President Trump has already started to rebuild America.  And we won’t stop until we have the best roads, best bridges, best airports and best harbors, and the best future that we’ve ever had.  Plans are underway at the administration for a historic infrastructure bill, and it’s going to support a growing economy all across America.

In fact, this week is Made in America Week for our administration, and the President has been fighting for American job creators and manufacturers and American farmers every single day so that your businesses -- American businesses -- can sell more American goods than ever before.

And I’m here to report to you since day one of this administration, President Trump has been fighting tirelessly to repeal and replace Obamacare.  (Applause.)

Every day Obamacare survives is another day the American economy and American families struggle.  We all remember the broken promises that made it possible for Obamacare to get passed.  You remember them?  They said if you like your doctor you could keep them -- not true.  They said if you like your health insurance you could keep it -- not true.  We were told that health insurance costs would go down.  That one wasn’t true either.

Our administration has actually shown that the average premium on the individual market has more than doubled since Obamacare went into effect less than four years ago.  And in some states, it’s more than tripled.

When Obamacare passed, we were promised that families would save up to $2,500 in premiums every year, but the average Obamacare plan today costs nearly $3,000 more than a plan did in 2013.

While premiums are soaring, choices are plummeting.  Next year, nearly 40 percent of American counties, including nine entire states, will have only one choice of a health insurance provider -- meaning they’ll have essentially no choice at all.

And even worse, dozens of counties will have no health insurance providers whatsoever on the Obamacare exchange in 2018.  Men and women, behind these statistics are real people facing a real crisis.  Behind every number is a name, and behind every name is a story.

I’ve heard them as I’ve traveled across this country on our President’s behalf.  I’ve heard firsthand from job creators just like all of you in this room and working families about the burden that Obamacare has placed upon them -- the burden of higher costs, fewer choices, and worse care for the most vulnerable.

Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go.  (Applause.) 

Now President Trump and I are grateful for the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the vast majority of Republicans who have worked so hard in the House and Senate to keep their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

As the President said just earlier today, most Republicans were loyal terrific and worked really hard.  And there are no truer words.  

But last night we learned that the Senate still doesn't have consensus on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time.  

President Trump and I fully support the Majority Leader’s decision to move forward with a bill that just repeals Obamacare and gives Congress time, as the President said, to work on a new healthcare plan that will start with a clean slate.

The Senate actually passed the very same bill in 2015 and sent it to President Obama’s desk, and they should do it again. 

But to be clear:  The Senate should vote to repeal now and replace later, or return to the legislation carefully crafted in the House and Senate.  But either way, inaction is not an option.  Congress needs to step up.  Congress needs to do their job and Congress needs to do their job now.  (Applause.) 

As the President said, with his inexhaustible optimism and determination, stay tuned, we will return

We will rescue the American people from the disastrous consequences of Obamacare and restore a healthcare system based on personal responsibility, free-market competition, and state-based reform.  That’s the American way to meet the healthcare needs of the American people in the 21st century, and we're not going to stop fighting until we get it done.  (Applause.) 

But I’m here today on President Trump’s behalf to say thank you -- thanks to the National Retail Federation and all the members for what you do for America every single day.

It’s amazing to think for 106 years, the National Retail Federation has given a voice to the corner stores, the mom-n-pop shops, the grocers, the department stores, the Internet retailers, and all the other retailers that are literally the backbone of every American community.

And the businesses represented in this room make a remarkable difference in the life of our nation and the lives of the American people every day.

As President Trump said when he met with retailers earlier this year, you’re “one of the great job producers” in America, and it’s true.

Retailers are one of the largest employers in America today.  In fact, a stunning one in four American jobs depend on the retail industry.   The National Retail Federation’s slogan really sums it up best:  “Retail Means Jobs.”  And the best days for American retailers are up ahead.  I promise you that.  (Applause.) 

Now, I’d like to take a moment to recognize all the retail champions who with us here today, especially Danny Reynolds, from Stephenson’s, in Elkhart Indiana.  Congratulations to the five finalists, one of whom will be the Champion of the Year announced later today.  Let’s give all the champions a round of applause.  (Applause.) 

It’s important to celebrate the difference that each one of you make in businesses large and small all across this country.  Beyond the numbers, beyond the jobs is something I would say is even more important, and that is growing up in a small town in southern Indiana, I know that retailers like all of you gathered here are simply a fixture in the lives of literally every American family. 

We walk through your doors to get Christmas and birthday presents for our loved ones.  We walk down your aisles and we browse your -- we browse those aisles to buy clothes and groceries and everyday necessities.  We walk by your windows every single day.  We pop in even if we didn’t plan on it -- because it doesn’t matter what we need, America’s retailers have it.

In fact, one of the last things I did before I was sworn in as Vice President of the United States was stop by a retailer.  It was during the transition here in our Nation’s Capital, and Mrs. Pence had sent me a text and told me to pick up some ice cream.  (Laughter.)  It’s the first time I’d done that with a large Secret Service detail.  (Laughter.)  But I did my job.

Let me also say one more thing.  Not only do you provide those great goods and great services to people all across this country, but on behalf of the President, I want to acknowledge the fact that America’s retailers are really model corporate citizens.  

The truth is you support every worthy cause in every community, large and small.  You enrich not only our people, but our very way of life.  You can't hardly go to a Little League baseball game, you can't hardly go to a local charity function without seeing your banners hanging, without hearing about your sponsorship on the brochure.

Know that your President and I are truly grateful for everything that you do for the communities that you serve.  Why don't you give yourselves a round of applause for the difference you make in the lives of every American community?  (Applause.) 

And I want to assure you, our President knows as retail goes, so goes America.  The President told retailers earlier this year that out administration is in his words “very focused on the issues that will encourage economic growth,” the growth that you’ll need to continue to grow and succeed.

It’s remarkable to think about everything the President has accomplished so far, it’s only been six months.  But President Trump is going to keep working every day to pass our agenda of less regulation, better infrastructure, more American energy, and affordable, high-quality health care.  And rest assured, one more item I want to mention to you:  This President is going to work with the Congress this year, and we're going to pass the largest tax cut since the days of Ronald Reagan.  (Applause.) 

The truth is America’s tax code is one of the biggest barriers to success for working families and job creators like all of you.  I love that old line that says that the Internal Revenue Code is twice as long as the Bible with none of the good news.  (Laughter.) 

We’re going to change all that.  We're going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.  We’re going to simplify the tax code by cutting seven brackets down to three.

We’ll eliminate the alternative minimum tax.  We’ll make the code flatter and fairer and simpler for everyone.  And particularly important to retailers around America, particularly small-town, family retailers, under President Donald Trump, we’re going to repeal death taxes once and for all.  Death will no longer be a taxable event.  (Applause.) 

And when it comes to your businesses, our tax plan is going to put American companies, including our retailers, back on a path to jobs and growth and better competitiveness.

Our corporate tax rate -- it’s remarkable to think -- is one of the highest in the developed world.  Our outdated system of worldwide taxation literally penalizes companies for being headquartered in America.

But not for long.  President Trump’s plan is to slash the business tax rate to 15 percent.  We’ll enact a territorial tax that’s in line with the rest of the world.  We're going to cut taxes on the trillions of dollars that are locked away overseas so that American companies can invest those dollars in American workers, American jobs, and America’s future.  (Applause.) 

President Trump’s tax-cut plan will empower your companies to compete on a level playing field with businesses anywhere in the world, and as we all know, when the field is level, American business always win.

The truth is President Trump’s agenda is going to make the strongest economy in the world stronger still, and I believe that every business that's represented here will benefit from the historic accomplishments that lie ahead.

But as I leave, I want to challenge each one of you leaders in this country, leaders in the communities that you represent to stand with this President as he advocates an agenda built on American principles that will generate a boundless American future.  

I encourage you during this time in our Nation’s Capital to let your voice be heard.  As you reach out to our elected representatives, tell them you're counting on them supporting the President’s agenda -- less regulation, lower taxes, better infrastructure.  And while you're at it, tell them the time is now to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The truth is President Trump is fighting every single day for all of you and all of the people that you serve in all of your various outlets.  He knows that your success is America’s success, and every community large and small is testament to this fact. 

We have an opportunity.  The President and I believe we have a responsibility to usher in a new era of jobs, of growth, of opportunity, and prosperity built on American principles -- timeless American principles of growth.

And we have a duty to bring about the best and brightest future for all who are blessed to call our nation home.

And this we know we will do because we have faith -- faith in the boundless capacity of the American people to revive this nation’s economy and grow again.

I have faith this President’s vision for America and his determination to drive forward an agenda for this country that will renew and revive the prosperity of our land.  And I have faith that He who has ever had His hand on this nation from its very beginning will yet bless America.

And so I say with confidence, together with all of you and with Donald Trump in the White House:  We will make America safe again.  We will make America prosperous again.  And to borrow a phrase, we will Make America Great Again.

Thank you very much.  God bless you all and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.) 

10:51 A.M. EDT

Remarks by the Vice President at Christians United for Israel Washington Summit

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 04:04

Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C. 

8:48 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hello, CUFI!  (Applause.)  Thank you, Pastor John Hagee, Ambassador Dermer, distinguished members of Congress, honored guests, my fellow believers and friends, it is humbling for me to be before you today to join you at the 12th annual summit of the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States of America -- Christians United for Israel!  (Applause.) 

It’s great to be back with so many friends.  And to all of you -- I bring greetings from another friend.  I just left him a few moments ago.  He is a leader, a believer, and a tireless friend of the Jewish state of Israel -- the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.) 

Thanks to the support of so many in this room and your prayers, last November President Trump won a historic victory -- more counties than any President since Ronald Reagan, 30 of 50 states -- no Republican had carried in a generation.  The truth is President Donald Trump turned the blue wall red, and you made it happen.  (Applause.) 

Now as the Good Book says: If you owe debts, pay debts.  If honor, then honor.  If respect, then respect.  And I’m really here on the President’s behalf and on our entire team’s behalf to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you who helped elect a President who is fighting every single day to defend faith, restore freedom, and strengthen America’s unbreakable bond with our most cherished ally, Israel.  (Applause.) 

Just last month, President Trump made a historic visit to Israel.  I know all of you were watching from afar.  One of the very first countries our President visited since he took office, standing in Jerusalem, in that ancient and holy city, our President declared for all the world to hear that under his leadership, the United States of America “will always stand with Israel.”  (Applause.) 

In Jerusalem, our President said that the bond between America and Israel in his words “is woven together in the hearts of our people” -- and Christians United for Israel proves this statement true every single day all across this country.

You know, it was only 11 years ago that my friend Pastor John Hagee had the courage and the vision to unite American Christians to rally around those ancient words “for Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent.”  And, Pastor John Hagee, I thank you for your leadership on behalf of this nation and the Jewish state of Israel.  (Applause.) 

And today, through Christians United for Israel, more than 3.3 million believers have raised their voices, have not been silent in support of Israel, and you can be heard in every city and town across America and in every office on Capitol Hill.  And rest assured, the man down the street at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hears you, too.  (Applause.) 

Now for my part, Karen and I have always treasured our relationship with Christians United for Israel.  I had the honor to speak to this great group when I was a member of Congress.  I worked hand-in-hand with CUFI when I was governor of the state of Indiana.  And with the support and prayers of men and women gathered in this room, I’m proud to say in my last year as governor, it was my great privilege to sign one of the strongest anti-BDS laws in the America to ensure that our state never does business with those who seek to inflict financial damage on Israel.  (Applause.)  Because boycott, divestment, and sanctions have no place in my home state and no place in America.  (Applause.) 

It’s humbling to stand before you today for another reason because it was just one year ago this past weekend that the phone rang at the governor’s residence, and there was a familiar voice on other line.  And I remember when that call came and when the invitation came to join this national ticket, I couldn’t help but think of that ancient verses:  Who am I and who is my family, that you’ve brought me this far? 

So tonight, let me just take a moment to thank all of you men and women of CUFI, and all those you represent around America, thank you for your friendship, your support, and your prayers every step of the way on the journey my little family has taken throughout my career.  It’s hard for me to express before you friends of so many years the humility and gratitude I feel today to stand before you today as the 48th Vice President of the United States of America.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  (Applause.) 

My friends, to look at Israel is to see that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob keeps his promises, keeps the promises He makes to His people and to each one of us.

Ezekiel prophesized:  “Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.”  And the State of Israel and her people bear witness to God’s faithfulness, as well as their own. 

How unlikely was Israel’s birth, how more unlikely has been her survival, and how confounding, against the odds, has been her thriving.

Since the moment of their independence, the Jewish people have awed the world with their strength of will and their strength of character. 

Indeed, anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear must acknowledge that Israel is a living testimony to the power of hope over hate and so will she always be.  (Applause.) 

The Jewish people have turned the desert into a garden, sickness into health, scarcity into plenty, despair into hope, and slander into blessings -- rebuking all who condemn them; not for what they do wrong, but for what they do right.

And under President Donald Trump, if the world knows nothing else, the world will know this:  America stands with Israel.  Now and always.  (Applause.) 

President Trump and I stand with Israel for the same reason every freedom-loving American stands with Israel -- because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight. 

And President Trump is actually a lifelong friend of Israel.  I’ve seen his passion firsthand in the President’s deep affection for Israel.  The morning after the election, I was actually in the room when Prime Minister Netanyahu called to congratulate the President on his great victory.  I heard President Trump express his unwavering support for Israel and the Jewish people that morning, support he reiterated when he welcomed the Prime Minister to the White House.

And just last month, the world saw our President’s commitment to Israel during that visit to Jerusalem, when President Donald Trump declared that America’s “deep and lasting friendship” with Israel will only in his words “grow deeper and stronger as we work together in the days ahead.”  (Applause.) 

For my part, like all of you, my passion for Israel springs from my Christian faith.  The songs of the land and the people of Israel were the anthems of my youth.  As for me and my house, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all who call her home.  It’s really the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply for our most cherished ally. 

And let me say with confidence to all gathered here and to all of the watching world, President Trump and I stand without apology for Israel today.  We will stand without apology for Israel tomorrow, and President Donald Trump and I will stand with the Israel always -- of that you may be assured.  (Applause.) 

You just need to look at the actions our President has taken since he took office.  Like when he named Governor Nikki Haley to be America’s Ambassador to the United Nations.  (Applause.) 

At the President’s direction, Ambassador Haley has been standing up for America and she’s been standing up for Israel.  And as Ambassador Haley said just a short while ago, in her words, “The days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over.”  (Applause.) 

And the President also named David Friedman to represent our country in Israel as our ambassador.  David is an unabashed advocate for a stronger America-Israel relationship, and our friendship is already stronger with him in our embassy in Israel.

And to the men and women of Christians United for Israel, this President hears you.  This President stands with you.  And I promise you that the day will come when President Donald Trump moves the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  It is not a question of if, it is only when.  (Applause.) 

President Trump is also personally committed to helping the parties resolve the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  In addition to his own visit to Israel, the President has dispatched several of his top advisors to help guide negotiations.  But our President I can assure knows any peace requires an end to the incitement of hatred, an end to any support whatsoever of terrorism.  And above all else, a lasting peace requires true and complete Palestinian willingness to accept and recognize the Jewish state of Israel.  (Applause.) 

And while there will undoubtedly have to be compromises, let me assure all of you gathered here today, President Donald Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel -- not now, not ever.  (Applause.) 

Since the moment of its birth, there has hardly been a day when Israelis have lived without war, or the fear of war, or the grim reality of terror.  We were reminded of this just last Friday, when three gunmen ambushed a group of Israeli police officers in the very heart of Jerusalem.  Two brave officers were murdered in this barbaric act of terrorism.  We mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve.  We grieve with the families of these fallen heroes of Israel, and the prayers of our President, our family, and all who cherish Israel are with these heroic law enforcement officers and their families.  (Applause.) 

And so is our resolve.  President Trump has made it clear: America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, as together we confront those enemies who threaten our people, our freedom, and our very way of life.

America and Israel are united together as friends and allies in the West.  Just a few weeks ago, in Warsaw, Poland -- home to so much Jewish history, and so much Jewish heartache, our President defined our struggle with moral clarity, courage, and vision more than any President since Ronald Reagan when President Trump declared in his words:  “The West will never, ever be broken.  Our values will prevail.  Our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph.”  (Applause.) 

We will triumph because our courage and conviction cannot be matched, and for that matter, neither can our strength.

Today, America’s support for Israel’s security is at record levels.  And America now has a President who is fighting every day to rebuild our military.

And under President Donald Trump I promise you we're going to rebuild this military.  We're going to restore the arsenal of democracy.  And we're once again going to give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training they need and deserve to accomplish their mission and come home safe.  (Applause.) 

In President Trump, America once again has a leader who will stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies.  And this President calls our enemies by their name.  And at this very moment I’m proud to report, the Armed Forces of the United States of America are taking the fight to ISIS terrorist on our terms and on their soil.  And under this Commander-in-Chief, we will continue to fight ISIS until we wipe them off the face of the Earth.  (Applause.) 

And under President Trump America will continue to stand strong, continue to stand strong in the face of the leading state sponsor of terrorism.  President Trump has put Iran on notice:  America will no longer tolerate Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region and jeopardize Israel’s security.

And let me be clear on this point:  Under President Donald Trump, the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a useable nuclear weapon.  This is our solemn promise to the American people, to the people of Israel, and to the world.  (Applause.)  

So we stand with Israel.  We stand with Israel today and every day, because the American people throughout our history have always cherished Israel.

We stand with Israel because our bond was knit millennia ago in the finery of faith.  And we stand with Israel because millions of Americans throughout the generations of this country have embraced that ancient truth and admonition that He will bless those who bless her, and he will curse those who curse her.

Indeed, though Israel was built by human hands, it is impossible not to sense that just beneath its history, lies the hand of heaven.  (Applause.) 

Over the mantle of our home, since the year I was first elected to Congress, are framed words that have long inspired my family.  We had them over the fireplace in our home in a small town in southern Indiana.  We had them over the fireplace at the governor’s residence in Indianapolis, and now they hang over the mantle of the home of the Vice President of the United States.

They're words of confidence and faith.  They're words to which my family has repaired to as generations of Americans have done so throughout our history, and the people of Israel through all their storied history have clung.  They come from the Book of Jeremiah, and it simply reads:  “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.”

These words are as true today for all people of faith as they were in millennia past.  And so I encourage you to embrace them.  I urge the men and women of Christians United for Israel to cling to that hope and that promise, and I urge you to do particularly what you’ve done exceedingly well these many years, to continue to bow the head, to bend the knee, and to pray.  Pray for our most cherished ally.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and pray that God will continue to bless America.

And when you pray, pray with confidence because our God is a faithful God, and He will guide us, and He will guard us as we go forth and do His work.  (Applause.) 

And so I thank you for the honor of joining you once again in this new capacity.  And I close tonight saying simply from my heart as I look out on this shining crowd, and I see the support that you represent all across this country for our most cherished ally.  And I have faith.  I have faith that with God’s help and with the men and women gathered here, with all those who cherish Israel, and with President Donald Trump in the White House, the best days for Israel and for America together are yet to come.  (Applause.) 

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the Jewish state of Israel and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.) 

9:12 P.M. EDT

Readout of the Vice President's Meeting with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 03:35

Vice President Mike Pence met today with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić. The leaders agreed on the importance of the bilateral relationship and expressed the desire to deepen the partnership between the United States and Serbia. The Vice President expressed U.S. support for Serbia's efforts to join the European Union, the need for continued reforms, and further progress in normalizing the relationship with Kosovo. The leaders discussed the Vice President's upcoming trip to Podgorica, Montenegro, where he will participate in an Adriatic Charter Summit with leaders from across the Western Balkans region. The Vice President also announced that the United States will provide an additional $10 million contribution to the Regional Housing Program, an internationally funded, joint initiative by Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro that provides housing to those displaced during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 01:24

Yesterday, the Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom, and rule of law. Yet their strong and courageous actions continue to be ignored by a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator.

The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles. If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions.

The United States once again calls for free and fair elections and stands with the people of Venezuela in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 01:08

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Peter Henry Barlerin of Colorado to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cameroon. Mr. Barlerin, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1989. He is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State, a post he has held since 2016. Mr. Barlerin also served as Deputy Chief of Mission with senior level appointments at the State Department. An economist, he has served at seven U.S. Missions overseas. Mr. Barlerin earned a M.A. from University of Maryland, College Park and a B.A. from Middlebury College. He speaks French, Japanese, Spanish, and Norwegian.

Rostin Behnam of New Jersey to be a Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for the remainder of a 5-year term expiring June 19, 2021. Mr. Behnam is senior counsel to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Ranking Member of the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. Mr. Behnam has served as counsel to Senator Stabenow since 2011, focusing on policy and legislation related to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Department of Agriculture, including the Agricultural Act of 2014. Prior to serving Senator Stabenow, Mr. Behnam practiced law in New York City and worked at the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. Mr. Behnam is a graduate of Georgetown University and earned a J.D. from the Syracuse University College of Law. He lives with his wife and daughter in Baltimore.

Michael Dourson of Ohio to be an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Toxic Substances. Mr. Dourson is a professor in the Risk Science Center at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine. Before this, he founded the nonprofit Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment and worked at the Environmental Protection Agency. While at the EPA, Mr. Dourson was awarded the Arnold J. Lehman award from the Society of Toxicology (SOT) and the International Achievement Award by the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. He is a fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and a fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA).

Joseph Kernan of Florida to be Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. Mr. Kernan currently serves as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for SAP National Security Services, where his responsibilities include leveraging commercially developed SAP and other software technologies in support of missions related to national security. Additionally, Mr. Kernan serves as the chairman of NS2 Serves, a veteran training and employment program, and serves on the Board of Directors for both the National Navy Seal Museum and The Mission Continues. Previously, Mr. Kernan served in the U.S. Navy, first as a Surface Warfare Officer and then as a Naval Special Warfare/SEAL Officer. Mr. Kernan served as the Commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet, the Senior Military Assistant to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Deputy Commander of U.S. Southern Command. Mr. Kernan is a retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral, and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the National Defense University.

Guy B. Roberts of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary, Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, Department of Defense. Mr. Roberts is currently president of GBR Consulting, a national security consulting firm. In that capacity, Mr. Roberts has provided subject matter expertise on arms control, non-proliferation, international legal issues and strategies to combat terrorism to over 30 international and domestic organizations and institutions. In addition, he is a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an adjunct professor teaching courses on homeland security, international terrorism, non-proliferation, and arms control at Mary Washington University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Mr. Roberts previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Weapons of Mass Destruction Policy and Director of Nuclear Policy for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He received the Exceptional Public Service Award from the Department of Defense. Mr. Roberts also served 25 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, concluding his career as the Staff Judge Advocate for U.S. Southern Command and retiring as a Colonel. Mr. Roberts earned his B.A. in Political Science, magna cum laude, from Arizona State University, his J.D. degree from the University of Denver, his LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University, and his M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies with highest distinction from the Naval War College.


Zinke: “Made in America: Promoting the All-American Outdoor Experience”

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 23:51


“There’s a reason why 330 million people from across the country and around the world visit our parks every year, and why millions more flock to public lands from coast to coast: It’s because these spaces are uniquely American.”

Made in America: Promoting the All-American Outdoor Experience
By Ryan Zinke
Fox News
July 17, 2017

This week, President Trump kicked off “Made in America Week.” At the Department of the Interior, we are taking this opportunity to promote and strengthen America’s tradition of outdoor recreation on public lands. The all-American outdoor experience was the idea of visionaries like President Theodore Roosevelt, and has been carried on by the federal government and Congress for years. It could not have been possible without help from philanthropic foundations, American businesses, and thousands of public-private partnerships across our public lands.

We already have thousands of partners across the country who fund and assist with visitor services, infrastructure, and even land acquisition for increased public access.

To highlight and expand on Made in America partnerships and products, this week Interior is hosting a roundtable with outdoor recreation industry leaders to brainstorm innovative ideas for how we can work together to build upon the outdoor experience on public lands. Some ideas I’ve already heard are for outdoor recreation outfitters to make investments in our public lands for things like energy-efficient cabins and fishing access points.

The Department is focused on identifying and expanding the best existing services, and bringing in new services to parks and recreation areas to preserve and enhance the American outdoor experience. 

The All-American Outdoor Experience is part of who we are as Americans, but it’s also a big economic driver for communities across the country. As a whole, the outdoor recreation industry generates $887 billion in consumer spending and supports 7.6 million American jobs, according to industry analysts. In addition, the revenue the industry produces is a major boost to our economy. 

Made in America is as much about products as much as it is about the shared American experience created here. It is about making memories by taking a kid fishing for the first time, or in my case, taking my wife hiking early in our relationship.  

There’s a reason why 330 million people from across the country and around the world visit our parks every year, and why millions more flock to public lands from coast to coast: It’s because these spaces are uniquely American.

This Made in America Week, let’s unite with a common pride in our country, standing behind American businesses and engaging in American outdoor traditions that have stood the test of time.

Read the full op-ed here.

Remarks by President Trump at Made in America Product Showcase

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 23:08

East Room

3:54 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mike.  And you know, Mike, it is true that, as I walked through the halls, we saw so many great companies, but the gentleman who was in charge of Omaha Beef -- they do beef -- he hugged me, he wanted to kiss me so badly.  (Laughter.)  Because he said, our business is a whole different business now because you got China approved; the other administrations couldn’t even come close.  And I told him, you know how long it took?  One sentence.  I said, President Xi, we’d love to sell beef back in China again.  He said, you can do that.  That was the end of that.  Right?  (Applause.)  Sonny.  The great Sonny Perdue.  (Applause.)  So we’re very happy.
But we’re here today to celebrate American manufacturing and to showcase the amazing products from all 50 states, made in the USA.  Remember in the old days they used to have "Made in the USA", "Made in America"?  But made in the USA.  We’re going to start doing that again.  We’re going to put that brand on our product because it means it’s the best.  

In just a few months and moments, I will say what we’ve done over a short period of time and what we’re going to be doing over the next six months will be incredible.  

We’ve signed more bills -- and I’m talking about through the legislature -- than any President ever.  For a while, Harry Truman had us, and now I think we have everybody, Mike.  I better say "think," otherwise they’ll give me a Pinocchio -- (laughter) -- and I don’t like those -- I don’t like Pinocchios.  (Laughter.)  

In just a few moments, I’ll be signing a Presidential Proclamation to launch “Made in America Week” and to make today “Made in America Day.”

We are thrilled to be joined today by so many incredible members of my Cabinet.  Every member of my administration shares the same goal:  to provide a level playing field for American workers and for American industry.  (Applause.)  And we are providing it much faster than other countries would like.  So it’s been really a pleasure.  

We want to build, create, and grow more products in our country using American labor, American goods, and American grit.  When we purchase products made in the USA, the profits stay here, the revenue stays here, and the jobs -- maybe most importantly of all -- they stay right here in the USA.  (Applause.)  

In the audience today we have skilled workers, we have business leaders whose American-made goods we are proudly displaying all over the White House and outside.  I saw fire engines.  I saw tractors from Caterpillar.  I saw some incredible machinery.  Make it right here.  We thank you for being here.  We’re honored to showcase your creations.  And I will say, they’ve really taken on, and some of you have built names that I know of for so long.  And its -- congratulations.  Right?  You in particular.  What a great job you’ve done.  Thank you very much.  And I saw you on television this morning.  You were fantastic.  I don’t know what you’re doing, exactly, but you could always have a second career.  (Laughter.)  You did a great job.  Thank you very much. 

American workers, farmers, and innovators are really the best in the world -- we know that.  And what we’re doing [with] that is we’re displaying those talents.  You construct and harvest the products that fill our homes, feed our families, and defend our nation, and enrich our lives.  I want to make a pledge to each and every one of you:  No longer are we going to allow other countries to break the rules, steal our jobs, and drain our wealth -- and it has been drained.  It has been drained.  (Applause.)  

You’re going to see a lot of things happening over the next six months -- you know, statutorily and through a lot of different legal -- through the legal process.  It takes a while to get it set so that you’re allowed to do it.  You’re not allowed to do, but we’ve now mostly fulfilled all of that.  And over the next short period of time, you’re going to see things announced that you won’t even believe for our country and for selling product in our country and making product in our country, and things that are great for American jobs.  You’re going to be seeing that happening really quickly because we are totally set up, and the hard part now is done.  It is a long, horrible process, but we’re going to also get rid of some of that process for the future.  But we’re going to stand up for our companies and, maybe most importantly, for our workers.  

For decades, Washington has allowed other nations to wipe out millions of American jobs through unfair trade practices.  Wait until you see what’s up for you.  You are going to be so happy.  This painful exodus of American jobs -- and I’ve been talking about it for years -- was also marked by a period of sluggish growth, falling incomes, surging welfare, and shrinking participation in the workforce.  Clearly, it’s time for a new policy -- one defined by two simple rules:  We will buy American and we will hire American.  Right, Governor?  (Applause.)  

My administration is removing the burdens and regulations on your companies so that you can compete, thrive, and grow.  How many of you have noticed this so far?  Because it’s a big, big difference, right?  That’s a big, big difference.  The people are coming up to me -- they can’t even believe it.  We took the farmer’s land away.  We took the homebuilder’s land away.  They have their land back now, and they’re building homes and they’re farming their farms, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.  And they’re so thankful.  

So a lot of those regulations have been taken off; the rest are coming off.  And, by the way, we will have better protection than we've ever had, but we’ll also have something where you don’t have to wait 15 years for a permit and then when you go to the board, you lose.  And that’s a big portion of your life wiped out waiting for a permit.  We’re not going to let that happen.  

But for our nation to really prosper, we must lower the tax on business -- one of the highest in the world -- and we must repeal job-killing Obamacare.  We have to do that.  (Applause.)  And I can tell you, we hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him.  He’s a crusty voice in Washington.  Plus, we need his vote.  (Laughter.)  And he’ll be back.  And he will be back sooner than somebody else would be back.  He’ll be back soon.  

But we need that vote.  And we need a number of votes because we do have to repeal Obamacare, and we will end up replacing it with something that is going to be outstanding -- far, far better than failing Obamacare where premiums have gone up, in some cases over 200 percent this year; where every single element of it is bad, and the insurance companies, by the way, are fleeing, so people have -- in some states you have no insurance companies.  

And we have some governors here, and we have senators here, and we have congressmen here, and women -- and I will tell you, it’s a very, very hard time they’re having with the Obamacare situation.  So we’re going to get that done, and I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.  But they’re pushing very hard.  The Republican senators are great people, but they have a lot of different states.  Some states need this, some states need that.  But we’re getting it together, and it’s going to happen.  Right, Mike?  


THE PRESIDENT:  I think.  (Laughter and applause.)  And when it does happen, that will be a big day in America, believe me.  A big day in America.    

But we must also fight the unfair trade practices that have gutted our industry, and that includes cracking down on the predatory online sales of foreign goods, which is absolutely killing our shoppers and our shopping centers.  If you look at what’s going on with shopping centers and stores and jobs in stores, it’s been very, very tough for them.  They’ve had a very hard time.  Closing at numbers and records that have never been seen before.  So we have to stop that -- the online predatory practices.

Since the beginning of the year, we have already created over 50,000 brand-new manufacturing jobs, and we're just getting started.  We will lift our citizens from welfare to work.  We will turn boarded-up communities into new outposts of American commerce.  And we will once again rediscover our heritage as a manufacturing nation.  We used to be a manufacturing nation.  Not so much anymore.  But I will tell you, if you look at Michigan, if you look at some states that have really moved -- you know, in Pennsylvania, two weeks ago they opened the mine -- the first mine that was opened in decades.  Opened a mine. 

And you know all the people that were saying the mining jobs?  Well, we picked up 45,000 mining jobs in a very short period of time.  And everybody was saying, well, you won’t get any mining jobs.  We picked up 45,000 mining jobs, and the miners are very happy with Trump and with Pence.  And we're very proud of that.  But that's just the beginning.  We have jobs coming from all over.

Restoring American manufacturing will not only restore our wealth, it will restore our pride and pride in ourselves.  It will revitalize our independence, and it will rebuild the bonds of kinship between our communities and our citizens, which has been lagging, wouldn’t you say?

For most of our nation’s history, American -- and we see this -- American Presidents have understood that in order to protect our economy and our security, we must protect our industry.  And much of that comes at the border.  George Washington encouraged Americans to produce their own goods so that our young nation could become truly independent.

President James Garfield said, of our nation’s manufacturers, that, “to them the country owes the splendor of the position it holds before the world” -- meaning, protect us.

Theodore Roosevelt declared in his first message to Congress that "reciprocity" -- my favorite word, reciprocity -- because we have countries that charge us 100 percent tax on a product, and when that product is sold by them to us, we brilliantly charge them nothing.  And people say, oh, that's free trade.  No, that's stupid trade.  That's really stupid trade.  (Applause.) 

It’s incredible.  You’ll actually have people who -- "No, we can't do that.  That's free trade."  It’s just -- that's so incredible, but what are you going to do.  (Laughter.)  Oh, what happens in Washington, you just wouldn’t believe the things.  

But “reciprocity must be treated as the handmaiden of protection.”  And William McKinley proclaimed that “we ought to take care of our own nation and her industries first.”  We have to look at our nation first for a change.  We've been looking the other way for a long, long time.  And if you look at what’s going on or the success of other nations -- even in Europe -- you look at some of those countries, one in particular, it’s not fair to the United States.  

And that's why I’m here, and I believe it’s one of the primary reasons you elected me and Mike.  I mean, that's why we're here.  And I think you're going to see a big, big -- I don't think -- I don't think -- I know you're going to see one of the great differences, and you're already seeing it, but it’s going to get more so and more so.  And we're going to end up having a level playing field.

I don't want to say any more than level.  But if the playing field were slanted like a little bit toward us, I’d accept that also.  Okay?  (Applause.) 

So, once again, we will celebrate craftsmen, producers, and innovators like the incredible men and women in this room today.  We will protect our workers, promote our industry, and be proud of our history because we will put America first.  America will be first again.  We will make America great again.  Remember that.  (Applause.)  And we’ll meet in this same room in a year and in two years, and you’ll see what happened.  

Thank you for all being here.  God bless you and God bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, thank you.  (Applause.)

(The President moves to the signing desk.) 

So this is being signed in honor of Made in America Day and Made in America Week, and soon we’re going to have Made in America Decades.  We're going to have a lot of tremendous success, and it’s already just starting to kick in.  

You see it with the job numbers.  You see it with the stock market, which hit an all-time high every day for quite a while now.  You see it with so many other things.  And most importantly perhaps, you see it with the manufacturers.  Their level of enthusiasm is greater now than at any time since they've been taking this type of poll, and I believe it’s 28 years old.  So people are enthused.  Are you all enthused?  (Applause.) 

Thank you all for being here.

(The document is signed.)  

4:07 P.M. EDT

Remarks by the Vice President Introducing President Trump at Made in America Product Showcase

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 22:34

The East Room

3:51 P.M. EDT

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Well, good afternoon.  Members of the Cabinet, distinguished members of Congress, and all these incredible representatives of American business from all 50 states, and our honored guests, on behalf of the President and the First Family, welcome to the White House.  (Applause.)
And thanks to the leadership of a President who believes in American manufacturing, welcome to Made in America Week here in our Nation’s Capital.  (Applause.) 
It’s the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who always puts America First and puts American manufacturing first.
Our President knows that America is a nation of dreamers and doers, a nation of producers and growers and makers.  And since the very first day of this administration, we’ve taken decisive action to promote and protect what he calls those three beautiful words:  Made in America.  (Applause.) 
In fact, this President has signed more laws slashing through federal red tape than any President in American history.  (Applause.) 
Under President Trump’s leadership, we’ve been fighting for trade that’s both free and fair so that American businesses and American workers can compete and win with companies anywhere in the world.  In fact, as we were just talking down the hallway, just last month, thanks to the President’s leadership, American beef is now being shipped to China for the first time in 13 years.  (Applause.) 
We’ve been unleashing American-made energy, rolling back the Clean Power Plan, approving the Keystone and Dakota pipelines.  And when he did so, President Donald Trump took executive action to make sure that new pipelines in America would be built by American workers using American steel.  (Applause.) 
Thanks to the President’s leadership, American manufacturers haven’t been this optimistic in more than two decades.  And the confidence of American farmers is soaring to near-record levels, and we’re going to continue to fight every day to ensure that our country continues to make the best machines, grow the best food, and design the best technology because President Donald Trump knows that Made in America will Make America Great Again.  (Applause.) 
So with gratitude for his leadership and admiration for his unwavering confidence in the boundless capacity of the American people, it is now my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to all of you, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.   (Applause.) 
3:54 P.M. EDT

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 7/17/2017, #58

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 22:33

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 

2:32 P.M. EDT

MR. SPICER:  Sorry I'm a little late.

Q    Good to see you.  

Q    We miss you, Sean.

MR. SPICER:  Well, I miss you too.

Good afternoon.  For the rest of July, this administration is going to be honoring the people, the products, and the principles that have made America a global leader.  This week, we will be spotlighting American-made products and industries.  Later on in the month, we'll also be highlighting American heroes and the American Dream.

Since day one, the President has been fighting for the hardworking people of this country, and he has done a lot on their behalf.  He signed an executive order to Buy American and Hire American, which is a historic action to ensure that federal projects are made with American goods, and to keep American workers and companies from being cheated out of contracts by countries that break the rules.  He took action to reform our immigration system so that it puts the needs of American workers first.  We continue to make progress on that.  He withdrew the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership and began renegotiating NAFTA.

Whether it’s removing job-killing regulations, protecting our borders, or unleashing American energy, the President is working to keep his promises and deliver for the America's workers. 

So, today, as I mentioned, we’re kicking off “American Made” week with a showcase of 50 products that are made here in the United States, representing each of the 50 states.  From the South Lawn to the State Floor, the White House will be lined with these examples of American innovation and investment in manufacturing and technology.

From the SH-3 Sea King helicopter made in Connecticut, which most of us affectionately know as Marine One when the President is on board, to the iconic cowboy hats made in Texas, this country is already responsible for the invention and creation of an incredible span of amazing products.

But for decades, Washington has been doing its best to discourage these companies from investing here at home, through job-killing deals and a rapidly expanding scheme of unnecessary regulations.  This administration has been working hard to ease these burdens, making it easier for companies to compete and grow so they can contribute more to our economy and hire more American workers.

We’ve already created over 50,000 new manufacturing jobs this year.  And as the President moves forward with his pro-growth agenda, including repealing and replacing Obamacare, reforming our over-complicated tax code, and revitalizing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, that number is sure to grow even higher.

We hope that the companies represented here today and the rest of the businesses who put Americans to work manufacturing their products will see the numbers grow as the Trump administration continues to unleash American industry.

In about a half-hour, the President will head out to the South Lawn to view some of the larger products, like a forklift from Mississippi and a fire truck from Wisconsin.  He'll then proceed to the Blue Room and continue along the State Floor to see everything from California wine to body armor manufactured in Iowa.  He will then make remarks and sign a proclamation declaring July 17th as Made in America Day.

The Vice President, Cabinet members, members of Congress, and White House senior staff are also visiting the state displays throughout the rest of the afternoon.
Later in the week, the President will host a Made in America Certification Event and attend the commissioning the USS Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Virginia.

Also here today, the Departments of Transportation and Energy are making important investments in domestic air travel and the new generation of bioenergy.  The FAA will award over $290 million as part of its Airport Investment [Improvement] Program to 105 airports in 38 states.  These grants fund various types of projects, including runways, taxiways, and airport signage, which makes our airports safer and will create thousands of jobs.

And the Department of Energy will award $40 million for the establishment of four Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Centers, which are designed to lay the scientific groundwork for the next generation of energy technology.

Here at the White House and across the administration, we’re working around the clock to make America safer and more prosperous.  But as the Democrats proved again last week, they’re willing to put anything on the line, even national security, just to keep the President from putting his own team in place to carry out his agenda.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continued this unprecedented pattern of obstruction when he decided to politicize the number-two job at the Department of Defense at a time of rising national security threats.  Rather than allow Patrick Shanahan, the President’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of Defense, to be voted on by unanimous consent as proposed by Senator McCain, Senator Schumer objected, further delaying his confirmation. 

Mr. Shanahan is eminently qualified and was even praised by the New York Times as "a good complement" to Secretary Mattis, but his nomination has languished in the Senate for over a month as a casualty of these partisan attacks. 

This is on top of an even more brazen example from earlier this month where Senate Democrats used every available tool to delay the confirmation of a judge that was eventually confirmed 100-0.  They all supported the nomination, they all voted for him, so the Senate Democrats’ delay tactics had nothing to do with questions about his qualifications, and everything to do about pettiness and politics.

While that effort was partisan, last week’s move to block a vote on a key national security post is downright dangerous.  Just one in four of the President’s 187 nominees to date have been confirmed, and we’re nearing six months into the administration.  It’s time for Senate Democrats to drop this pointless and petty gamesmanship and start working with this administration on behalf of the American people.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.


Q    Sean, good to see you back here.  Question for you.  One on Iran.  Will this administration certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal?

MR. SPICER:  The JCPOA authority was delegated to the State Department.  And the Secretary of Defense -- excuse me, the Secretary of State will have an announcement very shortly on that deal.

I think you all know that the President has made very clear that he thought this was a bad deal -- a bad deal for the United States.  And I will wait until the State Department makes further action before going any further.

Q    And secondly, your counterpart in Russia, Dmitry Peskov, who speaks for Vladimir Putin, said today that they expect their properties that were seized by the prior administration to be returned and without any stipulations or attachments to that.  Was this discussed with the President?  Does the President have a strong view?  What is it that the President would like to see in return before handing these properties over? 

MR. SPICER:  I know that Secretary Tillerson -- that falls under his purview.  He has been having discussions, and I would refer you to the State Department for -- 

Q    But this came from Vladimir Putin’s office, not --

MR. SPICER:  I understand that.  But in our country, right now, the Secretary of State is handling that portfolio, and so I would refer you to him on that.

Q    But did the President bring this up at all in his conversations in Hamburg with Vladimir Putin?

MR. SPICER:  I don't know.  I’d be glad to find out on that.  I don't believe it did, but I’d be glad to find out.


Q    Thank you, Sean.  The President tweeted earlier today that most politicians would have gone into the meeting like the one Don Jr. attended in order to get info on an opponent.  He said that's politics.  His FBI Director nominee said that anyone who was approached by a hostile government for opposition research should contact the FBI rather than taking the meeting.  Who's right?  And what’s the White House’s position on whether or not it’s okay to meet with a hostile government for opposition research?

MR. SPICER:  Look, you know I’m not going to get into the specifics of this.  But I will say that it is quite often for people who are given information during the heat of a campaign to ask what that is.  That's what simply he did.  The President has made it clear through this tweet.  And there was nothing, as far as we know, that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act.

But I would refer you back to counsel on that one.

Q    Okay.  And can I ask about counsel, about Marc Kasowitz?  He was -- reportedly, he exchanged emails with a private citizen with a number of threats and a profanity-laced set of comments.  Does the White House and the President still have confidence in Mr. Kasowitz to speak for the administration on this Russia matter?

MR. SPICER:  Yes, he does.  And I know Mr. Kasowitz has issued an apology on that matter.


Q    Sean, first a follow-up to his question there.  The President’s tweet this morning regarding the Russia investigation -- did Ty Cobb vet that?  Can you talk a little bit about his role?  Is his job here to manage the President’s personal response to the Russia investigation?

MR. SPICER:  Mr. Cobb -- as you know within the counsel’s office, there are various attorneys that have different portfolios.  And while we have outside counsel, a lot of times the requests that we get from this room require us to go to counsel and say, can we answer this question?  What can we say or can't we say?  You do your best a lot of times to get us to make a case why this should be answered by the White House.

And so we end up spending a lot of time talking to the counsel’s office about what can and can't be referred to outside counsel, what still remains in our purview.  And so it was the decision of the White House to bring someone on board that, like in a lot of other areas that we have counsels dedicated to that, that there was significant interest in the subject to do that.

Q    So in the case of the President’s tweet this morning, was that something that went through Mr. Cobb?

MR. SPICER:  I don't believe so.  

Q    And once more, a follow on Made in America.  You mentioned the Sikorsky helicopter parked on the South Lawn -- that would be known as Marine One -- who paid for that to fly here from, I guess, probably Quantico?  And also, is it appropriate military resources for a political event?

MR. SPICER:  Well, it would be at Bolling, is where I believe that's held.  But I think we're very proud.  The idea is to showcase this week things that are made in America.  And I know Sikorsky and the state of Connecticut are very proud of the fact that they contribute to our national security, that there are, I assume, hundreds if not thousands of people whose job depends on that.  And I think, like most Americans, we're all proud of the helicopter and other military equipment that so many Americans worked tirelessly to do.  So, of course, it’s appropriate to highlight that.


Q    Thank you, Sean.  I’m wondering whether you can tell us if Made in America Week will include the Trump organization or Ivanka Trump brands committing to stop manufacturing wares abroad.

MR. SPICER:  Say that -- I’m sorry?  If the -- 

Q    As part of Made in America Week, if the Trump Organization or Ivanka Trump’s brands will make any kind of commitment to stop manufacturing gifts, clothes, and other wares abroad?

MR. SPICER:  So there’s a couple things that are interesting about that question.  First, I think what’s really important is the President’s agenda, regulatory relief, and tax relief are focused on trying to make sure that all companies can hire here, can expand here, can manufacture here.  That's something that he wants for every company, and you've seen him talk about that extensively.

