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White House Holds Its First Briefing In 3 Weeks; White House On Trump's Attack Against GOP Leaders; White House On Trump's Preps For Looming Hurricane; GOP Balks At Trump's Threat To Shut Down Government Over Wall; W.H. Won't Say If Trump Is Wavering On Who Pays Wall; First Briefing Since Charlottesville, North Korea, GOP Feud; White House On Trump's New Afghanistan Strategy; White House On Whether Trump's Had Physical Exam; Aired 3:00-3:30p ET

Aired August 24, 2017 - 15:00   ET


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- and to the families who have watched them go to secure an honorable and lasting outcome to this conflict. As the president said on Monday, the men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. And once that victory has been achieved, they also deserve to return home to a country that honors their sacrifices and provides our nation's heroes with the support they've earned by risking their lives to ensure the freedoms of all Americans.

That's why the president was also honored to sign yet another historic piece of legislation to support our veterans earlier this week. The V.A. choice act streamlines the lengthy process of appealing claims for disability benefits for the more than 470,000 veterans that are still waiting for decisions. Under the leadership of Secretary Shulkin, the V.A. is steadily delivering on the president's promise to fix the broken V.A. system.

Finally, before I'd open it up to take your questions, as you're all very well aware, I kind of love birthdays around here, and oddly, we have quite a few of them going on. Major Garrett, happy birthday. But even more importantly, it's -- I'm pretty lucky, I think I have two of the best parents in the world, and it's my dad's birthday, so happy birthday, dad, and it's my niece's birthday, so I get to get knock out a ton of stuff today, my only niece Caroline turned four today and with that, I will take your questions. Steve?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, there seems to be some acrimony between the president and the Republican Congressional leadership. How do you repair this relationship going into the fall?

SANDERS: Look, I think the relationships are fine. Certainly there are going to be some policy differences, but there are also a lot of shared goals. And that's what we're focused on. We're disappointed that Obamacare -- they failed to get it repealed

and replaced. But at the same time, President Trump has worked with Leader McConnell to reach out to other members and to work on those shared goals, and we're going to continue to do that when the Senate comes back from recess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the president sign any budget bill that does not include funding for the wall?

SANDERS: Look, the president has talked pretty extensively about this. He campaigned on the wall. He won on talking about building a wall. And he's going to make sure that that gets done. And he'll continue to fight for that funding and ensure that it takes place. Let's not forget that there were a lot of Democrat senators that also voted for border security and a border fence and hopefully some of those same individuals will talk to members in their current party and maybe we can get a bipartisan group to support that and make sure it happens, because this president's going to see it through. John?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, it's my older daughter's birthday, by the way too.

SANDERS: We'll go ahead and cover that one too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my understanding that when the president meets with Senator McConnell, beginning of September, when Congress is back, that he will ask him to take another swing at repealing Obamacare. At the same time, judge in New Jersey, Judge Wallace has said that Senator Robert Menendez cannot come back to the Senate to cast votes. How does that in combination with what the president might want the Senate Majority Leader to do on Obamacare factor into the balance of power and the vote count you need to get a repeal bill through?

SANDERS: I'm not sure about the specifics of that case. I know there's still ongoing judicial process taking place, so I'm not going to get into that but I can tell you that the president continues to be committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare and making sure that America has good health care and the health care that they deserve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- happened just before the August Recess, does he really have a chance of getting it through?

SANDERS: Look, we're committed to continuing to make sure that we have the best health care we can, and if we can do that in that direction, I think that's great. If we can't, we need to look for other ways that we can make solutions. Jon Decker?

JON DECKER, FOX NEWS RADIO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thanks a lot, Sarah. hurricane Harvey appears to be bearing down on the southern part of the U.S., specifically Texas seems to be in its crosshairs there. There's no replacement yet for General Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security. First question, does the president plan to name a replacement for him any time soon? And second of all, is this problematic in terms of dealing with hurricane Harvey, the fact that there's no one at the helm right now at DHS?

