Return to Transcripts main page


White House Briefing Concludes; Discussion of Briefing Content. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 27, 2017 - 15:30   ET


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: - was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career. I don't understand why no one is asking about that question and why that isn't constantly covered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why doesn't ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quickly two (ph) on Syria. First, on Friday, the President's call with Erdogan in Turkey, where he seemingly (ph) announced to him that he was not going to - the U.S. is not going to continue arming the Kurds - the Kurdish forces fighting ISIS. Can you address some (ph) concerns that the U.S. now seems to backing away from its previous support of a partner in the fight against ISIS?

SANDERS: No, look, once we started winning the campaign against ISIS, the plan and part of the process is to always wind down support for certain groups, now that we're continuing to crush the physical caliphate that we're in a position to stop providing military equipment to certain groups but that doesn't mean stopping all support of those individual groups.

But that was the whole purpose was to help defeat ISIS. We're making massive progress in that front and once that was moved forward, that was always been the plan and that hasn't changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And just quickly (ph) on Syria ...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it still a policy of the United States that Assad must go? Or is there a lot more (ph) containment policy that's emerging at the White House?

SANDERS: We don't have any changes in our position at this time. Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Back to the Access Hollywood tape, you said that he made his position clear at the time. He said - at the time he said, "I said it. I was wrong. I apologize."

But you just said the media's reporting of its accuracy. So can I ask again, does the President acknowledge saying that that (ph) was on the Access Hollywood tape last year?

SANDERS: Look, I said that he'd already addressed it. And that we didn't have any updates to that. I said what he didn't like and what he found troubling were the accounts that are being reported now.

ZELENY: So what accounts are being reported now that weren't reported last year? What accounts are you talking about?

SANDERS: The ones that are current that he's questioning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just following up on Zeke's (ph) question. So, what is the official policy on Assad's position? Should he stay or go?

SANDERS: Look, as I just said, we don't have any changes and to pass statements that we've already made on that front, nothing new. Blake?

BLAKE BURMAN, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Sarah, just a couple on the CFPB. Does the White House believe that Leandra English is unqualified for that position?

SANDERS: We believe that Director Mulvaney is the right person at this time to lead that Agency and that's why he's over there.

BURMAN: If you believe that he's the right person, I guess the follow-up then is what does the White House or what does the President have against Leandra English in that spot?

SANDERS: Look, I'm not saying that we do have anything against her. I'm saying that we want Director Mulvaney to lead this Agency. And that's a decision that the President is allowed to make and one that he's made and has legal authority to do so. John (ph)?

JOHN (ph): Thank you, Sarah. Two questions about personnel. The President's appointment of Governor Brownback for the ambassador-at- large slot, dealing with religious liberty, has been stalled, and the Senate has yet confirm him or vote on his confirmation.

Now, at the same time, National Security Council staff has a vacant slot that deals with the same issue, religious liberty, that doesn't require Senate confirmation. Is he going to fill that slot on the NSC?

SANDERS: I'm - I'm not aware of any specific announcement for that position at this time. But if one happens, we'll certainly make sure you're aware of it.

JOHN (ph): Now, the other question is regarding the appointment of Director Mulvaney to a simultaneous presidential appointment. It seems a little odd because this has not been done, according to many accounts, since before World War I.

SANDERS: We're an administration that likes to break new ground, John (ph).

JOHN (ph): Well, you (ph) broke it. But the last time was before World War I, when the Secretary of the Treasury was also the first Chairman of the Fed. Whose idea was this? Or did the President decide to give the dual positions to Director Mulvaney?

SANDERS: Look, I think the President felt like he was the right person to lead this Agency and he made that decision. I don't think there's more to it than that.

JOHN (ph): Passing along (ph).


FRED LUCAS, THE DAILY SIGNAL, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Sarah. One on the CFPB. As far as reforms to the Agency, the House has passed the CHOICE Act but still no action on that in Senate. Is this something - does the Administration see this as an opportunity to try to push congressional reforms to the Agency?

SANDERS: Look, this is Director Mulvaney's first day. We're going to let him get settled in before we start announcing new policy, but when we do, we'll certainly keep you guys posted. Anita? Sorry. I'm going to try to jump around for - save time.

ANITA KUMAR, THE MCCLATCHY COMPANY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESONDENT: Speaker Ryan the other day (ph) that DREAMers - the issue of the DREAMers would not be in the spending bill.

We're reaching the end of the year now and I'm wondering what the, you know, the President said that he would take this back up if Congress couldn't act. Negotiations aren't really going anywhere.

What - what does the President propose to do? Does he see that happening in Congress in the next few weeks? Does he wish (ph) for a standalone bill?

SANDERS: Are you talking about specific to - I'm sorry. I missed the first part.

