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White House Briefing Continues. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 3, 2017 - 14:30   ET


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- I mean the president's made it clear before he's trying to set a certain.


Obviously, that's up to the speaker and the House leadership to determine when that time is appropriate.

But, as you have seen, we continue to move closer and closer to that time. And the number of members who are supporting it continues to grow further and further, and I think that's a very promising sign.


QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

Yesterday, the president tweeted that FBI Director James Comey gave Hillary Clinton a, quote, "free pass for many bad deeds." Is the president comfortable having an FBI director that gives out free passes serve during his administration?

SPICER: The president has confidence in -- in the director.

But I think clearly his point was after some of the comments that were made yesterday regarding the reason for the outcome of the election, I think he just wanted to make it clear what -- what exactly happened.

QUESTION: On health care, the president appears to be directly involved behind the scenes. How much responsibility does the president plan to take for the outcome of the vote if it does occur this week?

SPICER: Well, I think if we have a vote -- which, you know, is looking greater and greater every day. But again, I'm not going to get ahead of the House leadership in deciding when that is. My assumption is the House leaders will call that when that number is -- will put us over the top.

And I feel like -- again, you saw two votes come down today. The president's been on the phone constantly, the vice president and the chief of staff, other members of the Legislative Affairs team calling members, talking to them, hearing their concerns.

But I think we've made this an unbelievable bill and an unbelievable replacement for Obamacare, which is failing. And that's what we sought to do from the beginning.


QUESTION: Sean, there was a report in Politico yesterday that seemed pretty well-sourced, indicating that President Trump intends to sign an executive order tomorrow in the name of religious freedom.

Will the president sign a religious freedom executive order tomorrow? And will it enable discrimination against LGBT people?

SPICER: So, I know we've -- we've talked about E.O.s for a long time -- executive orders.

Tomorrow is National Day of Prayer. There'll be a proclamation the president will sign. We're looking forward to having religious leaders from a multitude of backgrounds come to the White House and celebrate this day with us.

But I've never gotten ahead of executive orders, and I'm not going...

QUESTION: (inaudible). You can't deny that -- that...


SPICER: I -- I -- I...

QUESTION: ... executive order...


QUESTION: ... president is a friend of the LGBT community (inaudible).

SPICER: I -- I already answered the -- I -- I answered the question. Thank you.

QUESTION: How can the president be a friend of the LGBT community if the president is even considering this executive order?

SPICER: Blake?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

I want to get your reaction to former President Obama. He tweeted yesterday after Jimmy Kimmel's monologue that went viral online -- you've probably seen it -- about his child. Kimmel talked about the need to cover pre-existing condition, the need for funding for the NIH.

And Mr. Obama said, quote, "Well said, Jimmy. That's exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy."

Your reaction to both of them would be what?

SPICER: Well, I -- I think we share that concern for the Kimmels' child, as well as any child that needs care. And that's, frankly, why the president fought so hard to improve the bill like he did this morning, to make sure that there was that extra layer of protection for anybody with a pre-existing condition no matter their stage in life.

That's -- that's why we're fighting so hard for this.

But I think most importantly -- and I think at the end of, you know, Jimmy Kimmel's monologue, he said that there is no -- you know, we need to have some of these things that aren't Republican or Democrat, and that they're American policies.

And I think that's what the president's fighting for right now is to make sure that we have a health care system that doesn't -- no matter where you live or your background, that it takes care of people.

We're making sure right now -- and we've talked about this endlessly over the last month or so, but we've got a health care system that's not doing what it's supposed to. It's failing. It's costing people too much. It's giving people a card, not coverage.

And what the president's trying to do, by working with these members of Congress, is to make sure that we have the strongest possible health care system, that covers them, that gives them the care that they need, that allows them to go see a doctor, that covers pre- existing conditions, and does so in a way that's not going to be out of range and -- and unaffordable for most Americans.

QUESTION: And I want to ask you about what Hillary Clinton said yesterday.

She said, quote, "If the election had been on October 27th, I would be your president." And on the Hill today, James Comey, testifying, said, quote -- speaking about October 28, he said, "Would you speak or would you conceal?"

Did James Comey make the right decision on October 28th?

SPICER: Well, look, I'm a Patriots fan. And I think if -- if games ended in the third quarter, it would be -- there would've been a different team here last week. But you play a game four quarters. You play an election until Election Day.

