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NSA: Trump Hasn't Directed Us to Disrupt Russian Threats; Representative: Hicks Refuses to Answer Some Questions About Time in White House; White House Briefing As Trump Aide Appears Before Congress. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 27, 2018 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:11] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar.

The president who made a name for himself as a counterpuncher is still not confronting the Russian cyber threat, so says the director of the National Security Agency. Nearly 18 months after the first signs of Russian meddling, President Trump has not yet given the order to disrupt Russian election hacking operations where they originate. Admiral Mike Rogers at the NSA confirmed that to a Senate panel today. Rogers, who also leads U.S. Cyber Command, added that the Russians have not changed their behavior and right now are interfering in current elections and spreading falsehoods.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: You need direct authority of the president through the secretary of defense.

MIKE ROGERS, NSA DIRECTOR: To do some specific things.

REED: Some specific things.

ROGERS: There are some things I have the authority and I am acting within that authority now.

REED: Essentially, we've not taken on the Russians yet? We're watching them intrude on our elections, spread misinformation, become more sophisticated, try to achieve strategic objectives that you recognize and we're just essentially sitting back and waiting?

ROGERS: I don't know if I would character it as we're sitting back and waiting, but I will say it's probably -- again, I apologize. I don't want to get into classified. It's probably fair to say we have not opted to engage in some of the same behaviors we are seeing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny joining us now from the White House briefing room. We should mention the briefing is scheduled to start right now, so really, any second.

Jeff, I wonder how the White House is responding and certainly we're going to hear a little bit of this in the briefing to Admiral Rogers' really extraordinary testimony. JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon,

Brianna.

The White House has not responded to the testimony that we heard this morning on Capitol Hill. So, I do expect that will be one of the questions that will be asked here at the White House briefing with Sarah Sanders. As you said, it is scheduled to start at any moment.

But the reality here is, this is the second time this month alone that the White House has been faced with the leader of their own intelligence community on Capitol Hill saying they've not been given any directives from this White House on how to combat cyber attacks from Russia. This is the second time in as many weeks and, you know, this is certainly feeding into the narrative, feeding into the question here. The president spent so much time talking about the Russia investigation this morning, calling it a witch hunt, but has spent far less time talking about what he intends to do about that meddling.

Several times we've seen the leaders of the U.S. intelligence community on Capitol Hill, on both the House and Senate side, under testimony by Republicans and Democrats saying, yes, they have no doubt at all that Russia meddled in the election and intend to do it in the 2018 and perhaps 2020 elections. We have not heard what the White House specifically intends to do about that. We'll see if we do today, Brianna.

KEILAR: Tomorrow -- and I'm sure Sarah Sanders will be asked about this -- tomorrow marks two weeks since 17 students and staff were gunned down at a school in Parkland, Florida. This -- it seems the push for major gun reform is diming now as Congress is back in session.

Let's take a listen to what the House speaker said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We shouldn't be banning guns for law-abiding citizens. We should be focusing on making sure that citizens who should not get guns in the first place don't get those guns. And that is why we see a big breakdown in the system here.

In this particular case, there were a lot of breakdowns from local law enforcement to the FBI getting tips that they didn't follow up on to, you know, school resource officers who are trained to protect kids in these schools and who didn't do that. That, to me, is probably the most stunning one of them all. So, there's a lot we have to look at.

But what we want to do is protect people's rights while making sure that people who should not get guns do not get those guns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And it appears the president, as well, is stepping back from a gun proposal he seem to be amenable to. ZELENY: Brianna, it seems the president has been sort of all over the

board on this, certainly last week in the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, he did talk about the idea of raising the age limit for some types of weapons from 18 to 21. He mentioned it about three times or so last week.

But notably, after he had lunch with some top leaders at the NRA, he did not mention it yesterday here at the White House. But, there seems to be some confusion as to what the president's priorities are in terms of gun policy. We know he has been talking extensively about arming school teachers, other school officials. He's not been talking as much, at least not every other day, about some matters like raising the age limit, which, of course, is controversial to the NRA. So, we will see what comes of that.

Again, the difference in this equation, you know, Congress has essentially the same. The president is one person who is different in this gun debate.

[14:05:03] He says he wants to be the person to get something done. He says he wants to do something his predecessors have been unable to do. So, we will see if he leads the charge on that. He is scheduled to meet with lawmakers tomorrow here at the White House to talk about guns.

So, again, there's plenty of reason for skepticism. When you listen to Speaker Ryan there, it basically sounds like doing anything except something directly on guns. But as you know, Brianna, students from Parkland are on Capitol Hill.

Again, I remember those Sandy Hook students and their parents on Capitol Hill in 2013. It seemed like this city was on the verge of doing something rather dramatic on guns. That did not happen. We will see if it happens this is time.