SANDERS: No. There's certainly someone at the helm. We've got acting Secretary Elaine Duke who's watching this closely, very involved in the process along with the acting director for FEMA and again, I think that we are in great shape, having General Kelly sitting next to the president throughout this process and probably no better chief of staff for the president during the hurricane season, and the president has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses and certainly something he's very aware of and will keep a very watchful eye on. And stands ready to provide resources if needed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, the president promised over and over again during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. So why is he now threatening a government shutdown if Congress won't pay for it?

SANDERS: The president's committed to making sure this gets done. We know that the wall and other security measures at the border work. We've seen that take place over the last decade and we're committed to making sure the American people are protected and we're going to continue to push forward and make sure that the wall gets built. Matthew?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is he threatening a shutdown over paying for it? I mean, again, he said over and over again, he talked about the campaign, over and over again, he said Mexico's going to pay for the wall. He asked people -- crowds chanted back at him, Mexico's going to pay for it and now he's pushing -- threatening a shutdown of the government.

SANDERS: No. Once again, the president's committed to making sure this happens and we're going to push forward. Matthew?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Sarah. About a week ago on August 17th, the president again referenced a fictitious story about General Pershing committing a mass execution in the Philippines. A couple questions on that. Does the president know that the story is false, and if so, why does he keep repeating it? And why does the White House think it's appropriate for the president to perpetuate this false story if he hasn't been informed that it's not true?

SANDERS: I haven't had a chance to ask him about that, so I can't speak to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then on the broader point, so the president's spreading false information via his Twitter account. That seems to encourage wartime atrocities. No one in the White House has thought to inform him --

SANDERS: I didn't say no one had. I said I haven't had that conversation, so I wasn't going to speak to something I wasn't aware of.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. has - the U.S. has a withheld funding to Egypt over its human rights record. President Trump praised president Xi back in April when he was here. Why the change in tone now?

SANDERS: Look, the United States has always been committed on human rights issues and we'll continue to do that and if I have further updates, I'll let you know but I encourage you to reach out to the state department. April?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sarah, two questions. On the economics of a government shutdown, if the wall is not paid for, the president likes to talk about how the economy is doing well under his watch. If there is a government shutdown, people could be laid off for a moment or some people could lose their jobs. Talk to us about economics. What does he view the economics of it with this wall for average American that he's fighting for?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get into the weeds on that but I know that the president is probably one of the strongest presidents we've had on economic issues. There's a reason that over a million jobs have been created since he took office. There's a reason that the unemployment is at a 16-year low. There's a reason that the stock market is at an all-time high. He's very committed to job creation, economic growth, and he's going to continue to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then with the HBCU Summit, there is a big back-and-forth about this HBCU Summit. Three of the organizations that are over top of the HBCUs -- that basically represent them are saying this is not the time to have this summit because of Charlottesville and the fact that some of the schools feel that they just did not get what was promised from this administration and there could be an alternate summit by a congresswoman. Talk -- what's going on here --

SANDERS: Look, the HBCU summit has been going on for over 30 years. We have no intention of canceling it. And as of right now, the summit is at complete capacity with a waiting list. With that type of engagement, I think it's best that we move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I see the list of schools and the names? Because we're hearing -- I mean, from schools that are saying that they are not coming. And a lot of leaders.

SANDERS: I can only tell you who's registered and certainly that we're at capacity for the convention center with a pretty lengthy waiting list in terms of whether or not we release that, I'd have to check on that and get back to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, what are president's thoughts on the situation in Cuba, the U.S. embassy? We understand now as many as 19 Americans have been injured.

SANDERS: I know that they have been going through the process of bringing the majority of those people back to have thorough testing and see what actions need to be taken and how best to move forward. At this point, I'd refer you to the State Department on anything further.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the president believe that Cuba is involved directly?

SANDERS: I can't comment on that at this time. Right now we're under a thorough review, and as soon as we know something we'll let you know. Eamon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Sarah. This morning, the president said that the debt-ceiling approval process is a mess. Is it? Is that accurate?