With respect to his own companies, obviously it’s inappropriate to discuss how anything would affect their own companies.  But I can tell you that, in some cases, there are certain supply chains or scalability that may not be available in this country.  I’m not going to comment on specific products, but I will tell you that the overall-arching goal, of course, though, is to grow manufacturing -- to grow and invest here in the United States and to grow U.S. workers here.  So that remains the overall objective.

Q    Obviously, it might be a sacrifice, given certain questions about going rates and stuff, but wouldn’t it be sort of a way to show leadership?

MR. SPICER:  Again, it’s not appropriate for me to stand up here and comment about a business.  I believe that's a little out of bounds.  But again, I would go back to the President’s broader goal which is to create investment here, to bring back the manufacturing base.  And I think when you look at a lot of these indices that measure confidence -- both in terms of CEOs, manufacturers -- that they're all-time highs.  And I think part of that is that there’s a lot of confidence that the President’s agenda is going to accomplish that.


Q    Just a question about the DHS decision to allow 15,000 new temporary worker visas.  How does that not conflict with the President’s Hire American message?

MR. SPICER:  Again, I’ll refer you to DHS on this.  But I think one of the things that you're seeing through this is it’s not just the number, it’s a lot of the qualifications and a lot that goes through there to ensure that we hiring and bringing in the people.

As you know, the President has been supportive of the RAISE Act, by Senators Cotton and Perdue, which seeks to really look at more of a merit-based immigration system.  And that's something that he continues to push for, and we’ll continue to work with Senators Cotton and Perdue and others to help get that in a place that will focus more on merit-based and really provide the overall reform that he’s been talking about for a long time.


Q    Sean, thanks.  What’s the White House reaction to the government of Iran announcing that they've sentenced the Chinese-American student from Princeton to 10 years for espionage?  And also, could you fill us in on any new sanctions on Iran?

MR. SPICER:  I’m not going to comment on any new sanctions.  If there are some, at that point Treasury would be the one to make that announcement when that's appropriate.

Obviously, we're disappointed in that.  And with respect to that individual, he is someone that we're keeping an eye on.


Q    Thanks, Sean.  With regard -- I wanted to ask you about steel tariffs.  The President told reporters on the plane last week that he was considering tariffs and quotas with regard to foreign steel.  This being Made in America Week, can we expect an announcement?  Has the President made up his mind on whether he’s going to do tariffs, quotas, or both?

MR. SPICER:  I think the President’s comments on Air Force One speak for themselves.  When he’s ready to make an announcement on that, we’ll share that with you.  But that's something that the team is still discussing with him.

John Decker.

Q    Thanks a lot, Sean.  Is the President resigned to the idea that it seems unlikely that the Senate will vote on any type of repeal-and-replace bill anytime in the immediate future?

MR. SPICER:  I know that Senator McConnell has made it clear that he would like Senator McCain back.  We obviously wish him a speedy recovery.  And as soon as Senator McConnell -- as soon as Senator McCain can travel back, and Senator McConnell feels it’s appropriate, he’ll schedule that vote.  We feel very confident about where we are now, and we look forward to getting that bill on the President’s desk and getting it signed.

Q    On Made in America, I just wanted a real quick question.  I realize you can't speak, as you said, specifically about the President Donald J. Trump organization’s companies, but I just wanted to get a view from you on what critics are saying about whether the President is the right vessel for this message.  After all, he has shirts made in China and Bangladesh and India.  Other products made -- like Trump vodka made in the Netherlands.  So give me a sense, if you could, about whether the President is the right vessel for the message that he’s going to deliver later today before the press?

MR. SPICER:  I actually look at it in a very different way, which is the President has been a very successful businessman on a number of fronts and a number of areas and industries, and to understand firsthand what the tax burden and what the regulatory burden do to a business that wants to grow or expand here or hire here.  So I think he actually is -- in a very unique way understands the challenges that our regulatory system and our tax system put on businesses that want to hire here, that want to grow here, that need scalability and capacity here in a way that maybe isn’t because of some of our arcane trade laws, our regulations, or our tax laws.  So I actually think that he’s in a very unique way able to talk about the challenges that so many of these companies face as they choose to expand, and some of the tariffs and quotas that they face in other markets.

I know that some of the stuff -- you look at a company like Caterpillar, who is out there, and you talk to them about some of the tariffs that they face going into other countries.  When you're talking about an earthmover, a D11 or something else, when you're talking about a million-plus-dollar piece of equipment, a 20 percent tariff is $200,000.  So if you're going into a country where our companies are disadvantaged by a huge tariff, that's immediately putting them at a disadvantage.

And the President understands what that means to a company that wants to grow and expand throughout the globe and meet new markets, and go into other places.

So I think he understands it probably very, very uniquely.


Q    Okay, thanks, Sean.  

MR. SPICER:  I’ll get to you, Andrew.  Don't worry.

Q    Thank you, Sean.  A couple of questions on the Voter Integrity Commission’s meeting on Wednesday.  I wanted to ask you, without full cooperation of all the states, would the commission consider buying some of the registration information sort of the way campaigns do?  Or using maybe a private organization like Aristotle International?

MR. SPICER:  Most of this information is available.  All that those companies are doing is buying it from the states.  So I don't think there would be any reason to go to a private vendor.  I think we should be able to do this utilizing official resources that exist within a state.

Again, I think there’s been some miscommunication on what they're seeking.  The commission has asked that each state provide that information that is public that they share.  And because that varies from state to state, what they're willing to give out, the commission was illustrative in its letter in trying to describe what it was looking for.  But I think we're going to move forward very well.

Trey.  Yes.

Q    I’m sorry, I do have another.  And that's -- there was hacking into voter registration rolls in Illinois and Arizona, and we found out recently South Carolina was reported.  Is that going to be something the commission will look into at all?

MR. SPICER:  I think the commission has got a very broad mandate to make sure that there’s the greatest degree of integrity in our voting system and confidence in it.  So I don't want to get ahead of their agenda, but I think all areas like that are going to probably get brought up.  But the first meeting is Wednesday.  We’ll see what comes of it.


Q    Thanks, Sean.  Two foreign policy questions for you.  First, what steps is President Trump taking to ensure that the Israelis are comfortable with the U.S.-brokered ceasefire in Syria?

MR. SPICER:  So obviously -- you’re talking about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments.

Q    Correct.  

MR. SPICER:  One, I would refer you to him to that.  But there’s a shared interest that we have with Israel, making sure that Iran does not gain a foothold, military base-wise, in southern Syria.  So while we’re going to continue those talks, obviously we want to have the productive ceasefire, but we also want to make sure that we’re not -- one of our other objectives obviously remains to make sure that Iran does not gain a foothold in southern Syria.  So we need to continue to have that discussion with Prime Minister Netanyahu about his concerns, but I think there is a shared goal there.


Q    Thanks, Sean.  With the healthcare bill in limbo, what’s the administration’s plan to move forward on tax reform?  Can you do it without having moved on healthcare first?

MR. SPICER:  Well, obviously, the Senate is still on track to vote, which is great, and the President will sign it as soon as it’s possible.  We’re going to continue to plan.  We’ve had well into the hundreds, if not close to a thousand listening sessions with different entities -- so the number of entities, not the number of meetings.  So they’ll continue that outreach, continue to hear with folks.  There’s been a very robust discussion with House and Senate leadership and the committees of relevant jurisdiction, and we’re going to continue that.  

But we’re going to keep moving that along.  I expect there will be some activity in August and then into September, but we’re still on track to do that.  And we hope to have the healthcare bill completely locked up as soon as Senator McConnell deems it appropriate.  

Q    Sean, a follow-up.  

MR. SPICER:  Kristen 

Q    Thanks, Sean.  There’s concern among those who support the healthcare bill that this extension is going to give the opponents of the bill more traction.  What specifically is President Trump going to do to try to get this bill over the finish line?  What will the --

MR. SPICER:  He’s been very active on the phone.  He’s going to continue to meet with senators.  I think he’ll have some senators over tonight.  He’s been very active over the weekend.  The Vice President has been extremely engaged as well.  We’ll continue those discussions.  

So I think we’re going to do what we did the last time.  The President is going to be engaged, he’s going to get this done.  And then -- you know, it’s been said before, but there’s no one better than Mitch McConnell when it comes to knowing how and when to make a bill successful in the Senate.  So we have every confidence in the Majority Leader’s ability to get this done, and the President will do whatever he has to to support those efforts.

Q    And who’s coming over tonight?  Is it just --

MR. SPICER:  I don’t have a list for you.

Q    And one quickly on Russia.  President Trump has referred to the Russia investigation as a “hoax,"  "a witch hunt."  Given the meeting that Donald Trump, Jr. had, does he now acknowledge that the special counsel is a legitimate investigation?

MR. SPICER:  I think Mr. Sekulow answered that question very extensively this weekend.

Q    What would you say?

MR. SPICER:  Again, I think it’s been asked and answered.  

Q    Sean, can you tell me how these products were selected from each of the 50 states?  And do you know if most of the owners are Trump supporters?

MR. SPICER:  I don’t.  You’re free to ask them.  I think the pool will be out there.  I think there’s some folks, so feel free to talk to them.  This was an engagement where we asked for suggestions from governors and members of Congress to give us a list, and then, working within the different offices here, an ultimate selection was made.  But we sought input from the governors and the congressional delegation.


Q    Sean, since Friday the President has tweeted four times about healthcare, but he’s also tweeted six times about the U.S. Women’s Open, which was held at a private property that was owned by his company.  So the question is:  Is it appropriate for him to essentially advertise his private business using his Twitter feed and use of time, when comparatively less time is being spent on healthcare, an issue that, as you know, is the most important issue to Americans right now?

MR. SPICER:  Well, I respectfully disagree with that in the sense that sending off a tweet takes, what, five, ten seconds?  As I just mentioned to Kristen, he’s been extremely engaged throughout the weekend, making phone calls, talking to folks, meeting with his team, getting updates.  So to compare a tweet with a meeting or a phone call of substance is probably a little --

Q    But he did spend a lot of his weekend at the U.S. Women’s Open.  He seemed to be very engaged in it.  I mean, the tweets are, perhaps, a second long, but it seems to indicate what the President is spending his time on.  So how do you assure the country that he actually is, in fact, engaged on healthcare when we know where he was over the weekend -- he’s been tweeting about it?

MR. SPICER:  I would suggest to you -- one, I just told you he’s been extremely engaged in talking to different senators.  I know that some of them have mentioned they had extensive discussions with him.  Number two, this is the same group -- we got a lot of that it will never get through the House.  He continued to work hard.  He continued to be engaged then, and it came out.  We continue to do what we have to do, and we’ll make it work.  

But we’re going to get this done.  We’ll move on.  We’ll do tax reform.  We’re going to do infrastructure.  The President has a really robust agenda, and I think when you look at the amount of activity that he’s been able to do and the results that he’s getting, I think that speaks for itself.


Q    Can I ask you a Made in America question, Sean?  

MR. SPICER:  Yeah, sure.

Q    Just a quick one.  Ivanka Trump’s -- the head of Ivanka Trump’s business said that it is currently not possible to make her products here in the United States.  So what is the White House’s or this administration’s policy remedy for companies like that who say there’s just no way to do it?  How do they make their products here in America?

MR. SPICER:  I mean, I can’t answer that question in the sense that I’m not -- but I can tell you that it depends on the product, right?  There are certain things that -- certain industries that we don’t do as much anymore, and there’s certain things that we do do more.  There’s a certain aspect of technology and labor.  But as I mentioned before in terms of scalability, there’s certain things that we may not have the capacity to do here in terms of having a plant or a factory that can do it.  

The beautiful thing about a capitalistic society is that if there’s enough of a demand for it, it will happen, and I think that’s what the President is trying to do.  If you lower the tax rate, if you lower the regulatory burden, you will hopefully grow businesses and grow manufacturing.

I’ve talked to several CEOs and business leaders in the past couple of weeks about tax reform, and it’s amazing how many of them tell you that they pay the 35 percent rate.  And you say to them, what will you do if that rate drops?  And the number-one thing they talk about is they’re going to invest and build more in their company.  And I think that’s what we need to do.  

But some lines, some industries, some products may not have the scalability or the demand here in this country.  But like so many other things, if there’s enough of a demand, then hopefully someone builds a factory and does it.  But we've seen that in your own industry, where you saw the decline of newspapers, for example, and you've seen a lot more online content and online publications.  That’s the evolution, sometimes, of some industries.  But I'm sure somewhere around the world that newspapers still get delivered every day in a much greater way than they do here.

Q    But is it appropriate, if there is no -- in the case of Ivanka Trump's businesses -- handbags, shirts, purses, whatever -- if there is no capacity, is it appropriate to make those things overseas?

MR. SPICER:  Well, think about all of the things that we buy every day.  Of course there's a market, because we depend in this country for so many goods and services, some of which are made in America, some of which aren’t.  Obviously, we want to create an environment in which more things are made here, more things are exported from here.  And that's what the President's agenda sets out to do.

I got to go to the birthday girl, Micaela.  Oh, I'm sorry -- Sarah.

Q    Oh, thanks.  It's not my birthday but -- (laughter) --

MR. SPICER:  (Laughter.)  I don’t even want -- it's Micaela's birthday, she's not here.  I saw Eamon and I thought CNBC.  My apologies.

Q    I'll take a second question.  (Laughter.)  

Q    Back to the JCPOA, I know you don’t want to get ahead of the announcement about the recertification, but the administration has been reviewing it for some time now, even though the President has already made definitive statements about what he thinks should be on the Iran deal.  So did he make those statements without having sufficient information about the Iran deal?  Or is the review ongoing because he's open to changing his position on the Iran deal, if new information came to light?

MR. SPICER:  I got to say -- I mean, I think the President, from throughout the campaign until now, has made very clear that he thinks it's a bad deal.  And initially he recertified it because he had the luxury of having an entire team here, both from State, DOD, NSC, to review it.  That time is up and state will make its announcement very shortly.  

But I think he's been very consistent with the fact that he thought it was a bad deal.


Q    Thank you, Sean.  Two questions and a short follow-up.  When the President took office, one of the things he ordered was a 90-day cybersecurity review.  That deadline came and went.  It's been several months.  Can you update us on where that report is?  Has it been completed?  And if it hasn’t been completed, why?

MR. SPICER:  I will get back to you on the report.  He did sign an executive order on cyber, making sure that we have the resources necessary to protect our key critical infrastructure.

Q    Last week there was a march online -- day of action on net neutrality -- organized and participated by many of the largest companies in America -- Amazon, Apple, Facebook -- a lot of the technology economy that's been driving the U.S. economy.  Granted, the FCC is an independent agency, but does the President believe that network neutrality is an important thing and an open Internet is important to the American economy?

MR. SPICER:  Well, again, as you noted, the FCC is an independent agency and I refer you to them with respect to --

Q    I'm asking what the President believes.  

MR. SPICER:  I have not addressed net neutrality specifically.

Q    Can you get back to me?

MR. SPICER:  I will definitely.  Caitlin.

Q    Thanks, Sean.  The Ukraine government reportedly went into damage-control mode in an effort to make amends when President Trump won the election after working with DNC and administration officials to undermine his candidacy.  Is this an issue that was discussed during President Poroshenko's visit to the White House in June?  And has the President discussed it with him?

MR. SPICER:  Actually, that's an interesting question.  I will have to get back to you.  Obviously, there's been a lot more interest in recent days with respect to what the DNC did in coordination with the Ukrainian government to try to collude and achieve a goal of having someone removed, which ultimately did happen.

So I don’t know whether that came up with the President.  I'd be glad to look into the call.  I know that that story and the DNC's collusion with the Ukrainian government has definitely gotten a lot more attention since that meeting, so I'm not sure that it was necessarily topical at the time.  But now that there's been renewed interest in what the DNC did, I'm glad to look further.

Q    Does what the DNC did have any impact on this administration's policy towards Ukraine?

MR. SPICER:  Again, I don’t -- it wasn’t something that was discussed at the time of the visit that I'm aware of.  I'd be glad to follow up and find out whether that did come up.  But again, my only point is that, at the time of the visit, I don’t believe it was as topical as it is now.


Q    At a briefing last month, you said you didn’t believe the President factored in, when he made a trip, what his popularity is in that country.  Now we have a report of a transcript of a conversation between Prime Minister May and the President in which he asked her to "fix" his popularity so he gets a better reception.  Do you have any reason to doubt the accuracy of that transcript, that that conversation took place? And do you still believe that he doesn’t factor in his popularity?

MR. SPICER:  I believe that -- I'm not going to comment on rumored leaked conversations.  I will say that he was pleased to accept Her Majesty's invitation and looks forward to visiting the United Kingdom.


Q    On North Korea -- South Korea has offered to hold talks with the North Koreans.  What's the President's view of that?  And are there certain conditions that the President would like to see met before those talks take place?

MR. SPICER:  Well, obviously those comments came out of the Republic of Korea and I would refer you back to them.  That being said, I think the President has made clear in the past with respect that any type of conditions that would have to be met are clearly far away from where we are now.


Q    Sean, has the White House been monitoring the demonstrations in Venezuela, and do you have any reaction to that?

MR. SPICER:  Yeah, we obviously are concerned about that.  We've been watching what's been going on.  We congratulate the Venezuelan people for the huge turnout in the referendum yesterday and the unmistakable statement that they made and that they delivered to their government. 

We condemn the violence inflicted by government thugs against innocent voters, and efforts by the government to erode democracy in Venezuela.  We once again call for the constituent assembly of July 30th to be cancelled, and for free and fair elections to be scheduled. 

Q    Just one follow-up on Iran.  A senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard said today that if the United States designated the group a terrorist organization and applied new sanctions, that it would be perilous for U.S. forces in the region.  Do you have a reaction to that?

MR. SPICER:  I don’t think our forces will ever be -- what was the word?

Q    In peril.

MR. SPICER:  No.  I think our forces are the greatest fighting machine in the world, and we'll do everything we can to protect our country and to make sure that we extinguish any threats that we face.

Thank you, guys.  Hope to have you get a good look at what's going on outside, and the pool will do a great job.


3:05 P.M. EDT

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims July 17, 2017, as Made in America Day and this Week, July 16 through July 22, as Made in America Week

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 19:55

- - - - - - -

Today, we mark the first Made in America Day and recognize the vital contributions of American workers and job creators to our Nation's prosperity and strength.  America owes much of its success to the determination and ingenuity of its entrepreneurs, workers, and farmers, who drive our economy and support our military strength.  
American work ethic and quality craftsmanship are the heart and soul of our Nation.  We are a Nation of innovators, builders, and farmers.  We construct architectural wonders like the Golden Gate Bridge and the New York skyline.  We feed the Nation and the world with agricultural products like American wheat, corn, and beef.  We drive technological innovation, like the internet and the Global Positioning System, from visions to realities.
My Administration recognizes the critical connection between a strong manufacturing base and a thriving economy.  I am committed to promoting American manufacturing, opening markets around the world for our producers, and protecting our businesses from unfair trade practices.  And I am reducing job killing regulations and cutting taxes, making it more attractive than ever to do business in the United States. 
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 17, 2017, as Made in America Day and this week, July 16 through July 22, as Made in America Week.  Today and this week, I call upon Americans to pay special tribute to the builders, to the ranchers, to the crafters, and to all those who work every day to make America great. 
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.


Washington Times editorial board praises President Trump’s judicial nominees

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 19:30

“Mr. Trump continues to honor his promise to appoint judges with due regard to the law, precedent and above all to the Constitution. The Senate Judiciary Committee cleared several more nominees to federal courts, including appeals courts, last week, and hours later announced another slate of similar nominees to U.S. District courts.”

Restoration of the judiciary continues
Washington Times
July 17, 2017

The president came through with his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, who is proving a worthy replacement for Antonin Scalia as a faithful servant of the Constitution, regarding it not as a weathervane, subject to every breeze that blows, but as the living document the Founding Fathers intended it to be.

Mr. Trump continues to honor his promise to appoint judges with due regard to the law, precedent and above all to the Constitution. The Senate Judiciary Committee cleared several more nominees to federal courts, including appeals courts, last week, and hours later announced another slate of similar nominees to U.S. District courts.

Among those names forwarded to the Senate on Thursday are John Bush, a lawyer in private practice in Louisville, and Damien Schiff. Mr. Bush was named to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and Mr. Schiff was appointed to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington. In addition, the nomination of Kevin Newsom to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta was advanced to the Senate for confirmation by a vote of 18 to 2, remarkable in the present era.

Read the full editorial here.

President Donald J. Trump Announces White House Staff Appointment

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 19:22

President Donald J. Trump today announced the appointment of a key member of the White House staff.

Ty Cobb will serve as Special Counsel.Mr. Cobb is a partner in the investigations practice of Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a former Federal prosecutor. Mr. Cobb earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and A.B. from Harvard College.

Statement from the Press Secretary on the Terror Attack in Jerusalem

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 18:53

Yesterday, the Holy City of Jerusalem – which means “City of Peace” – became a scene of terror.  The people of the United States are heartbroken that terrorists brutally gunned down two Israeli police officers, and we extend our prayers and sympathies to the families of the victims.  The United States strongly condemns the terror attack.

There must be zero tolerance for terrorism.  It is incompatible with achieving peace and we must condemn it in the strongest terms, defeat it, and eradicate it.

The attack forced the government of Israel to temporarily close the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif to conduct its investigation.  Israel has assured the world that it has no intention to alter the status of this holy site, a decision which the United States applauds and welcomes.  We urge all leaders and people of good faith to be understanding as this process proceeds and reaches its conclusion.

Short and Blase: “The fundamental error in the CBO’s health-care projections”

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 18:50

“The American people — and their representatives in Washington — deserve the most accurate assessment possible of the effects of critical health-care legislation. Although the CBO generally plays a valuable role in the legislative process, as Obamacare’s ongoing failure clearly demonstrates, the CBO’s health-care model is fundamentally flawed.”

The fundamental error in the CBO’s health-care projections
By Marc Short and Brian Blase
Washington Post
July 15, 2017

In the coming days, the Congressional Budget Office will release an updated analysis of the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The CBO will likely predict lower health insurance coverage rates if the bill becomes law. The American people and Congress should give this prediction little weight in assessing the bill’s merit.

The reason: The CBO’s methodology, which favors mandates over choice and competition, is fundamentally flawed. As a result, its past predictions regarding health-care legislation have not borne much resemblance to reality. Its prediction about the Senate bill is unlikely to fare much better.

The forthcoming analysis of the Senate bill will likely contain additional projection errors. It will almost certainly assume that many additional states would expand Medicaid under Obamacare, even though other agencies, such as the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, have determined this is highly unlikely. An assumption that states will expand Medicaid means that the CBO will determine that millions of people will “lose” Medicaid coverage under the Senate bill — but these people were never enrolled in the first place.

The American people — and their representatives in Washington — deserve the most accurate assessment possible of the effects of critical health-care legislation. Although the CBO generally plays a valuable role in the legislative process, as Obamacare’s ongoing failure clearly demonstrates, the CBO’s health-care model is fundamentally flawed. The CBO’s failure to update the model means its forthcoming analysis of the Senate bill will be no better — and perhaps worse — than its disproven Obamacare projections. Although the media and the political left will certainly seize on it, the CBO’s estimates will be little more than fake news.

Read the full op-ed here.


Remarks by the Vice President at the National Governors Association

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 01:13

Rhode Island Convention Center
Providence, Rhode Island

1:30 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you all.  It is wonderful to be here. 
To Prime Minister Trudeau, Governor McAuliffe -- thank you for that warm introduction and that warm welcome -- to Governor Sandoval, to all the Governors of these United States, especially our host, to Gina Raimondo, to all the distinguished guests who are here with us today -- it is an honor to be back in Rhode Island at the 109th annual Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association.  (Applause.) 
And I bring greetings today from my friend, a champion of federalism who is fighting every single day to restore power to the states and to the people, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.) 
The President is actually returning as we speak from France, where he celebrated America’s first and oldest alliance with great pageantry and a productive meeting.  I spoke to the President aboard Air Force One this morning, and he asked me to convey his thanks to all of you for your service to your states and to give you his best regards.  And our President sent me and several members of our Cabinet here to reaffirm our administration’s commitment to partner with each and every one of you to advance the security and prosperity of all of the American people and all of the states across this country.  (Applause.) 
For me, it’s great to be back at the NGA.  I’m, frankly, very humbled -- very humbled to be with so many of the leaders I had the privilege to serve with when I was governor of the state of Indiana.  It’s amazing for me to think -- my wife and I reflected on it this morning -- that it was one year ago this weekend that the phone call came, and my life changed.  I reflected this morning on that ancient verse that I often thought about in those days:  Who am I, oh Lord, and who is my family that you brought me this far.
So let me just take this personal opportunity to say thank you to all of you.  Thank you for your friendship, your encouragement, and the prayers that have enabled us to serve in this new capacity.  It is great to be back with America’s governors.  (Applause.)  
I’m here as your Vice President, but I want you to know that I bring the perspective of a former governor, to your discussions this weekend.  When I was a governor, I’d often come to Washington, D.C. representing my state’s interest, and my greatest hope was that I’d have an administration that would listen to me and work with me to improve the lives of the hardworking people of Indiana.  Well let me give you this promise:  Every governor in America has all that and more in President Donald Trump.  
You heard it from the President himself when he addressed the NGA at the White House during your winter meeting earlier this year.  As the President said, “Under my administration, we’re going to have a true partnership of collaboration and cooperation with the states.”  And he meant every word of it. 
Since day one of our administration, President Trump has been delivering on this promise.  In the past six months, President Trump has met with governors from no fewer than 47 states, individually, and five territories -- including all of you that are gathered here today.  In June alone, President Trump welcomed 19 governors to the White House, and he met with three more on the road.  President Trump has involved you in our policy discussions, and let me assure you, this President values your continued input on issues ranging from infrastructure to energy to tax cuts to healthcare and so much more.  
And if you haven’t noticed, this President likes to hire governors.   (Laughter.)  Not just present company, but I’m talking about our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley; Secretary of Energy Rick Perry; our Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue; and the new United States Ambassador to China, who was the longest-serving Governor in American history, Ambassador Terry Branstad.  Let’s give all these former governors a round of applause.  (Applause.) 
It really has been a privilege for me to continue to work so closely with all of you on the President’s behalf.  In February, Karen and I enjoyed welcoming many of you to the Vice President’s Residence in Washington, D.C. -- the first time all of America’s governors, I was told, have ever been invited to the Naval Observatory, and we were honored that so many came.
Now my wife couldn’t be with us today.  She’s picking our daughter up from the airport -- been doing some foreign travel.  But let me personally extend the President’s and our family’s heartfelt appreciation to the most important people in the room today:  the spouses and family members of those who serve as governors across this nation.  Could you give a round of applause to our spouses and family members that support the leadership of these great leaders?  (Applause.) 
The truth is, America’s governors have a friend in President Donald Trump, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.  And this President’s agenda will strengthen every state across this country.  I like to say that our President has a three-part agenda:  Jobs, jobs, and jobs.  And to be around him for any period of time, you know he’s focused on prosperity in this country, as more than anything else other than security.  
The President has taken decisive action from the outset of this administration to put America back to work and get our economy moving again.  This President has signed more laws slashing job-killing red tape out of Washington, D.C. than any President in American history.  It’s already saved businesses and individuals up to $18 billion a year in regulatory cost.
And our President has been busy unleashing American energy.  He’s opening the way for more offshore drilling, rolling back the Clean Power Plan, and the President has approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines to strengthen the energy infrastructure of this nation.  And speaking of infrastructure, President Trump has already begun the process of rebuilding American infrastructure.  And in partnership with governors like you, I promise you, before this session of Congress is out,  we’re going to pass an infrastructure bill that will rebuild America, and we’re going to work with each and every one of you to bring that about.  (Applause.) 
This President has also taken decisive action to ensure that America’s trade deals are both free and fair.  Thanks to the President’s leadership, last month American companies were able to ship American beef to China for the first time in over 13 years.    
The President has also opened up a new economic dialogue he asked me to lead with the nation of Japan, to strengthen our trade relationship with our valued ally. 
And in the coming weeks, President Trump, and our nation will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.  And under this President’s leadership, we will modernize NAFTA for the 21st century so it is a win-win-win for all of our trading partners in North America.  (Applause.) 
Now I know you’ll be hearing from Prime Minister Trudeau in just a few minutes.  And let me assure you the United States and Canada have already built a remarkably strong relationship under these two leaders, and the investment relationship that we enjoy today is worth more than $620 billion a year.  And we're grateful for the Prime Minister’s leadership and his early outreach to this administration.  President Trump recognized that every trade relationship can improve, and as the Prime Minister knows, we’re looking forward to bringing NAFTA into the future in a way that will equally benefit both our countries.
The truth is, President Trump’s leadership is already making a difference, and I know you see it in your states every single day.  Under this President’s watch, businesses large and small have already created more than 800,000 new private sector jobs since the first of this year.  Company after company are making record investments in state after state -- billions of dollars, tens of thousands of jobs.  And the stock market is soaring, closing at record highs again this week.
And with the continued input of America’s governors, President Trump is going to work with this Congress to drive forward an agenda for a more prosperous America of lower taxes, less regulation, more American energy, better infrastructure, better trade deals and yes, President Donald Trump is going to lead this Congress to rescue the American people from the collapsing policies of Obamacare.  (Applause.) 
As a former governor myself, I know just how important healthcare is to each and every one of you as you lead your states.  The simple truth, though, is Obamacare is imploding all across America, and working families and small businesses are paying the price every day.  Our administration has found that the average premium on the individual market has more than doubled since Obamacare went into effect less than four years ago, and in many states, including some represented here, it’s more than tripled.
When Obamacare passed, we were promised that families would save up to $2,500 in premiums, but the average Obamacare plan today costs nearly $3,000 more than the average plan did in 2013.  And while costs are skyrocketing, choices are plummeting. 
On Monday, our administration announced that 38 percent fewer health insurers plan on participating in Obamacare exchanges next year, and the number could rise, leaving millions of Americans with even fewer choices.  And come next year, 40 percent of American counties, including nine whole states, will have only one choice in a health insurance provider, meaning they essentially have no choice at all.  Even worse, dozens of counties will have no health insurance providers whatsoever on the Obamacare exchange in 2018.
I know you know these facts, because as governors you're living that reality, not far afield in Washington, D.C. looking at statistics, but you're seeing the impact of these failed policies each and every day in communities and enterprises across your state.  I don't have to tell any of the governors gathered around here, whatever your politics, whatever your party, you know we’re talking about real people and you know we're talking about a real crisis.  Because behind every number is a name, and behind every name is a story.
Since early this year, the President has had me traveling across the country to many of your states, and I’ve always made a point to sit down with your local citizens and local businesses to hear the story about the hardship that Obamacare has placed in your communities.  I’ve heard stories from small-business owners, working families, and parents with disabled children who have suffered terribly under the collapsing weight of this policy.  People like Julie Roberts, who I met with earlier this week in Lexington, Kentucky.  At her small business, premiums have spiked 25 percent every year under Obamacare and deductibles have tripled.
Then there’s Connie Mays, who has lived in the same small town in Ohio her entire life.  She has a disability she told me about.  It's made her life tough, but she's found her way forward.  But when Obamacare became law, she told me that she lost her health insurance plan, she lost her doctor, and today no healthcare provider in her county will take her Obamacare coverage.  So she essentially has no coverage at all.  She literally had tears in her eyes sitting next to me at the White House when she told me the story that that card in her pocketbook was essentially meaningless because no one in her home county would take it. 
There’s Julie Champine from Wisconsin, who I met when I was visiting Governor Walker, whose health insurance costs increased so much that last year she told me with genuine emotion in her voice that she had to choose between paying for her Obamacare coverage and buying Christmas presents for her grandkids.  She literally took that preemptive three months where she could skip making her payments and skip coverage just so she could afford to buy some Christmas presents for her kids and grandkids.  
I don't have to tell all of you.  I mean, these stories are not rare, but they're all heartbreaking.  They’re not the exception, they’re the rule.  But as I told each and every one of those that I mentioned and people all across this country:  Help is on the way.  We're going to give the American people access to the kind of world-class healthcare every American deserves.  (Applause.)  
I’m pleased to report, as you already know, just yesterday Senate leadership unveiled a new version of the Senate healthcare bill, and President Trump and I urge every member of the Senate to support it.  President Trump and I believe the Senate healthcare bill is the right bill at the right time to begin the end of Obamacare and rescue the American people from this failed policy.  And we look forward to the Senate taking up this bill as early as next week.
Now, President Trump laid out his vision for American healthcare months ago.  The President said he wanted a healthcare system that in his words is “far less expensive and far better.”  And we believe the Senate healthcare bill begins to make the President’s vision a reality.
The bill introduced in the Senate puts America back on the path to better, more affordable healthcare for every American.  The Senate healthcare bill repeals Obamacare’s individual and business mandates, and cuts taxes on American families and American businesses, restoring freedom and it will create jobs.
The Senate healthcare bill doubles the contribution limits for health savings accounts.  And for the first time ever, it allows health savings accounts to cover insurance premiums.  The bill also offers tax credits to help Americans buy the coverage they want at a price they can afford.  And the legislation ensures that every American with preexisting conditions has access to the coverage and care they need -- no exceptions.  (Applause.) 
And if you take nothing else from what I say today, know that the Senate healthcare bill gives states the freedom to redesign your health insurance markets.  And, most significantly, under this legislation, states across the country will have an unprecedented level of flexibility to reform Medicaid and bring better coverage, better care, and better outcomes to the most vulnerable in your states.
Now, I’m not speaking so much right now as your Vice President, but let me speak to you as a former governor and as someone who Terry McAuliffe pointed out -- I made the decision in Indiana to expand Medicaid under a waiver.  I mean, you all know your states, you know your people.  You know how to create the innovative solutions to address the unique healthcare needs of the people of your states.  And I had that very same attitude when I was a governor.
But most of you also know that, under previous administrations -- frankly, in both political parties -- it’s been difficult, if not at times impossible, for states to act on your own ideas.  I actually learned that firsthand.
Right after I was elected governor, in early 2013, I went straight to work developing a serious Medicaid reform plan that would put vulnerable and low-income Hoosiers more in charge of their own healthcare decisions that would expand access to healthcare providers across the state.
Working with a remarkably talented woman whom I’m proud to say is now the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, we created a plan based on consumer-directed healthcare.  Indiana at the time, as some of you know, was home to a small pilot project that had promising results in that area.  And we believed that we could expand coverage in the state the Indiana way, in ways that would improve access and improve healthcare outcomes for our most vulnerable.  And we went straight to work.  
But when we submitted our waiver to the prior administration to implement our plan, we -- as many of you can attest in prior administrations -- we encountered roadblocks and bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.
It took our state more than two years for the federal government to approve our waiver.  And even then, they, frankly, rejected an awful lot of what we were trying to do.  I know many of you have submitted waiver requests over recent years to Washington, D.C. and had the same result.  
Now, President Trump and I both believe that governors should have the freedom to design and implement the reforms in healthcare that will work in your states.  And we're going to fight to make that a reality in Washington, D.C.  (Applause.)  
President Donald Trump is dedicated to getting the federal government out of your way and allowing you to develop those unique solutions that will work for the people of your state.  As the President told you in February, the federal government, in his words, should be not in your way but working with you to deliver needed reforms and services.  And that's our commitment again today.   
Now, tomorrow you’re going to hear from Secretary Tom Price from the Department of Health and Human Services, who accompanied me here today, and Administrator Seema Verma about our President’s commitment to work with each and every one of you.  Earlier this year, they sent a letter to every governor in America, in their words, to affirm the President's partnership with all of your states. 
And I got to tell you -- and I hope you've already had this experience -- Secretary Tom Price and Administrator Seema Verma, we've got the A-team.  They're fighting for you.  They're fighting for the states' ability to innovate and meet the needs of our most vulnerable, and improve our healthcare system.  And I'd like you to give them a round of applause.  (Applause.)  
As you've heard from those Cabinet officials, and I'm here to say again today:  Our administration wants you to innovate.  We want you to improve your own health insurance markets and strengthen your Medicaid programs.  And I promise you that this administration will work with you in a timely way so that you can move forward with the policies and plans that are best for your states and your citizens.
And a case in point:  Just a few days ago, Administrator Verma approved a state innovation waiver for Alaska to lower premiums and improve access to care for thousands of Alaskans.  And, Governor, we commend you for your leadership. 
Our administration is committed to working with you as partners.  And the good news is that the Senate’s healthcare bill will expand state freedom and flexibility to an even greater degree than the law permits our administration to extend today.  The bill actually rolls back restrictions on waivers, giving states the ability to stabilize your insurance markets after they've been virtually destroyed in recent years.   
And when it comes to Medicaid, not only does the Senate’s healthcare bill expand state flexibility, it ensures that every state in America has the resources you need to take care of your most vulnerable.
As a former governor who expanded Medicaid in our state with consumer-directed healthcare, I have to tell you I understand and appreciate, as the President does, the concerns that many of you have as we talk about Medicaid in the future going forward.  Our administration has paid very close attention to this issue, and we’ve had discussions with governors around this room and around the country.
So let me be clear:  President Trump and I believe the Senate healthcare bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society.  And this bill puts this vital America program on a path to long-term sustainability.
Under the Senate healthcare bill, federal Medicaid spending will be $300 billion to $500 billion higher over the next decade relative to current amounts, ensuring that our states have the ability to provide for the most vulnerable and give them the care that they’re counting on. 
And when it comes to receiving this funding, your states will have two options -- a per-capita cap or a block grant. 
The per-capita cap gives each state the money you need to cover Medicaid’s traditional beneficiaries, who need the most assistance.
And with the block grant option, you’ll be able to determine how to best use your Medicaid dollars.  And you can provide for your most vulnerable in ways that’s best for your state.
At the same time, the Senate healthcare bill creates a stability fund in addition to that that states can use to help people obtain personal coverage as they transition out of the Medicaid expansion. 
People on Medicaid will be eligible for the new tax credits, which will help them purchase the affordable coverage that’s right for them.
The truth is that these reforms are long overdue. 
Under Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion costs 50 percent more per enrollee than what we were told.  At this very moment, Medicaid is one of the largest and fastest growing budget items in nearly every state budget.  But you already know that.  And as Medicaid grows, there’s less and less money for schools, for roads, and for public safety. 
The truth is for a long time Medicaid has been a broken system that’s been fundamentally unsustainable, and the expansion that occurred Obamacare only made the system worse. 
This just can’t continue.  That’s why the Senate healthcare bill puts Medicaid on a budget for the first time in its history -- ensuring for the long run that Medicaid will be there for the neediest in our society.
Obamacare has put far too many able-bodied adults on the Medicaid rolls, leaving many disabled and vulnerable Americans at the back of the line.  It’s true, and it’s heartbreaking.  I know Governor Kasich isn’t with us, but I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years.  
Just a few weeks ago at the White House, I met just such a family from a state that had expanded Medicaid.  Christine and Jacob Chalkey.  They’re a beautiful family, but they have a heartbreaking story, and it’s one that America needs to hear.
Jacob is Christine’s son, a courageous young man in his early 20s.  He has a rare disability, and for nearly his entire life, he depended on Medicaid in his state for the medicine that he needs.
But a few years back, when their state expanded traditional Medicaid, the state also announced that they were going to cut back on coverage for medication like Jacob’s.
One day, Christine told me with tears in her eyes, as well, that she got a letter in the mail saying that the state would no longer pay for Jacob’s medicine.  The family tried as hard as they could to get enough money together, but they just couldn’t do it.  They had to switch to a different, cheaper alternative that might not work.
And sure enough, it didn’t.  Young Jake’s health began to fail, she told me.  He even lost his ability to see, to walk, and to talk.  Only by the grace of God did he regain these skills and a loving family was there at his side.  But every day is now a struggle for him and their family.
Jake is not alone.  The truth is I’ve heard from special-needs families as I’ve traveled all across this country, and they’ve told me again and again that unless we reform Medicaid, our most vulnerable are going to continue to be crowded out of coverage that they rely on and depend on. 
I don't have to ask any one of you to know where your hearts are on this issue.  You know Medicaid was created in the very instances of its founding to support the aged, the blind, the disabled, and vulnerable children.  And unless we bring about needful reforms that you alone in your state know how to best implement, we're going to continue to see scarce resources crowd out the help that our most vulnerable need.  And I know that no one around this table, no one sitting in a governor’s office in our states or territories wants that to happen.
This demands a compassionate response.  I know all of you care deeply about those families.  You want to provide for them and give them the best shot at a better life.
I say that with confidence because I know all of you.  Beyond the politics that may separate us, I have to tell you that being among governors was one of the most inspiring times in my season of public service.  Because as Gina and I were talking earlier, governors are doers.  You roll your sleeves up.  More often than not, you just check your politics at the door and go figure out how to solve problems.  And this room is filled with men and women who are problem-solvers.  
So I want to say this is your chance.  The Senate healthcare bill restores Medicaid to its original purpose -- caring for the disabled, the blind, the low-income elderly, pregnant women, and children.  And we can put you back in the driver’s seat to making sure that it does just that.
I really believe, as the President does, that we're saving Medicaid for the sake of our most vulnerable and all that depend on it.  We’re providing all Americans with access to the high quality and affordable health insurance with the reforms that are moving through Congress today.
This really is about caring for the least among us, and it’s about doing the right thing.  And at the end of the day, I know in my heart of hearts the men and women around this table, and everyone in public service at every level longs to do just that. 
Before I leave, I’d like to mention one more accomplishment in the Senate healthcare bill that I know is of great interest and has already been a subject of discussion appropriately at this gathering of the National Governors Association.  I’m pleased to report that the new Senate healthcare bill provides unprecedented new resources to address the opioid crisis that’s ravaging our states and communities across this nation.  (Applause.) 
The President and I are grateful for each one of your leadership on this issue.  And in my days back in the Hoosier State, I sat around kitchen tables with families that were dealing with the loss of a loved one to opioid addiction, or dealing with the long, long road back from opioid addiction and abuse.
Now you all would be glad to know that President Trump has made a priority of this administration to end the scourge of opioid addiction in this country.  He knows the impact that it has on families, and we're determined in this administration to bring the full resources of the national government to bear on assisting you as you come alongside these families.
President Trump has been giving our law enforcement community at every level the resources and backing they need to go after this on the law enforcement side.   We've been getting gang members, drug dealers, and violent criminals like MS-13 off the streets of our cities at an unprecedented pace.  The President has also created a commission devoted to addressing the opioid crisis because we know that we have to meet this crisis not just with law enforcement but also with compassion and with new resources for those that are caught up in the scourge of addiction. 
With this President’s support, the Senate healthcare bill unveiled yesterday a remarkable $45 billion in new federal resources to confront opioid abuse and addiction in our states.  (Applause.) 
And when this bill is signed into law, every state in America will benefit from this funding.  And passing this bill is a vital step to help those who suffer in the grip of addiction, our communities, and our country, and put our entire nation back on the road to healing.  
As the Governor and I were just talking a moment ago, once again in your state, after Congress passed the Cures Act last year, you're going to have the ability with these new resources to look at issues like not only treatment, but also treatment centers to build further capacity in your states to make resources available for people and their families to deal with the scourge of addition.  And we know your leadership will make a difference in lives.
The bottom line:  That the Senate healthcare act provides for the most vulnerable in our society.  It improves and strengthens Medicaid.  It gives you, America’s governors, the flexibility you need to bring better care, better coverage, and better outcomes to the citizens of your states.  The President and I truly believe it will be a historic day for American healthcare when the President has the privilege to sign this bill into law.  And we commend it.  We commend this bill to your attention, and we ask for your support.
But today, I want to ask all of you to continue to work with us to build on the good work being done in this Congress on healthcare and on so many other issues.  I want to challenge each one of you to work together with this administration to give the American people access to the world-class healthcare they deserve and to move forward the kind of policies that will strengthen our nation, strengthen our economy, and advance the security and safety of the American people. 
But we truly do believe now is the time to act in the Congress in healthcare reform for the sake of the American people.  Now is the time to usher in a new era of state-based innovation.  Now is the time to make the best healthcare system the world even better.
And as I close, let me again thank you for the warm welcome today and the good fellowship.  When I arrived today one of my colleagues asked me if I missed you.  And the truth is, I do.  The privilege of serving as a governor of the state I grew up in was the greatest privilege of my life till that phone rang a year ago this weekend.
But there’s something special about governors, and I want you to know that President Trump and I know it.  And we're just determined to seize this moment in the life of our nation to advance the interests and the well-being of people of our country.  And we ask for your support. 
And as I ask it, I say with confidence that I know we will succeed as we confront the challenges in healthcare and beyond because I have faith. 
So with boundless faith in the American people, with faith in you men and women in this room who lead the great states of this Union, with faith in our President’s vision and determination, and with faith in God who has ever watched over this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, I say with confidence:  We will make America safe again.  We will make America prosperous again.  We will give Americans the opportunity to have access to world-class healthcare again.  And to borrow a phrase, working with all of you on behalf of all of the American people, we will Make America Great Again.
Thank you very much.  God bless you for your service to this nation.  God bless your states and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.) 
2:02 P.M. EDT

Readout of the Vice President's Meeting with Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 23:57

Vice President Mike Pence with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau

Vice President Mike Pence met with Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau today after both leaders addressed the National Governors Association in Providence, Rhode Island. On behalf of President Trump, the Vice President recognized the importance of the beneficial US trade and investment relationship with Canada, while expressing the need to work together to address lingering trade disagreements. The two leaders also expressed their shared commitment to update and modernize NAFTA through constructive renegotiation. The Vice President and Prime Minister discussed the two countries' extensive cooperation on national security and defense issues, including concern over the escalating situation in North Korea, and Vice President Pence recognized the Prime Minister for increasing national defense spending.