But, again, remember, President Trump, a new actor in this, a new player in this. He says he wants to do something. We'll see if that comes to pass -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Jeff Zeleny, and we'll be right back to you when the White House briefing does begin.

We're also following breaking news on Capitol Hill, which is where another member of Trump's inner circle is appearing before the House Intelligence Committee. We're learning that White House communications director Hope Hicks is not answering questions about her time in the White House and the transition.

I want to get straight now to CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju.

So, Manu, is Hope Hicks following the playbook of other administration officials here?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like she's doing what Steve Bannon when he came before the committee on multiple occasions this year when Bannon would not discuss matters in the transition, would not discuss matters when he was in the White House or even after he left the White House, saying that he was trying to preserve the president's right to exert executive privilege.

Well, it sounds like Hope Hicks is doing the same exact thing. Now, this is according to lawmakers from both parties, who say that this testimony, which is ongoing, has not been complete in the sense that she's not answered a number of these questions about the transition and about her time at the White House.

Now, in particular, Democrats are frustrated here. I've not heard much frustration from Republicans yet. Republicans are frustrated at Bannon but they have not yet expressed that same concern about Hope Hicks. Democrats, on the other hand, say she should be subpoenaed for not answering questions that they want to see answered about the transition, about the time in the White House.

This is what Congressman Mike Quigley told me just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Are you satisfied with what you're hearing in there?

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: I am less hopeful to get to all the answers.

RAJU: Why? Because is she asserting a privilege?

QUIGLEY: (INAUDIBLE) I can do right now.

RAJU: Is she asserting privilege in there?

QUIGLEY: No one is asserting a privilege. They're following the orders of the White House not to answer certain questions.

RAJU: And that includes the transition and time at the White House?

QUIGLEY: Right.

REPORTER: Is there any real-time communication with the White House like we saw with Steve Bannon?

QUIGLEY: That's above my pay grade.

REPORTER: Have you guys (INAUDIBLE)

QUIGLEY: That seems to be.

REPORTER: But she's answering some questions. She's just not answering questions about the transition and after the inauguration?

QUIGLEY: That's about it.

RAJU: Was a subpoena issued for her?

QUIGLEY: No. RAJU: Should there be?

QUIGLEY: Yes, as with anyone who doesn't answer questions. They ought to be subpoenaed (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So right there shows the difference in the way this committee is dealing with Hope Hicks versus Steve Bannon. You'll recall when Bannon did not answer those questions, Brianna, that the committee actually issues a subpoena on the spot to try to compel him to answer those questions. They have not done that with Hope Hicks to this point, even though Democrats want her to answer those questions.

So, we'll see what the committee ultimately decides to do. They threatened to hold Bannon in contempt. We'll see if that ultimately comes to pass.

We're not getting the sense that Republicans are willing to do that yet for Hope Hicks, but at least some concerns that she's not answering the questions post-campaign season even though she was one of the president's closest confidantes, involved in some of the more controversial decisions, has first-hand knowledge about the number of things that happened, could shed light on the Comey firing, for instance, and the decision to write a statement, a misleading letter to the public after that Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. was revealed in the press last year. Unclear whether she's providing any of those answers, but Democrats in particular frustrated that they're not getting the answers they want from this testimony so far, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Manu Raju, working the halls there, thank you so much, sir.

All right. So, we have a lot to discuss and here with me to do so, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, CNN political director David Chalian, and CNN politics senior writer Juana Summer with us.

OK. Let's start with Hope Hicks. This is pretty fascinating. So, we're learning that she's there before the House Intelligence Committee, Dana. She's really not saying a whole lot on the things that are most interesting to members there.

She's -- as we heard from Mike Quigley there, it's interesting. She's not asserting privilege. So, it's not -- in a way, it's just an outright refusal. It's not actually within the White House jurisdiction of asserting privilege. It sounds like she's following orders of the White House to not answer certain questions.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's effectively executive privilege but not technically -- not officially and not technically, so that there's no formal way for the Republicans, who control Congress, to fight that, if that makes sense.

[14:10:06] Having said all that, this is -- I mean, let's -- this is a kabuki dance. That is exactly what she's doing and it is not unprecedented. Not just with the Trump administration, we saw Steve Bannon say he wasn't going to talk about conversations that he had inside the White House while he was a White House employee.

We've seen in past administrations. It is kind of classic that presidents feel that they have a right to talk to their staff in a private way and that Congress doesn't have a right to infringe on it. When it comes to Bob Mueller, which is a probe of the Justice Department, that's a whole different ballgame. She has talked to the Mueller investigation for hours and hours and hours.