SANDERS: Look, it's our job to inform Congress of the debt ceiling, and it's their job to raise it. And Congress and the previous administration have obligated trillions in spending, and we need to make sure we pay our debts. We're still committed to making sure that gets raised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, Sarah, does he want a clean debt-ceiling bill?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he want it to be clean? Yes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just going to ask a follow-up question about that. The health attacks (INAUDIBLE) as the Secretary of State has deemed them, has the president been informed of this? Has he been briefed?

SANDERS: He's been briefed. But again, I think there's a thorough review taking place. And at this point, I'd have to refer you to the State Department for any further follow up. Tolu?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Sarah. I'm going to try a business question for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the White House have any reaction to the FTC approving the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon?

SANDERS: I'm not aware of that. I'd have to check and see if there's an official administration response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And second question, I want to read the comments from Senator Bob Corker -- I'm sure you've seen them -- over a week ago about the president saying that the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. He also said that he's not sure that the president understands the character of this nation. Do you have any response to that from a Republican senator?

SANDERS: I think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn't dignify a response from this podium. Major?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to follow up on Jonathan's question, since the president is going full-court press, threatening a shutdown over the funding of the wall, does that mean he is abandoning any efforts to negotiate with Mexico, any payments for construction of the wall?

SANDERS: I certainly don't think any efforts have been abandoned. And an official happy birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So wait -- hold on, one second. You mentioned in the opening remarks honorable and victory as the president did in Afghanistan. Can you describe to the American people what both of those words mean for the president? Honorable and victory. What does it look like? What will the -- what does that mean?

SANDERS: I think when he spoke on Monday he laid out what the top priority was in this process, and that's making Americans safe and protecting the American people and moving forward with this strategy and making sure that Afghanistan is never able to be used as a haven to attack the United States. I think those are certainly clear goals and part of that process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that mean, therefore, that U.S. military personnel will be there as long as there is any type of terrorist activity or cell in Afghanistan or Pakistan?

SANDERS: Look, I think when it comes to the strategy in Afghanistan, they're going to be focused on the conditions on the ground, which will be determined by the generals in the military on the ground and certainly through the Department of Defense and General Mattis and his team, and not arbitrary timetables. And he'll be the one that can lay out those specifics for you and what that looks like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just asking because you've mentioned terrorism. You mentioned threats. There are several different networks there -- Haqqani, Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS. Is the priority of this administration and the strategy that it will pursue until it is accomplished to eliminate all of those terrorist cells in either Afghanistan and Pakistan and only then can victory be achieved and that be described as honorable?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get down into that. I think that's a question that's, again, best answered by General Mattis and the Department of Defense. What I can tell you is that the ultimate goal is a peaceful settlement between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban that protects our interest and protects American lives. That's the focus, and I'll let Secretary Mattis determine and lay that out for you more specifically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, I've got a follow-up on Major of Afghanistan. So first of all, if what we've been doing in Afghanistan has been working, then why are we still here? And if it hasn't been working, what are we planning to be doing differently moving forward?

SANDERS: I think -- again, one of the things that is different is the decision and whether or not when and how to withdrawal would be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables; making sure that we have an integrated strategy that puts all of our American power -- diplomatic, economic, and military -- in a way that's sustainable and cost-effective. And making sure we have that integrated process is a big key to this strategy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adding troops is just prolonging the withdrawal. Is that what that is?

SANDERS: No. Again, we're not doing this based on a timetable but conditions on the ground and making sure that we're protecting American lives and defeating terrorists. I think that it's very clear when the president laid that out on Monday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my second question -- hold on, wait, I had a second question on that. Whatever the final objective is, is it really worth the reported trillion dollars that it would cost? Isn't there anything better we might be able to spend that on?

SANDERS: I don't think you can put a price tag on American lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, one more question on Afghanistan. The president talked about putting more pressure on Pakistan to play a constructive role. But he also talked about having a new, closer strategic partnership with India, which is Pakistan's prime antagonist. Why does the president think drawing closer to India will prompt the Pakistanis to play a more constructive role rather than becoming more defensive and playing more into a strategy of giving harbor to extremists?

