Return to Transcripts main page


White House Briefing Coverage Continues. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 10, 2017 - 14:00   ET


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think that there's no question, when you have eight years of one party in office, that there are people --


-- who stay in government who are affiliated with -- you know, join and continue to espouse the agenda of the previous administration, so I don't think it should come as any surprise that there are people that burrowed into government during eight years of the last administration and, you know, may have believed in that agenda and want to continue to seek it. I don't think that should come as a surprise to anyone.

QUESTION: Will the director of the CIA or the DNI have a presidential mandate to seek these people out and fir them or purge them from government?

SPICER: I don't think -- that the CIA does not -- that's not part of the CIA's mandate under any circumstances, so no on that one.

Blake (ph)?

QUESTION: Sean, thanks.

The DNC just put out a statement a little while ago saying that it's President Obama who deserves the credit for the February jobs numbers.

SPICER: I'm sure they did.

QUESTION: My question to you, how much do you feel the President Trump should be credited for that and would you characterize the economy that President Trump was handed over by President Obama?

SPICER: Well look, numbers are going to go up and down, we recognize that. But I think there's no question, when you look at the CEOs that have hired -- that hire people and the CEOs that have talked about the investments that they want to make in America -- I -- you know, you can look back over the past several administrations.

I don't believe I've ever seen the number of CEOs and business come out and talk about investments and continuing investments and the expansion of investments or hiring based on the vision and agenda of an administration the way they have in this one.

And so, it's not just a question of what we believe. I think if you look at the -- the auto makers the , you know, the other manufacturers and -- and frankly some of the service industries that have come out and talked about the investments that they're going to make or the continuation of a project that they had going or the movement of one -- of -- of -- of a manufacturing plant or -- or a job investment.

Those speak for themselves. It's not a question of what we believe, I think it's a question of the commitment that U.S. manufactures and job creators and business are making because they want to buy into the president's agenda and vision for creating more tax and regulatory business friendly environment to grow here.

And I think that those speak for themselves, so.

QUESTION: Do you believe all the you've -- that the policies already have had an impact on...

SPICER: Absolutely. Look at consume -- look at the confidence indexes they're all going to the top. I think the stock market has generated over $3 billion of additional wealth since he was elected.

There are several -- several economic indicators that show shrines -- signs of strength because of the president's vision and agenda and I don't think that that's -- that's any secret.

I mean when you talk to the economists, when you talk to -- to business leaders, they have confidence in the president's agenda that it will yield for a more favorable business climate, to hire more Americans, to expand the manufacturing base in America, to make us more competitive around the globe.

And so I do believe that but I don't think it's a question of what I believe or what the administration believes. I think if you look at what outside economists and what business leaders do, they confirm that.

Aman (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

In the past the president has referred to particular job reports as phony or totally fiction, does the president believe that this jobs report was accurate and a fair way to measure the economy?

SPICER: Yeah. I talked to the president prior to this and he said to quote him very clearly, they may have been phony in the past but it's very real now.


Sara (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

Could you clear up what appears to be some tension between what you said yesterday about when the administration or the president was made aware of General Flynn foreign lobbying ties and the AP reporting today that the transition team was informed of...


QUESTION: ....Flynn's potential need to register?

SPICER: So there's a big difference between when he filled, which was the other day -- two days ago and what happened then. What the AP is reporting, just so we're clear, is that a personal lawyer of General Flynn's contacted a transition lawyer and asked for guidance on what he should or should not do.

The lawyer was instructed that it -- that's that wasn't the role of the transition and that it was up to the personal lawyer to work with the appropriate authorities or subject matter experts to determine what was appropriate and what was not appropriate in terms of filing.

But this was a personal matter, it's a business matter, it's not something that would be appropriate for a government entity to give someone guidance on when they should file as an individual -- as a private citizen.

That was the guidance that was given, which is consistent with what should be done and -- and so I don't think it should be a shock to anybody that if you're asked a government lawyer what you should do in your private capacity as a citizen they're going to tell you, you should consult experts in that area to determine what you should or should not do.

QUESTION: Is that advice -- was the transition -- the transition was aware of that advice, why wasn't that then -- just the president made aware that that recommendation was (inaudible).