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims July 16 through July 22, 2017, as Captive Nations Week

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 22:57

- - - - - - -

During Captive Nations Week, we stand in solidarity with those living under repressive regimes, and we commit to promoting our American ideals, grounded in respect for natural rights and protected by the rule of law, throughout the world.  As President Reagan often reminded us, as a shining city upon a hill, America has a duty to shine its beacon light on freedom loving people around the world. 
President Eisenhower first proclaimed Captive Nations Week during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, promising that America would stand with those people in captive nations who seek "freedom and national independence."  The Soviet Union collapsed more than a quarter of a century ago, but hundreds of millions of people around the world still live under the tyranny of authoritarian regimes.  Authoritarianism and its many injustices have wrought misery and held captive the dreams of generations, while nations that value liberty have prospered and empowered their citizens to pursue their God-given potential to the fullest.  
The injustices and abuses authoritarian regimes inflict on their own people affect us all, and we must recognize the bond we share with those who long to be free from oppression.  Throughout our Nation's history, brave Americans have fought for the freedom of those suffering under authoritarianism.  These American service members have shined light in the darkest corners of the world, those that are marred by starvation, political imprisonment, religious intolerance, and many other civil rights abuses.  
Our military and diplomatic experiences have taught us that freedom is a powerful, yet fragile force that must be tirelessly protected.  We continue to encourage despotic regimes to turn away from their oppressive ideologies and embrace a more hopeful and prosperous future for their people.  This week, and always, we stand with all people throughout the world who are fighting for liberty, justice, and the rule of law.
The Congress, by Joint Resolution approved July 17, 1959 (73 Stat. 212), has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the third week of July of each year as "Captive Nations Week." 
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 16 through July 22, 2017, as Captive Nations Week.  I call upon all Americans to reaffirm our commitment to those around the world striving for liberty, justice, and the rule of law. 
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
fourteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.


President Donald J. Trump’s Weekly Address

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 22:38

The President’s Weekly Address is now available to watch on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and

Remarks by the Vice President and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau in a Bilateral Meeting

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 21:59

Rhode Island Convention Center
Providence, Rhode Island

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Prime Minister Trudeau, it’s an honor to extend the greetings of the President of the United States and the people of the United States to welcome you here to Rhode Island, grateful for the opportunity to share the podium with you, and we look forward to continuing to build our relationship both economically and diplomatically and strategically and grateful for the strong relationship that you've already forged with our President and with our administration. 
PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  It’s a pleasure to sit down with you for our first bilat.  We got a chance just to talk a fair bit when we were in Washington in February, but this opportunity to sit down and talk about the great relationship we've built in Canada and the United States and this administration specifically and all the work we're going to be doing together to create prosperity and good opportunities for our citizens and, indeed, for people around the world.
(Speaks French.)

President Donald J. Trump Announces Third Wave of United States Attorney Candidate Nominations

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 20:09

President Donald J. Trump today announced his third wave of United States Attorney candidates.  The United States Attorney serves as the chief Federal law enforcement officer within his or her Federal judicial district.  These candidates share the President’s vision for “Making America Safe Again.”  Accordingly, the President today announced his intent to nominate these individuals to serve as United States Attorney:

If confirmed, Peter E. Deegan, Jr. of Iowa will serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.  Mr. Deegan is currently an Assistant United States Attorney and the Chief of the Criminal Division in the Northern District of Iowa.  He has worked at the Iowa U.S. Attorney’s Office for more than 10 years.  He also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan from 2004 to 2006.  Mr. Deegan has prosecuted a variety of Federal offenses with an emphasis on complex white collar and business crime.  He previously was an associate attorney at Murphy Smith & Polk PC in Chicago, where his practice focused on labor and employment litigation.  Mr. Deegan clerked for the Honorable Lawrence P. Zatkoff of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.  He received his B.A., cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D., cum laude, from Wayne State University Law School.

If confirmed, Robert J. Higdon, Jr. of North Carolina will serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  Mr. Higdon is currently a partner at the law firm of Williams Mullen.  He previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in both the Western and Eastern Districts of North Carolina.  In the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Higdon served as Chief of the Criminal Division for more than 11 years.  Mr. Higdon also served as senior trial counsel in the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.  He received his B.A., cum laude, from Wake Forest University and his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law.

If confirmed, Jeffrey B. Jensen of St. Louis will serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.  Mr. Jensen is currently a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP.  He served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Missouri starting in 1999, and was Executive United States Attorney from 2005 to 2009.  Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Jensen was an FBI Special Agent from 1989 to 1999.  While working at the FBI, Mr. Jensen attended St. Louis University School of Law at night, graduating magna cum laude.  He also received his B.A., cum laude, from Indiana University School of Business.

If confirmed, Thomas L. Kirsch II of Indiana will serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.  Mr. Kirsch is currently a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, where his practice focuses on complex litigation and corporate investigations.  Previously, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana and as counsel to the Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy.  Mr. Kirsch clerked for the Honorable John Daniel Tinder of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.  He received his B.A. from Indiana University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

If confirmed, Marc Krickbaum of Illinois will serve as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.  Mr. Krickbaum is currently an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois, and he previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Iowa.  Prior to joining those U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Mr. Krickbaum served as counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, and as a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. Mr. Krickbaum clerked for the Honorable Steven M. Colloton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the Honorable Mark Filip of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  He received his B.A. with highest distinction from the University of Iowa, and his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School.

If confirmed, Joshua J. Minkler of Indiana will serve as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.  Mr. Minkler has served as the interim United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana since June 2015.  Prior to that appointment, he served for 21 years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Indiana, where he held the positions of First Assistant United States Attorney and Chief of the Drug and Violent Crime Unit.  Before he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Minkler served for five years as an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Office of the Kent County Michigan Prosecuting Attorney, where he prosecuted violent crimes.  Mr. Minkler received his B.A. from Wabash College, and his J.D. from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.   

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with King Salman of Saudi Arabia

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 18:50

President Donald J. Trump spoke today from Air Force One with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.  King Salman congratulated President Trump on the victory over ISIS in Mosul. The two leaders discussed recent diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute with Qatar and underscored the importance of following through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit.  In particular, the President emphasized the need to cut all funding for terrorism and discredit extremist ideology.

Press Gaggle by Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert en route Newark, NJ | July 14, 2017

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 17:30

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Newark, New Jersey

3:01 P.M. CET 

MR. BOSSERT:  So let me just start the conversation by saying that President Trump and President Macron had private conversations yesterday, but also an extended bilateral conversation.  And I wanted to talk you about that and give you a readout, and answer your questions if I might.

Q    Did they discuss the role that Syrian Kurds might have in a future Syria after ISIS?

MR. BOSSERT:  So, among other things in the bilateral conversation yesterday, the Presidents discussed Syria -- defeating ISIS in general, but Syria specifically; our desire to have a political solution outside and after our military solutions prevail.  They discussed counterterrorism in general, as it will be an enduring and ongoing problem after our defeat-ISIS campaign takes the physical caliphate from ISIS. 

They discussed limiting and containing and, ultimately, reducing and removing Iranian sponsorship for terrorism and regional influence.  They discussed the current relations with Qatar.  They discussed what to do after our short-term objectives are met in reducing their contributions -- financial contributions -- to terrorism, and three or four other topics.

In general, the conversation was detailed, the conversation was fairly involved, and we discussed terrorism, largely.  President Trump thanked President Macron for France's continued and pretty extensive support for not only American efforts, but for global efforts to counter terrorism in North Africa and throughout the Sahel region.  That's something that the French have been committed to and have doubled and redoubled their efforts, I think, in the last three to five years.  And President Macron has shown leadership there in that regard.

Q    The former Obama administration officials on the NSC said that the U.S.-French relations were really good in terms of counterterrorism, but intelligence-sharing was one of the kinks in the relationship.  Can you tell me how that might be improved with this new alliance -- with friendship with President Macron and President Trump?

MR. BOSSERT:  There are no kinks in that relationship.  In fact, the intelligence-sharing and counterterrorism-sharing between the two countries has never been better.  And I can tell you that from the perspective of my service in the White House under President Bush, and now my service, again, under President Trump.  The comparative analysis is unquestionable.  We've got the strongest relations -- in fact, the strongest security relations -- at least counterterrorism security relations with the French ever.

Q    Could you just tell me how the new friendship that we've seen over the past couple of days might change that intelligence-sharing or the -- what effect would that have?

MR. BOSSERT:  Well, I think the intent to share and the intent to cooperate and collaborate is there and has been reaffirmed, which is a reassuring thing for the people of France and America.  But I think that the relationship that the two Presidents have forged will increase the trust that's required for that information-sharing and that intelligence-sharing relationship.  And I think that the conversations, in particular, in the extended bilateral that I attended, puts some additional details and framework on the strategic objectives for the sharing of that information and the vital interests that we're seeking to protect.

Q    President Macron mentioned working together to fight propaganda and disinformation.  Was that conversation in the context of Russia?  And what are the U.S. and France doing together to combat disinformation campaigns and propaganda campaigns like the ones we've seen from Russia?

MR. BOSSERT:  So two questions there.  The content and nature of the conversation between the two Presidents in the bilateral yesterday had to do with removing terrorist propaganda from social media sites and the Internet -- open Internet in general -- something -- an objective that both countries share.  

The approach and the details now are going to require some additional work.  Both Presidents agreed, and I have agreed to help at the staff level coordinate some additional conversations in that regard.  

I think some of the conversation now, in the community of likeminded, centers around whether we need to compel that removal and if there's a way to do such a thing, or whether we can work collaboratively and cooperatively with the companies and their providers to remove that kind of counterterrorism -- or terrorism propaganda from the Internet.  I think that remains to be seen, but that was the nature of the conversation.

Q    So was this conversation about counterterrorism propaganda not the kind of propaganda we saw, for instance, from the Russians during the election?

MR. BOSSERT:  No, the conversation about Russia didn't take place in the context of yesterday's bilateral conversation.  The context of propaganda and its removal from the Internet yesterday was centered on the global jihadi problem.

Q    Did the Iran nuclear deal come up?  And can you talk about the reports that we're hearing from back home that you guys are ready to again certify that Iran is in compliance, which would keep the deal kind of in place for now?

MR. BOSSERT:  So, no, it didn't come up.  And I'm unable to comment on the additional information you asked about.  I'm not completely read in to what you're hearing or what you're reporting.  But I do know the President and Secretary of State and others have discussed the matter, but I have no details to update you.

Q    Back to the (inaudible) region, there's been some buzz that there might be some American troops kept in northern Iraq as like a stabilizing force or maybe a joint stabilizing force with other countries.  Was that discussed at all -- you know, sort of the future of Iraq and whether a military presence in some form will be required?

MR. BOSSERT:  So the future security of the region in terms of troop presence but also generic commitments to a partnership were discussed, but the details of which I'll keep between the two Presidents, as I would the details of most of these topics, as they got into not only a detailed conversation but a fairly complex one.  And so all I would say to that is, regional stability in a sustained, durable way did come up, but the details of that are to be continued.

Q    Can you say if the Kurdish government has approached either Washington or Paris to have some troops left over?

MR. BOSSERT:  No, I can't and I won't.  And I would ask, probably, that you talk to Secretary Mattis about that.

Q    A judge in Hawaii has, once again, kind of narrowed the travel ban and kind of expanded who would be known as a bona fide relations to the U.S. to be able to get in.  Does the administration have any response to that?  Does that raise any concerns as far as security, et cetera?

MR. BOSSERT:  So I don't know if we have a formal administration response to that, but I will offer that I do have concerns with the early reporting.  I haven't read the entire court holding or ruling.  

So I would say that, as it was reported to me, it seemed to be fairly broad and something that would trouble me if it was as broad as reported.  In terms of a connection with any group, any refugee organization, it might be read, if the early reports that I looked at were accurate, as something so expansive as to cover every refugee.  And that certainly couldn't be the interpretation the Supreme Court intended.  

So we'll have to go back and have the attorneys read it, interpret it further, and decide whether this is another productive or unproductive step in this saga as we try to secure our country.

Q    On the travel ban, are there steps being taken to implement -- design and implement extreme vetting procedures?  And also on the travel ban, is there a review going on to look at other countries to add to the banned list?

MR. BOSSERT:  So, as you know, there's a number of efforts ongoing to implement the President's executive order, especially now that it is been freed from legal constraint by the Supreme Court.  The question you asked is about vetting.  Of course, we're improving -- constantly, regularly -- our policies and our capabilities to better vet people seeking entry into the United States.  And that's ongoing.  We're unapologetic about that, and it contributes not only to our security, but to the hopeful relook in a comprehensive, strategic way at our immigration policy, not just our counterterrorism policy.

Q    Are any specifics coming -- anything specific coming about changing the vetting procedures?

MR. BOSSERT:  So it's less about countries and more about the ability for people to demonstrate the paperwork and background information that we need to appropriately demonstrate that they have or don't have a security past that would concern us.  So no additional conversations about countries, but conversations about people's background and whether they represent a security threat.

Q    General Kelly had mentioned that they were thinking of asking people for social media passwords when they apply for visas, if they're coming from certain countries.  Is there a process -- are you looking at a way to implement that formally?

MR. BOSSERT:  Actually, I can't add to that.  I would say that Secretary Kelly owns and is responsible for that portion of the policy, and for implementing it.  So if he commented on it, you've got it right from the horse's mouth, and I can't add to it.  I don't have anything that I would try to add to it, but I would refer you back to Secretary Kelly on that.

Q    Can I ask about the ceasefire in Syria?  The President in the press conference yesterday talked a lot about how he saw that as a big success.  So I'm wondering if you can talk about what kind of conversations have been going forward with the Russians since the G20 meeting, and also if there's any thought of expanding the, sort of, safe area, ceasefire?

MR. BOSSERT:  Sorry, no, I don’t have too much more to add to add.  But at the time of the extended bilateral conversation that the two Presidents had on this trip to Paris, we were on our fifth day of successful ceasefire, and both Presidents, both publicly and privately, were quite pleased with that development and hopeful that that would continue.

Q    Are there any next steps planned with regard to your conversations with the French on Syria?  I mean, where did you leave things off in terms of where we go?

MR. BOSSERT:  We left things off with a continued commitment to continue conversations.  Unfortunately, that's about as much as I can add to it.  But I would say that, as President Trump pointed out and I would reiterate, that continued conversations, even with countries who we don’t always agree with, can sometimes produce positive results.  In this case, the ceasefire has been a positive result.  

And both the French and American Presidents on this particular trip agreed on that approach to Russia, but also agreed that that's a positive result and that the French and American relationship on counterterrorism in Syria and throughout the Middle East, and internationally, would continue in a really strong way.  

In fact, I think what we'll do together is develop our counterterrorism strategies together, with other likeminded allies as well, as we both come into power here about the same time, and the new French administration, the new American administration are starting on a good footing.  I think that our counterterrorism strategy should start on a co-equal footing as well.

Q    What do you say to critics who say that -- I'm sorry --

Q    (Inaudible) what the President said about the Paris Accord yesterday and whether they talked about climate change, he and Macron?

MR. BOSSERT:  I can't elaborate on it, except to suggest -- or tell you that we didn’t discuss any climate issues in the extended bilateral conversation that I attended.  And the topic didn’t chill or affect or any way come up verbally or through nonverbal cues in our conversations.  They were very positive conversations and very upbeat relations between the two foreign leaders.

Q    What do you say to critics who say that, when it comes to Syria, the U.S. has kind of let Russia set the agenda?  Yes, you have the ceasefire, but it's kind of on the terms that Russia set.  France and the U.S. have backed away from saying Assad has to leave.  That, basically, that Russia will be able to continue to kind of have their influence in the country and that the U.S. is kind of just going along with what they wanted.

MR. BOSSERT:  Well, I don’t agree with that assessment.  I do agree that it's a positive development that there's a ceasefire, and I do believe that the French are very strong in their commitment, as is President Trump through his demonstrated airstrikes in not allowing anyone in the regime, Assad, to use chemical weapons against anyone.  And any additional attempt to do that, certainly any use of chemical weapons in the future I'm sure would be met with a strong response from both President Trump and from President Macron.

Q    Can you give us any more of the backstory of when President Trump was at the G20, met with Putin, they decided they were going to have this bilateral initiative on cybersecurity, and then President Trump tweeted that that was never going to happen?  Can you just give us a better understanding of what that agreement actually was?  Is it true that it's not getting off the ground?  I mean, what happened there?

MR. BOSSERT:  I didn’t attend the G20, so what I will tell you is that President Trump, I believe, is right in his continued assertion that even with countries with whom we have friction or disagreements, we have a responsibility on behalf of the American people to continue to have conversations to the extent that they can yield a positive result.  

And as his senior-most cybersecurity advisor, I will help him coordinate the Cabinet with Secretary Tillerson and others, Secretary Kelly, Mattis and Mnuchin and others, as we develop the appropriate level and contours of those conversations.  But we'll have to set the rules for that.  And I think it's a pretty important reminder that President Trump started that conversation by pointedly and exactingly telling President Putin that we will not have our elections messed with.  That's unacceptable.

Moving past that, we have to have a conversation about the rules of the road in cyberspace, norms and expectations.  I'd like those same rules, norms and expectations to be part of our conversation as we discuss any potential future dialogue with the Russians in cybersecurity.  And I'll help the President coordinate that among the right staff levels at the departments and agencies.

Q    But given your expertise and the position you hold, do you feel that Russia is sincere in their efforts to partner on cyber, particularly after everything we've heard in the last year?  Do you feel confident that they could actually pull this off in a sincere way?

MR. BOSSERT:  So, I'm not nitpicking your question, but I would say we are not discussing a partnership here.  That is not what President Putin left the room for.  That is certainly not what President Trump suggested.  And that's not what I'm suggesting today.  A partnership is a much different topic.  

What was broached at that G20 conversation, as I understand it, was an opportunity to continue a dialogue -- one that had in the past existed between the two countries, and I think one that we could pursue in the future with the appropriate reservations and the appropriate expectations, that we at least start with what is acceptable behavior in cyberspace and what norms and expectations that we'll have moving forward, long before you get into the enforcement of those rules or anywhere near before we get into a partnership.  

But again, the instinct to make some progress on behalf of the American people and their security online is a good instinct on President Trump's part.

Q    Why prematurely announce a dialogue if nothing is agreed upon on those subjects?

MR. BOSSERT:  I don’t think anything was prematurely announced.  I think the President was clear in saying that the conversation was raised and the idea was suggested, and that he was open to it.  And I'm going to help him put the contours on that and give him some advice back on how we can frame that in a productive way without giving up any U.S. security and certainly without giving up any election security, which is President Trump's priority.

Q    You said you didn’t want to use the word "partnership" because it sounds like you're a little bit worried about the relationship.  Can you tell us how you deal with the Russians at the lower -- not the presidential level -- when you're dealing with these delicate issues?  How that's changed?  

MR. BOSSERT:  Well, the point -- the distinction I made was that a partnership suggests that you've reached a place where you believe that you have a trusted relationship and you've come to some common agreement on ideals and goals and behaviors.  I don’t believe that the United States and Russia have come to that point yet in cyberspace.  And until we do, we wouldn’t have the conversation about partnership.  But we had to have a dialogue, and that's where we'll start.

Q    The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice last year had dialogue with China about rules of the road for cybersecurity.  Are you continuing that process?  And is that a roadmap for discussions with Russia over rules of the road for hacking and cybersecurity?

MR. BOSSERT:  It's not a roadmap.  Every country has their own unique conversations that they have to have.  The nonbinding agreements that the Chinese made with the United States are still in place, and the United States has every expectation that they'll continue to meet those nonbinding agreements, the thrust of which was that no government engage in cyber espionage directed at commercial practices and commercial industry.  And that's something that we would expect the Chinese to continue to honor.  The United States is very serious about that.  

And I think that it's important to note that President Trump and President Xi continue to have a growing and strong relationship.  So I would have no expectation that that would be reneged upon.  And if it were, it's something I would advise the President -- President Trump -- that he raise to President Xi immediately.  But for now, the conversation with the Chinese is one that's productive and is one that's built on some other mutual and common objectives and interests, and it is not a template or anything that I would use to compare our conversations and relations with the Russians.

Q    Do you (inaudible) that China is abiding by those agreed-upon norms?

MR. BOSSERT:  Well, I don’t have any trend analysis to report today on whether China does or doesn’t observe the norms.  That's a very difficult thing to answer.  But I believe that they have the commitment.  I believe that they have the resolve to meet that commitment.  And if I were to see trends that they were not meeting that commitment, I would advise the President to call him on that behavior.

Q    Did immigration or refugee issues come up with President Macron?  And if so, in what context?  Where do they stand on that?

MR. BOSSERT:  No, no immigration or refugee issues came up specifically.  But both Presidents did note, of course, that we had to be mindful of any fighters migrating to, and returning from, areas of active conflict in the global jihadi conflict in which we are on our 17th year.

So, thank you very much.

3:21 P.M. CET

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Bastille Day 2017

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 16:12

On this great day—France’s national day and the 228th anniversary of the French Revolution—Melania and I were proud to stand with the President of France and Madame Macron and to celebrate with the French people.

The ties between the United States and France stretch back almost as far as our shared history as democratic republics.  France is America’s first and oldest ally.  In 1778, our two countries signed a treaty of friendship and alliance.  We have remained joined in common purpose ever since.

France was instrumental in the United States winning its independence.  More than a century later, American doughboys repaid the debt.  On July 4, 1917, at the tomb of the great French hero of the American Revolution, an American army officer crystalized his country’s gratitude with the immortal words, “Lafayette, we are here.”

Ten days later—exactly one hundred years ago today—soldiers from the United States Army’s First Infantry Division marched down the Champs-Élysées in this very parade.  And today, troops from that same storied unit march once again with their French brothers and sisters.

America and France fought together throughout the rest of the bloody 20th century—sometimes reveling in triumph, other times enduring tragedy.  But our spirits never wavered.  Today our two countries stand taller—and more united—than ever.  From Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia, we are fighting to destroy the terrorist organizations that threaten all civilized peoples and that continue to exact a terrible toll on the French people, including one year ago today.  Together, we will eliminate their safe havens, end their financing, and eradicate their ideology.

America and France will never be defeated or divided.  It was my high honor to commemorate, on French soil, France’s most historic day and the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States into World War I.  Melania and I thank President and Madame Macron for hosting us.  On behalf of the American people, we congratulate the people of France and look forward to many more centuries of friendship and cooperation.

Statement from the Press Secretary on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Proposed Rule on Making Drugs More Affordable for America’s Seniors

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 01:29

Today marks an important step in fulfilling President Donald J. Trump’s promise to lower the cost of drugs for the American people, and particularly for our Nation’s seniors.  The White House applauds Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma in their ongoing commitment to improving the Medicare program, and ensuring our seniors no longer pay inflated drug prices.  The Trump Administration continues to work to make it easier for Americans of all ages to access quality care at affordable costs, and we look forward to seeing even more progress on this critical initiative. 

President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 01:10

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

John J. Bartrum of Indiana to be an Assistant Secretary, Financial Resources at the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Bartrum has more than 30 years of Federal health policy and budget experience as a retired Federal Senior Executive Service member and Capitol Hill veteran. Immediately prior to his nomination, he was a partner within the Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry Group at Squire Patton Boggs in Washington, DC. In his Federal career, Mr. Bartrum served as Senior Professional Staffer to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Budget Director at the National Institute of Health, professional staff in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and in other Federal positions over his career. In addition, Mr. Bartrum is a combat veteran with nearly thirty years of military experience in both active duty and as a reserve officer. He currently serves in the rank of Colonel as the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander Air Force Medical Operations Agency. He earned his B.A. from McKendree College, IL, and M.B.A. from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, IL, and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA.

Stephen Censky of Missouri to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. Censky has served as the American Soybean Association’s Chief Executive Officer for the past 21 years. The American Soybean Association is the national, not-for-profit trade association that represents United States soybean farmers on policy and trade. Mr. Censky began his career working as a legislative assistant for Senator Jim Abdnor (R-SD). Later he served in both the Reagan and George H. W. Bush Administrations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eventually serving as Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service where he was involved in running our Nation’s export programs. Mr. Censky received his B.S. in Agriculture from South Dakota State University and his Postgraduate Diploma in Agriculture Science from the University of Melbourne, Australia. He grew up on a soybean, corn, and diversified livestock farm near Jackson, Minnesota. He and his wife Carmen reside in suburban St. Louis and have two daughters who are in college.

Kevin J. McIntyre of Virginia to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, for the term expiring June 30, 2018, and an additional term expiring June 30, 2023, and upon confirmation, shall be designated Chairman. Mr. McIntyre is the co-leader of the global Energy Practice at the law firm Jones Day, where he has practiced law for most of his nearly 30-year legal career. A graduate of San Diego State University and Georgetown Law, Mr. McIntyre is a recognized leader in the United States energy regulatory arena, with an expansive Federal Energy Regulatory Commission practice representing clients in all industry sectors—natural gas, conventional electricity, oil, hydropower, wind power and other renewable resources, and energy marketing and trading. His work for energy clients spans administrative and appellate litigation, compliance and enforcement matters, and corporate transactions. Mr. McIntyre is active in energy industry, legal, and educational organizations, as well as in his local community. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife Jennifer and their three young children.


President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint Scott Pace to the National Space Council

Scott Pace of Virginia to be the Executive Secretary of the National Space Council. Over his career, Dr. Scott Pace has honed his expertise in the areas of science, space, and technology. Currently, he is the Director of the Space Policy Institute and Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at George Washington University. Dr. Pace also serves as the Vice-Chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES). Previously, he served at NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), and the RAND Corporation’s Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI). During his career, Dr. Pace has received numerous rewards and recognitions including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2008), the U.S. Department of State’s Group Superior Honor Award, GPS Interagency Team (2005), and the NASA Group Achievement Award, Columbia Accident Rapid Reaction Team (2004). Dr. Pace received his B.S. in Physics from Harvard Mudd College in 1980. Two years later, in 1982, he earned his Master in Aeronautics and Astronautics and Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1982). Finally, Dr. Pace attained his Doctorate in Policy Analysis from the RAND Graduate School in 1989.


Readout of First Lady Melania Trump’s Visit to Paris, France

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 00:03

After arriving in Paris, First Lady Melania Trump traveled to Necker Hospital to visit with patients and staff.  After the hospital visit, the First Lady continued to the United States Ambassador’s residence to give remarks and introduce her husband during a meet-and-greet with military troops, embassy employees, and their families.  The First Lady and the President then participated in an arrival ceremony with President and Mrs. Macron, followed by a tour of Les Invalides.  After the tour, Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Brigitte Macron visited the historic Notre Dame Cathedral and enjoyed a river cruise on the Seine that included views of Notre Dame, the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Les Invalides, the Eiffel Tower, and the French Statue of Liberty.  Mrs. Trump concluded her day by joining her husband for dinner with President and Mrs. Macron at Le Jules Verne Restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

“France is a beautiful country that is rich in history and culture,” said First Lady Melania Trump.  “I am grateful to President and Mrs. Macron for their gracious invitation and hospitality as we celebrate Bastille Day with them, which is not only a celebration of France's national day, but on this occasion, in 2017, also honors the historic cooperation between France and the United States during the First World War.”  The First Lady continued, “I also want to take a moment to thank the employees and families of the United States Embassy for all of their hard work on behalf of our country, and to extend my warmest wishes to the patients and staff at Necker Hospital.  My visit with the patients was very special, and I will continue to keep them all in my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.”

Tomorrow, Friday, July 14th, the President and Mrs. Trump will participate in a viewing of the National Day Parade in honor of Bastille Day with President and Mrs. Macron.

Statement from the Press Secretary on the Death of Liu Xiaobo

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 23:56

President Donald J. Trump was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and prominent Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. The President’s heartfelt condolences go out to Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, and his family and friends. A poet, scholar, and courageous advocate, Liu Xiaobo dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty.

Remarks by President Trump and President Macron of France in Joint Press Conference | July 13, 2017

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 23:33

Élysée Palace
Paris, France

6:44 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  First and foremost, I want to thank President Trump for his visit to Paris this afternoon and tomorrow, tomorrow morning, as well as to thank his delegation.  I was very pleased to be able to welcome President Trump and his spouse today.  He accepted the invitation I extended a couple of weeks ago in order to invite him to join the ceremonies of the 14th of July, tomorrow.

I think it is both a symbol and very important that the President of the United States could be with us tomorrow on the occasion of our National Day, and attend a military parade, which will -- to which the American troops will take part.  We will be also commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American troops joining World War I with the allies in France.  

I think it is important because, beyond daily news, we live in countries with roots which are deeper and go further and beyond who we are.  So the presence of President Trump was, in my eyes, not only natural, and I think it is also an excellent thing for the history of both our countries.   

Earlier today, we started by sharing part of our joint history at the Invalides Museum, the Army Museum.  Then we had a working session.  And I shall say that I'm extremely pleased about it.  We've been able to talk about a number of topics of joint interest, and we underlined a number of shared convictions and, most importantly, a joint roadmap in order to work together in the coming month.  

We agreed to implement free and fair trade, and in the field -- and this is the G20, in Hamburg, also expressed in terms of sensitivity.  We want to work together in order to implement some efficient measures to tackle dumping anywhere it is taking place in all the fields, by sharing the information that we have and making sure that both the European Union and the United States can take the necessary measures in order to protect within the context of free trade, but of fair, free trade that we can protect all over sectors of activities where we are active.

We then had a long discussion which enabled us to cover all of the topics of international policies and the challenges -- the security challenges for the people as well.  When it comes to fighting terrorism, from day one I can say that we've seen eye to eye, and we are strongly determined to take any necessary measures in order to root out terrorism and to eradicate it no matter where, in particular the narrative on the Internet.  We agreed to strengthen our action and our cooperation in fighting against propaganda. 

We want to get all the major operators to limit the propaganda, and also tackle cyber criminality.  These topics, I believe, are fundamental.  And I do hope that we can strengthen the cooperation between both our countries.  And it is with a lot of satisfaction that I heard from President Trump the very same approach.  And our services will then, therefore, be working together in the coming weeks and months to have a solid action map for that.

Regarding the situation in Iraq and in Syria, here again we agreed to continue to work together, in particular in order to be able to launch together some diplomatic initiatives in order to put in place a roadmap for what will come after the war.  

We talked about our role, our post-conflict role, but initially we want to put in place a contact group in order to be more efficient, in order to be able to support what is being done by the United Nations, in order to support a political roadmap, in particular for Syria after the war.  It is important to put in place some inclusive political solutions for that period of time.  We know where destabilization comes from.  The roadmap will take care of that.  We'll cover it.  And we'll also ask our diplomats and our staff to work along those lines so that, in the coming weeks, some concrete initiatives can be taken.  And they're supported by the P5.

We also share the same intentions regarding Libya.  And like I told President Trump, I very much want to take a number of diplomatic initiatives, strong ones, given the situation that we know, and which requires more stability and better control over the region.  

On Libya or the Sahel, I think I can say that we have the same vision, a very coherent understanding of the situation in the region, and the same willingness to act very clearly against any form of terrorism and destabilization.

Next, climate.  Well, here we know what our disagreements are.  We have expressed them on a number of occasions.  But I think it is important that we can continue to talk about it.  I very much respect the decision taken by President Trump.  He will work upon implementing his campaign promises.  And as far as I'm concerned, I remain attached to the Paris Accord, and we'll make sure that, step by step, we can do everything which is in the accord.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is in summary what we've been talking about.  We will continue with a friendly tone and informal one this evening.  Regarding trade and security for both our countries, the fight against terrorism, stability in the Near and Middle East, in Libya or in the Sahel, I can say that we have a shared determination.  The United States is extremely involved in the Iraq War, and I would like to thank President Trump for everything that's been done by the American troops against this background.  But I would like him to know that I am fully determined to act together with him in this respect -- fully determined.

I very much want both our countries in these matters to increase their cooperation in the coming month, because the threat we are facing is a global one.  The enemies -- our enemies are trying to destabilize us by any way.  And I believe that this is very much at the heart of the historic alliance between our two countries, and which fully justifies the presence of President Trump today and tomorrow in Paris.

Thank you.  Thank you, dear Donald.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well thank you very much, President Macron.  And Melania and I are thrilled to join you and Mrs. Macron.  This is a wonderful national celebration, and we look very much forward to it.  It will be spectacular.  Tomorrow -- Bastille Day.  

We’re honored to be here in your beautiful country -- and it certainly is a beautiful country -- with its proud history and its magnificent people.  And thank you for the tour of some of the most incredible buildings anywhere in the world.  That was very, very -- a very beautiful thing to see.  Thank you.

When the French people rose up and stormed the Bastille, it changed the course of human history.  Our two nations are forever joined together by the spirit of revolution and the fight for freedom.  France is America’s first and oldest ally.  A lot of people don’t know that.  Ever since General Lafayette joined the American fight for independence, our fates and fortunes have been tied unequivocally together.  It was a longtime ago but we are together, and I think together, perhaps, more so than ever.  The relationship is very good.

This visit also commemorates another milestone.  One century ago, the United States entered World War I.  And when the President called me, he had mentioned that fact -- 100 years ago, that was -- I said, Mr. President, I will be there.  That’s a big, important date -- 100 years.  

We remember the tens of thousands of Americans who gave their lives in that valiant and very difficult struggle.  We also pay tribute to the heroic deeds of the French Troops whose courage at the Battle of Marne, and countless other battles, will never be forgotten by us.  More than one million French soldiers laid down their lives in defense of liberty.  Their sacrifice is an eternal tribute to France and to freedom.  French and American patriots have fought together, bled together, and died together in the fight for our countries and our civilizations.

Today, we face new threats from rogue regimes like North Korea, Iran, and Syria, and the governments that finance and support them.  We also face grave threats from terrorist organizations that wage war on innocent lives.  Tomorrow will mark one year since a joyous Bastille Day celebration in Nice turned into a massacre.  We all remember that, how horrible that was.  We mourn the 86 lives that were stolen, and we pray for their loved ones.  We also renew our resolve to stand united against these enemies of humanity and to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks, and ideological support.   

Today, President Macron and myself discussed how we can strengthen our vital security partnerships.  We just had a meeting with our generals and our representatives, and it went very well.  France has excellent counterterrorism capabilities. The French troops are serving bravely in places like Mali to defeat these forces of murder and destruction.  The United States and our allies strengthen our commitments to defeat terrorism.  

We’re also making tremendous progress.  Earlier this week, with the strong support of the United States and the Global Coalition, Iraqi forces liberated the city of Mosul from ISIS control.  Now we must work with the government of Iraq and our partners and allies in the region to consolidate the gains and ensure that the victory stays a victory, unlike the last time.

Last week, the G20 leaders also reaffirmed the right to sovereign nations to control their borders.  We must be strong from within to defend ourselves from threats from the outside.  The nations of the West also face domestic challenges of our own creation, including vast government bureaucracy that saps the strength from our economies and from our societies.  

For this reason, I applaud President Macron on his courageous call for that “less bureaucracy” -- it’s a good chant -- "less bureaucracy," -- we can use it, too -- and a Europe that protects its citizens.  We did not become great through regulation.  And in the United States, Mr. President, we also have cut regulations at a level we’ve never seen before.  So we’re very proud of that -- over the last six months -- but by allowing our people to follow their dreams.  That’s what it’s all about.  To achieve these dreams, however, we must also confront unfair trade practices that hurt our workers, and pursue trade deals that are reciprocal and fair. 

Both President Macron and I understand our responsibility to prioritize the interests of our countries and, at the same time, to be respectful of the world in which we live.  We live in a very complex world.  We have to respect it.  The United States remains committed to being a leader in environmental protection, while we advance energy security and economic growth.  

The friendship between our two nations -- and ourselves, I might add -- is unbreakable.  Our occasional disagreements are nothing compared to the immortal bonds of culture, destiny, and liberty that unite us.  So strongly unite us, also.  As long as we have pride in who we are, where we’ve come from, how we got here, and what we’ve achieved as free and democratic nations, then there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.  

France helped us secure our independence.  A lot of people forget.  In the American Revolution, thousands of French soldiers fought alongside American troops so that, as Lafayette said, liberty would have a country.  Ever since then, courageous heroes from both nations have fought for the same noble values and the same righteous cause.  

Tomorrow, the French Tricolor will once again wave proudly alongside the American Stars and Stripes.  Our brave soldiers will march side-by-side, and we will all be inspired to protect and cherish the birthright of freedom that our ancestors won for us with their sweat and with their blood.

President Macron, thank you for inviting Melania and myself to this historic celebration.  And to you and your spectacular country:  May God bless France and may God bless America.  

Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.  
PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Very well.  I think we will be taking four questions.  

Neither President Trump nor myself have a microphone.  (Laughter.)  

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  He's getting first question, President?

Q    (As interpreted.)  A question for President Macron regarding what you said on the occasion of the press conference together with Chancellor Merkel.  Do you still hope that President Trump -- or did you still hope that President Trump could turn his mind regarding the Paris Accord?

And now, President Trump, is it possible for you to come back to the Paris Accord and change your mind?

Next, regarding your relation, how would you describe it today?  What about the dinner tonight?  Is it going to be a dinner between friends?  

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Well, regarding climate -- well, we have a number of disagreements, which are in particular due to the commitments taken by President Trump vis-à-vis his -- during the presidential campaign.  So did I.  I'm aware of the high importance that that is, but we therefore talked about our disagreement.  And we actually discussed the matter even before President Trump reached the decision.  

Next, should that have an impact on the discussions we are having on all other topics?  No, absolutely not.  This is the reason why we share the same views and some major common goals on many other topics or all other topics, which we've been discussing today, and we shall move forward together.  

Next -- well, of course, President Trump will tell you about it, but he's made a number of commitments, and we're going to be working together, and my willingness to continue to work with the United States and the President on these very major topics.  I understand that it's important to save jobs.  That being said, we shall leave the United States of America work on what is its roadmap, and continue to talk about it.  

So today there is nothing new, unprecedented, otherwise we would have told you about it.  But I believe there is a joint willingness to continue to talk about this and try and find the best possible agreement.  As far as I'm concerned, I remain extremely attached to the framework of the Paris Accord, which has been a major international breakthrough, and it is within that framework that I'm working on priorities, including for the European Union.

Lastly, as you know, I never very much want to comment who we are and what we are doing, personally.  But I can tell you that this evening, at the Eiffel Tower, it will be a dinner between friends, because we are the representatives of two countries which have been allies forever and because we've been able to build a strong relation which is dear to me, because it matters a great deal for both countries.  It will, therefore, give me great pleasure to have dinner together with you tonight.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think that I can reiterate.  We have a very good relationship, a good friendship.  And we look forward to dinner tonight at the Eiffel Tower.  That will be something special.  And, yeah, I mean, something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord.  We'll see what happens.  But we will talk about that over the coming period of time.  And if it happens, that will be wonderful.  And if it doesn’t, that will be okay, too.  But we'll see what happens. 

But we did discuss many things today, including the ceasefire in Syria.  We discussed the Ukraine.  We discussed a lot of different topics.  We briefly hit on the Paris Accord.  And we'll see what happens.

Yes, ma'am.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Merci, Mr. President.  Mr. President, your FBI nominee said if someone in a campaign got an email about Russia, like the one that your son Don Jr. received, that they should alert the FBI rather than accept that meeting.  Is he wrong?  Also, were you misled by your team in not knowing about this meeting?

And, Mr. President, thank you very much.  You have heard President Trump say that it may have been Russia, it may have been others who interfered with the U.S. election.  Is President Trump taking a hard-enough line on Russia, as you see it?  Merci.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I'll start off by saying, first of all, I believe that we will have a great FBI director.  I think he's doing really well, and we're very proud of that choice.  I think I've done a great service to the country by choosing him.  He will make us all proud, and I think someday we'll see that -- and hopefully someday soon.  So, we're very proud of him.

As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man.  He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer.  It was a short meeting.  It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast.  Two of the people in the room, they -- I guess one of them left almost immediately and the other one was not really focused on the meeting.

I do think this:  I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting.  It's called opposition research, or even research into your opponent.  I've had many people -- I have only been in politics for two years, but I've had many people call up -- "Oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person, or, frankly, Hillary."  That's very standard in politics.  Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it's very standard where they have information and you take the information.

In the case of Don, he listened.  I guess they talked about -- as I see it, they talked about adoption and some things.  Adoption wasn’t even a part of the campaign.  But nothing happened from the meeting.  Zero happened from the meeting.  And, honestly, I think the press made a very big deal over something that, really, a lot of people would do. 

Now, the lawyer that went to the meeting, I see that she was in the halls of Congress, also.  Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch.  Now, maybe that's wrong.  I just heard that a little while ago.  But a little surprised to hear that.  So she was here because of Lynch.

So, again, I have a son who's a great young man.  He's a fine person.  He took a meeting with a lawyer from Russia.  It lasted for a very short period, and nothing came of the meeting.  And I think it's a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken. 

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  Yes, to answer your question, I will not interfere in U.S. domestic policy.  And I think it's always good between partners and allies not to interfere in others' domestic life.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  What a good answer that was.  (Laughter.) 

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  And I do believe that both of us have a direct relationship with Russia.  President Trump had more than two hours meeting with President Putin during this past G20.  So that's -- I had two very long meetings with President Putin, the very first one in Versailles and the second one during the G20.  And this relationship is very important.  We have a lot of disagreements.  We have a lot of discrepancies, obviously, with Russia.  But in the current environment, especially in the Middle East, it's a necessity to work together, to work together, to exchange information, to share disagreements, and to try to build solutions.  

So that’s my relationship with Russia.  And we don’t have, obviously, the same relationship as the one with the U.S.  But that’s a longstanding relationship with Russia as well, and I think it’s important that both of us have direct discussion and contact with President Putin.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  One of the great things that came out of that meeting, by the way -- even though it’s not part of the question -- was the fact that we got a ceasefire that now has lasted for, I guess, Mr. President, almost five days.  And while five days doesn’t sound like a long period of time, in terms of a ceasefire in Syria, that’s a very long period of time.  And that was a result of having communication with a country.  So, during that five-day period, a lot of lives have been saved.  A lot of people were not killed.  No shots have been fired in a very, very dangerous part of the world, and this is one of the most dangerous parts of Syria itself.  

So by having some communication and dialogue, we were able to have this ceasefire, and it’s going to go on for a while.  And, frankly, we’re working on a second ceasefire in a very rough part of Syria.  And if we get that and a few more, all of a sudden you’re going to have no bullets being fired in Syria.  And that would be a wonderful thing.

Mr. President, you have a question.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Third question from BFN TV.  

Q    (As interpreted.)  A question to President Macron.  You went to Lausanne in order to support Paris’s bid for the Olympic Games, and on this occasion you somehow criticized President Trump’s policy without naming him.  You said that France made a very clear choice to leave its border open and not to build walls to protect its people.  Do you condemn the Muslim ban and the building of the wall between the United States and Mexico?

Regarding Syria, as it was just mentioned by President Trump, is France ready to talk directly with Bashar al-Assad in the negotiation that you mentioned?

(In English.)  You’ve mentioned a friend, Jim, who told you that Paris is no longer Paris.  You were implying at the time that Paris was not safe anymore.  You’ve also said that France and Germany are infected by terrorism and “it’s their fault because they let people enter their territory.”  Those are very strong words.  Would you repeat them today?  And do you still believe that France is not able to fight terrorism on its own territory?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:   You better let me answer that one first.  That’s a beauty.  (Laughter.)  He’s the one that asked the question.  That wasn’t even one of my picks.  

You know what, it’s going to be just fine because you have a great President.  You have somebody that’s going to run this country right.  And I would be willing to bet -- because I think this is one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world -- and you have a great leader now, you have a great President, you have a tough President.  He’s not going to be easy on people that are breaking the laws and people that show this tremendous violence.  

So I really have a feeling that you’re going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris, and I’m coming back.  You better do a good job, please.  (Laughter.)  Otherwise you’re going to make me look very bad.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  And you’re always welcome.


PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Regarding the first question, like I said, I believe that the discussions that we’ve had today is the proper answer to terrorism.  The right answer is strengthen cooperation between our services and a never-ending fight against terrorists no matter where they are.  This is what I was referring to, this is what we’re working on actively together.  

So, in this respect, there is no difference and no gap between the French and the American positions.  When I have something to say, I say it clearly, and I do say who I’m aiming at.  And when I refer to those who have been my opponents in the French political battle, I also mention the names.  So let us not mix up everything.

And regarding the fight against terrorism, I think the right approach is to have strengthened cooperation in the field of intelligence, is also to be working together on all the theaters of operation where we are.  And I think that the decisions we’ve reached today will enable us to do more.  

Next, your question regarding Bashar al-Assad, which is an important one.  Let me put it simply:  Indeed, we now have a new approach of Syria because we want some results and we want to be closely working together with our partners, including the United States of America.  We have one main goal, which is to eradicate terrorism.  No matter who they are, we want to build an inclusive and sustainable political solution.  Against that background, I do not require Assad’s departure.  This is no longer a prerequisite for France to work on that, because I can only tell you that, for seven years, we did not have an embassy in Damascus, and still we have no solution.  

Next, we also have a common red line, together with President Trump.  He intervened before I was elected, and I said it to President Putin after my election:  No use whatsoever of chemical weapons.  Any use will lead to reaction -- an attack against a reaction regarding the storage places.  

Next, we also want humanitarian corridors.  Also, we want to build a sustainable political stability for Syria.  This is our roadmap.  In order to stick to it, we need diplomatic initiative beyond our military actions.  This is what we’ve been agreeing upon, because we want to take an initiative with the members of the Security Council and a number of countries involved in the process.  Of course, there will be representatives of Assad that will enable us to put in place the roadmap for after the war, but there will also be representatives of the opposition and people with different backgrounds, and we will talk to all of them against that background.