SANDERS: Well, we think it's important that there's a regional approach, and part of that is developing and strengthening that relationship and partnership with India. They've been making important contributions towards Afghanistan's democracy and their stability, and we think it's important to continue that effort. Cecilia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, on this threat of the government shutdown if Congress doesn't secure funding for this wall, how is that not a concession from this White House that Mexico isn't actually going to pay for this wall and American taxpayers will?

SANDERS: Again, this is something the president is committed to. He's committed to protecting American lives. And doing that through the border wall is something that's important. It's a priority, and we're moving forward with it. Noah?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he's not saying that Mexico is going to pay for it now.

SANDERS: He hasn't said they're not either. Noah?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have. They have.

SANDERS: Thank you. I think we've had enough outbursts from that side. Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the President's ban on transgender service in the military, how close is the White House to sending guidance to the Pentagon on that? And the policy itself, how much discretion will be given to the Pentagon on implementing it?

SANDERS: When we have an announcement on that, I'll let you know, and we'll be sure to answer those questions at that time. John Gizzi? JOHN GIZZI, NEWSMAX WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Sarah. Two questions, please. First, the beginning of May with great fanfare, the president signed a string of religious liberty executive orders. In the last few days, the head of the Becket Fund, a group that fights for religious liberty in court complained that that the executive order, even with the Johnson amendment, the tax-exempt status for churches, whether they deal in politics, and the Affordable Care Act's contraception clause were both still being enforced in spite of the President's orders that they not be. What is the president doing about this? And is he aware of these complaints?

SANDERS: I'm not sure if he's aware of the complaints or any specific places where that's being ignored, so I'd have to look into that, probably talk to our friends at HHS specific to the contraception thing, and get back to you.

GIZZI: All right. And my second question is, in Russia the major story there is that the theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, who is a well-known figure in the Russian entertainment industry and an opponent of the Putin regime has been arrested and is being tried on what he said are trumped up charges regarding his finances. There are massive demonstrations beginning. Does the administration have a comment on what's happened to Mr. Serebrennikov?

SANDERS: I certainly can't make an official statement at this time, but I'll circle back with you. Fred? Sorry, Fred. Sorry, you're over there. Thought I saw you in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, two questions. One, given the rift with the president and Republican leaders in Congress, is there an elevated role right now for Vice President Pence having been in Congress or kind of speaking both languages in terms of working with Congress going into negotiating the budget and so forth?

SANDERS: The vice president plays a key and pivotal role in the administration and the White House. I think he's certainly always going to be an important part of the process of moving legislation forward on whatever that circumstance is or whatever the matter is. He is probably one of the best advocates here at the White House and certainly somebody that the president has a great deal of trust in and is happy to have him on his team.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got one more question. Is that role elevated though considering that there seems to be a rift between the White House and Congress?

SANDERS: I think that the vice president is the second-in-command, so it's a pretty high role where he is. And certainly, again, a key member of this administration and somebody who plays a pivotal role every single day in the White House no matter what the circumstances are. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more topic. And then, Sarah -- there was a - there's been some increased criticism from conservatives about Commissioner Koskinen at IRS after an IG report came out that highlighted that there were 213 employees that were rehired after committing offenses, including some crimes for termination. And I was wondering if you could revisit why Commissioner Koskinen is still part of the administration and if the president has any plans put in place to replace him when his term is up in November.

SANDERS: When we have a personnel announcement on that front I'll certainly let you know. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two questions on pardons, if I could. One on Sheriff Arpaio. Is the president seeking a recommendation from the pardon attorney and the deputy attorney general or is he asking for an FBI background check in his consideration of that pardon?

SANDERS: I would imagine they go through the thorough and standard process, and when we have an announcement on what that decision is after that's completed, we'll let you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And more broadly, beyond Arpaio, there are 2,200 other pardon applications pending. Does the president have any pardon policy, pardon philosophy, any particular way that he would like to use his pardon power during his term in office?