SPICER: Well, remember, Sara (ph), there are tons of individuals that consult with -- with the lawyers and with ethics experts and say, I own this stock, will I have to sell it? I own a business, I own this house and -- and for the most part they're -- they're given guidance as to, hey, go seek professional help, consult with this entity, consult with a lawyer. I mean it's almost like, you know, asking someone for tax advice, you know, calling.

And what you'll -- if you call the IRS and say, hey, I want to know what I should do with this, they will tell you to consult a tax attorney. That's not the job of -- of a government official, is to tell you what you should or should not do in your capacity as a private citizen.

And so the -- the -- that's a vastly different scenario. That any -- you know, whether you -- regardless of what department you call in government, if you call the Department of Education and ask them about education standards, they'll probably refer you to a local entity or to a teacher if you're asking about your own child. That's not why government officials -- they're very clear about the line between private action and government action.

Jordan (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

Does the president agree with House conservatives, that sunset date for the Medicaid expansion should be moved up to the end of next year?

SPICER: Well, I think that the bill that is before the House right now, the reconciliation piece and again, I cannot reiterate it enough, is part of a three-prong process. But the current -- the current process does several things.

Number one, it's the first time you are going to have a full addressing of -- of an entitlement like this in decades. It is actually a very, very good thing for conservatives when you look at, how we're going to address Medicaid and an entitlement that many conservatives have fought for years, need to be addressed.

But that being said, the president's also been very clear through all of the discussions and I've commented on that throughout the week, that as he meets with members of Congress and outside groups, that if someone's got an idea that can make this legislation more accessible, give more choice to the American people, drive down costs, make it more patient centric, he wants to listen to it.

But I think right now that's where the bill stands. We're going to continue to listen and work with members of the House and then eventually the Senate. And so I don't want to prejudge where -- what -- the process itself, but the bill was crafted in a way that I think represents the president's thinking and a very smart way of addressing entitlements and going forward.

Franseco (ph)?

QUESTION: (inaudible) the president is willing to negotiate on the sunset of the expansion measure?

SPICER: Right. Right now, the date that's in the bill is what the president supports. He is willing to listen to individuals on different aspects of the bill that might make it -- that might achieve the goals that he set out. But it's not a question of negotiation. We have a date in the bill and that's the date in the bill.

But I think as the bill continues to work its way through the House -- you know, that goes for Speaker Ryan. He's got members that are approaching him with ideas and I'm sure he's listening to them as well. Senator McConnell is probably dealing with the same issue in the Senate.

And that's the way that the process is gonna work. And I've made it very clear since the get-go, that this process is gonna be one where, we're take the best ideas, we're gonna listen to individuals and try to make sure that we achieve the goals that the president has laid out and the principles that he's laid out.

Franshesca (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.

Piggybacking off John (ph) and John (ph). At a breakfast this morning, the same one you referenced, Nancy Pelosi said it couldn't possibly be true of the president's allegations against the former president, because that is not how our system works. She also said Obama would not do that and it would be a waste of time for the House Intelligence Committee to investigate that allegation.

Does the White House have any evidence to refute House minority leader and former Speaker Pelosi's claim? And could you explain why the president hasn't asked the FBI chief about this directly?

SPICER: I -- I think we spoke very clearly about what we would like to happen last Sunday. I'm gonna reiterate it. We believe the House and Senate Intelligence Committee have the appropriate forum and process and staff to look into this matter and report it back.


SPICER: Yeah? QUESTION: Can you say that the president was informed at all about this arrangement?


QUESTION: (inaudible)


QUESTION: And did this set of any...


SPICER: No, just so we're clear. You wouldn't -- General Flynn filed with the Department of Justice two days ago, how would anyone know -- that's sort of like asking...


QUESTION: What about (inaudible) file?

SPICER: That's up to his personal lawyer. I mean again, each person that goes through the process in government, seeks counsel in many cases regarding the assets they own and the activities they've conducted, as to what they have to do or not to. But this -- this is something that, you know, it's like asking whether someone needs you to file -- if they had a client, whether or not they have to file a lobbying disclosure form.

That's -- that's not up for us to determine. That's up for them and their counsel to determine if they -- if they engaged in activities in the past or whatever it is. Or if a doctor needed to go and up their certification, that is not up for the government to determine. There are certain private citizen activities that you conduct and you seek counsel on or professional advice. That's not up to the government and that's -- that's exactly how the system worked.


QUESTION: But how did that not raise a red flag?


QUESTION: I mean, you have an attorney...


SPICER: You already got your question, John. John, we're doing one question.