So, with all due respect to her, that's not how it works. You don't get to pick the day the election's on. It's set by the Constitution.

The president won 306 electoral votes. And I think there's been plenty of analysis on the election and where people chose to spend their time and their resources and their messaging. And I think it's somewhat sad that we're still debating why the president won in the fashion that he did.

QUESTION: (inaudible) Comey said "speak or conceal." Did he make the correct decision in...


SPICER: Well, I'm not -- again, I'm not going to -- I think -- with respect to the election, I think the American people made -- made their decision.

Eamon (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

There's been a lot of focus recently on Ivanka Trump's role in this White House. Can you clarify for us what exactly her areas of responsibility are here and what her qualifications are for those responsibilities?


I mean, I think Ivanka has set -- built a very successful business. She's been working with women to talk about empowerment and education for quite some time. It's a passion of hers.

And I think for her to bring both her business acumen and success, her passion for women, empowerment and education and entrance into areas and -- that they haven't been able to get to is one of the reasons that Chancellor Merkel reached out to her and asked her to come to the W20 Summit.

Because I think she can use her voice to help bring attention to issues, she can use her resources and knowledge of individuals to help break down some barriers that young women, older women face in education and business.

That -- that's where she has always had her passion. That's what she's working on now.

QUESTION: (inaudible) responsibilities here. For example, the New York Times reported this morning that she has a weekly meeting with the treasury secretary. What -- what's that meeting (inaudible)?

SPICER: Again, I -- I think that I've mentioned it.

I think there's a lot of times where she's meeting with folks to understand an issue, to get up to speed. But I think her primary focus, what she's always said where her passion is, where her time is going to be spent, is figuring out how to empower women, how to break down barriers for women, whether that's in small business, in education, women -- young women in poverty or families and figuring out how to help them.

But, of course -- I mean, part of that is to have conversations with people in government, figure out what programs exist, where we can help additional folks using government or fix a government program that might be not properly being utilized.

But there's -- there's a lot of that.


QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

Back to health care, an analysis from AARP showed that the sickest patients will pay nearly $26,000 a year in premiums under the new health care law and that $8 billion which was included in that amendment this morning is not nearly enough to lower those costs.

So I'm wondering, how does that, which would be a major premium hike on the sickest patients, square with the president's promise to both lower premiums and take care of those with pre-existing conditions?

SPICER: So, it sounds interesting to me that without -- there are so many variables that are unknown, that to make an analysis of that level of precision, it seems almost impossible.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

SPICER: Hold on. No, let me give you -- let me give you an example.

So, right now pre-existing conditions are covered in the bill. They always have been; we've talked about that before.

States have the right to receive a waiver. If someone has continuous coverage, that's never going to be an issue regardless of -- no circumstance does anyone with continuous coverage would ever have a problem with pre-existing conditions.

If someone chose not to have coverage for 63 days or more, and they were in a state that opted out, and they had a pre-existing condition, and they were put into a high-risk pool, then we've allocated an additional $8 billion over five years to help drive down those costs.

So for someone to know how many people that is, what number of states are going to -- are going to receive a waiver -- ask for and receive a waiver is -- is literally impossible at this point. So to do an analysis of any level of factual basis would be literally -- not an impossible (ph).

QUESTION: Two follow-up questions.


QUESTION: One, would the president prefer -- does he have a preference as to whether or not states opt out, given that option?

And two, yes or no, will people with preexisting conditions pay higher premiums under this bill than they currently do?

SPICER: I think everything that we've done including, the additional $8 billion this year, have every -- everything that I've seen shows that the cost curve goes down for them in a lot of ways. So I would -- if you have pre-existing conditions -- and again, remember what a small pool that is. If you have a pre-existing condition currently, the bill protects you. The only factor would be is if you live in a state that potentially has a -- asks for a waiver and then is subsequently granted it, and if you've gone 63 days without continuous coverage.

So if you have continuous coverage, if you live in a state, it'll never, ever be a factor. But the president has worked to make sure that in every single scenario, anybody -- everybody -- he has kept true to his word that pre-existing conditions are covered and -- and that the cost curve continues to bend down, so...

QUESTION: Then on that other question, the congressman this morning, from Michigan, was saying he's confident from conversations with his governor...

SPICER: Right.

QUESTION: ... that his state will not ask for a waiver.

SPICER: Great.

QUESTION: Does the president have a preference as to whether or not states ask for waivers?