SANDERS: I haven't had a specific conversation with him about that, but I know that the White House counsel plays a big role in that and would certainly be involved in that process and any deliberations on that. Alexis?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sarah, the president has made clear that -- in the past that he wanted to get started on tax reform, but we haven't heard him say that much about it. Politico talked to a White House correspondent and published this week that the president has an imminent announcement about tax reform. Can you describe how he wants to kick off the fall campaign to get that accomplished this year? And are we going to hear from him this week, next week, what would you expect?

SANDERS: Tax relief and the focus on tax relief for middle-class Americans is a huge priority for this administration and it's certainly going to be a big focus in the fall. And we're going to look a lot of different ways in which to talk about that and present that to the American people, working with Congress to make sure that that happens. And we'll keep you guys posted when there are specific announcements. I think that you can expect some of that to take place in the very short order, probably next week and following through to the fall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sarah, it's customary for presidents to get annual physicals exams at Walter Reed. The president -- I think he last released information about his medical condition last fall during the campaign. Can you tell us whether the president intends to utilize the federal facilities at Walter Reed this year to get a physical and then release that information to the public?

SANDERS: I'll let you know if that's going to happen. Trey? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Sarah. On Tuesday, President Trump said, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. Does he stand by that statement?

SANDERS: Look, I think the president has been clear that this is a priority, protecting American citizens is a priority, something he's committed to. And we're going to -- as I've said multiple times today, he's committed to seeing that through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a plan to force a government shutdown to get the wall built?

SANDERS: I think I've answered this question several times. Zeke?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two questions for you. First, the president at the rally in Phoenix mentioned that he was - he seemed inclined to be pulling the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. His comments came after the first round of NAFTA renegotiation talks last week. So were those comments informed by the status of those negotiations last week here in Washington when he said -- that was his prediction that he was going to be pulling the U.S. out?

SANDERS: Now, the president is being kept up to date on those negotiations. I think he has certainly been clear about how he feels about NAFTA and making sure that we get the best deal for the American people. He's committed to that. We'll see how the negotiations go and then go from there. Thanks so much guys.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN NEWSROOM WITH BROOKE BALDWIN HOST: All right, there we have it. Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressing a multitude of issues. Let's just begin, though, with that first question on the acrimony between the president and Republican leaders in Congress. Chris Cilizza, you're getting this one. The fact that she's -- she was asked about the acrimony and she said, the relationships are fine, yes, they have policy differences, shared goals but what I noted was the pronoun which was the they, says the White House is disappointed that they, meaning Republicans, aren't they all in the same team, wouldn't it be a we instead of a they? You know, failed on repealing Obamacare.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, I don't think we should be all that surprised ahat Donald Trump said something similar pronoun-wise in his tweet this morning, Brooke, which is, I don't really think the he views -- he certainly doesn't view himself in the same class as a member of Congress frankly, even member of Republican leadership but I'm not sure he really associates himself with the Republican party in Congress.

This is a guy who is openly courting primary challengers to a sitting Republican incumbent, a primary in Arizona. This is a guy who has run down Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, you know, Jeff Flake.

BALDWIN: But he's a Republican president. CILLIZZA: Mitch McConnell.

BALDWIN: But he's a Republican president.

CILLIZZA: Yes, but he does not view himself, he -- Donald Trump -- look, all presidents are about themselves first and the party second. That's true, Barack Obama too. It's usually, though, one and one A. For Donald Trump, he's about Donald Trump first, Donald Trump second, Donald trump third, Donald Trump fourth, we only have another 36 minutes of your show, so I'm not going to keep listing that but it's Donald Trump all the way down for a long time and then Republican Party when it is good for Donald Trump.

That's what we've seen. He is a force unto himself. That is a good thing for him politically, it's why he got elected. It's why he beat 16 other Republicans who are much more party loyalist than he is. But when you are the president of the United States, your job, theoretically, is to work when you have a Senate and House majority to work with them to pass your agenda. He seems to see it as, well, working with me is you do what I say.