QUESTION: But this is an important point (ph).

SPICER: Hold on. No it's not, John.

QUESTION: You have an attorney calling the transition saying...

SPICER: No, no, no.

QUESTION: ... that the person who is in line to be the national security adviser may need to register as a foreign agent. And that doesn't raise a flag?

SPICER: No, it's not a question of raising a red flag, John. It's a question of whether or not they gave him the advice that they are supposed to, which is it is not up to them to make decisions as to what you need to do or not do.

As you know, there are certain activities that fall under each of these requirements as far as what the threshold is, what activities, who the funding source was, et cetera, et cetera. It is not up to nor is it appropriate nor is it legal for the government to start going into private citizens, seeking advice and telling them what they have to register or not. That would be the equivalent of walking through someone's tax return and saying that's not a deduction that you should take, that is.

That's why when you contact these agencies, they will tell you you should seek counsel or professional advice or expertise in whatever matter it is. That is not up to them to determine. Plain and simple.



QUESTION: Moving beyond the legal question.

SPICER: Thank you.

QUESTION: Just to follow up with John, moving beyond the legal question here, it seems (ph) that this is an issue of judgment about who you guys want in your administration. Your -- if there were published reports that your potential national security adviser had dealings with the government of Turkey, a controversial regime at this moment in time.

Congressman Cummings sent a letter to Mike Pence during the transition informing him of this and raising a red flag. Mr. Pence was on television I believe yesterday saying twice that he had no knowledge of that letter.

SPICER: That's right. No, no, that's not...


SPICER: Stop there. Hold on. No, no. Before you accuse the vice president of certain things. No, what he said was that he was not aware of the filing. Just so we're clear. And he wasn't. Thank you. Go on.

QUESTION: Just in terms of the larger question here, forget about filling out forms and the legalisms (ph) here. Doesn't -- what does this say about the transition team's judgment about still appointing him as national security adviser when you had knowledge of this information?

SPICER: No, no. But -- but you're asking me -- forget about the legalisms? That's what we ask people to do is follow the law. You can't forget about the legalisms.

QUESTION: No, no...

SPICER: No, no. That's what you said and what I'm saying is that's what we did. They consulted a lawyer, which everyone who had something is advised to do. That lawyer consulted the transition lawyer who said it is your job to consult the appropriate lawyers. And we -- no, no...


QUESTION: Beyond the legal issues. I'm saying in terms of -- we're moving beyond the issue of papers -- of the papers here, we're talking about the judgment -- the judgment of the president, the vice president and your team made to select this man as your national security adviser when you had information that he had these dealings with Turkey. Why did you guys (inaudible)?

SPICER: But it's a question -- what dealings are you referring to? The fact that he had a client, he was also the head of the department -- the Defense Intelligence Agency. Unbelievably qualified, 40 years in the military with impeccable credentials. So what is it, that he -- what is -- exactly are you getting at? Because so far, he has impeccable credentials, he had a stellar career in the military, widely respected. And I think for you to sort of impugn his...

QUESTION: Vice President Pence said that yesterday, that he wouldn't have -- that -- that...

SPICER: But again, but there was no disclosure at the time. And the question is, is that if his counsel worked with whomever he worked with and determined that he didn't, that was up to him. But it was up to him. The burden is on the individual to seek the legal advice or professional expertise to decide what they have to file and not. I mean, we could literally have a hypothetical question about somebody who made an inappropriate filing on their tax returns or another -- or a professional qualification.

At the end of the day, when people present it with you, they are advised to seek expertise and counsel and legal advice about what's appropriate and what's not. That is not -- it's not up to the transition attorney to go through someone's livelihood and determine what they need to seek. They were given the proper legal advice at the time, which was to seek expertise in that matter. He had already obtained counsel. And that's...


QUESTION: Let me just clarify. The transition officials were not overly concerned by his relationship...

SPICER: It's not a question of overly concerned, Glen (ph). The question is did they provide him the avenue they were supposed to, which is did they tell him to seek counsel? And they did and that's what's supposed to happen. That's it. Plain and simple.


QUESTION: Sean, I guess the question for you very simply would be that right now, does this raise concerns that there may be other members of this administration or other members that served in the transition that were or are currently lobbying on behalf of foreign governments right now that maybe advising the president of the United States?

SPICER: Look, I think we trust people to fill out the appropriate forms that they need to. And in this case...