One last question for an American journalist.

Q    Thank you.  (Inaudible) TV of China.  (As interpreted.)  For both Presidents:  Mr. Macron, you had your first meeting with the Chinese President during the G20 Summit.  What will France do?  How will France cooperate with all of these areas with China?  And what do you think personally of Mr. Xi Jinping?

(In English.)  Mr. President, you have just met the Chinese President during the G20 Summit.  How do you want to continue to work with China?  And what do you personally think about Mr. Xi Jinping?  Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, he’s a friend of mine.  I have great respect for him.  We’ve gotten to know each other very well.  A great leader.  He’s a very talented man.  I think he’s a very good man.  He loves China, I can tell you.  He loves China.  He wants to do what’s right for China.  

We’ve asked him for some assistance with respect to North Korea.  Probably, he could do a little bit more, but we’ll find out.  We’re now working on some trade deals.  He’s been very nice.  He’s let, as you know, beef go back in, certain financing go back in, credit card financing, and various other things go back in at my request, which is a great thing for our farmers.  A lot of good things are happening, but we’re going to be working on some very major trade components.  

But President Xi is a terrific guy.  I like being with him a lot, and he’s a very special person.  

Okay, thank you.  

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  I first talked to President Xi over the telephone, and then I got to meet him in the margin of the G20 Summit in Hamburg.  Early next year I will be traveling to China.  We’ve agreed to it.  So I cannot say that he’s a friend of mine or that I know him very well because I very much want to say things as they are.  But we had some initial contacts which were extremely fruitful and positive.  

I have a lot of respect for President Xi, and I would like to say that over the past few months he did express his willingness to have a vision for multilateralism and wanted to commit himself on a number of topics.  I think that many of us remember his words in Davos, and he there very strongly expressed his vision of the role of China.  We have a number of joint commitments, including on climate.  He’s very committed to that, and he told me that he wanted to do more in the field, and I can only be happy about it.  He wants strong cooperation.  

And like President Trump said, the trade issues and regarding the number of activities -- there are issues, there are differences, but a joint willingness to sort them out.  And as permanent members of the Security Council, we want to work together on all of the topics we’ve been discussing today.  

And China, in this respect, is a key partner in order to build peace all around the world, and I share what President Trump just said, that China is to play a very specific role regarding the rising tension, the growing tension with North Korea.  It’s important that China can play fully its role in the region.

In summary, I think he is today one of the great leaders of our world, implementing a major and ambitious reform of China society and the economy in China.  And therefore my willingness, in this respect as well, is to have strategic dialogue, the purpose of which is to continue to talk about the industry of -- civil nuclear industry, economic matters, and talk about any difficulties we may have together.

Very well.  Allow me to thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and once again thank President Trump for his visit.  And I will be seeing him in a few moments in a friendly atmosphere.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Great honor.  Thank you.    

7:20 P.M. CET

Remarks by the Vice President at a Listening Session on Philanthropy

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 21:38

The Vice President’s Ceremonial Office

2:20 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, first and foremost on behalf of President Trump and the First Family, welcome to the White House.  We are delighted to have you here.

I want to thank you for what all of the members of the Philanthropy Roundtable mean to the life of this nation.  For 30 years, the Philanthropy Roundtable has mustered the power of private charity to advance liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility.  And the contributions of the foundations represented around this table are immense and have changed lives across this country in incalculable ways.  So thank you so much for all the institutions that you represent have done.

Today you have a membership of some 630 organizations and individuals.  The causes you support make a difference in communities large and small.  The President and I are particularly grateful for your support for school choice and advancing those principles, as my friend Fred Klipsch has done from Indiana, Hoosiers for Quality Education, for many years.  It’s emblematic of the leadership that we have all around this table.

You represent the best of the American tradition of generosity, and I’m grateful to have a chance to talk to you about policies that we're advancing under President Trump’s leadership here in our Nation’s Capital from tax reform to healthcare reform.  And I look forward very much to your input.

It’s important to say that America is far and away the most generous nation on Earth and in the history of the world.  Our people have given a record $373 billion to charitable causes last year alone.  More than two-thirds of American households give to charity each and every year.  So I say thank you.  Thank you on behalf of your President.  Thank you on behalf of the American people for the generosity represented around this table.

Now each of us knows that charitable giving is fueled by generosity and by economic growth, and this administration is all about growth.  I can assure you of that.

From the first days of this administration, President Trump, our entire team has been working with the Congress to roll back excessive regulations, expand access to American energy, and the results speak for themselves -- 800,000 new jobs created since January of this year.  And so important to these foundations that are gathered around here managing the portfolios that many of you manage, there’s been almost a $3 trillion increase in stock market value since the outset of this administration. 

The American people are more confident in many quarters than ever before, and you see that reflected in the stock market and investments that Americans are making.

A more prosperous America can be a more generous America, and so I want to assure you that the President and I and our entire administration are anxious to get your counsel on how we might continue to promote economic growth.

But with that said, let me say that in addition to tax reform that we want to talk about today, President Trump and I truly believe that one of the keys to spurring economic growth in America today is to keep our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

And the President and I are very pleased that just a few hours ago, the leadership in the United States Senate released an updated version of the Senate healthcare bill.  The President and I are truly grateful to Leader Mitch McConnell, and we urge every member of the United States Senate to roll their sleeves up and get this bill to the President’s desk and get it there soon.

As I saw again in Kentucky just yesterday, American families and American businesses are hurting under the collapsing weight of Obamacare, and it’s time for Congress to act.  This legislation President Trump and I believe is the right bill at the right time to begin the end of Obamacare.  And we would be grateful to have your support.

This legislation will put American healthcare back on a path toward more freedom, more choices, and more affordability for working families.  The Senate healthcare bill repeals Obamacare individual and business mandates.  It cuts taxes on working families and small businesses and restores freedom, and we believe it will create jobs.  

The bill expands health savings accounts to pay for insurance premiums.  It also offers tax credits to Americans to help buy coverage at a more affordable price.  It provides $45 billion to states across the country to combat the scourge of opioid addiction and also ensures that every American with a preexisting condition has access to the coverage and care that they need -- no exceptions.

And lastly, surrounded by so many great advocates of American personal responsibility and federalism, I can tell you that this legislation gives states all new freedom and flexibility to reform Medicaid in ways that it will better meet the needs of the most vulnerable in those states.

We truly do believe that the Senate healthcare bill is the beginning of the end of Obamacare.  It will return American healthcare to a system based on our time-honored principles of free-market completion, personal responsibility, and state-based reform.  And above all else, it will give the American people more freedom when it comes to the choices that they make for healthcare.

President Trump and I look forward to the Senate voting on this bill as early as next week.  We believe that together with Republicans in the Senate and soon considering this bill again in the House, that we will begin the end of Obamacare.  And we will finally give the American people the kind of world-class healthcare they deserve built on the American principles of freedom, free-market choices, and state-based reform.  And we’d be grateful to have your support.  

With that, let me express my appreciation to all of you who are gathered here, but most especially to the leadership of the Philanthropy Roundtable.  And, Adam Meyerson, if you’d like to make a few remarks.  

MR. MEYERSON:  Thank you so much, Mr. Vice President, for your leadership as a champion for charities and for economic growth.  And thank you, Marc Short, for taking the time to be with us today.  

America, as you said, Mr. Vice President, is the most charitable country on Earth.  No other country comes close.  Volunteering private giving is central to our character as a people and it is central to our freedom.  Independent private giving sustains the independence of private institutions; our churches and synagogues; our universities and colleges -- like Hanover -- our think tanks of left, right, and center; our health clinics for veterans; our crisis pregnancy centers; and the charitable deduction is an indispensable guardrail against the intrusion of government into our lives and into our communities.  

The deduction tells political leaders that money given to charity is not theirs, but belongs to civil society.  We’re in a great national debate now about whether the federal government is exercising too much control of our lives, and our country faces great crises such as the collapse of the family, the failure of schools to teach our children.  And these are crises where the answers are not to be found in Washington, but from churches, neighborhood problem solvers, and other institutions of civil society.  

Now is the time for more charitable giving, not less.  Now is the time to increase charitable giving from 2 percent to 3 percent of GDP.  And now is the time to make the charitable deduction universal, so it is available to all Americans.  

We’re so honored to be here and grateful for your leadership, and I’ll look forward to the exchange of ideas.  

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Adam.  Thank you all very much.  

Q    Mr. Vice President, will you be making calls this weekend to senators about the bill?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I was on Capitol Hill today.

Q    How was the meeting?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Very encouraged by the action that Senate leadership has taken.  We believe the Senate healthcare bill is the right bill at the right time.  It’s important that the Senate move forward next week -- bring this bill forward, send it back to the House, and put it on the President’s desk.

Q    Do you think the Leader will be able to get to 50 votes?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, we’re going to work very hard.  The President and I have already talked today, and President Trump and I and our entire administration strongly support the Senate healthcare bill.  We believe it represents the beginning of the end of Obamacare.  And the introduction of reforms in this legislation we believe will once again put the American people back in charge of their own healthcare and give states all new freedom and flexibility to ensure that Medicaid works in each individual state, particularly when it comes to the most vulnerable.    

2:30 P.M. EDT

President Donald J. Trump Announces Fifth Wave of Judicial Candidates

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 21:37

The President today announced his intent to nominate these eleven individuals to the following Federal judgeships.

If confirmed, Annemarie Carney Axon of Alabama will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Annemarie Axon is a member of the Birmingham law firm of Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff, & Brandt, LLC, where she litigates trust, estate, and business cases in both trial and appellate courts. Before joining the firm, Mrs. Axon served as Assistant Vice President of AmSouth Bank and as an associate at the law firm of Edwards and Angell, LLP in Providence, Rhode Island. Immediately upon graduation from law school, Mrs. Axon served as a law clerk to Judge Inge P. Johnson of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Mrs. Axon received her B.A. from the University of Alabama and J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law.

If confirmed, Michael Lawrence Brown of Georgia will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Mike Brown is an equity partner and co-chair of the White Collar and Government Investigations practice group in the Atlanta office of Alston & Bird LLP. Prior to joining Alston & Bird, Mr. Brown served for six years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia and in the Southern District of Florida, where he tried more than twenty-five cases and argued criminal appeals. Before entering government service, Mr. Brown spent four years as a litigation associate in the Atlanta office of King & Spalding LLP. Mr. Brown clerked for Judge J.L. Edmondson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. He received his B.A. from Georgetown University, and his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif, and served on the editorial board and the managerial board of the Georgia Law Review.

If confirmed, Liles C. Burke of Alabama will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Judge Liles Burke serves as an Associate Judge on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. Prior to his elevation to the Court of Appeals, Judge Burke served as a Marshall County District Judge, as Acting Circuit Judge, and as a City of Arab Municipal Judge. Prior to ascending to the bench, Judge Burke practiced at the law firm of Burke & Beuoy, P.C., where he represented businesses and individuals in general practice, including domestic, criminal, civil litigation, juvenile, and probate matters. He has also served as a Municipal Prosecutor and Municipal Attorney, and currently serves in the Alabama Army National Guard Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. Judge Burke received his B.A. from the University of Alabama and J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law.

If confirmed, William L. (“Chip”) Campbell, Jr., of Tennessee, will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Chip Campbell is currently a member in the Nashville office of Frost Brown Todd, LLC, where he handles a wide range of civil litigation matters. Mr. Campbell previously worked as an associate and later a partner in the Nashville firm of Riley Warnock & Jacobson, PLC, and as an associate in the Birmingham, Alabama office of Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C. Mr. Campbell received his B.S. from the United States Naval Academy and served seven years in the United States Marine Corps, principally as a Naval Flight Officer. He received his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Alabama Law Review.

If confirmed, Thomas Alvin Farr of North Carolina, will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Tom Farr is currently a shareholder in the Raleigh office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., where his practice focuses on employment matters and constitutional law. Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Farr was an attorney with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and counsel to the U.S. Senate and Labor Human Resources Committee. Mr. Farr also served as a law clerk to Judge Frank W. Bullock, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. He received his B.L.S., summa cum laude, from Hillsdale College, where he was co-salutatorian. He received his J.D. from Emory University and an L.L.M. in labor law from Georgetown University.

If confirmed, Charles Barnes Goodwin of Oklahoma will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Judge Charles Goodwin currently serves as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Western District of Oklahoma. In that capacity, he has presided over approximately 500 initial proceedings in felony cases, issued approximately 350 opinions in civil cases, and disposed of over 1000 misdemeanor cases. Earlier in his career, Magistrate Judge Goodwin was a partner and civil litigator at Crowe & Dunlevy, P.C., and he served as a law clerk to Judge Lee R. West of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and to then-Magistrate Judge Claire V. Eagan in the Northern District of Oklahoma. He received his B.A. from the University of Oklahoma and his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, where he served on the Oklahoma Law Review.

If confirmed, Mark S. Norris, Sr., of Tennessee, will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Mark Norris currently serves as special counsel in the Memphis office of Adams and Reese LLP and as the Senate Majority Leader of the Tennessee General Assembly. His law practice includes a wide variety of civil litigation and business matters. Prior to joining Adams and Reese, Mr. Norris was a Senior Member of Armstrong Allen, PLLC. Mr. Norris was first elected to represent District 32 in the Tennessee Senate in 2000 and has served as Majority Leader since 2007. He previously served on the Shelby County Board of Commissioners. He received his B.A. from Colorado College, and his J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

If confirmed, Thomas Lee Robinson Parker, will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Tommy Parker is currently a shareholder in the Memphis office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C., where he represents clients in civil litigation and criminal matters. Prior to joining Baker Donelson, Mr. Parker served for nine years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Tennessee. Prior to his Federal service, Mr. Parker was an associate with Waring Cox Lawyers in Memphis. Mr. Parker previously served as the president of the Memphis Bar Association and is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. He received his B.S. from the University of South Carolina, and his J.D. from the Vanderbilt University School of Law.

If confirmed, William (“Billy”) McCrary Ray, II, of Georgia will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Judge Billy Ray currently serves as the Presiding Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Judge Ray served for ten years as a Superior Court Judge on the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit. Before ascending to the bench, Judge Ray served for six years in the Georgia State Senate and was a partner in the Gwinnett County law firm of Andersen, Davidson & Tate, P.C., Judge Ray received his B.B.A from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, magna cum laude, his M.B.A., from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, and his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law.

If confirmed, Eli J. Richardson of Tennessee, will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Eli Richardson is currently a member in the Nashville office of Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC, where he represents clients in a range of criminal and civil matters and conducts internal corporate investigations. Mr. Richardson also serves as an adjunct professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School, and previously taught trial advocacy at Belmont University College of Law. Prior to joining Bass, Berry & Sims, Mr. Richardson served for twelve years in the Department of Justice, including four years as a Special Agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation; seven years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of New Jersey and the Middle District of Tennessee; and one year on detail as Resident Legal Advisor to Serbia. Prior to his Federal service, Mr. Richardson practiced law both at law firms and in a solo practice. He received his B.S.E., cum laude, from Duke University, and his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he served as a member of the Vanderbilt Law Review.

If confirmed, Tilman Eugene (“Tripp”) Self, III, of Georgia will serve as a District Judge on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. Judge Tripp Self currently serves on the Georgia Court of Appeals. Before his appointment to the Court of Appeals, Judge Self served for ten years as a Superior Court Judge on the Macon Judicial Circuit. Before ascending to the bench, Judge Self was an attorney with the Macon, Georgia, law firm of Sell & Melton, LLP Before attending law school, Judge Self served as a Field Artillery Officer in the United States Army. Judge Self received his B.S. from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and his J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law.



Ten Nominations Sent to the Senate Today

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 19:23


Rostin Behnam, of New Jersey, to be a Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for a term expiring June 19, 2021 vice Mark P. Wetjen, resigned.

Michael Lawrence Brown, of Georgia, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, vice Julie E. Carnes, elevated.

William L. Campbell, Jr., of Tennessee, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, vice Kevin Hunter Sharp, resigned.

Thomas Alvin Farr, of North Carolina, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina, vice Malcolm J. Howard, retired.

Charles Barnes Goodwin, of Oklahoma, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, vice Robin J. Cauthron, retired.

Mark Saalfield Norris, Sr., of Tennessee, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee, vice J. Daniel Breen, retired.

Thomas Lee Robinson Parker, of Tennessee, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee, vice Samuel H. Mays, Jr., retired.

William M. Ray II, of Georgia, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, vice Harold L. Murphy. Eli Jeremy Richardson, of Tennessee, to be United States

Eli Jeremy Richardson, of Tennessee, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, vice Todd J. Campbell, retired.

Tilman Eugene Self, III, of Georgia, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia, vice C. Ashley Royal, retired.

Donald J. Trump Administration Welcomes Israeli-Palestinian Deal to Implement the Red-Dead Water Agreement

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 18:46

The United States welcomes the agreement reached by the Palestinian Authority and Israeli government about the Palestinian allocation of water from the Red-Dead Sea Conveyance Project to the Palestinian Authority in the amount of 32 million cubic meters (MCM) (22 MCM for the West Bank and 10 MCM for the Gaza Strip). This agreement falls under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2013 by Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority. The MOU establishes the Red-Dead Sea Conveyance Project, which involves construction of a desalination plant in Aqaba that will provide fresh water to Jordan and Israel and convey brine to the Dead Sea to reduce its rate of decline.‎ The Project also involves Israel supplying additional water to Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

Under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt successfully supported the Israeli and Palestinian efforts to bridge the gaps and reach an agreement on this vital issue. President Trump has made it clear that working towards achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is a top priority for him, and he strongly believes that peace is possible. The Administration has urged the parties to undertake efforts to promote an environment that is conducive to advancing peace, and this new agreement, the second major Israeli-Palestinian agreement signed this week, is another indication that the parties are capable of working together to achieve mutually beneficial results.

Mulvaney: “Introducing MAGAnomics”

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 16:48

“If we enact the president’s broad agenda—if MAGAnomics is allowed to work—we will have set the stage for the greatest revival of the American economy since the early 1980s. It will remind people—including those who have forgotten, or those who don’t want you to remember—what a great America means. That is driving everything we do.”


Introducing MAGAnomics
By Mick Mulvaney
Wall Street Journal
July 13, 2017

If the Trump administration has one overarching goal, it’s to Make America Great Again. But what does this mean? It means we are promoting MAGAnomics—and that means sustained 3% economic growth.

For most of our nation’s modern history, a healthy American economy meant one that grew at roughly 3.5%. That was the average growth rate between the late 1940s and 2007. Since then, it has hardly topped 2%.

The difference between those two growth rates is staggering. If the American economy had grown at only 2% between the end of World War II and 2000, average household income would have been roughly $26,000 instead of $50,000.

Over the next 10 years, 3% growth instead of 2% will yield a nominal gross domestic product that is $16 trillion larger, federal government revenues $2.9 trillion greater, and wages and salaries of American workers $7 trillion higher.

For merely suggesting that we can get back to that level, the administration has been criticized as unrealistic. That’s fine with us. We heard the same pessimism 40 years ago, when the country was mired in “stagflation” and “malaise.” But Ronald Reagan dared to challenge that thinking and steered us to a boom that many people thought unachievable. In the 7½ years following the end of the recession in 1982, real GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.4%. That is what a recovery looks like, and what the American economy is still capable of achieving.

The focus of MAGAnomics is simple: Grow the economy and with it the wealth of, and opportunity for, all Americans.

MAGAnomics is for everyone, but especially for those who left for work this morning in the dark but came home after their kids were asleep. It’s for those who are working part-time but praying for a full-time job. It’s for folks whose savings are as exhausted as they are. This president hears you. He knows America’s greatness doesn’t spring from higher taxes or unnecessary regulations or broken welfare programs. It doesn’t come from government at all. It comes from you.

If we enact the president’s broad agenda—if MAGAnomics is allowed to work—we will have set the stage for the greatest revival of the American economy since the early 1980s. It will remind people—including those who have forgotten, or those who don’t want you to remember—what a great America means. That is driving everything we do.

Read the full op-ed here.


Cohn and McMaster: “The Trump Vision for America Abroad"

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 16:03

“America First is rooted in confidence that our values are worth defending and promoting. This is a time of great challenge for our friends and allies around the globe — but it is also a moment of extraordinary opportunity. The American delegation returned from the trip with tremendous optimism about the future and what the United States, our allies and our partners can achieve together.”


The Trump Vision for America Abroad
By Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster
New York Times
July 13, 2017

President Trump just concluded a second overseas trip to further advance America’s interests and values, and to strengthen our alliances around the world. Both this and his first trip demonstrated the resurgence of American leadership to bolster common interests, affirm shared values, confront mutual threats and achieve renewed prosperity.

Discussions with world leaders highlighted extraordinary potential: vast supplies of affordable energy, untapped markets that can be opened to new commerce, a growing number of young people seeking the chance to build better futures in their homelands and new partnerships among nations that can form the basis for lasting peace. At every opportunity abroad, President Trump articulated his vision for securing the American homeland, enhancing American prosperity and advancing American influence.

Meetings in Poland and at the Group of 20 summit conference in Germany focused on building coalitions to get the best possible outcomes for America and for our allies. The United States cannot be a passive member of international organizations. We are working with friends to confront common threats, seize mutually beneficial opportunities and press for solutions to shared problems.

Central to President Trump’s approach is that the United States will seek areas of agreement and cooperation while still protecting American interests.

Perhaps most important, President Trump affirmed on this trip that America First is grounded in American values — values that not only strengthen America but also drive progress throughout the world. America champions the dignity of every person, affirms the equality of women, celebrates innovation, protects freedom of speech and of religion, and supports free and fair markets.

Of course, the United States — along with nations around the world — continues to face serious challenges, including the menace of terrorism and the threat of rogue regimes. Working with other nations allows us our best opportunity to address these challenges. For example, in a meeting with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, the two leaders affirmed the commitment made in Saudi Arabia to block funding for terrorists and those who advance their hateful ideology. In the formal communiqué on countering terrorism, all G-20 nations affirmed that we “strongly condemn all terrorist attacks worldwide and stand united and firm in the fight against terrorism and its financing.” In many discussions with allies and partners at the G-20, leaders agreed that North Korea is a global threat that requires collective action.

America First is rooted in confidence that our values are worth defending and promoting. This is a time of great challenge for our friends and allies around the globe — but it is also a moment of extraordinary opportunity. The American delegation returned from the trip with tremendous optimism about the future and what the United States, our allies and our partners can achieve together

Read the full op-ed here.


Remarks by the Vice President on Obamacare, Lexington, KY

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 01:29

Bryant’s Rent-All
Lexington, Kentucky

4:37 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Kentucky!  (Applause.)  Thank you so very much for coming out on this balmy summer day.  
It is great to be back in the Bluegrass State.  And I bring greetings from my friend, the man Kentucky voted overwhelmingly to make the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.) 
The President sent me here today to thank you all, thank the good people of Kentucky for your unwavering support.  And I promise you, you elected a fighter.  You elected a winner.  And no matter what issue the media may be focused on, on any given moment, I promise you, President Donald Trump will never stop fighting for the issues that matter most to the people of Kentucky and the people all across this country.  (Applause.)  
And, man, have you got a great governor in Governor Matt Bevin.  (Applause.)  Governor Bevin, thanks for that kind introduction.  I can honestly say I was for Matt Bevin before it was cool.  (Laughter.)  And I just have to tell you, Governor, you have just done such an incredible job here, changing the fortunes and the future of the Bluegrass State.  Give Governor Matt Bevin another round of applause, will you?  He’s doing an awesome job.  (Applause.) 
I also want to say thanks to a couple of other great Kentucky public servants who are here with us today.  You just heard from both of them.  These are two leaders in Congress who I promise you have been strong conservative voices and strong partners for President Donald Trump -- Congressman Andy Barr and Congressman Brett Guthrie.  Thank you for being here.  Thank you for your outstanding leadership.  (Applause.) 
And last but not least, I want to thank you to Terry Bryant and the whole Bryant’s Rent-All team for opening up this successful business to us today.  (Applause.) 
You know, Bryant’s Rent-All is a real American success story.  And I’m just glad to hear Terry tell them that they're now on the map as of this event today.
But you've been on the map for a long time, Terry.  Truth be told.  This has been a family-owned business for more than 60 years. In fact, three generations of Bryants have helped grow this business from its humble roots to a party and equipment rental powerhouse here in the Bluegrass State.  Let’s give them one more round of applause for welcoming us and for all they do to contribute to the prosperity of this community.  (Applause.) 
President Trump and I both know just how important small businesses like this one are to America, to jobs and a growing economy.  Small businesses like this and those represented here today so well are the beating heart of communities large and small -- creating jobs and opportunities.  And small businesses are out there contributing to every worthy cause that comes along in each community. 
Just know that today your President is grateful for what you do, each and every day.  And let me make these job creators who are with us a promise:  President Donald Trump will be the best friend American small businesses will ever have.  (Applause.) 
Just look at the record.  Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, since the start of this year, American businesses have created more than 800,000 good-paying jobs all across the United States.  
Companies large and small are making extraordinary investments all across America, billions of dollars, thousands of new jobs.  And small businesses like Bryant’s Rent-All haven’t been this confident about the future in more than a decade.
And truth be told, you should be confident.  Because since day one of this administration, President Trump has been taking decisive action to deliver on the promises that he made to the people of Kentucky and people all across this country.
As I speak to you today, President Trump has signed more laws rolling back federal red tape than any President in American history.  (Applause.)  We've already saved businesses and working families up to $18 billion a year in red tape costs.
The President put American energy first when he authorized the Keystone and Dakota pipelines to get American energy flowing to American homes and business.  (Applause.) 
And every day, this President puts America first -- just like last month, when President Donald Trump announced to the world that this administration had made the decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Paris climate accord.  (Applause.) 
It’s remarkable to think the Paris accord, by one estimate, could have cost America 6.5 million jobs over the next 25 years, while letting countries like China and India virtually scot-free.  But as our President said, he was elected by the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris.  And I’ll add of Lexington, not Lisbon.  This President will always put America first.  (Applause.) 
And speaking of Europe, at this very moment we’re seeing the bold leadership of an American President on the world stage, President Donald Trump has been showing the world that we once again have an American President who stands without apology as the leader of the free world.  (Applause.) 
Today as we speak, the President is accepting an invitation from President Macron in France.  He’s departing in just a few short hours to mark the 100th anniversary of the entry of American forces onto French soil during World War One.
And last week, the President concluded a historic trip to Poland and Germany -- and his speech in Warsaw was one for the ages.  Wasn’t it?
In this time of widening challenges and unknowable threats, President Trump challenged all who cherish freedom to in his words, work together to confront the forces that threaten to undermine our values, erase the bonds of culture, faith, and the tradition that make us who we are. 
And President Donald Trump declared to all of the world and all who would threaten our way of life, “the West will never, ever be broken.  Our values will prevail.  Our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph.”  (Applause.) 
Folks, that’s what American leadership looks like on the world stage.  And serving with him every day, I know:  President Donald Trump has no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people.
As the proud father of a United States Marine, I couldn’t be more proud -- thank you -- I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces, their families, and our veterans.
Earlier this week, I pause right now with a heavy heart, my wife and I awakened as all of you did to learn that 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman had perished in a plane crash in Mississippi.  The President called it “heartbreaking,” and his prayers, his family’s prayers, and my little family’s prayers, along with all of you are for these heroes and their families and their loved ones.  When heroes fall, America grieves.  And we honor and remember the families of those fallen in Mississippi this week.
But rest assured:  President Donald Trump is fighting every day to give our men and women in uniform the resources and support they deserve.  I’m pleased to report this President has already signed the biggest increase in defense spending in nearly 10 years.  (Applause.) 
And in the President’s budget he called for the greatest investment in military readiness since the days of President Ronald Reagan.  Under President Donald Trump, we will rebuild our military.  We will restore the arsenal of democracy, and we will once again give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training they deserve to accomplish their mission and come home safe.  That's our pledge.  (Applause.) 
And under the leadership of this Commander-in-Chief, I’m proud to report our armed forces are taking the fight to the enemy on our terms, on their soil.  And just this week American forces helped Iraqi forces liberate Mosul from the grip of ISIS, and as the President said today, ISIS is on the run and we’ll wipe them out soon -- all the way to Raqqa.  (Applause.) 
When it comes to homeland security, as well, President Trump had taken decisive steps to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and remove dangerous gang members and drug dealers from our streets.  Under President Donald Trump, I’m proud to report illegal crossings at our southern border are down by more than 60 percent since the start of this year.  (Applause.) 
And working with local law enforcement, our Justice Department is busy removing dangerous MS-13 gang members from the streets of our cities.
So it’s about prosperity.  It’s about security.  It’s about strengthening America at home and abroad.  President Donald Trump has done all that and more -- and it’s only been six months, folks.
But as our President likes to say in the Oval Office where I just with him this morning that’s what we call a good start in the Trump White House.  (Applause.) 
The truth is we’ve got a lot more work to do.  And I came here today to assure you, I came here today to turn up the heat on a promise that every Republican made to the American people and this President made to the American people and tell you that we will keep our promise to all of you.  And before the summer is out, we will repeal and replace Obamacare.  (Applause.) 
You all remember the broken promises they made to get Obamacare passed.  I just talked about them with job creators from across the Lexington area.  Remember?  They said if you like your doctor you could keep them -- not true.  They said if you like your health insurance you could keep it.  Tens of thousands in Kentucky have found out the hard way -- not true.  We were told that health insurance costs would go down.  
Now we know the facts.  Here in Kentucky, the average premium on the individual market has spiked by a staggering 75 percent just in the past four years.  Now President Obama and all those that advocated Obamacare promised us that you would save up to $2,500 per year if Obamacare became law.  The Governor just mentioned that statistic today.  But today instead of the average American saving $2,500 a year, average Obamacare premium costs are $2,000 more today than they were just in 2013.  

And the truth is it’s only getting worse.  Working families in Kentucky are facing double-digit premium hikes heading into 2018.  And while costs are skyrocketing, choices are plummeting.
I heard it from these job creators who we just had a conversation with today.  The truth is right now a third of American counties, including five whole states, have only one choice of Obamacare insurer -- meaning they essentially have no choice at all. 
And come next year, 40 percent of American counties are expected to be in the same situation -- including nine entire states.  Even worse, tens of thousands of Americans may have no Obamacare coverage whatsoever. 
Choices are declining because health insurers as you’ve seen here in Kentucky are abandoning this failed law left and right. 
On Monday our administration actually announced that the number of health insurers who plan even on participating in Obamacare in 2018 has dropped nearly in half in just the last two years.  And it’s likely that even more will drop out between now and the end of this year. 
Just look at what’s happening right here in Kentucky.  Next year, nearly 50 percent of the Bluegrass State -- 59 out of your 120 Kentucky counties -- will have only one insurer to choose from on the state exchange.
Kentucky is a case study of Obamacare’s failure.  And the remarkable thing is that many states have it even worse than Kentucky does.
Folks, we’re talking about real people facing a real crisis. I never want to forget, as we remember these statistics -- and you have to cite the statistics to be able to reflect on the magnitude of the failure of Obamacare.  But behind every number is a name.  Behind every statistic is a story of real Americans and real businesses that are struggling.  I’ve heard these stories as I’ve traveled all across this country -- from working families, single moms, and parents with disabled children who’ve suffered under the burden of Obamacare.
Just a few moments ago, I heard from Terry Bryant and other small-business owners from Kentucky about how Obamacare has stifled their business and hurt their employees.  
I took a few notes as I was talking to them -- people like 
Julie Roberts with Servpro.  She’s got about 40 employees.  Since 2010, she told me that the average premiums per-employee per-month had gone up from $36 a month to $109 a month, and worse still, while the cost of her health insurance had gone up for her employees, the deductibles have increased from $1,500 to about $4,000.  
     I heard from a local hotel business owner who explained to me that while he was thinking about building a couple more hotels, creating lots of new, good-paying jobs, creating lots of great construction jobs and all the ancillary investments that go with expansion here in the Lexington area -- because of Obamacare, and Obamacare alone, and the cost of health insurance, he was holding off.  Well, I told him today:  Help is on the way.  Go ahead and break ground.  We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare with your help.  (Applause.)   
Folks, the truth is as I talk to these small business owners, it’s the same story I hear all across the country.  Despite the people who go on television one after another and say that Obamacare just needs a little fix here and there, the truth is that Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go. 
You’d have to be a politician blinded by partisanship to believe otherwise.  Unfortunately Congress is full of them.  The truth is -- and it’s a hard truth -- the very same politicians who gave us Obamacare now won’t lift a finger to help the American people out from under its collapsing weight.  In fact, they’re claiming that Obamacare is working.
I mean, Democrats in Congress would rather let Obamacare continue to implode than admit their mistake and help Republican majorities rescue the American people from this failed policy.  But I’m here to promise you they won’t stop us.  Because President Donald Trump and the leadership in the Congress will not rest.  We will not relent until we rescue the people of Kentucky and all across America from Obamacare.  (Applause.)
And I got to tell you folks, I got to tell you folks:  I’m standing here in the heat -- you are too -- but I’ll give you a word of encouragement:  We are very close to achieving what we’ve talked about for the last seven years.  The House of Representatives has already done its job, and give another round of applause to Congressman Guthrie and Congressman Barr from stepping up.  Stepping up and keeping their promise to the people of Kentucky.  (Applause.)   
But now the Senate is going to work.  Thanks to the leadership of Kentucky’s own Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, tomorrow the Senate will release an updated bill that will begin the end of Obamacare.  (Applause.)  Voting could start as early as next week so I need you to stay tuned, and I need you to stay engaged. 

Let me just take a word and say the President and I couldn’t be more grateful for Senator Mitch McConnell’s leadership and commitment to an agenda that will make America great again.  (Applause.)  He’s doing a great job.  And the President and I want to commend Leader McConnell’s decision to keep the Senate in session through the first two weeks of August until they get the job done.  (Applause.) 
With the support of the leadership of Senator McConnell, we’ve rolled back red tape.  We confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States.  (Applause.)  And under his leadership and the help of Kentucky’s other senator, we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare.  
Now let me say from my heart, the President and I really like Senator Rand Paul.  I’ve known him for a lot of years.  He’s a man of principle and conviction.  Senator Rand Paul is a great conservative and a great legislator, and he does Kentucky proud.  (Applause.)
And let me say as this debate begins, the debate on the floor of the Senate begins next week, the amendments begin -- an important amendment to move this bill forward.   The President and I believe when the time comes, Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul will do the right thing together, and we will pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare and end the Obamacare nightmare once and for all.  (Applause.) 
And let me promise you the bill before the United States Senate does just that.  Plain and simple, this bill begins the process of repealing and replacing this failed policy.  Here’s a couple of for instances:  This legislation puts American healthcare back on the path to freedom -- more choices, more affordable.  This bill will repeal Obamacare’s mandates and taxes on the American people and American businesses and restore freedom and create jobs all across this nation.  (Applause.)  I just heard about it.
This legislation will expand health savings accounts and offer tax credits to help every American buy the coverage you need at a price you afford.  It will ensure that every American with preexisting conditions has access to the coverage and the care that you need -- no exceptions.  And this bill improves and strengthens Medicaid for the people who need it most with better coverage, better care, and better outcomes that Governor Bevin and your state legislature can decide to meet Kentucky’s unique needs the Kentucky way.  That’s what we’re going to have when we repeal and replace Obamacare.  (Applause.)  
I’ll never forget being here for Governor Bevin’s inaugural address.  When he actually called me out from the podium, he announced his intention to reform Medicaid -- I was governor of Indiana at the time.  He said he was going to base it on some of the conservative principles we used in Indiana when I was governor.  And then he did a little bit of trash-talking.  (Laughter.)  He said he was pretty sure Kentucky could do a better job than Indiana.  Well, I tell you what, President Trump and I are going to make sure that he has the chance to try Kentucky solutions for the most vulnerable in Kentucky.  That’s how we’ll reform and improve Medicaid.  (Applause.)  
The Senate bill and the House bill that passed before it gives states like Kentucky all the freedom and flexibility that your governor will need to reform Medicaid and meet the real needs of your most vulnerable.  
I just talked to a very inspiring mom.  She happens to be a business owner.  She runs Remedy Intelligent Staffing, but Lynn Braker is here.  She told us a story about the cost of Obamacare and then she broke and she started to brag about her boy Anderson.  And Anderson is a Down syndrome boy, and you could tell he’s the light of her life.  The truth of the matter is I said to her that when we give states the flexibility to reform Medicaid, we’re going to be able to make sure that states like Kentucky can focus Medicaid resources on those who need it most.  I just told Lynn, I had some families out in Washington -- I met a mom of a special needs child from Illinois and she told me that after Illinois expanded traditional Medicaid the way that Kentucky did years ago, she got a notice from the state of Illinois that said that medicine that her special needs son had received before that had been paid for by the state of Illinois’ Medicaid program would no longer be paid.  
I mean, men and women, it’s what the Governor just said a minute ago.  Medicaid was formed for the aged, the blind, the disabled, for people with special needs, for dependent children.  Once we give states like Kentucky the ability to reform Medicaid the Kentucky way once again, we’re going to make sure that Lynn and her wonderful son Anderson have the support that they need to have the quality of life and the healthcare that every person in Kentucky wants them to have.  (Applause.)    
President Trump and I believe in state-based solutions and state-based reforms.  The bottom line is the Senate bill is going to do just that.  It will end the Obamacare nightmare, it will begin to replace it with a healthcare system that’s built on individual responsibility, free-market principles and state-based innovation.
But I came here today to turn up the heat because this is the moment.  Now is the time.  It’s time for Congress to step up and repeal and replace Obamacare.  (Applause.)  
For the past seven years, we’ve had a healthcare system based on the flawed premise that the federal government could order every American to buy health insurance, whether they want it or need it or not -- that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and politicians know better than patients and doctors.  And worst of all, that the American people can’t be trusted to run their own lives and make their own healthcare choices without the heavy hand of government.
Now we have a chance before us in days, maybe weeks, but not months, to restore a healthcare system based on the time-honored American principles of personal responsibility and state-based reform.  And above all else, we have a chance to restore a healthcare system based on the ultimate American principle of freedom by giving Americans more freedom to buy health insurance the way we buy life insurance, the way we buy car insurance.  As we’ll ultimately do when we move all the legislation that we have to move, we’re going to lower the cost of health insurance with more competition, with more choices, with more state-based innovation and reform.  That’s the American way to meet healthcare needs in the 21st century.  (Applause.) 
This legislation is the beginning, and once we sign this legislation into law, get ready, there’s more to come.  And the President and I are going to continue to work with this Congress to expand the choices that Americans have to purchase health insurance.
As soon as we repeal and replace Obamacare, make no mistake about it -- next stop, with the strong support of these members of Congress, we’re going to get this economy moving by cutting taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.  (Applause.)   And we’re going to cut taxes on businesses so companies like Bryant’s Rent-All and all those represented here can compete with companies around the world to create jobs here in Kentucky.  (Applause.) 
So we’ve got a lot of work to do, everybody.  And time is a wasting, and this is where you come in.  President Trump and I are counting on all of you.  This is the moment.  Now is the time for the Congress to act, but this also the time for your moment.  We need you to stand up and speak out.  Let your voices be heard to our elected representatives.
If you haven’t noticed, the other side is certainly showing up for the debate, and it’s their every right.  That’s what freedom looks like.  But we need people who know we can do better than Obamacare to let their voices be heard.  Send an email, pick up the phone, let your elected representatives know the real story of Obamacare that we heard from these business owners today.  Tell them that we can do better.  Tell them that we can put America back on a path to prosperity, opportunity, and freedom.
But it’s going to take courage, and it’s going to take leadership in Washington, D.C.  And make no mistake about it, there are many voices in our Nation’s Capital, and you see them on TV all the time.  But there is no more compelling voice in Washington, D.C. than the voice of the American people.  So let your voice be heard.  (Applause.)  
And there’s one more thing that I might ask you to do if you’re of a mind: In these too divided times, I would urge you to do what Americans have done throughout our history, in much more challenging times than this.  If you’re inclined to bow the head and bend the knee, it’s a good time to do it.  Whether we look at the disarray on the world stage, whether we look at the divisions and the challenges here at home, the burden of failed policies and the struggling economy, it would be a good time to remember -- it would be a good time to remember our nation in your prayers. 
Now I’m not talking about -- as I close here, I’m not really talking about praying for a cause or praying for an agenda even.  I rather like what Abraham Lincoln said in his time when he was asked in a great national struggle in which the nation was gripped throughout the Lincoln administration.  He was asked if he thought God was on the side of the Union Army, and our 16th President simply said, you know my concern is not so much whether God is on our side, but whether we’re on God’s side.  So pray for America.  Pray for this country that we’re blessed to call home.  Because America matters far beyond our shores.  (Applause.)  
So, folks, I’m going to let you get back to somewhere where it’s a little cooler.  (Laughter.)  And I’m going to let you get to work.  Because I didn’t come here just to talk and you didn’t come here just to listen.  You came here to do the work.  I promise you, President Trump and I are absolutely dedicated, along with these great elected officials at every level, to keep the promises we made to the American people.
And if all of us do all that we can, I believe in all of my heart, with boundless faith in the American people, and with faith in Him that put this miracle of democracy on these wilderness shores, and with President Donald Trump in the White House, together, we will make America safe again.  Together, we will make America prosperous again.  And, to borrow a phrase:  Together, we will Make America Great Again.  
Thank you very much.  God bless you.  God bless Kentucky, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  
5:07 P.M. EDT

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on the Passage of H.R. 2664, H.R. 2480, and H.R. 2200

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 23:15

My Administration is focused on ending the horrific practice of human trafficking, and the three bills the House of Representatives passed today are important steps forward. Since taking office, I have met with courageous survivors, non-profit groups, and faith leaders who are devoting tremendous energy to raising awareness about human trafficking. I am hopeful that the Senate will take up and pass these three bills as soon as possible and I look forward to my continued work with the Congress on this important issue.

Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 7/12/2017

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 22:58

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:24 P.M. EDT

MS. SANDERS:  Good afternoon.  Earlier this afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded the confirmation hearing for Chris Wray, the President's nominee for FBI director.  

During his hearing, Chris Wray continually displayed the strong character, deep knowledge, and moral integrity that make him, as former Democrat Senator Sam Nunn testified, "…the leader the [FBI] needs at this critical moment."  And the President looks forward to seeing this incredibly qualified nominee move through the Judiciary Committee and be swiftly confirmed by the full Senate.  

Also, on the Hill today, three bills that represent important tools in combatting human trafficking are on the floor of the House for a vote.  H.R. 2200, which reauthorizes $130 million in funding for the prevention of human trafficking, protection of victims, and prosecution of traffickers.  H.R. 2664, which ensures the Department of Labor effectively trains its employees to recognize and respond to the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.  And, lastly, H.R. 2480, which expands the ability of a DOJ program to enable law enforcement agencies to compete for federal funding, specifically to develop and carry out programs that fight sex trafficking demand.  

President Trump has focused on ending human trafficking, and hopes that these bills will pass the House and move to the Senate quickly so we can continue to fight against this horrific practice.

While the House takes up these critical bills on human trafficking today, the Senate is continuing its work on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.  As I've said time and time again, with every day that goes by with this collapsing law still in place, more hardworking Americans see their healthcare options either disappear entirely or become too costly for their families to use. 

The President was elected to protect those American families, and he looks forward to seeing the Senate continue to move toward a solution that works for all Americans during the upcoming weeks.

Also on the Hill, the President was glad to see David Nye confirmed as a U.S. District Judge in Idaho by a vote of 100-0.  It's unfortunate, though, that this clearly eminently qualified nominee who was reported out of committee by a voice vote faced more than 30 procedural hurdles forced by Senate Democrats before his unanimous vote.  Senate Democrats continue to show the American people that they'd rather play political games with these critical nominations than work with this administration.  As the Majority Leader said, if they continue at this rate, it will take the Senate almost 11.5 years to confirm the remaining presidential appointments.

We're again calling on Senate Democrats to stop brazenly abusing Senate procedure to hold up the President's experienced and accomplished nominees so that he can continue his work on behalf of the American people.

We've received several inquiries on what the President -- on his agenda for the past couple of days, so I'd like to read some of that out before I take your questions.  He's had multiple meetings with key economic advisors, particularly on issues of trade, such as Ambassador Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Ross, NEC Director Gary Cohn, and Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Peter Navarro.  

He's had multiple meetings on cybersecurity with homeland security advisors, and met separately with his national security team, and a number of meetings with members of his legislative affairs team and the Vice President specifically on healthcare.  Lastly, he had a meeting with his Faith Advisory Board to discuss issues important to the faith community. 

As you all know, later tonight the President will depart for Paris, France for meetings and celebrations with America's oldest ally.  

Tomorrow, the President will have lunch with American military commanders, after which he will join French President Macron for a tour of the French Military Museum.  After a bilateral meeting with the President, the two leaders will hold a press conference.  And in the evening, President Trump and the First Lady will dine with the President and his wife.

On Friday, the President will attend France's annual Bastille Day celebration -- the first President to do so since 1989.  

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I, the people of France have designated America this year's national guest of honor.  Troops from the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, the first unit to arrive on French soil in 1917, will march in the parade, and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will conduct a flyover with planes with the French air force.  

And after the parade, the President will return back to the United States.  

On the topic of previous inquiries -- because I like to do my best to get back to you -- yesterday I received a question from John Gizzi about whether we'd support changing Senate blue slip procedures for judicial nominees.  And the White House is deferring to the Senate on this Senate procedure, and we have multiple highly qualified nominees waiting for Senate hearings, and hope the Senate can start moving them along quickly.