If it doesn't work, for whatever reason, it's your fault, I'm going to blame you, and I'm going to attack you. And, you know, that's probably not the way that he's going to get a whole lot done. Though I don't know that he cares.

BALDWIN: Juana, what did you think?

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Something I thought was really interesting, along the same lines of talking about how Donald Trump maybe doesn't see himself as a Republican is the way that Sarah Huckabee Sanders talked about a number of signature achievements that the president campaigned on that he said he wanted. For example, when she talked about the wall that Donald Trump - then-candidate Trump said that Mexico would pay for, she now says, well, maybe he didn't say they're going to pay for it now but maybe they are still. She doesn't know. When they talk about Obamacare --

BALDWIN: She never said.

SUMMERS: Yes. She didn't make it clear whether or not the president still believes that's the case. When they talked about Obamacare, she says, you know, we want to make sure that Americans have the best health care we can. And I believe she said if we can't, we need to look at other ways to make solutions happen. Given what we saw right before Republicans headed to Congressional recess, so this is a president now that you're hearing use very different terms in talking about some of the policy goals, especially on health care, one that Republicans have been toiling over, how to replace the Affordable Care Act for the entirety since 2010, I guess, for most of Barack Obama's term, they've been trying to figure out how to replace that and now we're hearing something really different from this president, so I thought that was incredibly interesting and listening to the press secretary speak.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to that point and how he said the other night in Phoenix, you know, the government spending is all predicated on getting that funding for the border wall. Let me get back to that. It's like I've been seeing on this theme of Republicans and Caitlin and Kirsten, just turning to you all, you know, hearing the way Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the notion of someone who was on short list to be secretary of state, OK?

Senator Bob Corker, again, on the same team, Republican, Tennessee, who's been golfing with the president, right? Who questioned the president's competency among other things. Let me just remind everyone what he, I think it said last week and what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in response.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R) TENNESSEE: The president has not yet -- has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comments from Senator Bob Corker, I'm sure you've seen them over a week ago, about the president saying that the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. He also said that he's not sure that the president understands the character of this nation. Do you have any response to that from a Republican senator?

SANDERS: I think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn't dignify a response from this podium.


BALDWIN: Your response to her nonresponse response.

KRISTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: I mean, what else is she going to say? I think that this is a pretty unprecedented attack to come from a senator against the president of his own party. So, they're well within their rights I think to take offense by it, and you know, you would hope internally they might take a different position which is somebody like Bob Corker is saying this, maybe we should consider what's going on but I think we know that Donald Trump's not particularly open to that kind of feedback.

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITCS: Right. And when you're talking about intraparty divisions, I mean, Jeff Flake of course is traveling the country promoting a book which is very critical of this president, very critical of the party's response to this president. The president obviously does not respond well to criticism, and when he was talking in Phoenix about the coverage of his response to Charlottesville, he's very much talking about Republicans in his own party who were critical of his response there.

And to Chris's earlier point, he ran a presidential campaign against establishment Republicans as much as establishment Democrats, and I think what we saw over the past week is kind of a preview of how he might approach the midterm elections, going after Congress for not getting things done, a Congress that is controlled by Republicans today in those tweets, kind of setting up the blame for Republicans in case things don't get done here.

BALDWIN: But when has that ever been done, going after -- I go back to the sports metaphor of, you know, your own teammates, Republicans attacking them, you should be on the same team with common goals.

HUEY-BURNS: Right. It's a strategy at odds with itself, right? Because if you're going after Jeff Flake, if you're going after, you know, dean Heller in Nevada, those are votes that you need anyway to pass the legislation that you want to pass, so it does raise the question about how much the president wants to get done here and going after your own Republican members of Congress, when you have to add to your majority, not want to shrink it --


POWERS: But especially because Jeff Flake actually has supported his agenda, so this is something that's actually not about him not supporting the agenda. It's about him not supporting Trump personally, so he's putting this sort of personal feelings over the politics.

BALDWIN: Over politic and agenda. Go ahead, Chris.