SPICER: The president's preference -- and I'm not -- the president believes in states' rights, number one.

Number two, his -- not just preference, his goal is to make sure -- as he stated repeatedly, is that pre-existing conditions are covered, care coverage goes up and costs go down. Those are his -- the principles that continue to guide him.


QUESTION: Thank you.

I want to go back to Director Comey on the Hill today and some things he said about Russia.

One of the things that he said was the Russian government is still involved in American politics. Is that the view of this White House?

SPICER: I think that's the view of the FBI. I mean, that's -- I'm not...

QUESTION: Is that different than the White House?

SPICER: I don't -- I mean, that's -- we rely on them and the rest of the intelligence community to provide the president with updates on -- on what they're learning. So it's not -- we don't -- it doesn't go that way.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

SPICER: They -- the director and the intelligence community update the president on all of the threats that the United States faces and all of the intelligence activity that -- that need to be briefed.

QUESTION: And in that particular one, does then he accept that...

(CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, again, I don't know what he has briefed the president on. I'm not trying to be coy on this, but I'm just saying, like, I don't know what he has recently briefed or how -- I know that the question was asked during the testimony. I don't know what new evidence beyond what they've -- what they shared with the president in December has happened between then and now.


One more thing on that front. He called Russia, quote, "the greatest threat of any nation on Earth." Is that something that the president agrees with? SPICER: I think the president's been clear that he thinks the threat that North Korea poses, with the potential nuclear weapon that has ranged capacity, is something that he finds to be threatening to the -- to the lives of Americans and our allies.


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) health care questions.


QUESTION: Can I follow up on what you were saying about the president's conversation with Congressman Upton?

Until yesterday, the president thought there was sufficient funding and Congressman Upton came to him and suggested a billion dollars more. You were just saying that it's impossible to estimate what would be needed.

My question is: Why did the president think that there was sufficient protection for those individuals who had pre-existing health conditions yesterday but today he now believes $8 billion will cover it? What persuaded him that the number that he had embraced yesterday was not sufficient and that $8 billion is -- is going to do it?

SPICER: So, in this particular case, Congressman Upton -- I think Congressman Long addressed it -- that he, through a series of conversations that he had with the president, shared with the president a concern that he had in their shared goal of covering pre- existing conditions.

The president, as Congressman Long discussed outside, expressed that -- the president expressed to him that the pre-existing conditions were covered and went through the various scenarios.

Congressman Long felt as though there were scenarios in which potentially the high-risk pool -- it wasn't a question of coverage, it was a question of cost. And so, the president engaged in a conversation with them, and through some of the analysis that Congressman Upton and Congressman Long had done, the president agreed that if we add an additional safety net -- which is, frankly, what that is -- not on the coverage but on the cost, that that could ensure that the cost curve further gets bent downward. And -- and the president agreed. Because at the end of the day, look, the president's talked about this from the beginning, that he wants to work with members to make it the strongest possible bill, to have the strongest outcome for the American people in a health care system in which both the cost continues to go down -- and I think that's one point, Alexis, that we keep forgetting in this discussion with what we're trying to do.

It's not just replace Obamacare. Obamacare is dying on the vine. The costs are spiraling out of control. Deductibles are going up. And carriers -- again, this isn't a theoretical discussion. Aetna, as we just discussed, is pulling out of states, you know, and counties around the country are now going down to one, and in some cases zero, choices.

So this isn't a -- a question of just replacing something. We are actually at a point where if we don't do something, some people in this country have -- will have no options for coverage. We've got to do something, and that's where the president is willing -- has been willing to work with members, pick up the phone, and figure out how do we get this done to make sure that every American's got the coverage that they need.


QUESTION: I want to ask about the next step.

There are members of the House who are concerned, on the Republican side, that they could vote for something that will change dramatically in the Senate.

What is the president's message to those members who are concerned about that? Is he going to prep the Senate to embrace whatever may or may not come out, but -- but you hope may come out of the House?

SPICER: Well, of course. I mean, we...


QUESTION: ... adopted by the Senate...

SPICER: Right, I...


SPICER: Well, I mean, I think the legislative process works its will. The Senate will take up the House bill and then they'll go to conference. And then that's when both sides, again, will have an opportunity to discuss any potential changes.

The president feels really good about where this bill -- how this bill has evolved, how much stronger it's become to achieve the goals that he set out. And he continue to work with -- with Leader McConnell and others when it gets to the Senate to make sure that we -- you know, anything that -- there could be issues that come up between now and then.