Finally, and lastly, we understand the Chinese hospital treating Nobel Peace Prize laureate and writer, Liu Xiaobo, has invited U.S., German medical experts to China for medical consultations.  We remain concerned that both Mr. Liu and his family are unable to communicate with the outside world and that he is not free to seek the medical treatment of his choosing.  

We continue to call on the Chinese authorities to grant him full parole and to release his wife from house arrest and provide them the protections and freedoms, such as freedom of movement and access to appropriate medical care consistent with Chinese constitution, legal system, and international commitments.

And with that, I'll take your questions.  Phil.

Q    Sarah, thanks.  Has President Trump had any communication with his son, Donald Trump, Jr., over the last several days?  And was he involved in helping Donald Trump, Jr. craft his statement to the press over the weekend on Air Force One, as was reported in the New York Times?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not sure about specific communications and the nature of those conversations.  I know that they've spoken at least at some point over the last few days, but beyond that I don't have any other further details.

Q    Has he helped him with his response?

MS. SANDERS:  Not that I'm aware of, but I just don't know the answer to that, Phil.

Q    So is that not true?  

MS. SANDERS:  I've been telling you, I'm just not sure.  I don't know the answer.  I'll have to check and let you know.  

Q    Okay.  Can you find out?



Q    Thank you.  You opened today by talking about the strong character and integrity of Christopher Wray.  He said, during the hearing today, that he does not consider Mueller's probe to be a witch hunt, neither do Republican leaders in Congress, neither does Rob Rosenstein at the Justice Department.  So why does the President continue to call it a witch hunt, especially now that there's hard evidence, released by his own son, that the campaign knew that Russia sought to interfere in the election?

MS. SANDERS:  I think the President has made extremely clear his position on that, and it certainly has not changed.

Q    Can you reiterate then why he calls it a witch hunt?

MS. SANDERS:  Because the President knows very specifically any action or inaction that has taken.  And so I think that's pretty clear.

Q    Does that include members of his campaign?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, I think we've been extremely clear, and I know Don Jr. was and discussed it at length last night, as did the President's personal counsel over the last couple of days, and have walked through that very detailed.  

I think if there's been any evidence of collusion in 2016 that's come out at all or been discussed that's actually happened, it would be between the DNC and the Ukrainian government.  I don't often quote the New York Times, but even one of their reporters tweeted earlier today that -- why this example provides evidence of collusion:  "Cooperation was between DNC officials and officials from the Ukrainian government, not just some associate."  

Ukrainian actions to coordinate with the DNC was actually successful, unlike anything shown by Don Jr.'s emails.  Information passed to the DNC from the Ukrainian government directly targeted members of the Trump campaign in an attempt to undermine it.  And that was just Ukraine.  The other big news was the foreign intelligence dossier that the President's political opponents funded and disseminated widely, and was based on discredited opposition research from foreign intelligence sources.  The only collusion I've seen, and that's certainly been proven, would be between those people.


Q    So does the President support the three changes that the Senate Republicans have made in the healthcare bill to retain all of the tax increases on upper-income investment earner and healthcare CEOs?  And if so, why?

MS. SANDERS:  I haven't talked to him about the specific breakdown of those three things.  I think the President, from day one, has been very clear about his priorities when it comes to the healthcare legislation.  That's what he's focused on, and beyond that I haven’t gotten into the details with either he or Marc Short.  

Q    Would retaining those tax increases, which Republicans have criticized since their enactment, fulfill the President's pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act when they are foundational tax increases of that very law?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not sure on that specific piece, but I do know, again, the President is committed to fully repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Q    Can you do that and keep those tax increases?

MS. SANDERS:  I'd have to look at the specific piece you're talking about, and I haven't done that, Major.

Q    So let me just ask you one question on this issue of those within the administration who had to subsequently admit or concede contacts with Russians -- Mike Flynn, Jared Kushner, the Attorney General, and now Don Jr.  Can you explain to us why there's this plague of amnesia that affects all these people associated with the campaign and one country, and one country only?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, I think if you want to talk about having relationships with Russia, I'd look no further than the Clintons.  Bill Clinton was paid half a million dollars to give a speech to a Russian bank, personally thanked by President Putin.  Hillary Clinton allowed one-fifth of America's uranium reserve to be sold to a Russian firm --

Q    What about this question?

MS. SANDERS:  -- whose investors were Clinton Foundation donors.  The Clinton campaign chairman's brother lobbied against sanctions on Russia's largest bank and failed to report it.  I think if we're looking at Russia relations with anybody, it would be directly with the Clintons.

Q    But my question was specifically about the need and the requirement to re-remember things that were not disclosed or forgotten.  And I'm just trying to get your explanation as to why so many people can't remember contacts with one nation, and the inquiries lead them to then remember and then subsequently disclose them.  What accounts for this plague of amnesia?

MS. SANDERS:  Every single day we do our best to give the most accurate information that we have, and we continue to do that every single day, and have offered to be as transparent as possible with all committees and anyone looking into this matter.

Q    This doesn't suggest to you a pattern of not trying to be transparent?

MS. SANDERS:  Not at all.  Again, like I said, our goal is to be as transparent as humanly possible, and to put every bit of information that we have at the forefront, and willing to cooperate with anybody that is looking into the matter.

Q    But, Sarah, when it's not at the forefront, when it has to be concealed and then security clearance forms, in the case of Jared Kushner, have to be amended and there's re-remembering forced on them either by investigators or by journalists, how is that being at the forefront of transparency?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, every time a question is asked, we give you the best information that we have, and try to give you as full and accurate information as possible at all times.

Q    And have you done that in this case?

MS. SANDERS:  Absolutely.

Q    So just -- I guess so we're all on the same page, and now you've had time to look into all these various meetings and people can remember things, are there any other additional meetings members of the campaigns have had, advisors to the campaign have had during the campaign between any Russian nationals and members of the campaign or advisors to the campaign?  Anything else that's come to light that we should know about? 

MS. SANDERS:  Not that I’m aware of.


Q    Oh, can I just have one more follow-up?


Q    You've been doing a lot of briefings lately.  Will you continue doing the briefings?  Or can we expect Sean to be doing any briefings in the future?

MS. SANDERS:  I think we're all just trying to do the very best job we can every day, and sometimes it may be me, sometimes it may be Sean.


Q    On the meeting with the Faith Advisory Board, someone tweeted out a picture of the meeting the other day, and there was a -- the picture showed people, faith leaders laying their hands on the President as they were praying.  And I think there was an inference or implication from that photo coverage that they were praying for him because of a political crisis.  Could you explain a little bit more about how the meeting came about and what it meant to the President to have them there?

MS. SANDERS:  The idea that somebody would only pray when they're in crisis I think makes you miss the entire point of what prayer is about.  You should do that every day, and that's -- I think you can do that in the best of times and the worst of times.  So I think it would be ridiculous to suggest the only time you might do that is in a time of crisis.

Q    How did the meeting come about?  And what did it mean to the President?

MS. SANDERS:  It’s his Faith Advisory Board, and they meet from time to time to speak about issues that are important to that community.


Q    Thanks a lot, Sarah.  Chris Wray was asked today in his confirmation hearing whether he believes Russia is a friend or a foe.  And he said in his answer that he believes that Russia is a country that should be viewed, in his words, “warily.”  I asked you this question on Monday, and I did not get an answer from you.  I believe the same question was asked of you yesterday.  You said you’d get back to us.

And I think it’s a pretty basic question as to whether or not the President views Russia as a friend, a partner, an ally, or an adversary.  Do you have an answer yet on that question?

MS. SANDERS:  I don't.  But, John, I do assure you I will certainly work to make sure I get that answer to you.

Q    And another question as it relates to the Russia sanctions bill.  You had Marc Short out here the other day talking about the need for a waiver on that bill.  That's what the administration would like to see.  If there is no waiver attached to the bill, and it comes before the President’s desk, would the President veto this legislation?

MS. SANDERS:  Right now we haven’t made a determination because we don't think that this is an all-or-nothing process, nor should it be.  And in the current form, the legislation poses a number of risks to the U.S. government’s ability to conduct foreign policy.  Until they get further in the process, we're not going to weigh in any further. 


Q    Sarah, following up on the Chris Wray testimony today, he also said that he would not pledge loyalty to President Trump.  Is that something that the President expects of him?

MS. SANDERS:  I think the President expects anybody that works anywhere in government to pledge loyalty to the country, and I think that would be the only pledge of loyalty that anyone would be asked.

Q    And one follow-up on just the general Russia question.  Can you describe the President’s mood?  Is he frustrated by these stories?  Is frustrated by Donald Jr.?  How is he feeling?

MS. SANDERS:  The President wants to be focused on his agenda, and he’d much rather be talking about healthcare, tax reform, infrastructure, national security.  I think that's his focus, and when he’s talking about those things, that's a good day for all Americans.


Q    Sarah, I want to ask you, the drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration.  Do you perceive that?  

MS. SANDERS:  I think it’s actually undermining the credibility of the media because they drip, drip, drip a lot of things that don't seem to have much to -- much ado about nothing.

Q    To be clear, that's not me, that's not the media saying that.  This is Trey Gowdy, the Republican from the South Carolina, saying, this drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration.  So what do you say to Congressman Gowdy?

MS. SANDERS:  I think I just answered that.

Q    So let me ask you if I can separately, you said -- being asked about the witch hunt a little bit earlier -- you said, the President feels comfortable saying as he’s made clear that it’s a witch hunt, because -- in your words -- he knows any action or inaction that has taken.

But given the fact that Jay Sekulow and you have conceded that the President -- or the outside counsel has conceded that the President was not aware of Donald Trump Jr. -- his own son’s meeting with someone who was representing -- who was there under the guise of representing information from the Russian government, how can you say with certitude that the President does know any action that has taken place?

MS. SANDERS:  I think Jay Sekulow discussed this at length and covered that nothing inappropriate had taken place.

Q    So does that -- but would you concede the President does not know?  There may be actions that took place that the President does not know about?

MS. SANDERS:  Once again, I think the President has been very clear about his opinion on the matter.


Q    So, Sarah, just two things.  One on the issue of transparency, we now have three straight weekdays when there hasn’t been any single, public event on the President’s schedule.  That's unusual for any President, especially this one who through the first months of his presidency was constantly bringing the pool in.  We saw him doing a number of events a day.  Why the sudden secrecy and hiding from the public that we're seeing now?  Why has the President not been visible to the public for the better part of a week?

MS. SANDERS:  There’s nothing secret about having meetings, which I read off to you earlier, with members of his staff and members of the administration.  

The President had an incredibly robust schedule overseas in both Poland and Germany, and he’s preparing to leave this afternoon where he’ll be spending quite a bit of time with a lot of those of you who are traveling, and will be taking questions from you guys tomorrow.  

Q    And then, on the Don Jr. emails, you've heard from a number of Democrats who have raised serious questions about the fact that Jared Kushner was also part of that meeting, he was part of that email chain, knew what that meeting was about, knew what was promised.  What do you say to Democrats who say that Jared Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked?

MS. SANDERS:  Once again, we don't discuss security clearances, but I think Democrats are trying to play political games.  And I think it’s ridiculous.

Q    Is there any concern, though, that the top advisor to the President --

MS. SANDERS:  Did nothing wrong?  No.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  You just said he’d much rather be talking about tax reform and healthcare and infrastructure.  What has stopped him this week from talking about any of those things?

MS. SANDERS:  Like I said, he’s been talking about those internally -- 

Q    To the American people. 

MS. SANDERS:  Look, he does that through a number of ways.  We've been up here.  Every day that I have been up here this week, I’ve included -- a pretty heavy portion of the opening statement has to do with healthcare and a number of other issues that are part of the President’s agenda.

We've put out multiple statements on several issues, and members of his Cabinet have been very active in public capacity this week.  And just because it’s not the President directly standing behind a podium making a speech doesn't mean he’s not communicating to the American people or pushing his agenda forward. 

Q    Right.  But Jeff asked you how he’s feeling, and you said he was frustrated because he'd much rather be talking about these things.  Now you're saying he has been talking about these things.

MS. SANDERS:  He asked me specifically about that issue and whether or not he was frustrated by that issue.

John Gizzi.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  Two questions.  First, thank you very much -- 

MS. SANDERS:  Just two, not three today?  

Q    Not three.  First, thank you very much for getting back to me on the blue slip question.  My other question you may recall was, would the administration itself take into account the recommendations of the American Bar Association on judicial appointments or not?

MS. SANDERS:  I didn't get a chance to check on that part of the question, so I’ll have to circle back.

Q    My other question is:  The President, today, had an interview with Reverend Robertson, and I wondered if this would lead to the opening of further interviews with some of us one-on-one with the President, or very possibly a news conference in the near future.  

MS. SANDERS:  He’s holding a press conference tomorrow while he’s in Paris, and I’ll certainly put in the request for an interview with you, John.


Q    Two healthcare questions.  It looks like we may get some new version of the Senate bill tomorrow, perhaps, and some action maybe next week.  As this heads towards what may be some kind of conclusion if it happens, how much credit does the White House think that it should take and that President Trump should get or receive for how that bill is shaped in the end?

MS. SANDERS:  Right now I think the White House is not focused on who gets the credit, but making sure that American people get the care.  That’s our focus and that hasn’t changed.

Q    Is the White House actually actively participating, then?  Is the President participating, helping to shape some of the stuff that --

MS. SANDERS:  Once again, we’ve said this all along, that the White House and members of the administration have provided technical assistance throughout the process, and we’re going to continue to do that. 

Q    On that, President Trump is known for loving to put his name on the top of his buildings and everything else that he can get his name on.  President Obama didn’t name Obamacare "Obamacare."  If --

MS. SANDERS:  I’m sure he wishes he hadn’t now.  (Laughter.) 

Q    You’d have to ask him, I suppose.  Does President Trump hope that whatever emerges from the process will ultimately be known as Trumpcare?

MS. SANDERS:  Once again, I’ve said it many times before: We’re not focused on the label but focused on making sure we have a healthcare system in place that actually works, doesn’t bankrupt the system, and help protect Americans across the board.


MS. SANDERS:  Thank you.  When the President has his conversations with President Macron, is it your expectation that he will ask him, or at least engage him, on this concept of climate change and the Paris Accord, or maybe what might come out of our lack of participation in that accord?  And I guess my follow-up would be about Janet Yellen.  We’ve asked you before if the President has confidence in her.  If she were not in that position, would Gary Cohn be someone the President would like to see in a position like that?  

MS. SANDERS:  On the first question, you know, we never get ahead of the President’s conversations.  We’ll certainly provide a readout and you guys will also have the chance to ask the President himself and hear a joint statement from both Presidents after their meeting.  

In terms of Janet Yellen and Gary Cohn, I think Gary has been pretty clear that he loves his job and he’s happy doing what he’s doing, and I don’t have anything further to add on that.

Q    Did the President watch, by the way, Mr. Wray today, by chance?  I know he said in his tweet, I don’t even have time to watch TV.  You think he had a chance to pick up some of that coverage?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t know if he saw much of it, if any.  I know that he was doing quite a few meetings earlier this morning.  So as far as I’m aware, I don’t know if he saw any of it.

Q    Sarah, I just wanted to give you a chance to respond to Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California.  Today he entered an official bill, an article of impeachment.  Any response?

MS. SANDERS:  I think that is utterly and completely ridiculous and a political game at its worst.

Thanks so much, guys.  

3:47 P.M. EDT

ICYMI: [VIDEO] Victims of Illegal Immigration Urge the Senate to Pass Legislation to Save American Lives

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 22:56

Victims of Illegal Immigration Urge the Senate to Pass Legislation to Save American Lives

On Wednesday June 28, 2017, President Donald J. Trump met with American families whose loved ones were killed by illegal aliens. Many of these illegal aliens had extensive criminal records and had been repeatedly deported. During their meeting with the President, these American families urged the passage of two critical pieces of legislation that the President campaigned on. Both Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act easily passed the House with bipartisan support. If enacted, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act will cut federal grant money to cities that prevent law enforcement officers from turning over dangerous criminal aliens to federal authorities and Kate’s Law will enhance criminal penalties for those who repeatedly reenter the country illegally. The President is now calling on the Senate to act swiftly to take up these bills, pass them, and send them to his desk for signature.

Compilation Video

Juan Pina's Story

Every year, far too many Americans are victimized, assaulted, and killed by illegal aliens who have been removed from the country multiple times.  Sanctuary cities are releasing violent criminals, including members of the bloodthirsty MS-13 gang, back onto our streets every single day.  Innocent Americans are suffering unthinkable violence as a result of reckless policies. It is time for these tragedies to end.

Excerpts from personal stories told at the roundtable discussion:

Laura Wilkerson: “My son Joshua was eighteen years old and in November 2010, he was systematically tortured, brutally beaten, murdered, and then his body set on fire after death [by] somebody who shouldn’t have been in this country. Josh was a good kid.… This is not about politics. This is about safety.… That’s all it’s about. Both parties should be on board with this. There shouldn’t be any objection to it.… We don’t want [any] other families to have to endure this. It’s about public safety.”

Julie Golvach: “[O]ur son, was the second of four shot that night and… we’ve lost everything. He was my only child. I want some action. If this … ha[d] been done years ago, my son would still be here. I want action. I want some action so nobody else has to go through the loss that we feel.”

Dan Golvach: “This is what some politicians in the country ha[ve] decided is acceptable for us. It’s not acceptable. While these politicians are sitting at home on the holidays, all warm and cozy with their families, most of us [at this table] are at the cemetery. And it’s just not acceptable.”

Mary Ann Mendoza: “I’m tired of our politicians not caring about their fellow Americans. Why? When did it ever become more important to our elected officials to protect illegal criminals in our country and not care about us?”

Melissa Oliver-Storz: “The man that murdered my father was deported twice previously and returned to our country illegally. This senseless crime has affected my family … in many ways that are unexplainable. The pain is tremendous and it’s something we’ll never get over. I think it is important that we focus on these laws and getting them passed…. We need our law enforcement officers to have more information about these people that are in our country illegally, so we can go ahead and get them detained, and so this can’t happen to another family.”

Juan Pina: “My daughter, Christy Sue Pina, she was murdered. She was strangled, stabbed, raped, [and] sodomized. Her nude body was thrown in an artichoke field in the winter. The person that did this … had kidnapped another fourteen-year-old girl. He tortured her, got put in jail, he got out [on bail]. He went back to Mexico. This was in July of ’87. In September, he came back. He kidnapped another one. Did the same thing…. He got put in jail again…. Went back to Mexico. Came back in ’90. February 8th, they found my daughter out there in an artichoke field and he took off. They didn’t catch him that time either. He left, but they had an idea who it was. A few months later, he came back [and] tried to kidnap a little twelve-year-old at seven o’clock in the morning on her way to school.… I’m my daughter’s voice. [W]hat [the] President, here, is trying to do is the best thing ever.… I’m all for everything that you’re doing…. Americans first. Americans first.”

Michelle Root: “Why do we have to encounter any type of violence? And I'm sorry, but these laws that are trying to be passed? Most of them are common sense, and until this happened to me, I thought this is what was in place. And to find out it wasn't was terrifying to me….”

Sabine Durden: “I’m a legal immigrant, and I did it the right way. I came here knowing I wanted to be here. I had to go through all the steps … and I’m proud to be a citizen now. And I had one son, Dominic. I brought him with me. That’s all I got. He was my only child… Mr. President, since I had no family left, I wanted to commit suicide.… I wanted to be with my son. And on June 16, when you came down the escalator, and you mentioned those words ‘illegal immigration,’ I was walking through my living room and I dropped to my knees, because it was my little sign from God…. And a month later, I met you personally in Los Angeles. You were the only one that ever met with us, and became our voice…. So you’re not only my hero, [and] my President, you are my lifesaver. I wouldn’t be here without you. Thank you. And we need to pass these two laws. They need to be passed in [the] Senate… Stop wasting time, sign these bills, please.”

Steve Ronnebeck: “My son was Grant Ronnebeck, 21 years old. He was killed January 22nd of 2015 by an illegal immigrant while he was working the overnight shift at his convenience store. Grant was killed because he wasn’t counting change fast enough for a pack of cigarettes. Grant was just one of the kindest, nicest kids you will ever meet.... One thing that I think that you, Mr. President, realize [is] that every one of our children’s deaths has been preventable. All … the deaths of our loved ones … [were] preventable. And Mr. President, Chairman Goodlatte, I think you guys realize that and that’s why you’re doing what you’re doing and I want to thank you both for what you’re doing. Passing these laws is instrumental. I don’t think that I would wish the devastation that we’ve felt everyday on anyone.… [W]hen your child’s death was preventable, it’s even harder than if they were to die from cancer or something like that. It just—it rips part of you away that you’ll never get back.”

Budgetary Impact Analysis for Executive Order Entitled “Reviving the National Space Council”

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 22:28

Statement from OMB Director Mick Mulvaney:

Budgetary Impact Analysis for Executive Order Entitled
“Reviving the National Space Council”

This executive order revives the National Space Council. Implementing this executive order would have a de minimis impact on costs and revenues to the Federal Government. The benefits of this executive order include improved coordination in developing and monitoring the implementation of national space policy and strategy. Implementing this executive order would have a de minimis impact on mandatory and discretionary obligations and outlays, as well as on revenues to the Federal Government, in the 5-fiscal year period beginning in fiscal year 2017. The agencies anticipated to be impacted by this executive order include the Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, Transportation, and Homeland Security, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Executive Office of the President.

White House Statement on CEA Analysis of BCRA Medicaid Provisions

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 19:43

The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) has analyzed the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) estimate of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), particularly the bill’s effect on Medicaid since this effect has not been adequately analyzed. Although CBO’s estimates should be discounted because of the large errors made by the agency in estimating the toll of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), CEA’s analysis provides important information about the undescriptive CBO estimate regarding BCRA’s effect on federal Medicaid spending.

While the media has reported that the BCRA makes significant Medicaid “cuts,” the BCRA results in at least $265 billion more federal Medicaid spending between 2018 and 2026, relative to 2017 levels of spending. This spending could be as high as $554 billion if CBO is wrong that people will drop Medicaid coverage simply because of repealing the individual mandate. Moreover, a large part of the reported “cuts,” which are actually reductions in the rate of federal Medicaid spending growth, result from CBO’s unlikely assumption that more than half of non-expansion states adopt the Medicaid expansion by 2026. Of crucial importance, the BCRA puts Medicaid on a sustainable trajectory. Specifically:

  • CEA found that in CBO’s analysis of the BCRA, 60 percent of the reduction in future increases in Medicaid spending will result from repealing the individual mandate and ending the enhanced match rate for states that have not already adopted Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
  • CEA estimated that repealing the individual mandate will result in Medicaid spending over the next decade to be $289 billion less than under current law as CBO believes that 4 million people, on net, in 2018 and 7 million people, on net, in 2026 will leave Medicaid. This estimate is likely substantially inflated since Medicaid enrollees currently pay little to no out of pocket costs and most are not subject to the individual mandate penalty.
  • CEA found that CBO’s analysis assumes that more than half of non-Medicaid expansion states will choose to adopt expansion under current law, and therefore Medicaid spending will increase by $170 billion over the next decade. But given that state legislatures in several expansion states, such as Ohio and Arkansas, are trying to trim Medicaid expansion due to cost overruns and that states’ share of the expansion bill increases over time, it is unlikely that many non-expansion states would adopt the expansion by 2026. In direct contrast to the CBO estimate, the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not predict additional states will expand under current law.
  • CEA found that the remainder of reduced federal Medicaid spending over the next decade from CBO’s analysis totals $313 billion and is largely attributable to the phase-down of the enhanced match rate from 2021 to 2024 and structural Medicaid reforms. The phase-down of the enhanced match rate must occur for two important reasons. First, the Federal Government’s discrimination against traditional populations, such as the disabled and low-income children, pregnant women, and seniors in favor of the expansion population of non-disabled, working-age adults must end. Second, expansion costs are substantially higher than expected as many expansion states have richly rewarded healthcare special interests with federal money through the enhanced match.
  • The structural Medicaid reforms—capped allotments combined with additional state flexibility—will help preserve the program for those who truly depend on it while protecting taxpayers against wasteful and inefficient spending.


Remarks by the Vice President to the National Student Leadership Conference

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 18:20

American University
Washington, D.C. 

9:52 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so very much for that warm welcome.  Thank you, Skyler, for that gracious introduction.  And let’s give Skyler another round of applause for all the great work she’s done organizing this great event.  (Applause.)  

It’s really great to be here today at American University to address a rising generation of leaders in America.  Give yourselves a round of applause.  You are the future.  (Applause.) 

And let me say on behalf of the First Family and on behalf of my little family, welcome to Washington, D.C.  It’s an honor to be with you today to really address what I know is a distinguished gathering of outstanding students from all across America and really across the wider world -- the National Student Leadership Conference, a legacy of leadership of which you are now a part.  Let’s hear it for the whole organization.  Shall we?  (Applause.)  

But before I get started this morning, I wanted to bring greetings from my friend, who is a champion -- a champion for dreaming big dreams and for this next generation, who’s fighting every single day for a boundless American future, the President of the United States of America -- I bring greetings from President Donald Trump.  (Applause.) 

It’s the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who literally embodies American leadership.  I told the President I was going to be with you when we spoke earlier today, and he just wanted me to pass along his congratulations and his encouragement to each and every one of you that are stepping forward and developing yourselves to be leaders in a broad range of areas so vital to our nation’s life.

You know, 30 years ago, our President wrote a book that holds words of wisdom for all future leaders that are gathered here today.  It really is a book that’s inspired many leaders over more than three decades, and I believe it could be an inspiration to each one of you, as well.  

The book is entitled “The Art of the Deal,” and it’s actually an American classic.  In that famous book, President Trump said, “I like thinking big,” because “if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”

And that’s exactly what our President has done throughout his life.  He’s thought big.  He’s achieved big, and today we have a President of the United States who’s literally lived the American Dream.

It’s remarkable to think that our President, a grandson of an immigrant to this country, the son of a self-made businessman has lived the life that he’s lived and now finds himself in the Oval Office of the United States.  

It’s interesting -- I often tell people that our two family stories are somewhat similar.  The President’s grandfather immigrated to this country, and my grandfather immigrated to this country from Ireland.  His father was a self-made man who built a business with his own two hands.  My dad built a small gasoline station business in a small town in southern Indiana.  He, the man who calls himself “the Kid from Queens,” decided to build on that legacy, and he went to Manhattan Island to build the big buildings.

For my part, like so many of you, I felt a calling into public service.  I followed that calling all throughout my life.  

I like to say that other than a whole lot of zeroes, the President and I have a lot in common.  (Laughter.) 

And that's a belief in the American Dream -- because we've both lived it.  We've benefitted by it.  It’s not a slogan or a bumper sticker at our house.  Truthfully, that Irish immigrant, Richard Michael Cawley, is why Michael Richard Pence stands before you today as the 48th Vice President of the United States.  That Irishman’s brogue still rings in my heart and in my ears.  And the President shares that same passion for his legacy. 

We both have that passion to ensure that the American Dream is open to everyone with the courage and determination to achieve it.  And I know that applies to every single one of you in this room.  

We have no doubt that all of you here today are people that are going to live the American Dream.  I’m confident you’ll live lives of accomplishment, lives of consequence.  We know that you’ll lead your communities, your enterprises, your families, and our nation with distinction in the years ahead.  So on the President’s behalf, let me congratulate all of you for being nominated and selected to be at the National Student Leadership Conference.  Give yourselves one more round of applause.  You're all leaders.  (Applause.) 

And this is a great conference.  For more than 25 years, the National Student Leadership Conference has brought together the best and brightest, high school students from across the country and the wider world to experience a college education here at American University, explore your college interests and your career interests, learn the leadership skills that will benefit not just yourselves but your communities, your country, and the wider world. 

It’s remarkable to think about the reach of this conference.  Tens of thousands of students have participated in these events, coming from not only across America, from more than 70 countries all across the globe.  

This summer alone, your peers have traveled to 11 other American universities and colleges to study some 20 fields, ranging from business and entrepreneurship, to engineering, to architecture.  

And the nearly 300 of you who are gathered here this morning -- and I understand you arrived pretty early.  Sorry about that.  (Laughter.)  All of you gathered here are devoted to public service, which makes it particularly humbling and inspiring for me to be with you today -- delving into the realms of political action, public policy, national security, intelligence, and the vital area of international diplomacy.

The National Student Leadership Conference is preparing you -- I promise you -- to excel in these areas in your college education and beyond, and I know with confidence that America and the world will be better for it.  You're here to study leadership and that's a noble calling.

As the Old Book tells us, whoever aspires to be a leader, desires a noble task.  And I want to tell each and every one of you, you couldn’t have picked a better time to study leadership, to study leadership at the intersection of public policy and diplomacy and national security.  At this very moment in this country, we’re witnessing history in the making.  Thanks to the leadership of President Trump, we’re in the midst of a great national renewal.  We’re seeing a return of security and prosperity to our nation and to our people.

In a word, I believe we’re living through the restoration of America in its rightful role as leader of the free world.  At this very moment, we’re seeing the bold leadership of an American President on the world stage.

A little bit later today, at the invitation of President Macron, the President will return to Europe once again -- second time in two weeks.  He’ll head to France to mark the 100th anniversary of the entry of American troops onto French soil during World War One.

And just last week, as many of you witnessed, our President made a historic trip to Europe.  Standing in Krasinski Square in Warsaw, Poland, the President spoke to the people of Poland, and really, to all people around the world who cherish freedom.  As the President said, the Western world is united in our dedication to the values of individual freedom and sovereignty, and the President called on our allies all across the West to, in his words, “a renewed commitment of will” to, again in his words, to confront forces that threaten over time to undermine our values, erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are.

I would say, ladies and gentleman, to all of you gathered here today:  Those words in Poland last week, that’s what American leadership looks like.

Serving with him every day, I know President Trump will continue to provide that leadership at home and abroad.  This President has no higher priority than the security and safety of the American people and our prosperity.  

On the security front, our President has taken decisive action to protect our nation in this time of widening challenges and unknowable threats.  As the President actually said this morning, because of the efforts of our forces in the Middle East -- in Iraq and in Syria -- ISIS is on the run, will soon be wiped out in Syria and Iraq.  And here at home, security is on the increase.  I’m pleased to report that illegal border crossings are already down by more than 75 percent at our southern border, and the dangerous MS-13 gangs are being removed from our streets and our cities for the betterment and security of our families.

Our President has been enforcing our laws, securing our borders.  And in the midst of that, he’s been rebuilding our military, restoring the arsenal of democracy.  And he’s reaffirmed America’s commitment to our time-honored alliances -- last week and before in his travels to Europe -- renewing our commitment to our critical transatlantic alliance and renewing our commitment to nations across the Asian Pacific.  

Our President though, however, knows that security begins -- or that security really is the foundation of our prosperity, and that’s why for America, for our allies, and across the wider world and home, we are going to continue to advance the kind of policies that will promote prosperity and a stronger and more prosperous America.

Since the first day of this administration, our President and our entire team have been working to get our economy moving again and put America back to work.  And I’m pleased to report to all of you that will be entering the job market, really before you know it, that because of the President’s vision, America is once again growing as it hasn’t for quite a while.  

Optimism is reflected from record-setting gains in the stock market, to investments, to just last month alone, new jobs created at a level far outpacing what was expected.  America’s economy is coming back, and that’s going to give us the opportunity to meet our obligations and to achieve our aspirations.

An America where entrepreneurship thrives and innovation flourishes is the America that this President believes in and is fighting to advance.  President Trump’s vision is an America where anyone, no matter who they are, no matter where they come from, regardless of race or creed or color or background, can climb the ladder of prosperity.  In a word:  Each one of you have chosen a very good time to be beginning your careers and graduating from high school in just a few short years.

Our President has laid out a bold vision for greater security and greater prosperity, and that’s the America you’re going to be stepping in and rising as leaders.  The President has been working on the prosperity front to lower taxes on working families and American businesses, to eliminate burdensome regulations, rebuilding infrastructure, unleashing our nation’s energy resources, ensuring the trade deals are free and fair, and the President is going to keep his promise to repeal the failed policies known as Obamacare and give your generation a healthcare system based on individual freedom, consumer choice, and state-based reform. 

Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, looking out across this room, I truly believe and am absolutely confident that America’s future is brighter than ever before.  And this matters greatly to all of you gathered here because you are the future leaders who will guide our nation to even greater heights.  You’re here at the National Student Leadership Conference because you feel the call to public service, which I can relate to, because I felt it from very early in my life.

Some of you may pursue a career in Foreign Service or an administrative agency.  Some of you may enter into the intelligence community, some of you may even run for office yourself -- in your hometown, your home state, or even run for office here in our Nation’s Capital.  But while your paths may all be different, the same call of leadership falls on each of your shoulders.

And so as I close this morning, let me share a few thoughts about leadership because the truth is, I believe leadership is both a gift and a skill.  And each one of you are probably in this room because your peers around you -- your teachers, your friends, your families -- have all noticed that you have the gift of leadership, and they want to see you develop that.  

But I often liken leadership to natural athletic ability, of which I have very little, to be honest.  But natural athletic ability, what separates the person that is able to play as a professional athlete, and the person who just plays in a good pick-up game with a lot of talent, is perseverance and determination; meaning I really believe each one of us are born with a certain amount of gifts and abilities.  But we're obligated then, we have a responsibility then to develop those gifts and abilities, and I think leadership is just that kind of a gift.

Because the truth is, I've spent the better part of my life trying to understand the nature of leadership.  It's an ongoing study from me, and I learn more about it every day.  I've worked hard to learn what I believe are the principles of good leadership and to put them into practice.  And so I thought I might share a few words about leadership before I leave you this morning.

First off, remember this, if you're taking notes:  People follow people they respect.  So first and foremost, if you aspire to be a leader, you must aspire to be men and women of character.  

Secondly, I believe that that character can best be defined for leaders in servant leadership, with the qualities of humility and respect for authority and self-control.  And when it comes to public service in particular, I would encourage you to reflect deeply on the principles of servant leadership.  I urge you to be servant leaders, driven by a calling to support and to serve others -- not by selfish ambition -- as the animating force of your career.

You know, the leader I most try and emulate each and every day said, nearly 2,000 years ago, that he came not to be served but to serve.  And I believe that's the very essence of servant leadership.  And there are three qualities in particular that I encourage you to reflect on.  

The first is humility.  It's often in too scarce a supply in our society today.  I mean, the ability to consider others as more important than yourself.  For a leader, there's nothing inconsistent about humility and authority.  I mean, the truth of the matter is that some of the most compelling leaders I've ever known in my life are people that are focused on others more than themselves, are considerate to others.  I truly believe that to reflect humility is to approach leadership every day as a learner and as a listener.

You know, true leaders listen first and then they decide.  I remember I was at a meeting during the transition, and we brought in a group of virtually all of the high-tech entrepreneurs and executives in America to meet with our new President -- then President-elect Donald Trump.  And for the better part of two hours, I witnessed as the President asked one question after another, and then he listened intently to how we could continue to grow jobs in the high-tech sector in America.

And one of the most prominent members of that community came up to me afterwards and said to me how amazed they were at the way the President had spent two hours asking questions and listening to answers.  And they asked me if he was like that all the time, and I said, every day.  The truth is, our President, he leads by asking questions and he listens.  And I believe that reflects the kind of humility that will enhance your ability to be a leader.

The second quality of leadership, I believe, in our society today that is most in need is orientation to authority.  Recognize and respect those who have been placed above you.  Honor them.  Learn from them.  Follow their example.  Give them the honor that they are due.  Never that they ask for it, but there's nothing more meaningful when you enter an organization in the years ahead, and you take a time to demonstrate respect for those who have been placed in authority over you; to listen to them and to defer to them, even while you offer them the broadest range of your counsel and your talents.

And lastly, I encourage you -- as you develop these inner qualities, the qualities of being leaders that people respect and will follow, I encourage you to embrace self-control in your life.  You know, as the Old Book says, like a city whose walls are broken down is the person who lacks self-control.  I mean, whether it's in our physical lives, whether it's in our organization each and every day, to practice discipline and to practice self-control is to become the kind of woman and man that people will respect and people will follow.

If you want to make a difference in this complicated world, be different by leading an orderly life, by being an example of humility and orientation, and have a servant's heart with all of those around you.  You know, I really do believe if you model these three qualities in increasing measure, your service will be of distinction no matter where your life may lead.

And finally, one word of admonition.  And that is, if you aspire to lead, you'll need a healthy dose of courage because leadership brings honor and opposition.  As President Trump said just a few months ago, nothing worth doing ever came easy.  Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right, and no truer words are spoken.

Anyone who dreams big will encounter those who think small, all right?  Anyone who dares to step forward will find those who would rather stay put.  And anyone who thinks they can will always hear from those who are sure they can't.

So I just say to you, cheerfully -- expect criticism.  Listen to it.  Have the humility to learn from it.  And then push through it.  That's the essence of leadership.

You know, you're here today, all of you, because you've already been recognized as emerging leaders in this rising generation.  You're the future of America and the future of the countries from which many of you in this room come.  And I just want you to know we're counting on you.  We're counting on all of you in the days ahead.

So I’m here to say thank you -- to congratulate you -- but also to urge you to keep learning about leadership.  Keep developing in the qualities of men and women who will have the respect and the character and the ability to lead wherever that leadership calls you.  Keep persevering and lead fearlessly.

And one last thing as you prepare to lead, I urge you to have faith.  Have faith in your calling, in your abilities, and in the confidence that has been placed in you by those who love you and have mentored you.

To come to an event like this, I expect you had to be willing to step forward and tell people what you really wanted to do with your life.  Sometimes when I'm out traveling around the country, I'll meet one of these well-dressed, well-appointed young men and women who will walk up to me and they'll nervously stick their hand out and introduce themselves.  And I say, what do you want to do with your life?  And they say, well -- they look down, shuffle their feet, and they say, well, I’d like to run for public office.  And I always shake their hand and I say, well, you've just passed the first test.

Because you got to be willing to say it.  You got to be willing to express your dreams and get ready for the people that are going to slap you on the shoulder and say, you know what, I think you'd be great at that, and also get ready for a few people that will roll their eyes and say, you couldn’t possibly do that.  

Somebody that says, well, I want to be in the intelligence service, I want to serve around the world in the Foreign Service, I want to serve in a large agency in government, or I want to hold office in my hometown and home state or here in our Nation's Capital.  Just be willing to say it, speak it out.  And believe in yourself, have faith in yourself.

I don’t know where the dream of this calling of service started for you, but it really started for me back on 31st Street in Everroad Park West in Columbus, Indiana.  We lived in a little tiny house.  My brother and I literally slept in the same bed till he was about two years old.  My late father used to say -- when we were growing up, he didn’t have two nickels to rub together, but they somehow made it do.  We had a cornfield in the back yard.  

But I somehow got on that little street, in that little small town, a calling for public service.  The heroes of my youth were President John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I actually started in politics in the other political party because those were the heroes of my youth.  But then, as I grew older, I heard the voice of my second-favorite President, Ronald Reagan, and I joined the Republican Party.

But whatever your calling is, however early it began, don't let anybody gainsay it.  Don’t let anybody tell you that's a child's dream that you had.  It's not.  It's a calling, and you recognize it in your heart.  And so I encourage you to have faith in that calling.  Believe in it.  Reach for it.  Grab it.  And understand the sky is the limit. 

I stand before you today deeply humbled to tell you that the dream of my life was to someday represent my hometown here in Washington, D.C.  And it took me a couple times trying.  I lost the two times I ran for Congress.  And then 10 years later I was elected.  And I served here in our Nation's Capital for 12 years.  It was a great blessing.  And that was the greatest aspiration of my life.  I never imagined, to be honest with you, that I'd have a chance -- this grandson of an immigrant -- to be governor of the state that I grew up in, but I had the chance to serve as governor of the state of Indiana.  And I don’t know even know where to put the office I have the opportunity to hold today.  It's just deeply humbling to me. 

People ask me sometimes, what's it like to be the 48th Vice President of the United States?  And I just tell them, it's a privilege and I'm humbled.  But I really do believe these words of admonition I've given each one of you this morning, if you make these qualities more real in your life, then you need to keep your arms and legs in the ride at all times.  Pull the roll bar down, because you just got to hang on.  Because wherever you're from, people will be drawn to your leadership, and you just hang on for where it's going to go.

So have faith in your abilities, have faith in the boundless nature of your dreams.  And, lastly, if you're of a mind, have faith in Him who I believe put these gifts and callings within you, because I believe He'll open doors of opportunity and blessing in your life that you could never ask or imagine.

For again, lastly, as the Old Book says, we got a big Bible verse over the mantle in our home.  It's been there since the first time I ran successfully for office back in 1999.  It simply reads words out of the Book of Jeremiah.  It says: “For I know the plans I have for you -- plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”

Today you may be students, tomorrow you will be leaders.  And I know that with your help, with your hard work, with your character and with your efforts, and with God's help, this generation will take this country to heights unimaginable and a boundless American future.

And as you prepare to begin your lives as leaders, be confident.  As I look out across this gathering, inspired by the shining faces that are looking back at me, and I look at the leadership of President Trump and the leadership that we enjoy in this nation at every level, I'm confident -- and I say to this rising generation -- together, we will make America safe again.  We will make America prosperous again.  And as our President loves to say, we will Make America Great Again.

Thank you very much.  God bless you.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)  

10:19 A.M. EDT 

President Donald J. Trump Approves North Dakota Disaster Declaration

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 18:16

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of North Dakota and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by flooding from March 23 to April 29, 2017.

Federal funding is available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the flooding in the counties of Benson, Bottineau, Cavalier, McHenry, Pembina, Pierce, Renville, Rolette, Towner, and Walsh and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Reservation.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Thomas J. McCool as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.  

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. 


President Donald J. Trump Approves New York Disaster Declaration

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 18:08

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of New York and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe winter storm and snowstorm from March 14 to March 15, 2017.

Federal funding is available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm and snowstorm in the counties of Albany, Broome, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Orleans, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, and Ulster.

In addition, Federal funding is available to the commonwealth and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis for snow assistance for a continuous 48-hour period during or proximate to the incident period in the counties of Albany, Broome, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Orleans, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, and Ulster.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Seamus K. Leary as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.



H.R. 2430 – FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 17:24

July 12, 2017


H.R. 2430 – FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017
(Rep. Walden, R-OR, and three cosponsors)

The Administration is committed to expanding access to safe and affordable drugs and medical devices through timely reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, the Medical Device User Fee Amendments, the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments, and the Biosimilar User Fee Act.

H.R. 2430 would reauthorize these four Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee programs, under which companies that develop drugs and medical devices partially pay for FDA's premarket review of their products. H.R. 2430 also includes a number of provisions to improve FDA's drug review process, including greater use of real-world evidence and enhancing drug development tools such as biomarker development. FDA's review activities are critical to promoting rapid access to innovative therapies and driving competition toward better healthcare results and lower prices for American consumers. Improvements in FDA's premarket review process, funded by these user fee programs, have encouraged drug and device makers to expand research and development, leading to advances in medical technology that have saved and improved countless lives.

The President's Budget promotes faster economic growth by lowering taxes and strategically devoting resources to urgent priorities. To better support FDA's lifesaving mission while carefully spending taxpayer dollars, the President's Budget asks companies that benefit directly from FDA's premarket review of medical products to finance 100 percent of FDA's premarket review. In its current form, H.R. 2430 would require significant investment of taxpayer resources in FDA's medical product review programs. The Administration urges the Congress to provide for 100 percent user fee funding within the reauthorized programs. In an era of renewed fiscal restraint, industries that benefit directly from FDA's work should pay for it.

The Administration is also concerned with certain other provisions in the bill, such as those providing additional market exclusivity to manufacturers, which could make exclusivity unpredictable and decrease competition. The Administration is committed to promoting the availability of generics in an efficient and effective manner that avoids unintended, adverse consequences. In addition, there are a number of important technical changes that the Administration seeks to make to the bill, including adjusting the foreign drug facility inspection fee.

The Administration supports the goals of H.R. 2430 and looks forward to working with the Congress to expand access to affordable, lifesaving drugs and medical devices in a thoughtful manner that protects taxpayer resources, promotes competition, improves healthcare outcomes, and stimulates scientific innovation and medical advances.

Statement from the Press Secretary Condemning the Terrorist Attack on Religious Pilgrims in India

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 16:31

The United States strongly condemns the cowardly terrorist attack on religious pilgrims in the state of Jammu and Kashmir on July 10.  We extend condolences to the victims’ families and the people of India.  An attack on religious freedom is an attack on the most fundamental right of liberty.  The United States and India will continue to fight together against terrorist threats in every part of the world.

H.R. 2810 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 15:34

July 11, 2017
(House Rules)


H.R. 2810 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018
(Rep. Thornberry, R-TX, and Rep. Smith, D-WA)

The Administration appreciates the House Armed Services Committee’s (Committee) continued work on behalf of our national defense and supports a number of provisions in H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018.

The bill supports key Administration priorities, including ending the defense sequester, rebuilding our military readiness, and modernizing our force for the future. It authorizes funding for our ongoing efforts to destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to deter potential adversaries, and to bolster our allies. The bill also includes important reforms to Department of Defense (DOD) management and business practices, and the Administration looks forward to working with the Committee to continue finding efficiencies at DOD.

The bill authorizes $18.5 billion above the President’s FY 2018 Budget request for base national defense spending, as well as an additional $10 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The previous Administration enacted harmful cuts to defense spending, and this Administration strongly supports eliminating them. To ensure that our military is not rebuilt on the backs of future generations of Americans, however, the Administration strongly supports reductions to spending elsewhere in the Federal budget, as outlined in the President’s FY 2018 Budget request.