KUMAR: DREAMers. What to do about (ph) DREAMers?

SANDERS: Look, we hope that the Democrats aren't going to put our service members abroad at risk by trying to hold the government hostage over partisan politics and attaching that.

To that, we've laid out what our principles on immigration are. We want to see responsible immigration reform that would include DACA, but that would also include the priorities that we've already previously laid out.

KUMAR: And if they don't come up with anything?

SANDERS: Like I just said, we hope that the Democrats are willing to actually make responsible immigration reform. We've laid out what we want. And look, the President's got a meeting with various members tomorrow. And I would imagine that that will come up at that time.


SANDERS: Kristen (ph)? KRISTEN (ph): Sarah, what would you say to consumers who are concerned about somebody who once called the Agency that he's now ostensibly leading, Mick Mulvaney calling the Agency a sick, sad joke? What would you say to consumers who are concerned about somebody like that now ostensibly leading this Agency that was designed to protect them?

SANDERS: I think that consumers should be glad that they finally have somebody in there that actually wants to fight for consumers and not fight for their own political ambitions which we've seen in the previous leadership and which will be a very different change under Director Mulvaney.

KRISTEN (ph): Thank you.

SANDERS: David (ph)?

DAVID (ph): Sarah, at this point, Senator Al Franken has allowed that there may be more women coming forward. He doesn't know that there are, but he said there might be more women coming forward.

At what point does the President condemn him? How many women does it take? How many accusations does it take before the President says Al Franken should resign? And is he holding back because of some unresolved accusations against himself?

SANDERS: No. I think it's - look, the President is not going to weigh in on every single matter like this. Look, every single day we've got people from - from the media, from Hollywood, from Members of Congress that have allegations brought against them and we think that this should go through a due process.

And that's something that Senator Franken should first be the one to address and not for the President to weigh in every single time one of these accusations comes up, but there should be a process that we go through and we want to make sure that that's completed.

DAVID (ph): You said with the Access Hollywood tape that the people have spoken. The President is President. So that's kind of been litigated. So, do you think the...

SANDERS: I think the President also addressed it at the time.

DAVID (ph): Sarah, do you think the fact that the President has been elected that that's all been litigated means that the public believes the women who have accused him in the past of sexual misconduct are wrong?

SANDERS: I think that the President's been very clear that he denies any of those allegations having taken place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you Sarah. Just to follow up on you saying that the CFPB has not looked out for consumers. Can you point to some specific cases where the CFPB did not act in the best interest of consumers?

SANDERS: Yes, we have a list of those. We'll be happy to provide them after the briefing today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you list them (ph) now?

SANDERS: Yes, I'll be - I don't have it right in front of me. But I have read multiple things. I'll be happy to provide it to you after the briefing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And separately over the weekend, the President went after CNN International. Today, he called out CNN in a tweet. In the conversations that the President had with Rupert Murdoch, has he ever brought up CNN or talked about the AT&T-Time Warner merger?

SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of. Not that I know of.


SANDERS: I'll take one last question. Ronica (ph)?

RONICA (ph): Sarah, thank you. The last time the President met with congressional leaders, he surprised a lot of people making the deal, if you will, with he came out and said (ph), "Chuck and Nancy."

It seemed to take Republicans by surprise. Should we expect something like that out of tomorrow? Should Republicans feel anxiety or concern leading into tomorrow's meeting that he may, if you will, throw them under the bus, if you will, leading into tomorrow's meeting?

SANDERS: Look, I don't think the President threw anybody under the bus. But if the President - I'm not going to get ahead of that meeting.

But if the President can make a deal and any of those Democrats would like to come on board and support tax reform, I think that's something we'd certainly welcome and be happy to celebrate with them after, as my guess is most of the Republican Senators would also be excited about that as well.

Thanks so much guys. Have a good afternoon.


BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR, CNN: All right, let's analyze. Dana Bash, Maeve Reston, Brian Stelter here with me.

Let's just get right to it where we're talking about right before the fact that the President was standing in this room flanked by, you know, folks in their 80s and 90s, right, who served probably in World War II, these Native Americans and - and made a joke, a horrible joke about Pocahontas and saying the word Pocahontas and just given obviously the company he was in, not that it ever should matter to use some sort of racial slur.

And Dana, you heard, you know, Sarah Sanders pushing back saying it wasn't a racial slur and trying to put it back on Elizabeth Warren saying what people should find offensive, you know, going down her notes, what people should find offensive is about Elizabeth Warren lying about her career. What did you make about that attempted pivot?

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It was, look, I think if you're Sarah Huckabee Sanders that's just about the best you can do without - without looking out at the reporters and saying, "Don't ask me, guys."

BALDWIN: I got nothing.

BASH: I don't - I got nothing.