SPICER: And the president acted accordingly back in the thing (ph) and he made the right call then.

QUESTION: He may have been taking actions, though -- he may have been... (CROSSTALK)

SPICER: But -- but Peter, look, you're asking me can we -- I mean, this is -- look. This is like saying can everybody -- can you -- can you tell me that the executives at NBC News have gone through every single person's and reporter's background...


SPICER: No, I understand that. But we trust people to fill out the forms that they are required to do so in an honest and legal manner. And in this case he retroactively filed the forms that he was supposed to do. But we advised him to do what the legal and proper thing was and that's the right thing for this administration. So we did the right thing then and we expect every employee to follow the law. This president, when it comes ethics and when it comes to lobbying, he instituted a five year ban. He banned people -- he has ran on a commitment to drain the swamp.

He has been very committed to making sure that we institute high standards here, and that we're held to them. And so at the end of the day when he found out that general Flynn had betrayed the trust of the vice president back in the day, he let him go. The president has high standards for everyone that works in this administration. So the answer to your question is, if somebody does something that is not in keeping with the president's standards that he set for every single person in the administration, they will be let go.

QUESTION: So do you have full faith in all those people that are advising the president right now?

SPICER: I believe that everybody has done what has been legally been required of them. But I can't tell you that every single person has done everything. I can tell you the president has made clear to every person in this administration, you are expected to live up to the high standards that he has set for them and that if you don't you will be dismissed.

QUESTION: (inaudible) removal of the South Korea's president, what's the reaction of the White House to that? And also we know that the -- there will be a presidential election very soon in the South Korea. And we know several leading candidates, they prefer less confrontation with (inaudible) and also oppose the deployment of a (inaudible). So is the White House looking to the impact of the election might bring?

SPICER: Well I believe they'd have to have an election within 60 days. There's an acting president who we have strong relationships with and we'll continue to work with South Korea. They are both an ally and a friend in the region. This is obviously an issue that we continue to keep up with on the developments there. It's a domestic issue in which the United States takes no position in the outcome of that election. It's up to the Korean people and their democratic institutions to determine the future of their country.

The United States continues to be a steadfast ally, friend and partner to the Republic of Korea. And that's it.

QUESTION: Obviously you guys are excited by the jobs report but maybe a little too excited. Both you and the president tweeting within an hour of the jobs data coming out, which is a violation of federal rules. So I'm wondering both if there is counseling (ph) (inaudible) in the president's future. But also you say general (inaudible) critics who say, the risk of doing this is (inaudible) than what should be kind of non partisan, by the book.

SPICER: Now what I understand is that rule was instituted to deal with market fluctuations, I could be wrong, but I believe that's why it's instituted.

I think tweeting out great way to start a Friday, here are the actual numbers that you all have reported is a bit -- I mean do make me make the podium move. I mean honest to god every reporter here, reported out that we had 235,000 jobs, 4.7 -- there isn't a TV station that didn't go live to it. So to tweet out great way to start a Friday, I think yes the president was excited to see more American's back to work.

I don't think that's exactly a market disruption. I think that there's a lot of excitement in this country when we look at the policies that the president has instituted to help put more American's back to work.

So I mean understand the rule but let's ...

QUESTION: Sure, the Obama White House for instance, you know went out of their way not to comment on that, hour long period. They rearrange the president's schedule around it. I mean it was something that they --

SPICER: I get it. And I think there's a difference ...


SPICER: It's not about commenting. I think it's one thing to give analysis and whatever -- literally tweeting out great news. I think yes, we're excited that when the President and the rest of the team saw the new this morning, as reported on every television station, twitter, the Internet, and every major news site in the country and around the world, we're excited to see so many Americans back to work. So I apologize if we were a little excited, and we're so glad to see so many fellow Americans back to work.

But that's -- Ashley (ph).

QUESTION: Sean, Congressman Cumming's letters to the Vice President in the November did lay out that General Flynn was being paid to lobby for Turkish interest during the campaign. Why did that not raise up flags...

SPICER: It's not a question of raising flags. Remember, I think we're -- we keep forgetting something. His attorney then went to a transition attorney, who was told you need to seek council on this and get further guidance. That's (inaudible). It's not a question of raised flags. It's not for us to adjudicate whether or not someone needs to file under, you know, the Lobbying Disclosure Act, the FARA Registration Act, that's not the job of a transition attorney.