While the bill contains many promising reforms, it fails to authorize a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, which would result in substantial recurring savings and allow DOD to align infrastructure with force structure. The Administration is in the midst of conducting several strategic reviews that affect multiple provisions in this bill, such as those addressing space organization and management and naval ship force structure. Once these reviews are complete, the Administration will be prepared to suggest modifications to these provisions.

The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to address its concerns, a number of which are outlined in more detail below. The Administration also looks forward to reviewing the classified annex and working with Congress to address any concerns about classified programs.

Prohibition on Conducting Additional Base Realignment and Closure Round: The Administration strongly objects to section 2702 and strongly urges Congress to provide BRAC authorization as requested so that DOD can ensure it is not wasting scarce resources on unneeded infrastructure. The Department estimates that a new BRAC round in 2021 would save it an additional $2 billion annually—resources it could apply to higher priorities such as readiness and modernization.

Establishment of Space Corps in the Department of the Air Force: The Administration appreciates the Committee’s concerns with the organization and management of DOD’s space capabilities as reflected in section 1601, which calls for the establishment of a separate Space Corps within the Department of the Air Force. As the Secretary of Defense has testified, the Administration recognizes the criticality of our access to and use of space, and we understand the increasing threats posed to our continued use of space capabilities. As directed by the FY 2017 NDAA, the Administration is assessing a wide range of organizational options, including a Space Corps. The creation of a separate Space Corps, however, is premature at this time. Upon completion of these analyses, the Administration looks forward to working with Congress to implement military space organizational changes (while considering the budget implications) in a practical timeframe to best posture the Nation’s joint forces to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Extension and Modification of Authority to Provide Assistance to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: The Administration appreciates the increased funding authority included in section 1222, but notes its concern that the provision does not contain additional requested authority for small-scale construction of temporary facilities that are necessary to meet operational needs and force protection requirements in both Iraq and Syria. As the campaign to defeat ISIS transitions beyond the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa, operational commanders will need the requested authority to build temporary intermediate staging facilities, ammunition supply points, and tactical assembly areas that have adequate force protection. These facilities, supply points, and assembly areas will enable the pursuit of ISIS into the Euphrates River Valley and help improve the security of Iraq’s borders. Current authorities, limited only to repair and renovation of existing Iraqi facilities, severely limit the coalition’s maneuverability and its ability to respond quickly to changing operational conditions.

Extension and Modification of Authority to Support Operations and Activities of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq: The Administration appreciates the continuation of existing authority, but is disappointed by the lack of authority in section 1223 to expand the list of eligible recipients to include the “military and other security forces of or associated with the Government of Iraq with a national security mission.” The expanded authority would help address capability gaps, professionalization efforts, and defense institution building across the breadth of the Government of Iraq’s (GoI’s) national security institutions. By aiding the development of the GoI’s most critical missions—counterterrorism, border security, and the protection of critical infrastructure—the expanded authority proposed by the Administration would help Iraqis prevent the emergence of a successor to ISIS, safeguard their nation’s hard-fought gains, and guide their recovery from combat operations toward a more secure and stable nation.

Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Modernization and Sustainment of Assured Access to Space: The Administration strongly objects to section 1615, which would restrict development of new space launch systems, including those whose development is significantly funded by industry, in exclusive favor of rocket engines and modifications to existing launch vehicles. The provision limits domestic competition, which will increase taxpayer costs by several billions of dollars through FY 2027 and stifle innovation. It also ignores key recommendations of the Committee’s independent panel of experts, who proposed broad funding at the launch-system level. The Administration’s innovative, agile approach has already saved taxpayers $300 million and is the quickest path to delivering modern, domestic, cost-effective launch capabilities that will support national security requirements for decades to come. This provision would make the Administration’s strategy impossible to execute, causing delays in transitioning from Russian engines and increased risks to continued assured access to space.

Industrial Base for Large Solid Rocket Motors and Related Technologies: The Administration strongly objects to section 1699, which would require the Secretary of Defense to pursue multiple sources for the various components of modern solid rocket missile systems. The large solid rocket motor industrial base has many single sources for components and materials. In many cases, the quantities of systems, subsystems, or components or materials acquired by DOD are not sufficient to support multiple suppliers. In addition, if a second source for these materials is required, it would trigger requalification on not only the rocket motor, but also the entire missile. This would be cost prohibitive to DOD, totaling nearly $1 billion.

Notification Requirements for Sensitive Military Cyber Operations and Cyber Weapons: The Administration objects to section 1651, which would require the Secretary of Defense to notify the congressional defense committees within 48 hours about the conduct of sensitive military cyber operations and the results of any legal review by a military department of a cyber capability that is intended to be used as a weapon. DOD already regularly briefs the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services on major cyber operations. This provision would risk exposure, and potentially restrict use, of cyber capabilities; jeopardize foreign partnership cooperation; and impose additional, unwarranted administrative requirements on DOD.

Misuse of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Funds: The Administration is concerned by the use of OCO funds for items not related to contingency operations, including an additional $558 million for Israel missile defense funding. The bill also proposes using OCO to fund additional end strength, ships, and homeland defense. Funding these enduring requirements in OCO would complicate the funding stability for associated outyear costs and runs contrary to the purpose of OCO.

Development of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Range Ground-Launched Missile System: The Administration objects to sections 1244 and 1245, which would establish a program of record to develop a road-mobile, ground-launched cruise missile system and would purport to abrogate Article VI of the INF treaty. The Administration is currently developing an integrated diplomatic, military, and economic response strategy that maximizes pressure on Russia. It is also evaluating those military capabilities that are needed to protect our national security. This provision unhelpfully ties the Administration to a specific missile system, which would limit potential military response options. Section 1245(d) would also raise concerns among NATO allies and could deprive the Administration of the flexibility to make judgments about the timing and nature of invoking our legal remedies under the treaty. The Administration would support broad authorization of research and development on missile systems, including those prohibited by the treaty, to determine candidate systems that could become programs of record.

Limitation on Availability of Funds Relating to Implementation of the Open Skies Treaty: The Administration objects to section 1235(b), which would prohibit the expenditure of funds for procurement for the Digital Visual Imaging System to modify the United States sensors and aircraft. This section will prevent the United States from keeping pace with Russian Open Skies aircraft sensor upgrades, fully implementing the Open Skies Treaty, and increasing the value of the treaty to United States national security. Cancellation of the project at this late date, after significant resources have already been expended, would further put the United States in breach of contract, thus incurring cancellation fees. The provision would result in limited or no cost savings and possibly a cost increase, which would be an unacceptable waste of taxpayer dollars.

Foreign Commercial Satellite Services: Cybersecurity Threats and Launches: The Administration strongly objects to section 1612, which would limit the Department’s ability to procure satellite services from foreign entities. It also would prohibit entering into a contract for satellite services with any entity if such services will be provided using satellites launched from, or designed or manufactured in, a covered foreign country or by an entity controlled by the government of a covered foreign country, regardless of the location of the launch. For satellite communications services, three-quarters of services acquired today are from foreign-incorporated companies that make widespread use of international launch vehicles.

Compensation Reform: The Administration objects to section 601, which would place restrictions on the President’s authority to set an alternative pay adjustment for members of the uniformed services. The President’s FY 2018 Budget request provides the funding necessary to ensure servicemembers continue to receive an appropriate package of pay and benefits. The Administration, however, must balance this requirement against other investments critical to readiness, equipment, and modernization to ensure the military is the most capable warfighting force in the world. The Administration strongly encourages members of Congress to support its basic pay raise, TRICARE modernization, and pharmacy co-pay proposals, which would save $600 million in FY 2018 and $7.1 billion through FY 2022. Similarly, the Administration objects to section 604, which would prevent the Secretaries of the military departments from implementing a reduced per diem for uniformed servicemembers and civilian employees who travel to one location for more than 30 days. This provision is unnecessary because DOD has already implemented a policy allowing the services to pay travelers’ actual expenses up to the full per diem rate when the reduced flat rate for meals and incidental expenses is insufficient for the assignment. If adopted, this section would add $56 million or more annually to DOD’s travel costs.

TRICARE Reform: The Administration is disappointed that the Committee did not include the Administration’s proposals to strengthen and improve the TRICARE benefit. The current system creates confusion and increases administrative costs because it provides separate benefits for members and retirees based on their dates of initial entry into military service. Vulnerable populations, including medically-retired members and their families, and survivors of those who died on active duty, also would be the first to pay increased costs under the new system. In addition, the Administration is concerned that the Committee did not include reasonable pharmacy co-pays. The Administration believes strongly that the President’s FY 2018 Military Health System benefit reform package represents a reasonable and financially sound proposal for our beneficiaries. It protects vulnerable populations, eliminates a confusing and costly two-benefit program, and institutes reasonable pharmacy co-pays that will ensure TRICARE remains a generous, yet sustainable, health benefits program.

Limitation on Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Modification Authority for Members of the Uniformed Services Residing in Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) Housing: The Administration objects to section 602, which would temporarily prohibit the Secretary of Defense from further reducing BAH below the current level for servicemembers residing in MHPI housing until 2019. This would create two classes of uniformed members: those who reside in privatized housing and receive a higher housing allowance and those who reside within the local community and receive a lower housing allowance. This is neither fair nor equitable since the opportunity to live in privatized housing on post is not always available. Administering this section would require an additional set of rates for members in privatized housing, necessitating challenging and costly modifications to military pay systems.

Clarification of Roles of Commanders of Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and Surgeons General: Section 711 would designate each MTF commander as the individual responsible for the operation of the MTF they supervise. The Administration is concerned that this section would establish a potentially confusing organizational paradigm, as the Defense Health Agency (DHA) is also responsible for the management and administration of MTFs. The Secretary of Defense should be allowed to determine the most effective management structure for the Military Health System.

Unobligated Balances Reductions: The Administration objects to the $1.3 billion reduction for unobligated balances across multiple appropriations. The reductions would only be applied to those programs funded in sections 4301, 4401, and 4501, which include military pay and allowances, military health care, readiness training, depot maintenance, base operations support, and facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization line items. These reductions would delay the DOD’s full-spectrum readiness recovery efforts and increase the backlog of maintenance at the services’ depot facilities.

Performance of Incurred Cost Audits: The Administration objects to multiple provisions in section 802. Mandating the acceptance of the claimed costs in their entirety if audit findings are not issued within one year of proposal receipt, restricting the use of multi-year audits, mandating that an arbitrary 25 percent of incurred costs be audited by qualified private auditors in lieu of a data-driven process, and mandating materiality thresholds will result in significant inefficiencies in the DOD audit process and result in significant unallowable costs being paid to contractors. Further, the materiality thresholds are significantly more prescriptive and detailed than defined in commercial or Government audit standards and are not risk-based.

Missile Defense Programs: The Administration objects to section 1686, which would require the Secretary of Defense to ensure that anti-air warfare capabilities are deployed at the Aegis Ashore site in Romania by no later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, and at the Aegis Ashore site in Poland no later than one year after the declaration of operational status at that site.

The accelerated timeline would require DOD to field an unproven defensive system without full knowledge of its combat effectiveness or the unintended consequences of operating a high-powered radar and weapon system in a populated area surrounding Deveselu, Romania. The diplomatic requirements to coordinate these issues with other nations are significant, even after proving the system and understanding the consequences of the system on local populations. In addition, the Administration strongly objects to section 1685, which would mandate a flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA missile against an ICBM class threat within 270 days of enactment.

Reinstatement of Requirement to Preserve Certain C-5 Aircraft: The Administration strongly objects to section 143, which would require the Air Force to maintain at least 25 C-5A Avionics Modernization Program (AMP)-modified aircraft in flyable storage. The Air Force currently has 52 C-5Ms within its total strategic aircraft inventory. Requiring the maintenance of an additional 25 C-5As in flyable condition would eliminate the relief provided in the FY 2017 NDAA from the FY 2013 NDAA requirement to keep retired C-5As in flyable storage. The total estimated cost to regenerate 25 C-5A AMP aircraft into flyable condition would exceed $5.6 billion, not including aircrew and maintenance training costs, and would take an estimated nine years to complete.

Limitation on Expenditure of Funds for Emergency and Extraordinary Expenses for Intelligence and Counterintelligence Activities and Representation Allowances: While the Administration understands the Committee’s concern with the use of these funds and will thoroughly examine this practice, the Administration objects to section 1031, which would prohibit using Emergency and Extraordinary Expenses authority for recurring expenses and lower the congressional notification threshold for intelligence and counterintelligence activities. These changes would severely impede DOD’s ability to conduct intelligence and counterintelligence operations and negatively affect ongoing counterterrorism and other critical DOD operations.

Open Discovery Rule: The Administration shares Congress’ goal of preventing sexual assault in the military and holding accountable those who commit the offense. Although the Administration is sympathetic to the motivation behind section 524, affording victim’s counsel with open file discovery may have the unintended consequence of impairing the successful prosecution of cases by creating additional opportunities for the defense to challenge the victim’s testimony. In addition, the Administration encourages Congress to consider whether the information required by section 528 is already provided in annual Family Advocacy Program reports.

Modernization of Army Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS): The Administration objects to section 1683, which would direct the Secretary of the Army to issue an acquisition strategy no later than April 15, 2018, for a 360-degree lower tier air and missile defense sensor that achieves initial operational capability by January 1, 2022, and completes fielding to all Army units by January 1, 2026. The requirements and timelines in this provision are not feasible. They would prevent the Army from developing LTAMDS integrally as part of its phased modernization approach for integrated air and missile defense based on Army and Joint Staff validated requirements. Additionally, the Administration opposes the provision’s direction to transfer the acquisition responsibility of the sensor to the Missile Defense Agency should the Army not issue the strategy in time.

Issues for Relocation of Marines to Guam: The Administration appreciates the inclusion of section 1062, which would authorize the admission before October 1, 2020, of H-2B workers coming to Guam to perform certain military-related work or as health care workers under modified admission requirements. The Administration strongly urges Congress to adopt the Administration’s request, which would, among other things, extend the authority through December 31, 2023, and address specified needs in both Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the CNMI). The Department of the Navy’s current workload projections indicate that approximately 2,300 H-2B workers would be required to supplement the Guam or CNMI workforce on military build-up construction projects. Without additional H-2B workers, limited access to construction workers would harm our ability to relocate Marines to Guam on planned timelines. This could be a factor in meeting the commitment of the United States to return land to Japan.

In addition, the Administration objects to section 2822, which provides for the land conveyance of the Naval Ship Repair Facility, Guam. The property is not excess to the needs of the Department of the Navy, as Military Sealift Command awarded a contract for ship repair that will require use of this property. Opening this property to commercial use also would pose security concerns to nearby berthed Navy vessels, including the Department of the Navy losing control of whether the commercial entity can perform work on foreign vessels.

Palau: The Administration appreciates the Committee’s efforts in section 1265 to fund the 2010 United States-Palau Compact Review Agreement (CRA), but is disappointed that the Committee did not include the provision requested provision that would approve the 2010 CRA. As a sovereign and freely associated state in the western Pacific, the Republic of Palau carries significant foreign policy and national security significance for the United States. Congressional approval is required for the United States to enter into the CRA and modify the CRA’s funding schedule as necessary for the United States to meet its international commitments. Failure to approve the CRA could imperil ongoing national security initiatives with the Republic of Palau and destabilize United States access and influence in a region that is increasingly contested by China.

Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility: The Administration strongly objects to section 3119 directing construction of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility. The Administration appreciates the flexibility provided to the Secretary of Energy to waive that requirement and terminate the MOX project. The MOX project is unaffordable and risky, with $12 billion in remaining construction costs, based on the most recent estimate prepared in collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Energy. The project would bring total construction costs to $17 billion, when including $5 billion in sunk-costs to date. In addition, the projected operating costs are between $800 million and $1 billion per year for nearly two decades. The Administration supports the Committee’s recommendation to authorize funds for the Savannah River Site’s (SRS) dilute and dispose capability to remove from South Carolina, and dispose of, surplus plutonium stored at SRS. Dilute and dispose is a proven approach with significantly less risk and expense, and it can be implemented decades sooner than the MOX approach.

Incremental Funding for National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) New Campus West (N2W): The Administration appreciates the support for NGA’s N2W facility, but objects to the proposed incremental funding approach. The authorized level in the bill could lead to higher total project costs, delay the delivery of the campus, and negatively impact other mission-critical priorities.

Constitutional Concerns: Certain provisions in this bill raise constitutional concerns. These include, for example, sections 1232 and 921(b). Section 1232 would interfere with the President’s exclusive authority to recognize foreign nations, and section 921(b) would contravene the Appointments Clause by authorizing incumbent officials to serve in new offices without further appointments.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to address these and other concerns as this legislation advances.


Presidential Executive Order on Allowing Additional Time for Recognizing Positive Actions by the Government of Sudan and Amending Executive Order 13761

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:07


- - - - - - -


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201-7211), the Comprehensive Peace in Sudan Act of 2004, as amended (Public Law 108-497), the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006 (Public Law 109 344), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, in order to take additional steps to address the emergency described in Executive Order 13067 of November 3, 1997, Executive Order 13412 of October 13, 2006, and Executive Order 13761 of January 13, 2017, with respect to the policies and actions of the Government of Sudan, including additional fact-finding and a more comprehensive analysis of the Government of Sudan's actions, hereby order as follows:

Section 1.  Amendments to Executive Order 13761.  (a)  Section 1 of Executive Order 13761 is hereby amended by striking "July 12, 2017" and inserting in lieu thereof "October 12, 2017".

(b)  Section 10 of Executive Order 13761 is hereby amended by striking "July 12, 2017" and inserting in lieu thereof "October 12, 2017".

(c)  Subsection (b) of section 12 of Executive Order 13761 is hereby amended by striking "July 12, 2017" and inserting in lieu thereof "October 12, 2017".

(d)  Section 11 of Executive Order 13761 is hereby revoked.

Sec. 2.  General Provision.  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


    July 11, 2017.

A Message to the Congress of the United States

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 01:07


Consistent with subsection 401(b) of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1641(b), and subsection 204(b) of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. 1703(b), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order (the "order") that amends Executive Order 13761 of January 13, 2017, by changing certain effective dates and revokes a reporting requirement in that order.

The order changes the date by which the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, is to provide a report to the President on the Government of Sudan's progress in sustaining the positive actions taken by the Government of Sudan that gave rise to Executive Order 13761, from July 12, 2017, to October 12, 2017.  The order also changes from July 12, 2017, to October 12, 2017, the effective date for the revocation of sections 1 and 2 of Executive Order 13067 of November 3, 1997, and the entirety of Executive Order 13412 of October 13, 2006, provided that the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, publishes on or before October 12, 2017, a notice in the Federal Register stating that the Government of Sudan has sustained the positive actions that gave rise to the order and has provided to the President the report described above.

The order revokes the requirement in Executive Order 13761 to provide an updated version of the report annually thereafter and, concurrent with those reports, to publish in the Federal Register a notice stating whether the Government of Sudan has sustained the positive actions that gave rise to Executive Order 13761.

The President issued Executive Orders 13067 and 13412, among other orders, to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the actions and policies of the Government of Sudan, including support for international terrorism; efforts to destabilize neighboring governments; and the prevalence of human rights violations.

In Executive Order 13761, the President determined that the situation that gave rise to the actions taken in Executive Order 13067 and Executive Order 13412 related to the policies and actions of the Government of Sudan had been altered by Sudan's positive actions over the prior 6 months.  Executive Order 13761 directed the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and based on a consideration of relevant and credible information from available sources, including nongovernmental organizations, on or before July 12, 2017, to provide a report to the President on the Government of Sudan's progress in sustaining its positive actions that gave rise to Executive Order 13761.  Executive Order 13761 further provided that if the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, published on or before July 12, 2017, a notice in the Federal Register stating that the Government of Sudan had sustained the positive actions that gave rise to Executive Order 13761 and had provided to the President the report described above, the revocation of sections 1 and 2 of Executive Order 13067 and the revocation of Executive Order 13412 would become effective.

While the Government of Sudan has made some progress in areas identified in Executive Order 13761, I have decided that more time is needed for this review to establish that the Government of Sudan has demonstrated sufficient positive action across all of those areas.

For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to amend the effective date to October 12, 2017, to provide the report required by Executive Order 13761 and revoke sections 1 and 2 of Executive Order 13067 and Executive Order 13412, provided that further action is taken by the Secretary of State, as set forth in Executive Order 13761, and to revoke the subsequent annual reporting requirement in Executive Order 13761.

I am enclosing a copy of the Executive Order I have issued.


    July 11, 2017.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 00:18

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Paul Dabbar of New York to be Under Secretary for Science, Department of Energy.  Mr. Dabbar is Managing Director for Mergers & Acquisitions for J.P. Morgan, and has over $400 billion in investment experience across all energy sectors including solar, wind, geothermal, distributed-generation, utility, LNG, pipeline, oil & gas, trading, energy technology, and has also led the majority of all nuclear transactions.  Before joining J.P. Morgan, Mr. Dabbar served as a nuclear submarine officer in Mare Island, California, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, including deploying to the North Pole where he conducted environmental research.  He also currently serves on the Department of Energy Environmental Management Advisory Board.  He has been a lecturer at the U.S. Naval Academy Economics Department, and conducted research at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.  Mr. Dabbar received a B.S. degree from the U.S. Naval Academy, and an M.B.A. degree from Columbia University.  Mr. Dabbar and his wife, Andrea, are the parents of two children.  They reside in Scarsdale, New York, and Nantucket, Massachusetts. 

Mark Wesley Menezes of Virginia to be Under Secretary of the Department of Energy.  Mr. Menezes is Vice President of Federal Relations for Berkshire Hathaway Energy, a diversified energy company.  Before joining Berkshire, Mr. Menezes was a partner at Hunton & Williams heading its energy practice group.  Prior to Hunton, he was Chief Counsel, U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, for the House Majority during the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  Before joining the committee, he was Vice President with Central and South West Corporation and upon its merger with American Electric Power Company, served as vice president and associate general counsel.  Mr. Menezes is a graduate of Louisiana State University receiving both his undergraduate and juris doctor degrees. He is a charter member of the Advisory Council for LSU Energy Law Center.

Dennis Shea of Virginia to be Deputy United States Trade Representative, Geneva Office, with the Rank of Ambassador.  Mr. Shea is the Vice Chairman of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a Congressionally-appointed bipartisan panel that annually assesses the United States-China security, economic, and trade relationship, including China’s compliance with its WTO commitments.  He has served as the Commission Chairman or Vice Chairman each year since 2012, and as member since 2007.  Mr. Shea has extensive background in law and public policy, and previously served as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Earlier in his career, he was deputy chief of staff and counsel to then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.  Mr. Shea received his J.D. from Harvard Law School, his A.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and his A.B. from Harvard College.  Mr. Shea is principal and founder of Shea Public Strategies, Alexandria, Virginia.


President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint David Muhlhausen to the Department of Justice

David B. Muhlhausen of Virginia to be Director of the National Institute of Justice, Department of Justice.  Dr. Muhlhausen, a research fellow in empirical policy analysis at the Heritage Foundation, has championed using rigorous, empirical research to formulate and evaluate government policies.  Dr. Muhlhausen has testified frequently before Congress on the efficiency and effectiveness of various Federal programs.  He has been called most often by the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary to discuss how to improve policing strategies, prisoner reentry programs, and other important criminal justice programs.  He holds a doctorate in public policy from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a bachelor’s degree in political science and justice studies from Frostburg State University.  As an adjunct professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, Dr. Muhlhausen has taught program evaluation and statistical methods to graduate students for 11 years.

Twelve Nominations Sent to the Senate Today

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 00:09


Ronald L. Batory, of New Jersey, to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, vice Sarah Elizabeth Feinberg.

Susan Combs, of Texas, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior, vice Rhea S. Suh, resigned.

Paul Dabbar, of New York, to be Under Secretary for Science, Department of Energy, vice Franklin M. Orr, Jr.

Lewis M. Eisenberg, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Italian Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of San Marino

Robert P. Kadlec, of New York, to be Medical Director in the Regular Corps of the Public Health Service, subject to qualifications therefor as provided by law and regulations, and to be Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Department of Health and Human Services, vice Nicole Lurie.

Stephen B. King, of Wisconsin, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Czech Republic.

Mark Wesley Menezes, of Virginia, to be Under Secretary of Energy, vice Kristina M. Johnson, resigned.

Randal Quarles, of Colorado, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the unexpired term of fourteen years from February 1, 2004, vice Jeremy C. Stein, resigned.

Randal Quarles, of Colorado, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the term of fourteen years from February 1, 2018. (Reappointment)

Randal Quarles, of Colorado, to be Vice Chairman for Supervision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for a term of four years. (New Position)

Dennis Shea, of Virginia, to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative (Geneva Office), with the rank of Ambassador, vice Michael W. Punke.

Mary Kirtley Waters, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Legislative Affairs), vice Julia Frifield.

Background Briefing on the President's Trip to France, 7/11/2017

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 23:15

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 

3:32 P.M. EDT

AIDE:  Good afternoon.  For your recording purposes, this background briefing on the President’s upcoming foreign travel is off-camera and not for broadcast.  Attribution for your briefing is senior administration official.  This information will be embargoed until the conclusion of the briefing and we’ll release a transcript afterwards.

Okay, so open remarks and when my colleague calls on you, please identify who you are, and your outlet, so he knows who he's speaking with.  Thanks.  

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Thanks for being here.  For the next few minutes I’d like to brief you on the President’s upcoming trip to Paris later this week.  

The President will arrive in Paris midmorning on Thursday, July 13th to conduct meetings with President Macron of France and to participate the next day in annual Bastille Day celebrations at the invitation of President Macron, and the First Lady will also accompany.  

On arrival on Thursday morning, the President will move to the U.S. Embassy for a meet-and-greet with embassy staff and also with U.S. participants who will be in the Bastille Day festivities on the following day, Friday.  

Following the meet-and-greet, he will have a working lunch with senior members of his delegation and senior U.S. military leaders participating in the ceremonies.  They include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford; the Commander of U.S. European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Mike Scaparrotti; and the Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville.  
Later in the afternoon, the President and First Lady will be greeted by President and Mrs. Macron at the Hotel Invalides.  And while there, they will be hosted for a tour of the tomb of Marshal Foch, who was the Supreme Allied Commander at the end of World War I, the French National War Museum, and also the tomb of Napoleon.  

The tour will be followed by bilateral meetings with President Macron and his senior advisors.  The meeting will focus on Syria and counterterrorism topics.  We also anticipate the two Presidents, in the introductory one-on-one meeting, will also share perspectives from the recent G20 meeting.  

The bilateral discussion will be followed by a press event where President Macron and President Trump will make remarks followed by questions from the media.  

Later that evening, the President and the First Lady will be hosted for a private dinner by President and Mrs. Macron.  

On Friday, July 14th, the President and First Lady will participate as guests of honor in the annual Bastille Day ceremonies on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  This is the French National Day.  

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the entry of American troops onto French soil and into World War I.  As they do every year, French troops from all of the French military services will participate.  This year will also feature participation by U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines from the Army’s 1st Infantry Division -- of note because this was also the first U.S. unit to enter France and actually participated in the Bastille Day festivities in 1917 and was the first U.S. unit to go into combat -- the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is also based in Europe; the 10th Mountain Division; U.S. Army Europe’s 7th Army Training Command; sailors from U.S. Naval Forces Europe; airmen from U.S. Air Forces Europe; and Marines from U.S. Marine Forces Europe.  

The U.S. Air Force demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, will also participate and conduct a fly-over during the ceremony.  And there will be one U.S. naval aviator who will pilot a French Rafale fighter plane as part of the festivities.  Three U.S. veterans of the Normandy invasion will also be present.

At the conclusion of the Bastille Day ceremonies, the President and First Lady will depart.  

So that’s a quick overview of the President’s trip.  I’m happy to take your questions at this time.  Yes, ma’am.

Q    I had two questions, sort of unrelated.  On climate, you did mention that those were the subjects.  So is that just completely off the table, or is the President going to entertain any discussions on that?  Obviously very contentious with President Macron.  My second question has nothing to do with that, so I can wait until after you answer that.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Right, sure.  The conduct of the bilateral session which is scheduled for something like an hour, an hour and 15 minutes, is based on topics that were coordinated with the French President.  It’s entirely possible that President Macron will raise the issue.  And if he does, the President has spoken on the issue a number of times and he’ll be ready to engage in that as well.

Q    I mean, did they discuss that enough during the G20 Summit?  Is that why it’s not being prioritized this time around?  Or is there any reason?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, I can’t speak for the French.  They asked to focus the discussion on Syria and CT, but it’s entirely possible that it may come up on the margins.

Q    Got it.  Totally unrelated topic, but since we have you, the BBC was reporting today that President Trump will not have an official visit to the UK this year -- maybe not a state visit either.  We’re trying to kind of determine what the plan is.  He said he’s going to go last week.  So if you don’t mind, if you have any clarity on that, that would be great.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, what we know about that is that the United Kingdom has extended an invitation for a state visit, the President has accepted, and the timing is being worked out between the two governments right now.  

Yes, ma’am.

Q    What are you guys hoping to accomplish with this trip?  Obviously it’s really short.  Is there anything by way of deliverables that you could expect?  Or what’s the goal here?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, let’s keep in mind what the, sort of, centerpiece of the trip is, which is the French National Day and its celebration of the 100th anniversary of U.S. forces entering World War I -- an entry which was really decisive, historically.  The French Army had sustained horrendous losses over three years of war; Russia had just fallen out of the war because of the Bolshevik Revolution, so a million German forces were being transferred to the Western Front.  And so while we certainly didn’t win the war by ourselves, the American contribution was decisive in the outcome of the war.  

So I think that’s the primary reason of this particular visit at this particular time.  The national guest of honor, the nation which is the guest of honor, is the United States for this year’s Bastille Day celebration, and the President and First Lady have been invited as guest of honor for that.  And so, of course, while there they’re going to use the opportunity to discuss topics of mutual interest, but that’s really the centerpiece of this visit.

Yes, sir.

Q    We saw the President and President Macron talking a lot on the sidelines at the G20.  They seemed to spend a significant amount of time together, and you seem to mention that as separate from the Syria and counterterrorism things.  So I’m wondering if there were specific policies or topics that they were going to want to follow up on in this bilat.  

And then, secondly, if you could kind of put the President’s visit and how you see it into, I guess, the broader context of what President Macron has been trying to do in his, sort of, first months in office.  Obviously, President Putin was visiting a few weeks ago.  He's kind of had a number of these big events.  Just kind of maybe some insight into how you -- what you see as some of their reason for wanting to do this.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Pretty broad question.  Of course, the President is going to be prepared to discuss a wide range of topics.  I think that goes without saying.  But we expect most of the discussion to focus on what's going on in Syria right now, and then the French and American cooperation both inside the alliance and bilaterally with respect to that, and counterterrorism issues not only in Syria, but in other places.  

I think I'll just leave it at that.  Yes, ma'am.

Q    You said the two leaders would be sharing perspectives from the G20.  Can you elaborate on that?  What specifically -- which specific perspective does President Trump hope to share with President Macron?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, what I mean by that is both leaders had a number of pull-asides and bilateral exchanges with other heads of state.  And what we expect is that President Macron and President Trump, when they have their private one-on-one session, will probably ask each other about those:  What were your impressions of your meeting with, I don’t know, Prime Minister May or President Putin, or whatever.  I think that's highly likely.

And then, after the one-on-one session, they will move into a group session where their senior advisors will come in and they'll get on with the more formal agenda.  That's what I meant by that.

Yes, sir.

Q    Can you characterize the dynamic between President Macron and President Trump during those G20 meetings, and whether the issue of migration came up, and if that's something that they're going to talk about during this visit?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t believe they had a formal bilateral session at the G20.  And the reason is because they've spoken at length a number of times before and knew they were going to be meeting in Paris this week.  So that's the -- I guess that's the answer to that. 

More generally, I would characterize the relationship between the two of them as being very positive.  I've personally been present at a number of phone calls between the two of them.  I see the chemistry as being very good.  There are some issues where we see the world a little bit differently, but many issues where we see the world more or less the same.  The French are and have been, and will be, very close security partners of ours who cooperate in many different domains and on many different issues.  And I think the relationship, still in its early stages, is a very, very good one.

Q    Can I follow up on that?


Q    There was a lot made of the body language between Macron and Trump in their two handshakes.  There was one at the G20, too, where they had this sawing motion, this sort of strong handshake.  Is there anything larger to say about that?  Are they rivals?  Are they entering into a rivalry here in any way?  Can you expand on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t want to get into characterizing body language.  I do share with you -- my personal observation has been that their chemistry is quite positive and very good.  President Macron really is an innovative, charismatic guy who's trying to do some different things in France, and his political party didn’t exist a couple of years ago.  So in that respect, he's been a real trailblazer.  And I think both of them think they have some things in common in their experience.  Obviously, many differences, but some things in common.  So I see it as a very positive developing relationship.

In the back.  Yes, ma'am.

Q    Can you talk about -- are you expecting any sort of protests at all during the President's time there?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Always possible.  But President Macron has indicated he doesn’t expect to see anything of particular note on this, certainly nothing like we see at all the G20 events.  

Yes, sir.

Q    Thank you.  A couple for you.  First, I know that Secretary Mattis has been asking NATO partners to pony up troop contributions for the new strategy.  Does the United States at this point have everything it needs from France, or will the President be asking President Macron directly for troop contributions?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The President is consistent in this message whenever he meets NATO as a body, or whenever he meets his counterparts among the NATO allied nations.  France is currently spending 1.8 percent of its GDP, so it's very close to the 2 percent target that was agreed at Wales in 2014.  And their numbers are trending in a positive direction, and they've assured the President that they have every intention of meeting the Wales targets, which are supposed to be met by 2024.  

I sort of remind the audience that France is far and away one of the largest and strongest military members of the alliance and spends an awful lot of defense right now, and carries a heavy load in the counterterrorism fight, in particular in places so that really we don’t have to.  So when you consider that the Sahel, for example, is half the size of the United States, and the French are carrying on the counterterrorism effort there with 4,000 or 5,000 French soldiers, I mean, their contributions are great.  

I think the President is happy with where France is and doesn’t see that as a particular issue.

Q    And then, on a lighter note, are there cultural sights that the President would like to see while he's in Paris?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, he's not going to be there very long, but, yeah, I think what he's going to see at the Invalides is going to be great.  That's where the French President would like to take him.  So there's going to be a real photo opportunity there.  And then, if you've ever been on the Champs-Élysées for Bastille Day, it's pretty spectacular.  There's not a lot of time, given the meetings that they've scheduled for the President to see other sights.  

Yes, please.

Q    Thank you, sir.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  You're from where, please?

Q    Oh, I'm from NHK Japan.  So we're hearing reports that Chancellor Merkel is going to be meeting with President Macron on July 13th in Paris, before the meeting with Trump.  Is there any possibility that President Trump will also have the opportunity to meet with Chancellor Merkel, or that the three of them will be able to meet?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, I don’t think so.  That's not on the schedule right now.  We're aware that President Macron and his senior team are meeting with Chancellor Merkel and her senior team all through the morning of the 13th.  I think they finish at something like 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon.  But there's no plan right now.  

The President, as you're aware, met at some length with Chancellor Merkel at the G20.

Yes, ma'am, right here.  

Q    Is there going to be any discussions of any trade issues while they're there?  T-TIP?  Any bilateral?  Any trade at all?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Always possible.  There's an hour and 15 minutes blocked.  They may run a little bit longer than that.  Obviously, the President is always ready, willing and able to talk about issues of importance to the American worker and to the American economy.  And there's every possibility that it will be raised.  But we've been asked to focus on preparing, and the President has been focused on preparing specifically for Syria and CT topics.

Yes, sir.

Q    Thank you, sir.  From your understanding with the conversations that President Trump and President Macron have had so far, do they view the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism in the same way?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think there's a lot of commonality in their worldview and in their perspective.  I don't know if I would go so far as to say that it's an identical perspective, because obviously the French experience is different from ours.  But broadly speaking, I would say they see the threat in much the same way.  Yes.

Q    Also, just to follow up -- after the events on the Champs-Élysées, President Macron is traveling down to Nice, France --


Q    -- for the memorial associated with the events of last year -- the terrorist act last year.  Did President Macron extend an invitation to President Trump to go down with him to Nice as well?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, no, he did not.  Although the President will address that event, I think, in his remarks.

Yes, please.

Q    Tara McKelvey, BBC.  I know that the U.S. and France have had a close military relationship in the past, and it seems like you're trying to build on this.  So could you tell us a little bit of what the President has said about France?  Like, is he looking forward to the trip to Paris?  How does he see the relationship between the two countries?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  When the President -- President Macron asked him if he would -- so they extended a formal invitation, a written invitation, and then, in a subsequent phone call when President Macron asked him to come, he was excited to tender the invitation in person, and President Trump was very excited to respond to it and to accept the invitation.  So, yes, I think he's very excited.  The First Lady is very excited.  Anytime that you can go visit a couple like the Macrons in the City of Light, it's pretty tremendous.

On this particular day, however, it's got added significance.  So I think the President is excited and very much looking forward to that.

Yes, ma'am.

Q    Ayesha Rascoe with Reuters.  There was some talk after the G20 that the U.S. was a bit isolated, especially on issues like climate change.  Do you feel like -- or does the administration feel like this trip to France is, at all, a way of showing that the U.S. is still engaged in international issues and still kind of leading on the world stage?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, the U.S. is engaged in international leadership.  It is engaged on the world stage.  The President -- every leader at the G20 came in with a request to meet personally with President Trump.  So I think that that pretty much says it all right there.

Yes, please.

Q    I'm Jackie from CBS.


Q    You just spoke in pretty glowing terms about the city of Paris, which isn't the way the President has spoken of the city in the past.  He said it's not what it used to be.  Will he clarify those remarks at all?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, I don't think the President is going to clarify earlier remarks.  From everything that I've seen and everything that I've heard, the President has got very positive feelings about the city of Paris, and the people who live in Paris, and the French nation more generally.

Q    Well, he spoke pretty disparaging of the city during the campaign.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'm not in a position to characterize that.  I can only tell you what I've seen and heard since I've been here.

Q    Okay.  And then, just once more, is there a reason that this visit was prioritized?  I'm sure he gets lots of invitations to visit other countries.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, there are few allies that are closer that France.  And I think when President Macron asked, the President was happy to accept. 

Yes, ma'am.

Q    Can you tell us which administration official principals are going to be accompanying the President on this trip?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes.  The White House Chief of Staff will accompany, the National Security Advisor, and the Homeland Security Advisor will accompany.  We will also meet Chairman General Dunford in Paris.

Yes, please.

Q    Just a point of clarification.  This will be a press conference with questions -- two questions each.  Is that --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That's right.  I think both President Macron and President Trump will make brief remarks, perhaps 10 minutes each.  And they'll be followed by two questions for President Macron and two questions for President Trump -- is the format.

Yes, ma'am.

Q    Does the U.S. have a position on an EU Army and just defense integration, period?  I ask that because you said they would be talking about Syria.  We've been told that they'll be talking about the military.  And I'm wondering what the position is on that, especially with respect to NATO. 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Right.  I think our position about an EU Army can be pretty simply summed up.  Where additional European security measures and capabilities can be brought to bear in the service of American interests and European interests -- and, of course, they're conjoined in so many ways -- then I think we support it.
Where an EU Army might evolve over time and become, in some ways, a competition to the NATO Alliance -- which we see as the primary security provider for the transatlantic union -- then I think we might have some questions and we would want to engage on that.

Yes, ma'am.

Q    Can I just ask you a (inaudible) kind of question?  Can you describe whether the President has ever talked about his previous visits to Paris?  Is there any color that you can add about him ever rhapsodizing about visiting Paris before?  And also, will he return to the White House or will he return to New Jersey?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, I'm not in a position to characterize or add color to that particular question.  And I wish I could, but I'm just not in a position to do that.  He's going to return to the United States --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don’t think that (inaudible) put out yet.  

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don't know if they nailed that down.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I can't say yes, but we'll keep you posted.  

AIDE:  We have time for two more questions and then we have to wrap things up.    

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Or zero, if you don’t have any.

AIDE:  Or zero.  (Laughter.)  

Q    With President Trump requesting that NATO countries spend more on defense, that could benefit the French industrial complex significantly.  Is that a piece of the conversation?  Is Donald Trump going there to try to make sure that big countries also buy American weaponry as they ramp up, and not just go to the French?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah.  You know, part of the conversation that usually gets left out is that there's a 2 percent goal, but there's a 20 percent goal.  And the 20 percent goal is just as important.  And that's a commitment to spend at least 20 percent of national defense spending for NATO allies on actual capability, on equipment.  Right?  Because there are lots of things that you can spend defense funds on that would mean very little in the way of actual capability for NATO.  And the French are very serious about that.

You probably saw, from the President's trip in Warsaw, the announcement that the Poles are going to do a big buy of our Patriot Air Defense Missile System and also the HIMARS system, which is sort of a long-range rocket artillery system.

So where it makes sense, where there's a market, and where's there's interest in American technology -- which is the best in the world -- then, yes, the President is going to press that.  But these are national decisions.  Of course, France has its own military industry as well, and they're going to take that into account also.

Yes, sir.

Q    Thank you.  Jake Turx, Ami Magazine.  You had mentioned just earlier that part of the trip is to highlight World War I.  And my question is, is there any particular message that the administration might want to be focusing in on, particularly draw any parallels between World War I and any events that are going on in the world today?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, thank you very much.  I'm sure the President will mention that -- address that in his remarks.  So the fact that we participated in such a major way in World War I, side by side with the French, is a clear parallel to what we're doing today.  We still live in a dangerous world.  We still live in a world that has many, many threats.

The French were strong allies -- so, with us in Afghanistan, in the Gulf War.  There were with us in the Korean War, as well.  So we have a long history -- not always marching in lockstep, but real friends and real allies.  And so there are clear parallels to our partnership and our alliances 100 years ago and today, no question about that.  That's a big part of why the President is going to be there this week.

I think that's all we have time for.  Thanks very much.

3:55 P.M. EDT

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 22:24

President Donald J. Trump spoke today with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq. President Trump congratulated the Prime Minister on the liberation of Mosul by Iraqi Security Forces, which marks a major milestone in the fight against ISIS. The President praised the heroism of the Iraqi and American soldiers and underscored his commitment to the total defeat of ISIS. He stressed the need to consolidate gains to prevent ISIS or any other terrorist group from returning to liberated areas.

Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 7/11/2017

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 22:04

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:26 P.M. EDT

MS. SANDERS:  Good afternoon.  Before I get into the issues of today and take your questions, I first want to take a minute to acknowledge the 16 servicemen and women who lost their lives yesterday in a crash of a Marine Corps transport plane in Mississippi.  As of now, the investigation into the details of the crash is still ongoing, but as the President said this morning, this is a truly heartbreaking incident.  The thoughts and prayers of the entire administration are with the friends and families of the Marines who died in this tragic accident.  

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report showing that half of the insurers who initially offered plans on the Obamacare exchanges have already fled the markets.  I know that similar reports and announcements like these are coming out literally every day, but each of these announcements further reveal the failure of Obamacare.  

For the millions of American families and individuals caught in the fallout of Obamacare’s collapse, these reports come as no surprise.  They have been suffering the consequences of this failed law firsthand for far too long, and it’s time for Senate Republicans to step up and fulfill the promise they made to those Americans by repealing and replacing it. 

Tomorrow, the Vice President will meet with another group of companies and individuals who have been harmed by Obamacare in Kentucky, continuing the nationwide travel he’s been doing throughout this entire repeal and replace process.

The President is determined to sign a bill that restores choice to the American people as soon as possible.  Of course, while Republicans are working around the clock -- and as Senator McConnell just announced, well into August -- to address some of our biggest legislative priorities, and as Marc and I both told you yesterday, Democrats are looking to set a record for pointless and dangerous obstruction.

I know Marc went through some of the numbers with you yesterday but there are just a few that I find truly astounding and would like to reiterate.  While more than 90 percent of the previous administration’s nominations were confirmed by a simple voice vote, Democrats in the Senate have allowed only approximately 10 percent of President Trump’s nominees to be voted on in that way.

As I mentioned, we’re coming up on the August recess of President Trump’s first term, by which point the Senate has confirmed 69 percent of President Obama’s nominations.  Less than a month out from that same point, the Senate has confirmed only approximately 23 percent of President Trump’s nominees.

These numbers show the Democrats’ true colors.  They're willing to play political games with the safety and security of the American economy and the American people, rather than work with this administration to solve the serious problems our nation faces.  It’s shameful that they are shirking the responsibility of the American people to put them in office to carry out -- to protect and promote our nation and its citizens.  It’s well past time that Senate Democrats stop this unprecedented obstruction.

And with that, I will take your questions.  Kevin.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  At what point did the President discuss with Donald Trump, Jr. that meeting?  Have you had a chance to get a sense of what he feels about this entire story as it continues to unfold?  What’s your sense on that?  And then a follow-up?

MS. SANDERS:  I’ve got a quick statement that I will read from the President:  "My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency."  

And beyond that, I’m going to have to refer everything on this matter to Don Jr.’s counsel and outside counsel, and won’t have anything else to add beyond that today.  

Q    That's your words, at the end?

MS. SANDERS:  Yeah, the end, I’m sorry.