BASH: Because there's no explanation. I mean it - it was a complete non-sequitur, except the one thing that the word Pocahontas and the term Pocahontas Liz Tanner (ph) said and - and as Elizabeth Warren says the way he is with the racial slur Pocahontas has in common with the three men he was honoring is Native American.

That's it. That's it. So that's where his brain went. He's looking at these Native American men and he thought Pocahontas and then he thought Elizabeth Warren, he just blurted it out. And there's - there's absolutely no defending that, no matter what.

BALDWIN: Yes. No. Agree. I think we all agree on that.

BASH: Yes.

BALDWIN: Someone did just hand me a note. Senator Elizabeth Warren has reacted saying, I'm quoting her, "Deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur."

Off of Pocahontas, the other note that I jotted down was the Access Hollywood tape, right? We're talking about the Access Hollywood tape again today because of this little graph (ph) in a New York Times piece, Brian Stelter, in which even though we have all seen, you know, Donald Trump apologize - acknowledge that it was his voice on that bus with Billy Bush, apologized for it publicly on television.

You know, reportedly The New York Times says that he is saying privately that "No, no, no, that wasn't me." And so you have now the White House saying he has made his position clear. Has he?

BRIAN STELTER, HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES & SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Sanders had every opportunity to swing at the "Failing New York Times." We know that President Trump loves to assail The New York Times whenever possible.

But she didn't do that. And I think it was notable that she was not very critical of the reporting in The New York Times. She did say the President had some issues of how these stories are covered. But I was struck by the non-denial from the podium. She did say something about how the voters decided in an overwhelming fashion...

BALDWIN: Right. It was litigated during the campaign. STELTER: For President Trump. We all know that's not true based on the heated nature of the campaign and the results of the popular vote total. But that's always what they fall back on at the White House is the voters decided. They knew about the tape and they decided.

So if President Trump really does think the tape was somehow faked, we all know it wasn't. He'll have to say that for himself. For now, it seems the White House is not denying The New York Times story.


MAEVE RESTON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: Well, but it also seemed, Brooke, as though...


RESTON: Her answer was intentionally confusing, you know, I think when - when Zeleny circled back and asked her about it, she was talking about, you know, certain accounts being - being looked at again. And I don't know what she was talking about. I don't think the American people know what she was talking about.


RESTON: What we do know is that President Trump as much as he likes to claim that there's fake news out there, likes to stir these conspiracy theories himself and put out things that are contradictory to the facts.

And so, you know, whether or not that's true that he's talking to people about it, he clearly does not have moral authority to talk about these issues of sexual harassment and perhaps that troubles him.

Maybe that's why his response to Roy Moore has been so baffling over the last couple of weeks, and that was another part of the press conference that was interesting. You saw Sarah Sanders there...


RESTON: Talking about how the President at this time ...

BALDWIN: He won't go.

RESTON: Has no plans to go to campaign for him. So that seems like a safer position ...

BALDWIN: What did you make of that?

RESTON: For him to take than what he did the other day which was to defend a person who was accused of being a child molester.

BALDWIN: Is that what this is about? A safer place? I mean he made all the news while he standing, you know, on the lawn before he headed down there to Palm Beach, you know, saying he believes Roy Moore. He believes, you know, if he's denying it, let's take him by his word. It was essentially an endorsement of Roy Moore, but, you know, the fact (ph) we know at least talking to Alabamans on the show and folks who cover politics down there, you know, they say what if it would potentially help Roy Moore? Why Dana, why do you think - why do you think he's choosing not to actually stump?

BASH: Look, it's one thing for the President to say what he said on Twitter, also what he said before boarding the Marine One before - before Thanksgiving. It's a whole another thing to take Air Force One, down to Alabama, stand side by side with at a rally with this man and campaign for him.

It's just completely different. And already, the President has a slew of criticism even from those who rarely criticize him. David Urban, who won the State of Pennsylvania for Donald Trump in 2016, yesterday he said that he is absolutely dismayed with the President doing what he did saying it's a bad move and he's not alone.

So, look, it's not - it clearly is the side that he, the President, has decided to come down on for lots of reasons, political and personal, but taking it to the next level and going down there would have been really probably a risk too far even for people who ...

STELTER: It - it ...

BASH: Go ahead.

STELTER: It would be even more controversial than calling a U.S. sitting Senator Pocahontas.

BASH: Yes.

STELTER: I mean but then - then we did just see that happen in the White House.

BALDWIN: Yes, I guess I'm just also left wondering and following up on the Roy Moore bit Maeve is, you know, is he - is he trying to have it both ways in the sense that he is endorsing him and supporting him but not actually going on the ground in Alabama because he knows, you know, darn well that these Republican Senators have already come forward.