It's to tell them to seek additional counsel or to explain to them where to find that information, not -- not to tell them what to do or not to do.

QUESTION: But I'm asking about the vice president specifically not -- not saying, you should go to this attorney or giving legal advice but why, when this information was brought to the vice president's attention, didn't he raise questions, bring it to the president, look into it further? SPICER: Because I think it's fairly simple to say "why didn't this occur?" We're going through several people, the answer is, did they seek the appropriate professional advice and counsel? And they did and that's the answer.

QUESTION: I have a healthcare question for you.



QUESTION: Aren't you relieved?

SPICER: Makes me feel better.

QUESTION: Would the president be willing to sign legislation, is he flexible about the refundable tax credit portion of the House bill? Would he be willing to sign legislation that voided that particular provision because as you know, conservatives are concerned that that's an additional entitlement?

SPICER: I think that more and more as the president talks to members of Congress and outside groups, number one, I think they're excited to understand the totality of this and I think he addresses this in the weekly address that you can find at, that continues to explain the comprehensive aspect of this. The reconciliation piece, the administrative piece that Secretary Price will institute, and then the additional legislation. Buying healthcare across state lines, allowing small businesses to pool their things (ph), allowing health savings accounts to expand, the streamlining of the federal -- the FDA, going after medical malpractice, all those things that bring cost down. But as I've noted before, I mean people have to remember that if you get your healthcare through your employer which the majority of Americans do, you are not taxed on that, your employer's not taxed.

It is fairly inadequate and unbalanced for small business owners, ranchers and farmers, sole proprietors to have to face a disproportionate tax burden because they're not a big employer. I think this is something that conservatives should be embracing and I think the more that they understand the comprehensive nature of this, they are beginning to support more...

QUESTION: ...The president wants them to stay? The refundable tax credit provision?

SPICER: Oh, absolutely.

QUESTION: (inaudible) House Republicans wrote a letter to the White House asking about why IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is still in his job. Does he have any response to that?

SPICER: I don't. I'll have to -- I'd refer you to the department of treasury on that, yes.

QUESTION: The other day, the president tweeted that for the past eight years during the Obama presidency Russia, quote, "ran over United States and in particular picked off Crimea and added missiles" which the president described in his tweet as weak. Given that he seems to be focused on Crimea, at least as far as his tweet is concerned, will the president use the authority and funding granted him in the NDAA to send lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine as has been called for by the House and Senate Armed Services committee chairmen and was in both party platforms although the Republican language was watered down?

And if he's not going to, I did ask you this about several weeks ago when Senator McCain sent a letter asking for this, if the president doesn't want to do it, is that because he would rather focus his efforts with Russia on partnering to try to defeat ISIS?

SPICER: Well, I think Ambassador Haley's noted at the U.N. that any attempt to undermine sanctions that currently exist because of the annexation of Crimea will remain in place until that -- till that issue is resolved. I'm not going to -- the president when it comes to his overall negotiating strategy has made it very clear in a variety of circumstances that his philosophy is not one that says "I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do."

He holds his cards close to his vest to maximize his negotiating strategy.

QUESTION: Why would sending weapons to the Ukraine have anything to do with sanctions? SPICER: I'm not going to -- right, I'm not going to get into the president's negotiating strategy. I will tell you that as he continues to engage with the president -- with the president of Russia and Secretary Tillerson.

QUESTION: That has nothing to do with...

SPICER: ...I'm not -- we're not -- Brian (ph), it's your birthday. You've got a question.

QUESTION: Going back to -- my staff, we've got about several dozen e- mails and we talked to congressmen this morning who are getting these e-mails saying "if you're going to repeal and replace Obamacare, why not give everybody what Congress and Senators get." Can you address that since Congress won't? t

SPICER: Well, I think part of what we're trying to do -- someone asked the other day about federal benefits. Right now, a third of the counties around our country have one provider. That's not choice. I think the president understands that very clearly and that's frankly why he's pushing the American healthcare -- you know, why we're doing this is that so many Americans have no choice and that he wants there to be greater choice and lower cost.

By -- by doing the stuff that we're doing, especially the third prong of this, allowing competition over state lines, taking the government mandates away from what they have to include, that's really going to institute more choice, there will be more options.

If you remember, prior to Obamacare you could go out on the open market and go from a variety of different options and tailor what you or your family needed based on the conditions that sought or deductible that wanted and choice dried up with Obamacare.