But our number one goal is to get it out of the House, focus, and then have those conversations with the Senate, and then go to conference.

But for right now -- and I -- you know, in a perfect world they would just take it straight up and we would go. But I have a feeling the Senate's going to want a say at this, so we'll go from there.

John (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sean.

(inaudible) very pleased, we heard before, with this legislative fix. They say they've turned their noes into yesses.

SPICER: That's right.

QUESTION: (inaudible) additional legislative fixes that are still to come before this bill actually hits the House floor?

SPICER: Look, I -- I -- the president's always said he's willing to hear ideas. This is -- this is a question for Speaker Ryan, Leader McCarthy and Congressman Scalise in terms of when is the appropriate time. If they feel that they've gotten to a place where they have the votes necessary to take it to the floor based on the number of suggestions and fixes and updates, then that will be up to them.

But I'm not going to pre-judge -- in this case through those conversations and the president has constantly been on the phone for the last several days and continues to do so to hear members' issues and concerns. And so if there's a point -- but I think we're getting, you know, to that number, closer and closer. But that will be ultimately a decision that Speaker Ryan and Leader McCarthy have to make.

QUESTION: On timing, I (inaudible) for the president over the course of the last few weeks. At one point, I heard the president say he wants the bill to be taken up now; other times, it's not important, just get the bill right.

What's your view? Is it very important as far as the administration is concerned, that this bill -- vote take place sooner rather than later?

SPICER: Well, obviously, the sooner the better, right? But we don't want to put it up for a vote -- I mean, the goal is to pass it, which we continue to get closer and closer to every day. But you don't want to put it up, you know, and not -- and not move forward. So the president wants to make sure that the leadership is confident that it can pass the bill. And I think he's done everything he can in terms of speaking with members of the House to get there.

But ultimately, that's going to be their decision to do it. And I think we continue to feel optimistic about the direction that we've seen the legislation go.


QUESTION: I wanted to revisit the president's comments and his tweets about the omnibus spending bill. He campaigned on his business record as -- on his ability to make good deals, make better deals than politicians in the past have. Does the president view the spending bill as a good deal?



QUESTION: Thank you.

Sean, can you say definitively that (inaudible) will pay more under the Upton amendment (inaudible)?

SPICER: I think we've done everything we can to do that. And every measure that the president has taken further not only make -- ensures that people with preexisting conditions get covered in every scenario, but does so in a way that bends the cost curve down.

QUESTION: But can he guarantee it?

SPICER: Well, I mean -- I think, with all due respect, to answer a question and say "can I guarantee something." But I can tell you that every single thing that the president has done, including the action that he took this morning to work with members of Congress, does everything by every account to bend the cost curve down, to help anybody that would potentially fall into that small group of individuals, to get -- to bend the cost curve down who have preexisting conditions.

So the answer, you know, is yes, that we have done every single thing possible to get that down, and to ensure that number one, that that potential is as small as possible, because the bill covers people with preexisting conditions, number one.

Number two, it does everything to ensure that if a state seeks a waiver, that they are still covered. But it looks at every single possibility to ensure that people get the care that they need.

QUESTION: Is there a concern -- you criticized former President Obama for rushing through his health care plan. Is this not being rushed through? This legislation hasn't even been scored yet by the CBO, for example, or put up for public (inaudible), this latest piece of legislation.

SPICER: Well, every piece of legislation evolves as it goes through the process. We saw that this morning. I think we had a piece that makes it even a stronger bill. But the underlying principles that we have been talking about have been something that Republicans have been talking about and have had the contours of for the last seven years. This was something that has been part of the process for a long time.


SPICER: The president -- I've mentioned this (inaudible) -- the president expects to see a vote when the speaker and the leader and the whip call a vote because they believe they have the votes (inaudible).


QUESTION: Sean, it looks like we're on the precipice of a vote on the omnibus spending bill. Senator Lindsay Graham said a short time ago that Republicans got their clocks cleaned on this bill. It looks like as many as 100 House Republicans will vote against it.

How do you square that with the pronouncements out of this White House that this was a big win for Republicans?

SPICER: I don't -- I think Director Mulvaney addressed that extensively yesterday. But to get back to Mike's point, this is a good deal -- a great deal for the president. He had $21 billion in military funding. That is a huge campaign pledge that he made very clearly to modernize and update the military. It fully funds the largest military pay raise in six years. It ends the Obama-era sequestration policy of pairing increases of domestic spending for every dollar to dollar.