Q    And if I could follow up really quickly about the accident.  How soon afterward did the President learn about what happened?  What was the tick-tock, in terms of that?  Did he get immediate word or did it sort of go through a certain chain of events?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not sure on the exact process.  I’ll have to check.  I know he was aware of the situation, briefed on the situation, and continued to get updates on it.  But I don’t know the exact tick-tock so I’ll have to circle back with you on that, Kevin.


Q    Sarah, given these emails, you had somebody who was identified as a Russian government lawyer; Don Jr. agreeing to meet with him, being told in those emails that the Russian government was trying to help the President win the election.  Do you stand by a statement you made yesterday when you said that "Our position is that no one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election"?

MS. SANDERS:  I do.  And again, I don’t have -- beyond the statements yesterday and what I read today, I don’t have anything else to add, Jill.

Q    And when was the last time the two of them spoke, Don Jr. and the President?  

MS. SANDERS:  I’m sorry?

Q    Do you know the last time the President spoke with Don Jr.?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t.


Q    Thanks.  So the White House hasn’t disputed any of the following, which is that the President’s son, campaign chairman, and son-in-law had this meeting with the express purpose of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton and with knowledge of the Russian government supporting Trump’s campaign.  How is that not collusion?  

MS. SANDERS:  Once again, I know you guys are going to get tired of it today -- and not to sound like a broken record -- but on all questions related to this matter, I would refer you to Don Jr.’s counsel and outside counsel.

Q    But you’re not disputing any of the facts?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m simply referring you to people that can answer that question, Matthew.


Q    Sarah, in January the President said that nobody in his campaign had been in touch with the Russians, and the White House stood by that statement.  Was the President misled or was he not truthful?

MS. SANDERS:  Once again, to repeat myself, I'm going to refer you to the outside counsel, and I don’t have anything else to add. 

Q    Sarah, can we ask you, why weren’t you interested in answering the question yesterday, and why the President is not answering the questions himself either through you or directly today?  What changed between yesterday and today?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President gave a statement on the matter, which I read to you.  And like I've said, I don’t have anything else to add beyond that. 

Q    Is the President still of a mind that he would like the investigation under the special counsel and committees on Capitol Hill to work as expeditiously as possible, and he wants to cooperate, and wants his family members and his top aides here at the White House to cooperate?

MS. SANDERS:  Absolutely.  That's never changed since day one.  We'd love to get this matter closed and focus on the big priorities of the American people.

Q    So, Sarah, let me follow up.  So by not answering the questions directly himself, or through you, is that in his mind expediting the investigation or is it blocking the investigation?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not going to get into the back-and-forth on that.


Q    Sarah, when the White House says there was no collusion, what does the White House mean?  What is the definition of collusion?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, I've said all that we're going to say on that matter.  And anything further, you guys are going to have to reach out to outside counsel.


Q    Sarah, the words "collusion" have been used, other words have been used, "obstruction of justice."  They're saying now that's not even half of it.  It could be treason or perjury.  What does the White House have to say?  There are new terms brought into this; new serious -- more serious terms brought into this.

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t know how many times we'll have to address this. 

Q    I'm not asking about Don Jr.  I'm asking about these words being brought into this equation that you want -- this White House wants this whole investigation to be gone.  There are new words now brought in.

MS. SANDERS:  I think those new words are ridiculous.  


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  I have two questions for you.  First, asking specifically about actions taken by White House staff in the last 72 hours --

MS. SANDERS:  I'm sorry, White House what?

Q    By White House staff recently, to something that should not require you deferring to special counsel.  Can you talk about who inside the White House has been involved in your response on this?  Has the President been kept in the loop, the Chief of Staff and others in the administration?  Are you looking into potential communications by others on the White House staff in regards to this matter or similar matters?

MS. SANDERS:  All of the appropriate parties have been part of that conversation and part of that discussion.

Q    Jared Kushner has apparently forwarded this same email.  Is he still -- is his security clearance still valid right now?

MS. SANDERS:  As always, we've never discussed the security clearances.

Q    And, Sarah, just one more.  Yesterday you said you'd check back to us on the status of how the President views the U.S.-Russia relationship.  So can you update us?  Is Russia a friend or foe?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, I haven’t had a chance to have that direct conversation.  I've been a little preoccupied with other things, but I certainly will check on that, Zeke.


Q    A policy question on Afghanistan and then something about the statement you just read.  So has the President, through H.R. McMaster, notified the Pentagon that he is reasserting the cap of 3,900 additional troops to Afghanistan?  Initially, it was reported that he had given the Pentagon, General Mattis, authority to increase the troop numbers in accordance with the strategy.  It's now subsequently been reported that memos from H.R. McMaster said it's now limited at 3,900 and no more troops, regardless of the strategy.  Can you tell us if that's true?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not aware of that specific memo, but I will check into the details of that and circle back.

Q    Can you tell us how seriously the President considered the idea of using private contractors to augment U.S. personnel on the ground in Afghanistan as opposed to U.S. military personnel?

MS. SANDERS:  I know that we feel it's important to get input from all perspectives, and all of the right people were part of that process throughout, in any conversation.  Look, we've used contractors extensively over the last 16 years.  Currently, there are tens of thousands of contractors that are bravely serving alongside a lot of the U.S. military and coalition forces.  And we're finalizing the review fully of the Afghanistan policy, and it only makes sense to consult those leaders in the field, as well.  And that's simply just part of the review process.

Q    When you say the right people, does that include Erik Prince?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm sorry, I meant from our inside, internally -- all of the right people would be part of that process in terms of national security team.

Q    Can you confirm if Erik Prince part of the conversations about the contract?

MS. SANDERS:  I can't but -- I cannot at this time, but I'll check and let you know.

Q    All right.  And on the President's statement -- because you can talk about that, I would assume, since you read it to us -- what transparency is the President applauding?

MS. SANDERS:  I believe the willingness on behalf of everyone within the administration or anything beyond that --

Q    But it's about Don Jr., right?  

MS. SANDERS:  I'm sorry.  On any --

Q    The statement is about Don Jr.

MS. SANDERS:  I know.  I'm trying to finish my sentence, Major.  And anyone beyond that that might be asked questions, the willingness to do so and to be fully transparent and open and answer any questions through the correct process, whether that is through the special counsel or anything beyond that.


Q    Sarah, is the President aware, as he speaks about the transparency of his son, that he only released those emails after being informed that The New York Times was about to publish them?

MS. SANDERS:  I'm not sure, Peter.  I'd have to check.

Q    Let me ask you more broadly about what we spoke about yesterday on the topic of appropriateness in terms of campaigns.  Explain to Americans, who are asking this question today, why it's appropriate for a presidential campaign to accept a meeting with a Russian national after being promised high-level and sensitive information presented as part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.  Explain to Americans why that would be appropriate.

MS. SANDERS:  Again, I'm not going to get into the details of anything surrounding this, and would refer you to Don Jr.'s outside counsel.

Q    Do you stand by your statement that it was --

MS. SANDERS:  I stand -- as I mentioned earlier, I stand by everything I said yesterday.


Q    The Vice President, through his spokesman, said today that Mr. Pence is not focused on stories about the campaign, particularly stories about the time before he joined the ticket.  That's been taken by many people in this town to suggest that there is a distance between the President and the Vice President on this.  Is there such a distance?

MS. SANDERS:  Not at all.  There's absolutely no distance between the President and the Vice President. 

Q    Do you know if the President has spoken to the Vice President about this?

MS. SANDERS:  I don't know if they've spoken directly about this, but I know they've spoken today.

Q    One more question.  There are lots of people who would like to know why this briefing was off-camera today.  Do you have a rationale for it?

MS. SANDERS:  As we've said many times before, I believe Sean stated back in December, we're always looking at different approaches and different ways to communicate the President's message and talk about the agenda.  This is one of the many ways we choose to do that.


Q    I'm going to take two bites out of this apple as well.  The first is with the stock market.

MS. SANDERS:  Let's not break precedent.

Q    The stock market sharply declined today on the release of the emails by Don Jr.  And so I'm wondering if you're concerned that these revelations are going to impact the U.S. economy and if you want to offer any assurances to investors that see this news and they're obviously responding.

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President, as he has been, not just since assuming office but throughout the campaign, is focused on doing everything he can to strengthen and grow our economy, and that certainly hasn't changed today nor will it at any point that he's President, Justin.

Q    And then, to go back to the statement that you read, the President says that he applauds Don Jr.'s transparency.  I'm wondering if you guys would (inaudible) now that he's disclosed any other meetings that happened between Russian nationals and members of the Trump campaign towards that transparency.

MS. SANDERS:  There's nothing that I'm aware of at this time.

Q    Yesterday, you compared the meeting to Hillary Clinton's campaign coordination with Ukraine.  Do you feel like coordinating with any -- all countries in the world are pretty much the same?  That there's no difference between Ukraine or Russia or any other country?

MS. SANDERS:  I think it would depend on the nature.  I mean, I can't speak about theoretical or hypothetical situations?

Q    Okay.  Well, just take Ukraine and Russia.  Do you feel that they're equivalent?

MS. SANDERS:  In what way?  They're very different countries.  I'm not going to put them on an equivalent playing field across the board on any matter that could possibly come up.

Q    Do you consider them both allies, partners of the United States, or adversaries?  I mean, in what way are they similar?  Because you compared them yesterday.

MS. SANDERS:  I was talking about the process, not the two countries.  I was talking about the process that had been gone through by both sides.  And that's all -- the point I was making.

Q    Okay, but I thought you were saying if it was okay for Hillary to coordinate with Ukraine, then it should be okay -- or to meet with Ukraine about possible information that might be relevant on the campaign, it would be equally okay to meet with Russians about information they may have.

MS. SANDERS:  I was talking about simply the process and nothing beyond that.

Q    You still think it was okay -- put aside the issue of collusion.  Is it appropriate to meet with Russians about information they might have during that campaign?

MS. SANDERS:  As I said earlier, I stand by the comments I made yesterday.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.  Two quick questions for you.  Have you spoken with the President in the past 24 hours?


Q    What was his general reaction to story?  Without getting into an official White House response to some of the questions earlier, did you speak with him about this story?

MS. SANDERS:  I think that the President is, I would say, frustrated with the process of the fact that this continues to be an issue.  And he would love for us to be focused on things, like Justin mentioned, the economy, on healthcare, on tax reform, on infrastructure.  And that's the place that his mind is, and that's what he'd like to be discussing.

John Gizzi.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  I have two questions as well.  Senator Rubio said this morning that the entire matter involving Donald Trump, Jr. is, and I quote, “Mueller territory.”  In other words, it should be left solely up to the special prosecutor.  What’s the White House reaction to that?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, I would refer you to the outside special counsel, and I think that’s something that they could work on together.

Q    So you have no reaction to what Senator Rubio said?

MS. SANDERS:  No I don’t, John.

Q    My other question is about personnel.  The President has -- and you pointed this out yesterday in the form you handed out -- numerous judicial vacancies to fill, including four on the controversial 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  In an effort to speed this up, will the administration waive the blue slip process from senators or the opinion of the American Bar Association?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t know if those conversations have taken place about whether or not to waive that if it were to expedite, but I’ll be happy to check into it for you.  


Q    Thanks.  I have three, but I’ll try to be quick.

MS. SANDERS:  Three?

Q    Secretary Mattis said a month ago that you guys would be rolling out the new Afghanistan strategy by mid-July.  Does that still hold?

MS. SANDERS:  I know that the plan is to roll that out after there’s been a full review process.  I don’t have anything beyond that at this point.  I know they’d like to do that soon.

Q    Okay.  Be that as it may, what role does the President see for himself in terms of explaining the strategy to the American people?  Does he plan a primetime address, does he plan a press conference, does he plan a national tour?  How implicated do you think he will be in selling the new strategy to the public?

MS. SANDERS:  I think those things will be determined once the new strategy is finalized.

Q    Last one.  Whose decision was it to provide relatively limited answers today to the Don Jr. question?  Is it a lawyer, or did White House Counsel instruct you not to do this?  Is it a communications decision?  Who made that decision?

MS. SANDERS:  As I told Zeke earlier, all the appropriate parties were part of the conversation and that decision was made internally.  


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  The administration missed its deadline to make a decision on steel tariffs.  Can you give us an update on where that decision stands?  Can we expect a decision this week?

MS. SANDERS:  The report and any recommendations within that report are going through normal interagency review process, and as soon as that’s completed that will be released.  Hopefully in short order.

Q    Sarah, is there a reason that the deadline wasn’t met?

MS. SANDERS:  It was a self-imposed deadline and they’re working to get it through the final review process as quickly as possible.  


Q    Thanks a lot, Sarah.  In the conversation that you had with the President, did he give an indication to you that these stories that we see come out day after day, in The New York Times specifically, are in any way self-inflicted?  After all, it’s the meeting that Don Jr. had with this Russian lawyer that has precipitated all of this.

MS. SANDERS:  No.  And I think the President has made it pretty clear his position on this entire process.

Q    When you have that conversation with the President, do you ask him -- just so you can speak with us and inform us -- do you say, what was the nature, from your understanding, Mr. President, about the conversation your son and these other two individuals had with this Russian lawyer?

MS. SANDERS:  I didn’t have that type of conversation.  The conversations I have -- the goal is to get information that I can best communicate to you guys, whether it’s on healthcare or infrastructure or tax reform or any other matter.  The way those conversations play out are going to vary from topic to topic.  

Go ahead.  Yes, ma’am.

Q    On sanctions, I wanted to ask:  Is the White House suggesting or asking for new language to insert kind of a tweak to give the President the waivers -- the national security waivers -- that you’re seeking?  Or is the White House wanting to see the bill cancelled all together and killed all together?

MS. SANDERS:  As I said yesterday, the President is committed to maintaining the existing sanctions against Russia until Moscow reverses the aggressive actions against Ukraine that triggered the sanctions.  And President Trump reaffirmed this position at the G20 last Friday.  But this is more about foreign policy and having the flexibility to negotiate with other countries, and this includes working with allies and partners to present a united front to common foes.  And we remain committed to working with Congress on those issues.

Q    Thank you.  

Q    She called on -- can you call on me next, Sarah?


Q    Thank you.

Q    With Mosul now in Iraqi hands, does the President have a strategy for the future of Iraq or U.S. involvement in Iraq?

MS. SANDERS:  You know, those are continued conversations. And as we have announcements on it, we’ll let you guys know.

Q    Thanks, Sarah.

Q    I’m going to take this one.

MS. SANDERS:  I promised I’d come to him.

Q    Is President Trump now aware of the Russian government effort to influence the campaign in his favor?  

MS. SANDERS:  I’m sorry?

Q    Is the President now aware of the Russian government effort to influence the campaign in his favor?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, I’m not going to answer any questions on that matter.

Q    And a follow-up on that.  Yesterday, you were asked when the President learned of the Donald Jr. meeting, and your response was, “I believe in the last couple of days is my understanding.”  Is there any reason that we should think that answer would change today?  Have you learned anything new that would change your response there?

MS. SANDERS:  No I haven’t.  Thanks, guys, so much.

2:48 P.M. EDT

Vice President Mike Pence to Visit Lexington, Kentucky

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 16:10

On Wednesday, July 12, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Lexington, Kentucky to meet with small business owners and local job creators about the need to repeal and replace Obamacare.  The Vice President, joined by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, Representative Andy Barr (KY-06), and Representative Brett Guthrie (KY-02), will participate in a listening session with leaders in the community whose businesses and employees have been adversely affected by Obamacare.  The Vice President will conclude his visit with formal remarks.

WSJ Editorial: “Running the Schumer Blockade”

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 15:31

“Democrats aren’t using cloture to raise the level of debate or highlight unqualified nominees. They are using it—and have said as much—to sabotage a Presidency. That isn’t what the Founders intended, and Republicans have every right to stop this abuse of process to let the President form a government.”

Running the Schumer Blockade
Wall Street Journal
July 11, 2017

The Trump Presidency is well into its seventh month but the Trump Administration still barely exists. Senate Democrats are abusing Senate rules to undermine the executive branch, and Republicans need to restore normal order.

Among the non-controversial nominees awaiting confirmation: Kevin Hassett to lead the White House Council of Economic Advisers; David Malpass, under secretary at Treasury for international affairs; two nominees needed to review pipelines and other projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Noel Francisco for Solicitor General. Mr. Malpass was nominated in March and voted out of committee in mid-June. Mr. Trump’s State Department is barely functioning with only eight confirmed appointees.

Democratic obstruction against nominees is nearly total, most notably including a demand for cloture filings for every nominee—no matter how minor the position. This means a two-day waiting period and then another 30 hours of debate. The 30-hour rule means Mr. Trump might not be able to fill all of those 400 positions in four years. The cloture rule also allows the minority to halt other business during the 30-hour debate period, which helps slow the GOP policy and oversight agenda.

Democrats have also refused to return a single “blue slip” to the Judiciary Committee, which has the effect of blocking consideration of judicial nominees from their home states. Senators like Minnesota’s Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar are holding hostage the eminently qualified Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for no reason other than politics.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s troops are even invoking an obscure rule that prohibits committees from doing business more than two hours after the Senate opens for the day. Republicans have had to cancel briefings on national security and Russia electoral interference, as well as scrap a markup of two human-trafficking bills.

Democrats aren’t using cloture to raise the level of debate or highlight unqualified nominees. They are using it—and have said as much—to sabotage a Presidency. That isn’t what the Founders intended, and Republicans have every right to stop this abuse of process to let the President form a government.

Read the full editorial here.



Readout of the Vice President's Meeting with Prime Minister Youssef Chahed

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 02:53

The Vice President met today with the Tunisian Prime Minister to reaffirm the United States' support for Tunisia as it works to strengthen its security capacity, implement essential economic reforms, and continue developing its democratic institutions. The Vice President applauded the Prime Minister’s recent efforts to combat corruption, and encouraged the Prime Minister to continue making sustainable reforms that will attract investment and create jobs for Tunisians. The two leaders highlighted the strong cooperation between their countries, whose relationship dates to 1797.

President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 01:04

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Ronald L. Batory of New Jersey to be the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Department of Transportation. Mr. Batory has more than 45 years of diverse leadership in the railroad industry. In his last capacity with Consolidated Rail Corporation, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to that affiliation, he was President of the Belt Railway Company of Chicago. Mr. Batory earned his B.A. from Adrian College and his M.A. from Eastern Michigan University. Mr. Batory and his wife, Barbara, reside in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

Susan Combs of Texas to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Policy, Management and Budget. Ms. Combs has an extensive career in elected public office and in the private sector as a small business owner running a ranch in the Big Bend area of Texas. She served in the Texas Legislature, writing and passing the State’s private property legislation, and working to ensure greater transparency in government spending. She was also elected to two Texas statewide offices: as the State’s first woman Agriculture Commissioner; and then as the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Treasurer, and Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Combs spent 16 years in statewide elected leadership.

Lewis M. Eisenberg of Florida to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Italian Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of San Marino. Mr. Eisenberg is a prominent American financier, investor, and philanthropist. Co-founder and managing partner of Ironhill Investments in New York, he has a record of engaging with State and local governments on complex issues. Mr. Eisenberg was the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for six years and was named a Founding Board Member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, where he chaired its 9/11 Victims’ Families and Transportation Advisory Councils. He is an Emeritus Member of Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management Advisory Council and Life Member of the Cornell University Council. He earned a B.A. at Dartmouth College and a M.B.A. at Cornell Johnson School of Business.

Robert P. Kadlec of New York to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Preparedness and Response. Currently, Dr. Kadlec is the Deputy Staff Director for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Previously, he served as a Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense Policy for President George W. Bush. Dr. Kadlec holds a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy; a M.D. from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and a M.A. in National Security Studies, Georgetown University.

Stephen B. King of Wisconsin to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Czech Republic. Mr. King is a prominent public servant and businessman who successfully acquired, built, and sold a specialty chemical manufacturing business and founded a family investment business. Earlier in his career, Mr. King investigated civil rights violations for the Federal Bureau Investigation, served as an investigator for the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and was named Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for liaison between USDA and the Agriculture Committees of the House and Senate. Mr. King earned a M.A. and a B.S. at Western Illinois University.

Randal Quarles of Colorado to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the remainder of a 14-year term expiring January 31, 2018, and for an additional 14-year term expiring January 31, 2032, and to be Vice Chairman for Supervision of the Federal Reserve System for a term of 4 years. Mr. Quarles has had an extensive career in government and international finance. He served as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance in the George W. Bush Administration, and before that as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and U.S. Executive Director of the IMF. He had earlier served in the George H.W. Bush Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Policy. He is a founder and managing director of The Cynosure Group, a private investment firm in Salt Lake City. Before founding Cynosure, Mr. Quarles was a partner of The Carlyle Group and, earlier, of the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell. He graduated summa cum laude in philosophy and economics from Columbia University and earned a J.D. from the Yale Law School.

Mary Kirtley Waters of Virginia to be an Assistant Secretary of State, Legislative Affairs. Since early 2017, Ms. Waters has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs at the State Department. Ms. Waters was a cabinet confirmation team leader for the Presidential Transition Team. Previously, she served as President of the North American Millers’ Association, Vice President for Corporate Relations with the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, and Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations at the Department of Agriculture. She spent 15 years as Senior Director and Legislative Counsel in the Washington office of ConAgra Foods. Ms. Waters earned a B.A. from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.


President Donald J. Trump Announces Intended Appointments to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to appoint the following individuals as members of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity:

  • J. Christian Adams of Virginia
  • Alan Lamar King of Alabama


White House Statement on Today’s Announcement from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Declining Obamacare Insurance Market

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 00:59

Today’s announcement shows that insurers continue to flee Obamacare at an alarming rate. With only half the number of issuers wanting to sell Americans plans on Obamacare’s exchanges today than just two years ago, it is now more clear than ever that Obamacare’s collapse is accelerating and that the American people need real reform.

With costs out of control and choices continuing to dwindle, now is the time for Congress to act.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on the Liberation of Mosul

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 00:06

Today, Iraqi Security Forces, supported by the United States and the Global Coalition, liberated the city of Mosul from its long nightmare under the rule of ISIS.  We congratulate Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi Security Forces, and all Iraqis for their victory over terrorists who are the enemies of all civilized people.

We mourn the thousands of Iraqis brutally killed by ISIS and the millions of Iraqis who suffered at the hands of ISIS.  We grieve with the Iraqi people for the loss of the heroic soldiers and Peshmerga who gave their lives to restore life to their country, and we honor their sacrifice.  We in the United States and the Global Coalition are proud to stand with the Iraqi Security Forces and all those who made this moment of liberation possible.

We have made tremendous progress against ISIS – more in the past 6 months than in the years since ISIS became a major threat.  The victory in Mosul, a city where ISIS once proclaimed its so-called “caliphate,” signals that its days in Iraq and Syria are numbered.  We will continue to seek the total destruction of ISIS.

Press Briefing by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 20:50

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:28 P.M. EDT

MS. SANDERS:  Good afternoon.  Before we get started, I’d like to bring up Marc Short, the Director of Legislative Affairs, to give an update on how we're moving the President’s agenda through Congress, particularly on the historic obstruction from Senate Democrats on confirming the President’s incredibly qualified nominees to posts across the federal government. 

After his statement, Marc will take a few of your questions on that topic; and after that, I will be back to answer your other questions.

Thanks.  Marc.

MR. SHORT:  Good afternoon.  This week, the Senate has scheduled a few confirmation votes.  Yet as even The Washington Post has reported, the Senate is conducting the slowest confirmation process in American history.  For the past six months, Senator Schumer has deliberately run an unprecedented campaign of obstruction against the President’s nominees for high-ranking positions in the government. 

Not only are key national security, energy, financial, and regulatory positions left unfilled, procedural slowdowns have kept the Senate committees from doing other legislative work.  

Democrats even walked out of committee hearings to deny a quorum, like school children taking their toys from the playground.  But it’s the American people who are being hurt.  These obstruction tactics are carried out in the name of resisting the Trump administration and playing to a radical left-wing base.  But it’s the will of the American people that is being denied.

As war rages in the Middle East, the Senate hasn’t confirmed many national security appointees.  In fact, the President’s nominee for Under Secretary of Defense, Elaine McCusker, enjoyed bipartisan support as she advanced through committee.  But she has now been waiting since May 23rd for a vote on the Senate floor.

The person responsible for ensuring our national security throughout all foreign investments is still waiting an up or down vote.  Heath Tarbert was voted out of committee on May 23rd and for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has now waited for over a month for a confirmation vote.  

As Americans are anxious to get back to work and get the economy growing again after eight years of stagflation -- sorry, stagnation, the nominee to run the President’s Council of Economic Advisers is stuck waiting for approval.  Kevin Hassett again received Democrat support and an endorsement letter from 44 bipartisan economists, some of whom even served in the Obama administration.  He was approved in committee on June 14th and again is still waiting to be confirmed.

The list goes on.  We currently have seven deputy secretaries -- to manage entire federal departments -- who have been cleared by committee and are waiting for a vote on the Senate floor.  

Folks, it’s July 10th, and we do not have deputy secretaries at the Small Business Administration, the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy, HUD, HHS, OMB, and the Department of Defense.  Senate committees have cleared 32 of our nominees who are still waiting for a floor vote.  

In total, there are 133 nominees waiting for consideration by various committees.  While Senator Schumer irresponsibly champions the resist movement, his partisan tactics are harming the country and obstructing the will of the American people.  

To date, the Senate has confirmed a total of 50 Trump administration nominees.  To put that in perspective, the Senate had confirmed 202 officials at this same point in the Obama administration.  We think that that is a fair analogy because Republicans now control the Senate.  Democrats controlled the Senate at that point.  And the comparison is 50 to 202.  

By the August recess in 2009, the Senate had confirmed 292 Obama administration nominees by voice vote alone.  To date, the Trump administration nominees have received five voice vote confirmations.  

The truth is the Democrats are putting their agenda ahead of the will of the American people.  Democrats are keeping key agency nominees from serving their country.  And today, we're calling on Senator Chuck Schumer to stop blocking the will of the American people for political gain.  And we're also calling on you in the media to help shine light to bring this problem to light of day.

The Senate will likely devote this entire week to approving just three well-qualified nominees.  We ask:  Give these critical nominees an up or down vote so they can get to work.  

I’m happy to take your questions.

Q    Have you talked to the Democrats at all to find out why they're offering such pushback?  And have you tried to negotiate with them behind the scenes to try and cure some of the problem?  Or is it just here that we've heard about it?

MR. SHORT:  Yes, we have spoken to them.  Yes, we've been trying to work that.  I think that one comment that Democrats are likely to say is that, well, Republicans control the committees, and so they could move forward these committee assignments to the House floor quicker.  But as we've already articulated to you, 32 of our nominees are sitting there waiting for floor votes now.  The number of voice votes is small -- a fraction of what was afforded Obama nominees.  And we think that there’s really no historical precedent for this.

Q    Just one quick follow-up then.  What about those Democrats who are also saying this pales in comparison to what Senator McConnell said about the previous administration that goal one was to not pass anything that -- or help the administration out in way, shape, or form?

MR. SHORT:  I think that the record shows that what McConnell did as the Senate Republican leader at the time was to confirm Obama’s nominees.  I think there’s a long history of believing the American people elect an administration.  The committees determine the qualifications.  And assuming that those candidates are qualified, they get votes.  We're not receiving that courtesy.

Yes, Peter.

Q    Marc, if can ask you, earlier today, we heard from some top U.S. senators, including Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray and others that basically said in simple terms they want to advance policies that would help bring stability to health insurance markets and make premiums more affordable for millions of Americans, effectively calling for bipartisanship in the effort to deal with healthcare right now.  Do you think bipartisanship -- given the fact about Democrats to work with Republicans on these nominees -- is bipartisanship the way to go to best serve Americans on healthcare?

MR. SHORT:  I think that we believe that bipartisanship is a solution to a lot of our problems.  We have not seen bipartisanship.  The numbers I’m giving you right now shows everything they're trying to do is obstruct our agenda.  

And specific to healthcare, we've commented several times that we would welcome bipartisan support.  The Democrats who have said to us openly -- they say, look, we know Obamacare is failing.  We know that insurance markets are collapsing.  We know that insurers are leaving them and that rates have in many cases doubled, and some cases tripled.  But we can't be a part of Obamacare repeal because that’s viewed as something that was a signature accomplishment of the previous administration.  

So there may come a time for being able to partner with them.  But I don't think that happens till after this repeal.


Q    So, Marc, how confident are you that you’ll be able to pass this Republican-only?  Democrats -- you can't blame them for blocking you on this bill, this healthcare bill.  How confident are you that you’ll get it done by August?  And if it fails, are you going to bring the Democrats down here to work on more modest fixes to the current law?

MR. SHORT:  We're confident that it’s going to pass, and that we're not going to be in a situation of failure, Jon.

But at the same time, I think that the President recognizes that Republicans have campaigned on repeal and replace since 2010.  In all candor, in many ways, he was looking forward to the day he was inaugurated having a bill on his desk to repeal it because it’s something the Republicans have said they would be doing, again, since the 2010 election cycle.

So we're anxious to get that bill and for the President to sign it. 

Q    But if it doesn't come here by the end of -- by August, are you going to bring Democrats down here?  Are we going to see -- 

MR. SHORT:  We still look forward to completing the repeal and replace before August.

Q    Marc, Republican voters know that you have a majority in the Senate.  You also have a 51-vote threshold.  They also know the Senate Majority Leader controls the calendar, especially on executive branch nominations.  So explain to them why it’s only a Democratic obstruction problem?

MR. SHORT:  Well, as you understand the nature of cloture votes, it required -- that is something that in past administrations has not been required.  And so -- 

Q    Motion to proceed, in other words.

MR. SHORT:  Yes, thank you, Major.  

So in previous administrations -- I know I have the number here -- it was roughly about 5 percent of nominees that were required to get cloture votes.  In our case, it’s been about 90 percent.  So, yes, there is the process that the Republicans control the committees.  In some cases I mentioned, they've gone to the extraordinary steps of actually walking out of committee hearings to deny a quorum, just delaying the process.

And in many cases, we believe that part of this is obstruction because they know the most precious thing the Senate has is floor time, so if they stretch this out longer, it means you don't get to your legislative agenda.  So it’s part of their strategy, as well.

But it is historic in the level of obstruction that is denying the will of the American people who elected a new administration and expect that administration to be able to staff the departments.

Q    Now, Marc, you told that you have confidence that healthcare will get passed by the August break.  But it appears by all the reporting that we do that the trajectory is moving in the opposite direction.  A greater number of Republicans are ambivalent or opposed to this currently drafted legislation than just two weeks ago.  What is the source of your confidence when the outward vote counting appears to be moving in the opposite direction from the administration’s vantage point?

MR. SHORT:  We look forward to being able to -- we support bills that provide I think many things that the various factions of the party were looking for.

I think what you heard over the recess was just expressing displeasure with the previous draft that's now been amended.  It includes, as you know, a lot of resources for opioid funding that many in states perhaps more in the Midwest that have been plagued by opioid addiction were looking to get.  It also includes the ability to use your HSA accounts to pay for premiums, and that's something that many of the conservatives have asked for.

We also are waiting to see how the Cruz-Lee amendment gets scored.  So we believe that the bill is changing significantly in a way that will garner the necessary votes.

Q    Marc, thank you.  Can you map out specifically what role President Trump is going to take in trying to get this bill over the finish line?  Obviously in the final days of the healthcare bill’s passage, he was very front and center.  Is he going to take the same type of approach in these next two weeks?  Obviously he has the Paris trip coming up.

And then I know you're focused on plan A.  But should you need a plan B as the position of this White House that Obamacare should be repealed with a plan to replace it further down the line?

MR. SHORT:  Several questions there.  I think that there’s a natural difference between a bill passed in the House and a bill passed in the Senate.  And so when you have 435 members in the House, I do think that the appearance will be more frenetic.  You’ll see many members coming over here to the White House for broader meetings.

In the Senate, we know that the number of targeted votes is a much smaller number.  And so you're not going to see that same level of activity, of members coming and outside the White House.  But that doesn't mean the President isn’t engaged.  

As the President was leaving for his most recent trip on a holiday weekend, he was continuing to make calls.  And he’ll continue to make this case.  This is a promise that Republicans have made to voters, and it’s a promise that he expects them to deliver on.

Q    Does he need the plan B option?  Is it still the position of this White House, as the President tweeted several days ago, that the focus should shift to repealing Obamacare now, making sure that happens, that promise to America’s voters --

MR. SHORT:  To be clear, we still believe that the bill before the United States Senate is the preferable path.  I just want to state that clearly for everybody, that that is the path that we're planning on.  

But I think the President is making a very clear point that Republicans have voted many times on a repeal bill.  And when we talk about its repealing, it’s important to keep in mind what that did.  It continued payment for Medicaid.  It continued -- it would create basically a stabilization fund to keep the markets as they are for a period of two, three years until a replacement plan is put together.  

And I think the President is making the case that Republicans have already cast that vote.  And it’s not as if markets have gotten healthier.  Markets have only continued to become -- have continued to collapse.

And so in light of that, it’s pretty hard to explain we think how you would have voted for it 18 months ago and couldn’t support the similar vote when the markets get worse than what they were.

So the President does recognize that he just thinks stating a simple political fact, that that's a vote they're on record.  In fact, 49 of the current Republicans voted for that previously.  In addition now, Todd Young voted for it in the House, and is in Senate.  So right there you have 50 votes basically casting the same vote.

Q    -- you're referring to, right, Marc?

MR. SHORT:   There’s been multiple repeals.  This -- was December 15th.  

Q    Back on the obstruction charge, has the President raised this directly with Senator Schumer?  And how often do they communicate?

MR. SHORT:  I will leave the President’s personal conversations with Senator Schumer.  But keep in mind, that there are also Democrat nominees working through this process; that there are certain independent boards and agencies for which statutorily the Democrats, the minority party gets its own picks.

And to date, I will grant you it’s a very small sample size, but we have nominated twice as many to this point as Bush had -- sorry, as McConnell had of Republicans.  So it’s again, one more factor of us looking to try to be bipartisan and help to make the nominations that they're asking for.  Yet there’s been no reciprocation as far as a courtesy and anything but obstruction.

Q    Back on healthcare issue, how much confidence does the President have in Senator McConnell to push this over the line?

MR. SHORT:  The President has confidence in both Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell.

Q    Marc, slightly off topic.  There’s a quote floating around of you saying that you think the Iran -- the drafted legislation on the Iran and Russia sanctions is poorly written.  And so I want to know is the White House going to support a bill that is not poorly written?  And what exactly would you like to see changed for the White House to support it?

MR. SHORT:  Thanks.  To be clear, the administration’s perspective is, is that we support the sanctions in the bill on Russia and Iran.  Keep in mind, it’s initially an Iran bill for which there is a Russia sanctions amendment.  The administration is fully supportive of those sanctions.

What our concern is, is that the legislation we believe sets an unusual precedent of delegating foreign policy to 535 members of Congress by not including certain national security waivers that have always been consistently part of sanctions bills in the past.  And so by stripping that, what you in essence do is create I think challenge for us diplomatically and in many cases the ability to react quickly to ongoing circumstances where if a nation is cooperating with you, you can extend waivers.  Or there’s certain examples where there’s covert activities in which it’s helpful to have that ability.  And by stripping that away from the executive branch, we think the way it’s currently drafted is something that neither a Democrat nor a Republican administration could support.

Q    Did the subject come up in the meetings with President Putin at all?  Anything around that?

MR. SHORT:  That I’m aware of.

Q    Marc, on healthcare, one of the reasons that so many senators are reluctant to endorse this bill right now is they're hearing a lot of opposition in their districts.  They're hearing phone calls in their offices.  Is there anything that the President is going to do to use his bully pulpit to make an affirmative case for the American people for this bill?  We've not heard him do that so far, apart from a few tweets here and there.

MR. SHORT:  I think the President has made an affirmative case for the bill, but I think your larger point is a fair one -- that the left I think has been more organized in their messaging on this than collectively Republicans have as far as advocating for the benefits of the bill.  And I fully accept that point as sort of a lesson learned moving forward.

Q    Well, can the President do anything?  

MR. SHORT:  I think that he will continue -- 

Q    If he could do an address to the American people?

MR. SHORT:  The President you will -- again, I believe the President has remained very active in this debate, and you will see him continue to remain so.  And as far as what plans he has for travel that maybe he could go to targeted states to make his case, I think we’ll wait and see.

Q    Marc, do you think it was the right idea, the right approach to have a more of a hands-off approach during this Senate process than he did during the House process?  I know Senator McConnell asked the White House to be not directly involved in the negotiations.  As it sits here right now, do you believe that that was the right approach?  And what are you doing specifically this week to get the Jerry Morans and the Senator Hoevens on board?  Because opioids aren’t their concern.

MR. SHORT:  I reject the premise of your question.  I believe that the administration has been involved.  I think initially after the House bill passed, there needed to be a time of rescoring the bill.  And that's what’s transpired in which everyone was a little bit on the sideline.

But since then I think that the Vice President has been to the Senate Policy Lunch every week in which this has been the primary focus of conversation.  Seema Verma from HHS has gone and had countless meetings with members who are questioning where they stand or are undecided.   She’s been talking to them very specifically about Medicaid funding for their states in very formulaic conversations.   The Secretary of HHS, Tom Price, has been making calls and meeting with members throughout the holiday, as well.

So again, it’s different because when you have 435 members in the House, you're going to see a lot more activity coming in and out of this building.  But I think that that's a false measure for the level of activity that we have in this debate.

Q    How do you explain the approval rating for this bill as it now sits?  It’s so much lower than the President’s approval rating.  Shouldn’t it be at least as high, in the 30s or 40 or something?  Why is it so low?

MR. SHORT:  I think back to Phil’s question.  I think that it’s a fair point that the Democrats were more organized in their messaging on the bill than collectively Republicans have been in making their case for the benefits of it.

But I also continue to see polling that suggests that the American people do want Obamacare repealed.  The number of people -- 

Q    They don't like this bill, though.

MR. SHORT:   The number of people who have lost insurance, they know that it’s a dramatic problem.  And I think that there’s more we could be doing in educating the benefits of repealing and replacing with our plan.

Q    Marc, thank you.  Part of the case you're making for this bill is that the exchanges are collapsing.  And day after day Sarah and Sean stand at that podium and talk about insurance -- 

MR. SHORT:  God bless them. 

Q    Yes, sir.  Insurance companies that are pulling out of the exchanges.  But until that bill passes, Obamacare is the law of the land.  And those exchanges are set up by the law.  Has the administration made -- or is the administration making any effort to keep these insurance companies in the exchanges?  Or are you guys just letting them pull out?  What sort of effort is there to keep them in?

MR. SHORT:  It’s a great question.  I guess fundamentally we don't think it’s the federal government’s job to force and insurer to stay in the exchange.  In fact, I think today what you're going to see from a report coming out this afternoon from CMS is that for the 2016 year, 281 insurers were in the private Obamacare exchanges.  By 2017, it had fallen to 241.  And just now -- as they're supposed to submit their bids for next year in 2018, it’s down to 140 insurers.  Half of the insurers have already fled the markets.  I don't think they're going to give you much more evidence that this system is failing.

Q    Just to be clear, there’s been no outreach or effort on the administration’s part to attempt to keep any of these companies in the exchanges?

MR. SHORT:  We continue to talk to insurers at the HHS and OMB level to continue to talk about here are things that we can do from a regulatory impact to make it easier for you.  So, yes, that is happening.

But again, I think that we fundamentally take a different view of the way the government should work.  It’s not a heavy handed enforcement to say you must say in the exchanges.  That's not the way we do it.  The previous administration may have.

Q    As you're talking about the healthcare bill changing, is the President listening to the diverse voices like women’s groups, people from Appalachia who didn't like Obamacare but like the benefits of ACA?  Is he listening to those diverse voices to be able to change it to benefit all America?  Or is it just also his base he’s focusing more on?  Or is it all America?

MR. SHORT:  No, I think -- I appreciate the question.  But I think the President recognizes he’s the President of all the American people, and he wants a healthcare plan that meets all their needs.  He’s not looking to target a plan that just benefits his base.

And so I think that he is -- there have been many countless listening sessions the President has hosted here in the White House with different groups, some that have been open to the media, some that have not.  But he’s heard from a wide group of people and believes that this is the best plan forward.

Q    Tax reform update for us?

MR. SHORT:  Tax reform update -- we are continuing to have conversations.  I’m actually leaving here to head to the Hill momentarily, continuing to have conversations with them on our schedule.  We hope to have a plan that we're agreed upon between the House, Senate, and the White House.  

I think we've been very intentional about wanting to be on the same page and not have multiple plans, and so -- 

Q    Maybe something this week?

MR. SHORT:  The schedule -- I would doubt it would be this week.  I think that hopefully before the August recess is when we have it locked in place, and that we would look to begin the markup process when we return from August recess.

Q    Can you lower the corporate rate, though, to a level that is more competitive internationally?  That seemed to be a big focus.

MR. SHORT:  Absolutely, we can lower the corporate rate and absolutely the President is focused 100 percent on getting growth back in our economy. 

Q    Marc, one thing, Senator Sasse has said that if by today the Senate hadn’t made meaningful progress in coming together around a single bill, they should move ahead with repeal, followed by discussing replace afterward.  And the President appeared to endorse that right before -- so be clear, do you think that they've made enough progress at this point that they don't need to go down that?

MR. SHORT:  Look, I think if that's a deadline that Senator Sasse set, you should ask Senator Sasse that.  I don't think the President set our official deadline on that.  As we've already discussed in a previous question, I think that he’s just pointing out the obvious of where the votes are in a previous repeal vote.  Thank you.  

Q    Nominations.  I hope you’ll find it an important question.  You describe this as a national security threat, the fact that there are 16 nominees on the defense side that have not been confirmed.  Given that, given the Democrats’ strategy, would it be a mistake if the Senate were to go on recess in August if these nominees are not confirmed?  

MR. SHORT:  I think that we are looking toward confirmations by the August recess.  One of the data points I gave you is a comparison of what Obama had confirmed by August recess, and that's a threshold that we’ll look at.

And I think that the President has every right to call Congress back if necessary I think -- 

Q    Will he exercise that authority?

MR. SHORT:  Because I think you make a very fair point that I believe that the Democrat obstruction is jeopardizing national security.

Thank you. 

MS. SANDERS:  Thanks, Mark.

Before we talk about all of the things coming up this week, I wanted to quickly give you guys a recap of the President’s trip to Poland and Germany last week and some of the things that happened back here at home while we were gone.

In both Germany and Poland, the President sought to reinforce old alliances and build new relationships, just as he promised he would do in his Inaugural Address to serve the interests of the American people. 

In Poland, President Trump gave a powerful and historic speech in Warsaw that was widely praised both in Poland and the United States as one of the most important speeches by an American President on foreign soil in decades.

In his speech, the President saluted the spirit of the Polish people over centuries of hardship, and especially the Polish heroes of the Warsaw Uprising and those in the struggle to defeat communism. 

The President reaffirmed that the NATO Alliance of free, sovereign, and strong independent nations is in the best interests of America and the security of the American people.  He also reaffirmed America’s commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty and called upon member states to honor their full and fair financial obligations.

But even more importantly, the Warsaw Speech was a stirring defense of the West in a manner not heard from an American President in many years.  Using the Polish experience as an example, President Trump reminded us of the shared history, culture, and values that have made Western civilization great and urged the nations of the West to defend it from new threats inside and out.

President Trump concluded by challenging the nations of the West to remember our histories, have confidence in our values, and have pride in who we are.  He proclaimed that by remembering these strengths, we will continue to be the greatest, freest, most successful community of nations in history.  

In Germany, the President successfully achieved his objectives on behalf of the American people at the G20. 
In his discussions with more than a dozen foreign leaders, he underscored the need for nations to join together to strip terrorists of their funding, territory and ideological support -- and to stop doing business with nations that sponsor terrorism, especially Iran.

On North Korea, he called on all nations to isolate the regime and to cut off all ties of trade and commerce.  

At the same time, he hailed the launch of the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, of which the United States is a founding member, to help empower women all across the world.  

In his meetings, President Trump also underscored the need to end unfair trade practices and to finally provide American workers and businesses with a level playing field.
The trip to Poland and participation in the G20 summit have given the President tremendous cause for hope.  He returned to the United States with great optimism for the future and incredible excitement for what lies ahead.

On Friday, while the President was participating in those important discussions at the G20, the June jobs report came out back here at home.  Sadly there wasn’t a lot of coverage of these numbers, so I wanted to give you a few highlights:  There were --222,000 new jobs were added in June, higher than the monthly average over the past year and well above expectations.  With 187,000 private sector jobs added in June, there have now been over 800,000 private sector jobs added since the President took office.

And on top of all that, the jobs report from April and May were revised upward reflecting that an additional 47,000 jobs were added in those months than previously reported.

Looking ahead, as Marc told you, congressional Democrats are committed to inaction.  Republicans are driving a lot of action on the Hill this week.  Both houses are taking up important legislation on defense spending, military construction, and veterans affairs spending.  And of course, the Senate is continuing to work on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the collapsing Obamacare system before it completely falls apart. 

Just today, the Gallup-Sharecare survey showed that nearly 2 million adults in the United States dropped out of healthcare coverage this year.  That’s 2 million more Americans who are being completely failed by the last administration’s broken promises; 2 million more Americans who deserve better, and they’re only a small part of the picture of those families and individuals who are suffering under the current system.

For those 2 million Americans and the countless others we hear about each time another insurer pulls out of a state’s exchange or one of the dwindling number of co-ops fails, it’s critical that the Senate moves swiftly and decisively to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a system that truly supports everyone to get the healthcare coverage they need.