I think that's -- that's the point though is that if you want more of that kind of a system then this is the bill and legislation and the comprehensive approach that -- that you should be supporting.

QUESTION: But specifically, the perception that somehow congress, senators and congressman, get better care than the rest of us, can you address that?

SPICER: Well that's what -- yes, I think that's why we're trying to pass it the way we are, we want more choice, we want more competitions, we want lower cost. The American people deserve a better healthcare system and that's what this president is pushing for.

Margaret (ph).

QUESTION: Sean, did the White House sign off on Secretary Tillerson's decision not to take the press with him on what should be an important trip to Asia -- the growing North Korean threat? And what are his marching orders?

You talked a lot about the flexibility the president has given to his generals, what flexibility has he given for diplomatic initiatives to his Secretary of State?

SPICER: As I mentioned at the beginning, the president was having lunch with Secretary Tillerson I know that the trip was -- was -- was one of the topics of discussion and so I will -- I will try to follow up with that.

With respect to the first part of the question, press is being invited to that trip, they're travelling commercially. There is a press logistics component to make sure that they can get everywhere, that they're given access to everything. There's a press conference.

QUESTION: You (ph) can't possibly go to all three of those things (ph) commercially (ph) and cover (ph) him (ph) the way that (ph)...


SPICER: I -- I -- that's not -- the answer is the plane that the president -- the secretary is taking doesn't accommodate that but they have made accommodations for members of the press to covering everything and I know that...

QUESTION: Advised (ph) (inaudible)


SPICER: No, we don't get involved in the logistics for every cabinet members trip. I would advise you to touch base with the secretary -- with the State Department on this but I know that they -- they made aware of the concerns of some of your colleagues and they are making accommodations in the future with respect to the size of the plane. But make no mistake about, there is a -- a logistics component to make sure that the press is welcome throughout the trip and at every stop and that accommodations are taken care of and there's logistical support to do that. There'll be a press conference component as well.

QUESTION: Would you like (ph) though public diplomacy in this kind of important diplomatic initiative for this administration to be covered fully going forward?

SPICER: I think it will -- I hope it will be covered fully.


QUESTION: Should (ph) reporters allowed to be on the plane with the secretary as they have for many (ph) years (ph)?


SPICER: And -- and I think that, when appropriate they can and -- and again there's a big difference between making sure that we carve out x number of seats and making sure that we have transparency and openness in covering events.

They have logistical support for you all to make sure that you have hotels, there's travel support, there's accommodation and filing (ph) centers.

I mean, at some point, you know, this isn't -- this isn't about blocking anybody this is -- they've gone above and beyond. Not every plane can accommodate every member of the press...

QUESTION: You said (ph) they had a bigger plane?

SPICER: It's not a question. There's an element of tax (ph)...

QUESTION: What secretaries of state can (inaudible).

SPICER: I -- I understand that and there's an element of cost savings at this point that the secretary's trying to achieve.

But, the end of the day, there has been a press component to every stop of the secretary's trip. He is doing everything he can to logistically support the press, he wants to come and cover him. And they are being open to make sure that they -- that the secretary's available throughout the trip. Yes.

QUESTION: President Trump has been -- was very critical of -- of German Chancellor Merkel on the campaign trail. I'm just wondering, how -- how does the White House that will affect the tone of the meeting on Tuesday and what type of tone does the president plan to take?

SPICER: I know that we did a bit of read out earlier today on that. There's a lot of excitement on both sides of the ocean for this trip.

I know that we are looking forward to meeting with the chancellor and her team and I've talked to their folks over there and they're very excited about coming over. There's a lot of trade and economic interest on both sides and obviously there's an element of -- of -- of national security that we share.

And so I will let the trip -- let -- look forward to the read out but there's a lot of excitement coming and I think the president looks forward to meeting with the chancellor and discussing areas of shared national interest with her (ph).

Athena (ph)

QUESTION: Just following up plan (ph) discussion, I gather from today and yesterday -- correct me if I'm wrong, I want to make sure I understand the answer to this question.

Are you saying the president was not aware that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was acting as a foreign agent when he appointed him to be National Security Advisor?

SPICER: Correct.


SPICER: And just remember he -- you wouldn't know that until he filed, he didn't file until two days ago so, therefore, nobody would of known that because he hadn't filed as a foreign agent until two days ago.