SPICER: It got $1.52 billion in border security, which is the first installment in securing our nation's southern border.

It got $1.3 billion to coal miners, which delivers on another promise that he made.

There's no Obama bailout -- Obamacare bailout, the CSR payments, which was something the Democrats want on (ph).

There's a three-year extension of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Choice, which we -- you saw the children that'll benefit from that this morning.

It increases funds for opioid crisis.

It eliminates, rescinds and terminates 150 programs or -- or initiatives.

I think what you -- when -- you know, and Director Mulvaney laid this out yesterday. When you look at what the president came forward with a month or so ago and said, "These are my priorities," he got what he asked for. And I think that's big.

So, this is a -- the -- the president feels very good about what he got. And -- and again, I think it's important to understand -- underscore two points.

Number one, in the Senate, we needed 60 votes. This is -- this had to be a bipartisan action, because it is a spending bill, so therefore, we needed to get Democratic votes with us.

But if you look at -- as Director Mulvaney pointed out yesterday, it used to be a one-for-one spending increase if we wanted military increase. We got that down to $1 to 20 cents. That is a huge win for the president. He negotiated a fairly strong deal when it comes to what they got versus what we got. The other thing that's important to understand is that this is just the final five months of F.Y. '18. Any president coming into office wouldn't get the first shot at a budget until the end of September of the year after they got elected.

So, in theory, he got to push for his priorities -- military spending, border security, D.C. schools, all of the things I mentioned -- right out of the gate. And for the last five months of this fiscal year, something that should've happened during the Obama administration, he got his priorities -- a -- a downpayment on them.

QUESTION: Quick second topic, if I could.

This is at least the fourth White House -- fourth administration in a row that has come in with optimistic predictions of how Middle East peace will go. What's going to be different this time on it (ph)?

SPICER: I -- I think the man is different.

You -- you look at what -- the -- the president's diplomacy style is paying dividends, whether it's getting someone who was held for years in Egypt released, whether it's the action that China's taken.

The relationships and the foundation that the president is rebuilding are going to pay huge dividends for this country in terms of our economic interests, our national security interest.

But this president's style is one to develop a personal bond with individuals. And I think you saw that today with President Abbas, him talking so kindly about the president. You saw that -- the relationship that exists and is only getting stronger between him and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

You have two individuals who, because of this president, are increasing their desire for peace.

You've got an individual in President Xi in China that has taken fairly significant action to help the -- come work with the United States, especially with respect to our desire to end the threat in North Korea. That has been unprecedented.

The president's ability to connect with an individual, to work them towards a shared goal, to have backroom diplomacy is something that is going to continue to pay dividends and get results for this country.


QUESTION: A follow-up on John's (ph) question...

SPICER: Charlie?

QUESTION: In January, the president gave an interview deriding the "little toy walls" on the southern border. That -- that -- that's a quote. And said, "I don't know why they're even wasting any time."

Why is the government focused so much on existing border security measures rather than fighting for the wall that he promised in his bill?

SPICER: Thank you for an opportunity to show you some things.

So, if I can get a quick -- the first image up.

(LAUGHTER) You knew -- you asked.


SPICER: No. But I -- I -- you literally could not have helped me (inaudible).

This is what exists right now throughout our country. This is the kind of barrier that exists throughout the country.

You see a -- a place where cars can literally create little things and drive over. You've got places that can get burrowed under. That one, they've cut through. That one doesn't seem to be too effective at keeping people on the -- this is what -- that -- those images represent our nation's current border security.

According to a GAO report from earlier this year, from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2015, the Customs and Border Patrol recorded a total of 2,000 --- excuse me, 9,287 breaches in pedestrian fencing at an average cost of $784 per breach to repair, right?

So, every time that they cut through, break through, put something over, it's costing just under a thousand bucks for the -- for us to go out and have to fix.

Now to the next slide.


You had no idea you were getting this, did you?

SPICER: So, the bill that is about to get passed, Title Six, which pertains to the Department of Homeland Security's funding on additional appropriate states that an additional $497.4 million, quote, "for procurement, construction and improvements."