Later this week, of course, the President will be in France, and we will have more details on that trip in the coming days.  While the President is in France, the Vice President will deliver the opening keynote address to the National Governors Association’s Summer Meeting on Friday.  And as a former governor, the Vice President will speak with some of his former colleagues about the President’s commitment to partnering with the states on issues like infrastructure, healthcare, and education.  While in Rhode Island for the event, he will also meet with the Prime Minister of Canada, who is attending the NGA meeting to continue our country’s productive conversations on immigration, security, and trade -- including renegotiating NAFTA.  

Before I take your questions, I want to read a statement from the President on some recent current events.  

Today, Iraqi Security Forces supported by the United States in the global coalition, liberated the city of Mosul from its longtime nightmare under the rule of ISIS.  We congratulate Prime Minister Abadi, the Iraqi Security Forces, and all the Iraqis for their victory over terrorists who are the enemies of all civilized people.  We mourn the thousands of Iraqis brutally killed by ISIS and the millions of Iraqis who suffered at the hands of ISIS.  We grieve with the Iraqi people for the loss of heroic soldiers who gave their lives to restore life to their country, and we honor their sacrifice.  

We in the United States and the global coalition are proud to stand with the Iraqi Security Forces and all those who made this moment of liberation possible.  We’ve made tremendous progress against ISIS more in the past six months than the years since ISIS became a major threat.  The victory in Mosul, a city where ISIS once proclaimed its so-called caliphate, signals that its days in Iraq and Syria are numbered.  We will continue to seek the total destruction of ISIS.  

And with that, I’ll take your questions.  And, because he’s not always here and he’s a fellow Arkansan, Frank Lockwood.

Q    Thank you.

MS. SANDERS:  Because I get to pick.  (Laughter.) 

Q    The President, today, tweeted that it would be unimaginable -- he can’t imagine that Congress would go home from Washington in August, take the month off -- if they haven’t dealt with the repeal and replace of Obamacare.  If Congress does the unimaginable and goes for a month, is the President prepared to ensure that there are consequences for those vacationing lawmakers in 2018?

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t know that he’s going to lay out a list of consequences.  I think he’s focused on the positive component of this, and that’s the hope that all of the members of Congress will come together to repeal and replace Obamacare.  That’s his focus -- is making sure it gets done.  Not on what happens if it doesn’t.

Q    If I could ask on one more tweet.  The President also tweeted this morning about Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton -- said that she was giving away the country, I believe.  At what point is the President going to put Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Bill Clinton in the rearview mirror?  He won the election.  He won it fair and square.  When does he just let them go and look forward?

MS. SANDERS:  I believe this tweet was a response to the attacks on his daughter taking his seat, if I’m correct.  Is that the one you’re referring to, Frank?

Q    Yeah.

MS. SANDERS:  Look, this wasn’t about putting them in the front.  This was about responding to an outrageous attack against a White House senior advisor.  And it’s pretty standard protocol that when the leader gets up, someone takes their seat -- as Chancellor Merkel also pointed out and said that this was perfectly standard protocol.

In fact, I think that we should be proud to have Ivanka sitting in that seat, considering particularly the topic at hand was part of her portfolio.  If she didn’t have the last name that she has, I think she would be constantly celebrated instead of constantly attacked, and I frankly think it’s a sad thing that they chose to go after her in that moment.


Q    Sarah, first, just a quick clarification from the meeting with Putin in Germany:  Did the President say that he accepted Putin’s denial of any involvement in election interference, as Putin said in his press conference?  Have you had a chance to ask the President about that?

MS. SANDERS:  The President was -- multiple times asked Putin whether or not he was involved.  It took up a great deal of the conversation that they had on the front end of their meeting, and the President heard Putin’s denial and also realized they had some very important topics they needed to cover -- Ukraine, North Korea, Syria -- and decided to move on from that point of the conversation and focus on those issues.

Q    But he didn’t accept that denial or did he?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, he heard Putin’s denial and he knew that at the end of the day the important part was them being able to have that conversation, him to directly ask him.  He heard his answer and he moved forward with places that they thought they could work together.  The President has been clear from his statements back in January and even in his tweets over the last couple of days, his opinion on that matter.

Q    And the question I wanted to ask was the reports on this meeting that took place at Trump Tower last June with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner.  When did the President learn that that meeting had taken place?

MS. SANDERS:  I believe in the last couple of days is my understanding.

Q    Is he concerned about that -- that the top leadership of his campaign would take a meeting with a Russian lawyer promising to give negative information?

MS. SANDERS:  No, I mean, I’ve been on several campaigns and people call offering information.  As I know many of you receive similar calls of people offering information.  Don Jr. took a very short meeting from which there was absolutely no follow-up.  Frankly, I think something that may make sense is looking at the Democrat National Committee coordinated opposition research directly with the Ukrainian Embassy.  This is not an accusation, that’s an on-the-record action that they took.  So if you’re looking for an example of a campaign coordinating with a foreign country or a foreign source, look no further than the DNC who actually coordinated opposition research with the Ukrainian Embassy.  And no one in this room to my knowledge really had a big problem with that.

The only thing I see inappropriate about the meeting was the people that leaked the information on the meeting after it was voluntarily disclosed.  At this point, I’d also like to add, Donald Trump Jr. has made a statement on this, the President’s outside counsel has made a statement on it, and now I have as well and I’m not going to add anything further.


Q    Just to follow up on that.  If this sort of meeting is normal and standard practice in the campaign, do you know if there were any other meetings that either Donald Trump Jr. or other representatives of the Trump campaign had with other Russian officials or any other foreign agent to collect information about Hillary?  

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t know of any other meetings with Don Jr., but I also haven’t had an extensive conversation with him.

Q    Has anyone looked into whether there were any others?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not sure, Phil.  I’ll have to check and get back to you.


Q    Thanks, Sarah.  I have a quick question about this cyber taskforce with Russia.  Yesterday the President tweeted about the cybersecurity unit being put together, and then then about 12 hours later said that it would never happen.  What went down in those 12 hours that so drastically changed that situation?

MS. SANDERS:  This was part of a discussion in that meeting and, look, we recognize that Russia is a cyber threat, but we also recognize the need to have conversations with our adversaries.  And when our adversaries see strength like they did with the President in the meeting, they can look for other ways to work on shared interests and look for positive places where they can move the ball forward.  Particularly on things like the ceasefire, and that became a greater focus and something the President chose to stay focused on -- is that front. 


Q    Sarah, just to clarify: That idea is dead?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, I would say that discussions may still take place but that’s as far as it is right now.

Q    Okay.  And I know you just said a minute ago you aren’t going to make any additional statement, but there’s a history and we have been asked by you and others at the podium to respect the statements you make there.  So, there’s a long history of blanket denials, during the transition and during times of this administration about nobody within the campaign having any meetings under any circumstances at all with Russian officials.  And now one was disclosed this weekend.  The original characterization of that meeting was amended within 24 hours when new information was placed before Don Jr.  How are we to take all of these blanket denials that occurred through the transition and now when it has been proven and recognized by the President’s attorney and Don Jr. that those blanket denials were not factual?

MS. SANDERS:  I think the point is that we’ve tried to make every single time, today and then, and will continue to make in those statements is that there was simply no collusion that they keep trying to create that there was.

Q    But that’s a different question than was asked at the time and different than the statements were about.  The questions originally, as you know and I know, were about contacts, and those were blanket denials.  And then when the contacts became confirmed, then it was, well they were infrequent.  Well now we have a whole pattern of lots of different meetings that have to be confirmed later.  And those original questions were not about collusion, Sarah.  They were just about contacts.

MS. SANDERS:  They were originally about that.  That’s the whole premise of what you’re asking the question is whether or not the campaign colluded with Russia.  That’s the premise of the entire scope of your questioning, and the point we’ve tried to make over and over again and will continue to make is that there wasn’t.  And beyond that, I really can’t offer you anything.

Q    Sarah, back to yesterday morning’s tweets.  Can you tell us what it was or what is or what was going to be a cybersecurity unit and how this was going to work? 

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not sure there were specific details discussed.  I think it was simply just a discussion on cybersecurity threats and potential options.  Not necessarily a formal kind of structure in place.  

Jon Decker.

Q    Thanks a lot, Sarah.  After this two and a half hour meeting with President Putin that the President had in Germany, how would you describe the state of U.S. relations with Russia.  Do you view Russia as a partner?  Do you view them as an ally?  Do you view them as an adversary?  

MS. SANDERS:  I would want to have further conversations with members of the Secretary of State, National Security Council, but I think we saw that there were places of shared interest that we can work together; specifically, things like the Syrian ceasefire, that we both can agree on in order to move forward in some places.  I don’t think that’s going to be the case on everything, but there are certainly certain instances where we can work together with Russia to make every part of the world a little bit safer.  

Q    And does the President trust President Putin?

MS. SANDERS:  I haven’t asked him that question.

Q    Can you please ask him that question?


Q    Thank you, Sarah.  I have two questions.  We know there was no note taker in the meeting, but did you make an audio recording of the meeting or did the Russians?  

MS. SANDERS:  Not that I’m aware of.  I’d have to ask.  I’m not sure.

Q    Can you ask?

And the second question is:  Director Comey was under oath when he said that the memo that he gave to his friend did not include classified information, and the President tweeted this morning that he did leak classified information.  Is he accusing Comey of perjury?

MS. SANDERS:  I think there are a lot of questions out there and a lot of reports where it indicates that Director Comey may have leaked classified information.  That certainly is a threat to the national security and violates policy.

Q    You believe he leaked classified information?

MS. SANDERS:  I think it is something that should be investigated thoroughly.  

Q    But the President stated flatly that he leaked classified information.

MS. SANDERS:  He’s got a much higher clearance.  He may know something I don’t.


Q    Sarah, I want to go back to a couple of questions.  When you talk about the issue of Don Jr., you talk and you said leaked.  What do you think about the word whistleblower?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m sorry?

Q    You’re trying to say people who gave that information were leakers.  What about the issue of whistleblower?  What do you see whistleblower versus leaker?

MS. SANDERS:  I think this is a voluntary disclosure to include some of that information, and I think that it would be inappropriate for that to be shared outside of the scope of the people that should have that information.  

John Gizzi.

Q    Sarah, I just have one more question.  So on the issue of collusion, are you saying there’s no collusion when it comes to the overall arch of the campaign?  But what about the individuals?  What about individuals that could be suspects of collusion?  Are you vouching just for everyone in total or individuals or what? 

MS. SANDERS:  I’m saying that the President’s campaign did not collude in any way.

Q    So then when we go to different people, what do you say about that?  Don Jr.?  Anyone -- the names that are coming up.  

MS. SANDERS:   I would certainly say Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election.  

Q    What about Flynn?  What about Flynn?

MS. SANDERS:  To my knowledge, he did not collude with anybody to influence the campaign.  Again, I think I’ve been very clear, our position is that no one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election.  I think the bottom line is that the Democrats had a weak candidate, and President Trump had a stronger message, and they’re constantly looking for ways to undermine the President and delegitimize his election victory.

John Gizzi.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  Two brief questions.  When the President arrived for the G20 Summit, it was widely reported that the Putin regime was cracking down on the opposition candidate -- Mr. Navalny at the time.  This has been just the latest in a series of events in which human rights and dissent have been crushed in Russia.  Was human rights raised at all by the President in his conversations with the Russian President?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not sure.  I’ll have to ask, John, and get back to you on that.

Q    Alright.  My other question is --

MS. SANDERS:  I knew there was a second one coming.

Q    The President did talk privately with Chancellor Merkel, we know.  Days before he arrived there, her party, the Christian Democratic Union, made a much publicized change in its platform and dropped its reference to the United States as a friend and changed that to important ally.  Was this something that came up in their meeting and did the President ask why she did that?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, I haven’t heard that that was specifically discussed, but I’ll be happy to ask and circle back with you.


Q    Two quick questions for you.  Did President Trump discuss sanctions with Russian President Putin at the G20 Summit?

MS. SANDERS:  I do know that it was mentioned.  Specifically, when you ask about sanctions I know there is a little bit of a question there, and there were sanctions specific to election meddling that I believe were discussed, but not beyond that.

Q    Did the President’s views on sanctions against the Russians change at all after his meeting with President Putin?

MS. SANDERS:  Not that I’m aware of. 

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  This latest meeting with the Russian lawyer.  We not have three instances where -- including with Ambassador Kislyak and a head of the Russia bank -- where Jared Kushner seems to have met with Russians and not disclosed it during his security clearance check.  Is the White House at all concerned about that and do you think it raises any questions about Kushner’s confidence or honesty?

MS. SANDERS:  I believe, actually, it was disclosed on his security clearance when it updated -- yeah --

Q    His updated paperwork, not initially.

MS. SANDERS:  Right.  With all of his contacts from during the transition and prior to that, they were all included in the update, not the original.  

Q    So I’m saying -- his omission in the original of all these meetings with Russians, is there any concern about that?

MS. SANDERS:  No, because it was just an incomplete form.  All of his foreign contacts were listed in the updated version not in the original.

Sorry, Steve.

Q    One of the subjects President Macron wants to talk to the President about is the Paris climate accord.  Is the President willing to negotiate his position on this?

MS. SANDERS:  I certainly think he likes to keep all things on the negotiating table.  At the end of the day, the President is very focused on making sure that he gets the best deal for the American people.  He certainly wants to do things to protect the environment, as we have a history of doing in the United States.  He’s going to continue that practice and continue to encourage it but also make sure that he’s making the deal that’s best for the American people.

Thanks so much, guys.

3:13 P.M. EDT

Readout of the Vice President's Call with Prime Minister of Macedonia Zoran Zaev

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 20:20

The Vice President called Prime Minister of Macedonia Zoran Zaev today. On behalf of President Trump, the Vice President congratulated Zaev on his May 31 assumption of the role of Prime Minister. The Vice President underscored continued U.S. support for Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations and encouraged Zaev to prioritize reforms that will advance Macedonia on its chosen path. The Vice President noted that he looks forward to meeting Zaev and leaders from across the Western Balkans region at the Adriatic Charter Summit that will take place on August 2 in Podgorica, Montenegro.

Readout of the Vice President's Call with Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 20:18

The Vice President spoke by phone today with Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras. The leaders reaffirmed the enduring ties between Greece and the United States. The Vice President congratulated the Prime Minister on Greece’s progress toward recovering from the economic crisis and thanked him for Greece’s role as a pillar of stability in the region, its NATO contributions, and its military cooperation with the United States. The leaders expressed regret that the Conference on Cyprus closed last week without a settlement agreement, and the Vice President underscored continued U.S. support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. The Vice President extended to Tsipras an invitation to visit Washington, and the leaders agreed to meet in the near future.

Obstruction alert: “Senate Democrats hold blue slips, delay Trump’s federal judicial nominees”

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 20:03

“No Democrat has yet returned a ‘blue slip’ signaling acceptance of President Trump’s federal judicial picks — an ominous sign for Republicans, who fear it signals an upcoming attempt to slow-walk the administration’s plans to reshape the federal judiciary.”

Senate Democrats hold blue slips, delay Trump’s federal judicial nominees
By Alex Swoyer
Washington Times
July 10, 2017

No Democrat has yet returned a “blue slip” signaling acceptance of President Trump’s federal judicial picks — an ominous sign for Republicans, who fear it signals an upcoming attempt to slow-walk the administration’s plans to reshape the federal judiciary.

“The administration has been seeking consultation from home-state senators for months — even as senators frequently fail to return our calls, don’t respond to our inquiries and otherwise avoid our constant overtures,” said a Trump administration official who asked not to be identified in order to speak about private communications.

The issue is about to come to a head, as Senate Republicans will soon have to decide whether to proceed with several key circuit court picks over the reticence of home-state Democratic senators.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, has signaled that he may alter adherence to the blue slip policy, which is a tradition giving senators a sort of veto over judges picked from their home states who don’t meet with their approval.

In the past, senators could derail a hearing and vote by not returning a blue slip.

The first tests are likely to come on Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras, who was nominated to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, who was nominated to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both nominations were announced on May 8, but the justices have yet to have confirmation hearings.

Spokespeople for Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary C. Peters in Michigan and Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota said they are still reviewing the records for both justices. None of them has returned a blue slip for their home-state nominee.

The White House says it has reached out multiple times to the four senators.

Mr. Peters spoke with the administration twice before Justice Larsen’s nomination, and Ms. Stabenow spoke with the administration at least four times, according to the White House.

Mr. Franken talked three times with the Trump administration, and Ms. Klobuchar had five conversations prior to Justice Stras’ nomination, the White House said.

Read the full article here.

President Donald J. Trump’s Nominations Face Needless Obstruction

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 20:02

RESISTING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: Senate Democrats have decided to obstruct President Donald J. Trump’s Administration, and the American people, by refusing to confirm qualified nominations.

  • Democrats in the Senate have delayed crucial appointments made by President Trump in an attempt to obstruct the will of the American people and the President’s agenda. 
    • Of the 197 Presidential nominations to agencies, the Senate has only confirmed 48.
    • Only 2 of President Trump’s 23 judicial nominations have actually been confirmed by the Senate.
  • Democrats in the Senate have shown they are willing to break irresponsibly with tradition that allows a President to choose his own appointees in a timely fashion.
    • Less than a month away from the August recess, the Senate has confirmed only 23 percent of President Trump’s 216 nominations.
    • By the first August recess during President Obama’s first term, the Senate had confirmed 69 percent of his 454 nominations.

UNPRECEDENTED OBSTRUCTION: In an effort to prevent President Trump from following through on the policies for which the American people voted, Senate Democrats are putting his nominations through time-consuming parliamentary procedures not seen by the previous Administration.

  • Democrats in the Senate have allowed only 10 percent of President Trump’s confirmations to happen by voice vote, while more than 90 percent of Obama’s were confirmed by a simple voice vote at this point in 2009.
  • In just a few months, Democrats have delayed President Trump’s nominations by going through the burdensome cloture process 30 times.
    • By the first August recess of his Administration, President Obama only had 8 cloture votes on his nominations. 

DAMAGING THE GOVERNMENT: The blatant obstruction of President Trump’s nominations threatens key aspects of the Government, including national security, by leaving positions vacant. 

  • Key positions in the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are vacant because of obstructionism by Senate Democrats, damaging national security.
    • The Department of Defense has seen only 6 of President Trump’s 22 nominations confirmed. Positions waiting confirmation votes include:
      • Deputy Secretary of Defense
      • Principal Deputy under the Secretary of Defense
      • Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Senate Democrats are attempting to hamstring President Trump’s law-and-order agenda by confirming less than 20 percent of his nominations to the Department of Justice and less than half of his nominations to the Department of Homeland Security.
    • The Department of Justice has only 3 of President Trump’s 19 nominations confirmed. Positions waiting confirmation include:
      • Solicitor General of the United States
      • Assistant Attorney General
    • The Department of Homeland Security has only 3 of President Trump’s nominations confirmed. Positions waiting confirmation include:
    • Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Even as the President pushes to reform the healthcare system so it works for the American people, only one third of his nominations to Health and Human Services are confirmed.
    • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has only 3 of President Trump’s 11 nominations confirmed. Positions waiting confirmation include:
    • Deputy Secretary of HHS

QUALIFIED NOMINATIONS: President Trump has nominated qualified individuals to key positions, but their confirmations have been delayed by obstructionism in the Senate.

  • Patrick M. Shanahan is nominated to be Deputy Defense Secretary at the Department of Defense.
    • Dubbed by The New York Times as “Mr. Fix It” who would provide “a good complement to the strategic expertise of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.”
    • Ran Boeing’s missile-defense business.
  • Noel J. Francisco is nominated to be Solicitor General of the United States at the Department of Justice.
    • A former clerk to Antonin Scalia who has argued before the Supreme Court.
    • He served as Associate Counsel to the President from 2001 to 2003, and he was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel from 2003 to 2005.
  • Lee Francis Cissna is nominated to be Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at the Department of Homeland Security.
    • Served as an attorney at USCIS and as an immigration policy director at the Department of Homeland Security.
    • Graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown Law School.
  • Kevin Hassett is nominated to be Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).
    • Forty-four economists from across the political spectrum sent a letter to the Senate supporting Hassett’s nomination.
    • Even economists serving in the Obama administration agreed that “the Nation would be well served if Kevin Hassett is confirmed.”
    • For the past ten CEA chair nominations, the time waiting for confirmation averaged 8 days. Hassett has already waited twenty-seven days.

Survey: United States uninsured population up by 2 million this year

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 17:46

“The number of U.S. adults without health insurance has grown by some 2 million this year, according to a major new survey that finds recent coverage gains beginning to erode. … That may be a reflection of rising premiums and dwindling choices in the insurance markets created under Obama.”

Survey: US Uninsured Up By 2M This Year As Gains Erode
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Associated Press
July 10, 2017

The number of U.S. adults without health insurance has grown by some 2 million this year, according to a major new survey that finds recent coverage gains beginning to erode.

The Gallup-Sharecare survey serves as a kind of early indicator, publishing several months before the nimblest government surveys. The most recent government report found that progress reducing the number of uninsured stalled in 2016, after five consecutive years of coverage gains under Obama.

Peering at this year, Gallup-Sharecare found an erosion of progress, with the number of uninsured edging up again. It estimated nearly 2 million dropped out of coverage.

Survey: United States uninsured population up by 2 million this year

The losses were concentrated among younger adults and people buying their own health insurance policies, the survey found.

That may be a reflection of rising premiums and dwindling choices in the insurance markets created under Obama.

Gallup-Sharecare found that the uninsured rate rose by 1.9 percentage points among adults aged 18-25 since the end of last year, and 1.5 points among those aged 26-34.

Participation by young adults is considered vital for keeping health insurance premiums in check. But young adults are also likely to enjoy good health and may not recognize value in having coverage.

Read the full article here.

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with President Xi Jinping of China

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 21:46

President Donald J. Trump met today with President Xi Jinping of China at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. President Trump discussed the destabilizing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and the need to respond to North Korea’s major escalation involving the test of an ICBM. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. The two leaders also reviewed work in other areas in the bilateral relationship, including economic issues such as reciprocal trade and market access. President Trump and President Xi directed their security and economic teams to make progress in upcoming dialogues.

Remarks by President Trump and President Abe of Japan Before Bilateral Meeting | July 8, 2017

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 03:33

Hamburg Messe
Hamburg, Germany

2:52 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  It's a great honor to have with us the Prime Minister of Japan.  And we have many things that we've been discussing and that we will continue to discuss right now and later on this afternoon.  

We made a lot of progress on trade and other elements.  We're also talking, obviously, about North Korea, and the problem and menace of North Korea.  And the Prime Minister is -- I will say this -- very, very focused on what's going on with respect to North Korea.  So we will continue those discussions, and we appreciate you being here.

Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER ABE:  (As interpreted.)  So, at the very beginning of the G20 Summit this year, we actually made a great start to attend the trilateral summits among Japan, the U.S., and the Republic of Korea, which was kindly arranged by Donald.  And I was very appreciative of your initiative to hold this trilateral summit.  And also, as we are about to wrap up our discussions at the G20 Summit, it is a great pleasure for me to have our bilateral meeting with you.

As I look at the current situation, particularly the security environment in the Asia Pacific region, including North Korea, we believe that it has become increasingly severe.  And against such backdrop, together with you, Donald, we would like to demonstrate the robust partnership as well as the bond between Japan and the United States on this occasion.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.

2:56 P.M. CET

Press Gaggle by Senior Administration Officials Aboard Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews | July 8, 2017

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 03:16

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Joint Base Andrews  

7:00 P.M. CET

MR. COHN:  So we’re going to divide up the labors here.
Q    Just for the purpose of people back home, can you say your name before your speak?
MR. COHN:  Okay, sure.  I'm Gary Cohn.  Secretary Mnuchin and General McMaster, we're going to be diving up the duties here.  I'm going to be talking about the G20 in itself.  General McMaster and Secretary Mnuchin will be talking about all of the bilaterals and all of the meetings with heads of state that we had over the last three days, including going back into Poland and the Three Seas meetings as well.  So if you add them all up, probably 20 individual meetings with different countries over the last three days on the trip.
I'll first touch quickly on the G20.  I think as you know, we had a very rigorous schedule for the President, and he made it more rigorous on himself by adding a few more extra meetings, which the Secretary will touch on.
The G20 schedule, as you know, that we went through in the prior press conference, talked on some of the major topics that we were quite interested in.  The President took the opportunity to deliver speeches in each of the sections.  The first section was the private leaders section on terrorism, where the President delivered his thoughts on terrorism, global terrorism, what's going on in terrorism around the world, and terrorism financing.  
The Secretary would be happy to talk to you about what he's doing on fighting terrorism and terrorism financing and sanctions.  We've become more aggressive on what we're doing there and trying to cut off funding to terrorism around the world.  The global leaders as a whole were in consensus, in uniform thoughts on what's going on in the fight of terrorism around the world.
The second section, where the President also led off and spoke and delivered a speech on trade and finance.  The President talked about what's going on in the U.S. economy; talked about the job creation, the job data out on Friday; talked about the 860,000-plus jobs since the inauguration; and talked about the stock market reforms and what's going on here, and how we're doing in the economy but how we've got to get our trade and our trade numbers better, and our trade imbalance, and how we've got deficits with most of the countries -- most of the countries around the table.  
He talked about the trade deficit.  He talked about nearly $800 billion of trade deficits and goods for the United States last year alone.  He talked about how he wants to rectify that and how we're going to fight to level the playing field on trade and climate.  So he delivered that speech to the group there.  
Then we had section on migration, where the President delivered another speech a little bit later in the queue -- we went later in the queue on migration -- where the President talked about our views on migration, where he was looking at how he thought the world should look at migration.  We should not promote the downward spiral of migration.  We don’t want to see mass migration out of any country.  We should see countries looking to build their own economies and keep their residence in their countries, and keep their citizens in their countries, and make their countries better places for their citizens.  He does believe in migration, but migration for the right reasons, and did not want to see massive migration.
Today, I think you know, we started the day off by him going to the -- let me get my speeches here so I can -- the launch of the women's entrepreneurial financial initiative with the World Bank, where he announced our $50 million contribution, where he was onstage with Ivanka talking about what we are doing with the World Bank.  And Dina down here, as well, was heavily involved.  She's hiding.  So we and many other countries were on the stage talking about the $300 million-plus contribution of the World Bank fund that they're going to leverage into billions of dollars to help women and women entrepreneurs, and women build businesses around the world.  So that was the first thing we did this morning.
And then, of course, that led into the G20 forum on digitization and women's empowerment and women's employment.  Again, the President gave a speech in there where we talked about the role of women in the world.  We talked about the role of women in the economies and empowering women, where, again, he mentioned what we did this morning.  He mentioned how his administration cares about women, empower women as a priority, including access to capital, mentoring and networking, and skills training, which fits into what we did a couple weeks ago in our employment week.  We talked about worker training and all of those things.  
So he continues to support the G20's effort to increase voluntary participation of women in the labor force and eliminate barriers that prevent women from achieving economic aspirations.  That was his speech this morning that we talked about in women's empowerment.
And then, later this afternoon, we talked about what was going on in the final session, which I'm drawing a blank on right now.  What was the final session this afternoon?
MS. POWELL:  The women's session -- the women one.  That was the final session.  It was the final one.
MR. COHN:  Yeah, that was the final.  Okay, women was the final session.  Then we had our closing session where there was the natural handoff from Germany to Argentina for the next year's G20.  The President was quite active, quite involved in the roundtable discussions.  He was very, very complimentary of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, in the way that she ran the G20 and the participation of everyone around the table.
If you have any questions on the G20, I'm happy to take them.  If not, my two colleagues to the right will talk about the bilateral meetings.
Q    Can I ask, how hard did you have to work to get the final communiqué to make sure that you didn’t look like you were too isolated on things like climate?  And how much of a fig leaf is it that you've managed to get wording to that effect?
MR. COHN:  I actually thought the communication came together pretty -- I don’t want to say easily -- these things are never easy.  To get 20 of your friends to agree where to have dinner together tonight is really hard.  But I thought the communiqué came together pretty reasonably.  There's a diversity of opinions in a group of 20, so there's people on every side of the issue.  So it was never a situation where there was an isolated force there.  
Obviously, the communication says -- so you can see it in there -- that we had chosen to get out of the Paris Agreement.  So we were -- but everyone accepted that very early that we chose to get out of the Paris Agreement, but we do go out of our way to say in there that that doesn’t mean that we don’t support environment, and we're still working for the environment.  If you look at what we've achieved environmentally in the United States, our numbers are pretty good.
So there was not -- it was not a situation where there was contentious discussion going on.
SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I would just say on the communiqué and if you look at how far we've come since the original G20 finance ministers meeting where we had one sentence on trade -- and I think as you all know, it was kind of 19 to 1, me being the one -- here, I think the trade paragraph has enormous substance to it.  It incorporates the concept of reciprocal and fair trade.  And I think there was a real focus on dumping and other issues on steel.  I think there was an incredible consensus, and now it's many months later.
But anyway, why don’t I do this -- why don’t I just talk briefly about the bilats and then we'll take questions on anything you guys want.
So this was the President's second trip abroad.  I think that a major focus of the trip was not just participating in the G20, but was very substantive -- they were very, very substantive bilats.  And Secretary Tillerson joined us on the trip, in Hamburg specifically, to participate in the bilats.  
I think as you know, we started in Poland with two bilats in Poland and then participating in the Three Seas with another 10 leaders.  President Trump participated in that meeting, which was very substantive, and listened to each one of those leaders as they had different views.  
We then came to Germany, where there were 10 -- there were another eight bilats here.  There were three pull-asides on top of that.  The bilats were very, very substantive discussions.  These were not just relationship builders.  These were very focused on economic issues, trade issues, security issues, North Korea.  
I think as you know, we had a very significant trilat dinner with Prime Minister Abe and President Moon, where the focus was clearly North Korea and what we were going to do about North Korea.  
The other two most substantive bilats were obviously the Russian bilat with President Putin, which started out with the intention of being a half an hour, and went for over two hours.  We had another very substantive bilat today with President Xi of China, which lasted over an hour and a half, and would have lasted longer if we didn’t have to get pulled out to leave, since we had a time issue.  But these were very substantive issues.  
In regards to China, we had very direct discussions about North Korea.  We had very direct discussions about military and security cooperation.  And we had very direct discussions about the comprehensive economic dialogue, which we'll be following up with a meeting in July, in D.C.  So these were very, very, substantive discussions.
MR. COHN:  Let me add something.  The three of us have been in, I would say, basically all of the President's bilats since day one.  The relationships that -- 
Q    (Inaudible.)
MR. COHN:  What was it?
Q    (Inaudible) one.   
MR. COHN:  I said basically all.  The relationships that he's building and the comradery that he has is just extraordinary.  I mean, you can see the personal relationship he has with Xi and Abe and all these people.  The warmness and the openness that's going on between the two of them, it's really extraordinary.
Q    Just to follow up on that, and to what Andrew asked about --
MR. MNUCHIN:  (Inaudible) on Merkel, okay?  Whatever original discussions there were, that was one of the most substantive meetings where it was very clear that the President addressed issues of trade very directly.  Merkel was very direct.  It could not have gone better.  I think it was very clear we're on the same page on almost every issue.  And whether it was Theresa May, where obviously it's the U.S.'s most substantial ally -- I mean, these were very substantive discussions where the President was brilliant and had a command of these discussions and the issues.

Q    Can you talk specifically about the meeting with President Xi?  In his public remarks, the President was complimentary of President Xi and what he's done on the issue of North Korea.  But we know he has also said that he is frustrated that China hasn’t done more.  So did he voice that in private?  Or can you characterize at all what their discussion was with regard to how to respond to the latest -- 
SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I think the discussion was very direct.  So it started with a -- again, this was an hour-and-a-half meeting with a very large component of it focused on North Korea.  And I think we had substantive discussions about -- for the financing of North Korea.  We had substantive discussions about ways of dealing with North Korea together.  
And I think that President Trump made very clear to President Xi that he is focused on this issue, and wants to move forward and make progress.  And I think President Xi gave a very interesting perspective from their standpoint.  So I think it was very predominantly about -- 
Q    Did he ask (inaudible) --
MR. SPICER:  I'm want to get McMaster in here.  Let's do 
that, and then we can keep going.  
GENERAL MCMASTER:  Okay.  All right, first, I just wanted
to remind everybody that the President's second overseas trip began in Poland, where he attended a Three Seas Conference with 12 heads of state from central and southern Europe.  It was an extremely successful exchange of views and perspectives there.  And you really got to see the three main objectives that the President gave us to structure this trip being met from the very beginning of the trip, which is promote American prosperity, protect American interests, and provide American leadership.
And you saw the overlap between defense and security cooperation with energy security, and the role the United States can play in ensuring that those nations are not dependent on any one source of energy and are not then susceptible to the kind of coercion associated with that single source of energy.
He also saw how those nations really want American leadership -- really want America to be engaged in that part of the world.  And what the President was able to do there, and in his meetings with President Duda and the Polish leadership, is really reaffirm America's leadership, commitment to our allies, and to NATO in particular.
And the very powerful speech that he gave I think is a great example of the overlap between those three objectives of prosperity, protecting our interests, and providing American leadership.
I think what is really important is I think you can see with the President's engagement is the advancing of American influence and leadership, and a recognition -- by us, by everyone -- that America First doesn't mean that the rest of the world last.  America First doesn't mean America alone.  And it means that peace, prosperity, and the rule of law are the surest guarantors of liberty, both at home and abroad.  And that speech in Poland -- I would just ask you to go back to that text to see the overlap between those three objectives.
The President reiterated his commitment to mutual support and defense through NATO, and he gave a stirring affirmation of our values and why it's important for us to understand who we are, and to be determined to protect our values.  He talked through the historical lens of the Polish experience to emphasize what we need to do today to defeat the enemies of all civilized people represented by these terrorist organizations that use a perverted interpretation of religion to foment hatred and justify violence.
And throughout the trip, throughout his engagements with leaders -- as Secretary Mnuchin already mentioned -- the President emphasized the need to deny safe havens and support bases for terrorist organizations, and talked about ongoing operations with our allies and partners to do that in the defeat-ISIS campaign in places like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
He then also, though, emphasized again the need to cut off funding not only for terrorist organizations but also to those who propagate this extremist ideology that continues to fuel this problem and bring people into these organizations, and then, of course, to combat the ideology itself.  And so that was a theme in almost all of the bilateral engagements as well as the beginning of the trip in Poland.
You have the list of all the bilateral engagements.  We're happy to answer any questions you have.  But I think what you saw is that America First means building coalitions -- building coalitions especially with those whose interests overlap with ours.  And what you saw is really a high degree of common understanding of not just problems that we're facing, but also opportunities that we can take advantage of.  
And each of these meetings, each of these engagements with leaders advanced American interests in the areas of our security and American prosperity.  And we can cover lots of specifics on that if you'd like as well.
And then, of course, there's a recognition that the United States benefits when our allies and partners are stronger, and when burdens and responsibilities can be shared and shouldered more equitably.
And so what you've seen is a very big emphasis on defense cooperation and a desire for us to have interoperable capabilities with our allies.  And that was a big defense cooperation theme throughout all the engagements in Poland and in the G20 as well.
Q    General McMaster, Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov walked out of that bilat yesterday and went out, and they told people that President Trump had accepted their denial of election interference.  Is that true?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Let me just say, first of all, I think President Trump handled the meeting brilliantly, okay?  It was very clear what started as a 30-minute meeting -- and President Trump made it very clear in addressing the issues around the election.  After a very substantive discussion on this, they reached an agreement that they would start a cyber unit to make sure that there was absolutely no interference whatsoever, that they would work on cybersecurity together.  And President Trump focused the conversation on Syria and the Ukraine and North Korea.
And I think it’s very important that President Trump had a very substantive dialogue with his counterpart on this.  And it is very clear that there are many issues we need to open a dialogue on.  And I think President Trump handled it brilliantly.
Q    General McMaster, can you address not the question of how President Trump handled it, but the question of how Putin and Lavrov have handled it.  What are you going to do about it?  I mean, it's not true, is it, that President Trump accepted Putin's statement?
GENERAL MCMASTER:  What the President and Secretary Tillerson charged us with as they came out of the meeting is what we’re going to do going forward.  Secretary Mnuchin mentioned one of those aspects already, which is a recognition of the importance of cybersecurity and the need to make sure that we protect election systems in the United States and in Europe and elsewhere.  So that is one of the things we're going to focus on going forward.
But I think the most important thing, from my perspective anyway, coming out of the meeting, is the importance of having a bilateral relationship with Russia so we can work on problems together.  And so as Secretary Mnuchin mentioned, and as Secretary Tillerson mentioned already, it was a wide-ranging, substantive discussion.  No problems were solved.  Nobody expected any problems to be solved in that meeting.  But it was a beginning of a dialogue on some tough problem sets that we'll begin now to work on together.
And you saw the beginnings of that with the work that Secretary Tillerson has done with the Russians on Syria.  It's the very beginning of attempting to get to some degree of stability in a portion of Syria to begin to get to an outcome there that ends the humanitarian suffering there and begins to bridge toward enduring political settlements in at least parts of that troubled country and for that long-suffering population.
So you see the beginning of working together in these areas.
Q    But you have the President of another country making a statement about the President of the United States.  Do you not want to respond to that and correct the record if it is wrong?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  You know, we're not going to make comments about what other people say.  President Trump will be happy to make statements himself about that.  But President Trump handled himself brilliantly.  It was very clear he made his position felt.  And after very substantive dialogue on this, they agreed to move on to other discussions.  And I think it's very clear that they've opened a dialogue, that it's important to have a dialogue.  
As we've said, they focused on a ceasefire on Syria, focused on making sure that we have a cyber unit to make sure that Russia and nobody else interferes in any democratic elections.  And we focused on the issue of North Korea, which is a major concern to us and all our other allies.
Q    Why did you decide to raise it anyway, though?  There seemed to be a debate, sort of, in the days leading up to the meeting:  "Would he raise it?  Would he not raise it?"  Why did he decide to sort of raise it at all?  Was that essential, do you think, to start that dialogue?  Or why did he decide --
SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I think it was obvious that it was an issue, and President Trump was going to bring it up and raise it.  He wasn't afraid of it.  He addressed it head on, and then they moved on to other issues.
Q    How do you develop an atmosphere of trust and working together on all these important issues that you just laid out when the two sides can't even agree on what happened in that conversation in the first face-to-face meeting?  I mean --
SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I think it's very clear that there's lots of things that we need to work on with them.  And there's a commitment to move forward, work on issues that we can work on together.  And I think the Syria ceasefire is a major, major success.  If we can have a ceasefire and focus on how we work on Syria, and build a cyber unit, and be committed to make sure that nobody ever interferes in democratic elections again, that is a major accomplishment that President Trump is focused on.
Q    Did the issue of Russia's properties in Maryland that the U.S. confiscated come up?  And how did President Trump respond?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I'm not aware of that coming up.  I got debriefed on the meeting and didn't hear anything about that.  So it may have, but I don't know.
Q    One follow-up to Gary on the question of the G20 and climate change.  We understand there was some tension with President Macron over climate.  Can you describe what happened there?  And can you also look forward to this upcoming trip to Paris and describe the relationship and what he wants to do there between Macron and Trump?
MR. COHN:  Look, there's a debate on climate -- from your question.  But I think the President -- I'll read you two -- I think the section I left out before was climate.  So I'll read you two sentences out of the President's speech.
You know, he says:  The United States believes that responsible economic development and economic stewardship are essential priorities of all nations.  Indeed, these are globally complementary.  And then the President goes:  Honestly, the United States develops all of our domestic energy resources, including oil, clean coal, natural gas, nuclear power renewables, while at the same time reducing emissions, protecting natural habitats, and ensuring truly clean air and clean water.
So the President clearly believes in the environment.  He talked about it here.  You know, Macron and the President have somewhat different views on how to achieve the end goal, but I think the end goal is the same.  And they were debating how to achieve the end goal.
Q    And what about the broader relationship between those two men ahead of the Paris trip?
MR. COHN:  Their relationship is great.  I mean, they had two different pull-asides.  Macron personally called the President and invited him, and asked him to come to the 100th anniversary of Bastille Day next week.  The President is going to Paris next week.
GENERAL MCMASTER:  It's Bastille Day and the 100th anniversary of the entry of American troops into World War I.  Sorry, sir.
MR. COHN:  Thank you.  Thank you, General.  (Laughter.) 
Q    But what does he want to achieve on that trip?
MR. COHN:  We are scheduled already.  The schedule is determined.  We'll probably tell you guys what it is next week.  But it's going to have a couple official meetings mostly around, I would say, security and military meetings, as well as a long bilateral between the two.
SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  All right.  I think we're going to cut it off at this point.
Q    No, don’t cut it off.
Q    No, that's not fair.  Seriously, that's not very long.
Q    What about Erdogan?  What about the Erdogan meeting?

MS. SANDERS:  It was 27 minutes.

Q    Twenty of it was not Q and A.

7:25 P.M. CET

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore

Sat, 07/08/2017 - 20:59

President Donald J. Trump met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore today at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The two leaders praised the United States-Singapore economic relationship, which serves as an important hub for United States exports to the fast-growing Southeast Asia region. The President and Prime Minister Lee discussed regional security issues and their shared resolve to press North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and cease its provocations. They also affirmed close cooperation in preventing the rise of terrorism and Islamist extremism in Southeast Asia.

Remarks by President Trump Before Bilateral Meeting with President Xi of China

Sat, 07/08/2017 - 20:43

Hamburg Messe
Hamburg, Germany

3:51 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT XI: (No English translation provided.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you, Mr. President. And on behalf of the United States, I would like to just say that it's an honor to have gotten to know you. We are developing, and have developed, a wonderful relationship. I appreciate the things that you have done relevant to the very substantial problem that we all face in North Korea -- a problem that something has to be done about. And I'm sure that whether it's on trade or whether it's on North Korea, or any of the many things that we will be discussing, we will come to a successful conclusion.

Trade is, as you know, as very, very big issue for the United States now, because for years, and certainly over a long period of time, many things have happened that have led to trade imbalances. And we're going to turn that around. And I know that China in particular, which is a great trading partner, we will be able to do something that will be equitable and reciprocal.

As far as North Korea is concerned, we will have, eventually, success. It may take longer than I’d like. It may take longer than you'd like. But there will be success in the end one way or the other.

I want to thank you very much for inviting us. And again, it's an honor to get to know you and your wife, a really wonderful woman. And it's an honor to have you as a friend.

Thank you very much.

END 3:55 P.M. CET

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan

Sat, 07/08/2017 - 20:35

President Donald J. Trump met today with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The two leaders condemned North Korea’s July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which showed that North Korea is a threat to the United States and its allies, and countries around the world. President Trump and Prime Minister Abe affirmed that the international community must address North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs quickly and decisively. President Trump reaffirmed the ironclad commitment of the United States to the defense of Japan, as well as to the Republic of Korea, from any attack, and reiterated that the United States is prepared to use the full range of capabilities in such defense. President Trump and Prime Minister Abe committed to redoubling their efforts to bring all nations together to show North Korea that there are consequences for its threatening and unlawful actions. The two leaders also discussed a range of other regional issues of mutual interest. They reaffirmed that the strong United States-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity.

Pages - All the world news as reported from Washington Post.All the Reuters News Directory at http://www.politicalavenue.comAll the CNN NEWS -click here!The BEST ACCOMPLISHED website WE KNOW of /says NSA about the political avenue - are trustworthy says politicalavenue.com news agency page.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST WORLD NEWS AS REPORTED ! (Absolutely recommended feature for you to view)

The software NEWSROBOT™ auto-updates all international news from the above news agencies once per minute, so all the global news reports supplied HERE are always served you straight * FRESH * And our news pages are always advertisement free.
Most of the news published here, you can read in tomorrow's newspaper, or watch on your television news first in 2 - 3 hours.

Click on the orange button to subscribe to the WORLD NEWS AS REPORTED - RSS FEED!

It works great if you want to have a VERY good up-to-date check of what's happening globally. This delivers all the main news directly to your computer via RSS functions. RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It is an XML-based method for distributing the latest news and information from a website that can be easily read by a variety of news readers or aggregators. All the world news in one easy to read and use RSS source / or / website intel category page, Sir & Madame!

I have developed the world/&/political news RSS with 1000 news items*soon fixed* for supplying intelligence agencies with global information.
[ Working with Firefox & Edge -not Chrome - It's not advanced enough, sorry. Corporate built browser, not open source.]
You should check it out. It's a no-cost service.
Updates automatically every minute. It rips the news from all news agencies.
For best NEWS presentation LAYOUT- use the * prefixed INTELROBOTS™ MENU ! /The programmer.

READ THIS ! [ Hold your mouse here ! It's about always getting the freshest news !
[ Automatic update every 30 seconds. ] To be able to stay in control on top of this website, you have to reload the page manually. On Chrome=Press [CTRL]+[F5]

If you don't force a new reload or update the following might happen to you! - When your computer see's that your are trying to download 20 raw datafiles that is connected to a certain webpage, it first looks if any of them already has been stored on your harddrive. It only looks at the name of all the included newsfiles, no check if it has updated or if it's filesize might have changed. It only look at the files name- so your computer might serve you old newsitem-tickerfiles earlier cached on your harddrive on your last visit. It does this to try save you bandwidth. So in this aspect- all webbrowsers are obsolete, since they don't even compare filesize, before making the decision for you, IF the file should be downloaded or not ! Why download fresh tickerfiles, "when you already have it on your harddrive".. To be frank, we might produce our own custom browserprogram and smartphone app to address this issue, Sir & Madame. - Anyone out there, who like to contribute some development funding to speed things up? With the intention and ambition of quality enhancement ? You know , this website has no advertisement ! So some development funding would be great.