The Senators and Generals saying "All right, if this guy wins we're going to try to expel him" and he realizes he could be...

RESTON: Yes, and I think ...

BALDWIN: Picking a losing - losing guy.

RESTON: Yes, it's definitely trying to have it both ways. And, you know, that's probably the safest bet that he has in this situation because we don't know what's going to happen in the race.

And he may be dealing with those questions about expulsion. But I think also that there is - we saw that the White House change its position on this issue, but you also have seen a little bit of a backlash against people like Steve Bannon, for example.

He's lost some - some credibility around the country. I was talking to sources over the weekends who were saying that he knows some of the candidates that he's been meeting with are now kind of tainted by this whole Roy Moore thing and that voters in some of these swing states are thinking hard about whether or not, you know, they want to go with his endorsed candidate.

So, I think there's a very tricky line for the - the White House to walk here. And the President is - is definitely trying to have it both ways.

BASH: And one thing that I'm going to be looking for Brooke is ...


BASH: He's not going down. You're not going to have the photo-op of the two of them side by side, but will he record a robocall? Will he do ...

BALDWIN: Exactly.

BASH: Some of the things under the radar that he did in the past? We'll see.

STELTER: It's a great point. We're going to take a quick break. We have so much more to talk about including Senator Warren. I read part of it but she has a much more thorough response.

Senator Elizabeth Warren's response to President's comments about Pocahontas as he was standing at the White House flanked by Native Americans.


BALDWIN: Senator Al Franken, Democrat, Minnesota, apologizing moments ago after several women have now come forward, describing how they say he groped them.

Among them, a woman by the name of Leeann Tweeden who was seen in a photo from 2006 with Franken's hands in places they never should have been.


AL FRANKEN, JUNIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR, MINNESOTA: I know that I've let a lot of people down, people of Minnesota, my colleagues, my staff, my supporters and everyone who has counted on me to be a champion for women.

To all of you, I just want to again say "I am sorry." I know there are no magic words that I can say to regain your trust, and I know that's going to take time. I'm ready to start that process and it starts with going back to work today.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BALDWIN: So you heard him there. He says he's going back to work. He says he will not step down, but he will said - said he will cooperate fully in the Ethics Investigation.

Coming up here, the President's son-in-law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner averting a deadline to hand over documents in the Russia investigation. We'll tell you what's behind this move coming up.


BALDWIN: We're back. And one of the headlines out of that White House briefing was the fact that according to Sarah Sanders, President Trump will not be heading to Alabama to campaign for the Republican in that Senate race, Roy Moore, although he has all briefly (ph) but endorsed Moore, despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

So, we have Kaitlan Collins. She's our White House Reporter. She's there in Fort Payne, Alabama, where Roy Moore is speaking out at an event tonight. But I mean the huge news and President Trump had left the door open before he left for Mar-a-Lago perhaps - perhaps, he'd head down to Alabama. But as we've heard, not happening.

KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, Brooke, he definitely left that possibility open last week when he effectively endorsed Roy Moore when he was doubling down on his criticism of Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate in this race.

And the White House is now saying that the President will not travel down to Alabama to campaign for Roy Moore, but that's not because of these allegations against Roy Moore, those that include that he may have sexually assaulted someone when - who was 14 years old when he was in his 30s.

But the White House says the reason he's not coming is because his schedule does not permit the time for him to travel down here ahead of that election in just a little over two weeks. But we've really seen the President double down on his criticism of Roy Moore's opponent in this race, Doug Jones.

The President has said, Brooke, that he's soft on crime, soft on the border and soft on the military, while the White House Counselor, Kellyanne Conway has said a vote for Doug Jones would be a vote against tax reform.

But the news that the President won't travel to Alabama to campaign on Roy Moore's behalf is likely a sigh of relief for that Republican leadership that the President broke with when he supported Roy Moore.

Many of them have called on Moore to not only step aside in the race, but some of them have toyed with the idea of expelling him if he does win this Senate seat.

But, of course, Brooke, this is the Trump White House. And there's still a chance that if he makes the decision to come down here and support Roy Moore, they could easily - easily schedule something at the last minute. But, Brooke, we know that the President is still angry and irked over his decision to come down here and campaign for Luther Strange, who ran against Roy Moore for the Republican seat on this ticket because, as you know, though the President came down to Huntsville, Alabama, and rallied for Luther Strange, he still lost to Roy Moore by nine points.

And he felt like he was often ill-advised by some people in the White House to come down and do that, but it's certainly still a possibility that he could come down here.

But for right now, the White House is saying he will not travel to Alabama. I actually asked the Moore campaign about this and they said that they're grateful to have the President's support. And I think it will be a strong two weeks ahead of the election, Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Kaitlan, thank you. Thank you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts now.