Of that total, $341.2 million are to, quote -- and this is literally what it says in the bill -- "to replace approximately 40 miles of existing primary, pedestrian and vehicle border fencing along the southwest border, using previously deployed and operationally effective designs, such as currently deployed steel bollard designs that prioritize agent safety."

So that's your answer, Charlie.



SPICER: Hold on. So hold on, hold on. Let me just -- we have -- we have a porous border right now, with broken fences, things that can be cut through, places that can just literally be driven over.

And to replace this with 20-foot-high ballard (sic) wall will protempt -- will protect our country, something that the DHS has designated the most effective way to do this.

So, that's what we got out of this bill.

QUESTION: Just one question about...


QUESTION: ... photos. Are those photos of fences or walls?

SPICER: That is called a bollard wall. That is called a levee wall.

QUESTION: So that's the wall that...


SPICER: No, no, no, I'm just -- no, no.

There are various types of walls that can be built under the legislation that was just passed. It allows us to do that.

As we've mentioned, that is called a levee wall on the left. That is called a bollard wall.



QUESTION: So that's not a wall, it's a levee wall?

SPICER: That's what it's actually called. That's the name of it. It is called...

QUESTION: (inaudible) fencing, not a wall.

SPICER: No, no, in this current bill, it allows us to do the following. So to be clear, in several areas along our southern border, we have a -- we have what was in the first slide, which are areas in which someone can literally cut through with a pair wire- cutters or put a little barrier over that a car can drive over the top, OK?

What we've done is taken the tools that we have to replace -- and if you look at that one in particular, you've got a -- a chain link fence is what is currently at our southern border. That is literally down there now. We are able to go in there and instead of having a chain link fence, replace it with that bollard wall. That -- that's what it is.

QUESTION: But it's not the wall the president promised, though.

SPICER: That -- no, no, hold on.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

SPICER: Hold up, Jim, we're going to take turns. But just to be clear, because Charlie asked the same thing so I'll give you a little help on this one, this -- this is the 2017 budget. The president -- this is a downpayment on what the president is going to prioritize in the 2018 budget that starts October 1st.

And as I mentioned to John Roberts, the idea that we even got a shot at this is something that should have been last -- done last term under President Obama. We have an opportunity to use the last five months of the F.Y. '17 budget to get the president's priorities jump- started. So he is using the current bill to get his priorities moving and put it down.

To answer the question, it is currently being built in Naco, Arizona, Sunland Park, New Mexico, and we are going to be starting to do this in San Diego, El Paso and Rio Grande Valley.

QUESTION: So you're basically just telling supporters -- the president's supporters to be satisfied with this existing tough guy fencing until he's ready to build the wall?


What I'm telling anybody is that the president said he was going to build a wall and he's doing it. And he's using the best technology and what the Department of Homeland Security under Secretary John Kelly says is the most effective way to keep people out, to stop drugs, to stop cartels, to stop human trafficking, and to prevent illegal immigration. That's what I'm telling you.


QUESTION: Mahmoud Abbas stood next to the president today and said he wants to see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Yesterday Vice President Pence said you're still looking...

SPICER: Right.

QUESTION: ... at moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

What is the White House view on those remarks? I mean, we didn't hear anything from President Trump in response to that (inaudible).

SPICER: Right.

I think the vice president, as you noted, commented yesterday that is still something that is being discussed and considered by the president. It'll continue to be a discussion that he has with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.

But obviously we're not going...

QUESTION: (inaudible) Palestinian...

SPICER: Again, I'm not going to -- I will -- they are -- they had a series of private discussions. That is why the president is able to effectively get things done for this country, is to not negotiate out in public.

He's going to continue to have discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas moving forward. And he feels confident about where that relationship was and develops (sic) that were made today.



SPICER: I'm not -- it's not -- it's -- it's not a question of not decided. I'm not going to negotiate what they are talking about in private from this podium. So that's...


SPICER: I -- I understand it. I'm just telling you that we are not going to negotiate from the podium.


QUESTION: (inaudible), Sean. Just to follow up on -- on the president's meeting with Abbas, he did say at one point, "frankly" -- talking about Middle East peace and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- "maybe it's not as difficult as people have thought."

Why -- why does he believe that the toughest -- arguably the toughest foreign policy challenge in our lifetime may not be as difficult as people have thought?

SPICER: I think both of these leaders have very publicly expressed the confidence they have in the president's negotiating skills, in the president's desire to work to get peace, the relationship that he's built with them individually and the trust and respect that they have for him.