KEILAR: Disclose more information?

BASH: No question, or at least she answered questions, whether or not she answered them fully, we don't know but she was there for a very, very long time.

KEILAR: What do you think about this, David?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think what you see here is the invitation to see from the administration, does Congress really want to fight me on this, right? Because the next step would be if Congress wanted to make a big deal about this, the majority, then maybe they would actually invoke executive privilege and probably as Dana saying, as we've seen in the past, go to the courts and battle that out whether or not each of these aides are within that zone of communications that many presidents feel that they have with their top aides.

But it is night and day, just worlds apart, the Mueller investigation from what's happening on the Hill. The Mueller investigation is dealing with criminality. And the Hill is trying to investigate, you know, what went wrong in the election.

KEILAR: Speaking of which, so Donald Trump, after not talking for a couple of days on Twitter weighs in, calling it a witch hunt. However, Juana, there have been 20 indictments to this point. Many of those involve President Trump's campaign and his transition team.

The transition, of course, part of the time period that Hope Hicks is refusing to talk about, which wouldn't, I believe, even be covered by executive privilege. But he, again, witch hunt, he's going after the investigation again.

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Absolutely. And this is part of the pattern that we've seen from this president in which he is taking huge strides, sometimes in all caps as we saw today, to discredit this investigation, to cast -- to push away any doubt that, you know, he is absolutely in the right.

We've seen him do this on Twitter. We've seen him do this in speeches, just anything that would give the idea that he's been wronged. He just doesn't want to acknowledge. You know, he points fingers and says look what they're doing to me, this isn't fair.

KEILAR: I wonder -- let's talk about guns, Dana. We heard from one recognize today, talking about there's actually other Republicans who quietly share an opinion of dealing with weapons like we saw in parkland Florida. But at the same time, you've just heard what Speaker Ryan said, you see where President Trump is now, backing away from something that it seemed like he might support.

Where is this debate?

BASH: Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere.

KEILAR: It's going nowhere?

BASH: It unfortunately looks like it is following the well-worn path of other almost debates after other horrific massacres. And that is that it is -- they're talking. And we have heard more talk from a Republican president than we ever have about the idea of going up against the NRA and about doing more to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them.

KEILAR: All right. We have Sarah Sanders at the podium in the White House briefing room.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is looking forward to officially announcing the new chairman of his board of advisors for the White House initiative on historically black colleges and universities.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr. who will be taking on this important role is the former president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and is currently CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.

As you all know, the president previously signed an executive order promoting excellence and innovation at HBCUs. He believes this initiative will advance America's full human potential. And with today's announcement he continues to demonstrate his commitment to HBCUs.

Before taking your questions I want to take a moment to highlight the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats, an issue that represents a threat to America's interests and security. Compared to the four previous administrations, this Senate has confirmed the fewest nominees. Senator Schumer's tactics have led to 73 fewer confirmations than the next closest administration.

Half of President Trump's nominees are still waiting for confirmation in the Senate. The obstruction is so out of control even some Senate Democrats believe it is inappropriate. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said, quote, I don't believe we should be holding nominees hostage. Enough is enough.

We need people who are qualified to fill these important positions in our government. In the coming days, we'll be highlighting specific qualified nominees who are, as the senator said, being held hostage by Senator Schumer.

Take for instance, Rick Grenell, the president's nominee to serve as ambassador to Germany. Mr. Grenell, a Harvard educated, experienced diplomat, was the longest serving U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations. He was nominated in September of last year. He was reported out of the Senate foreign relations committee with bipartisan support. He is waiting to represent America's interests and be our country's top voice in a G7 country.

In short, Senator Schumer's hyper-political delay on Mr. Grenell puts our national security and America's foreign policy interests in jeopardy. The Senate should move to confirm him immediately.

We'll continue highlighting more of these examples of Democrat obstruction in the days ahead.

Finally, I'm sure, on a lighter note, I'm sure you all remember 11- year-old Natalie Dalton who wrote into the president, offering to cook for him. We're excited to announce today that Natalie and her 8-year- old cousin Celia will be coming to work with the White House kitchen staff. We look forward to hosting them.

And with that, I will take your questions.

Jonathan?

REPORTER: Sarah, Admiral Mike Rogers, the head of the NSA, said that he has not been granted any additional authority by the president to confront Russian cyber intrusion interference with our election systems. Why has he not been given that authority?

SANDERS: Look, just this week, they announced, through the State Department, that $40 million is being given to the Global Engagement Center to begin providing immediate support to private and public partners that expose and counter Russian and Chinese propaganda and disinformation. We're focused on looking at a variety of different ways. As I told you last week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen met with a number of both state, local and federal officials working on ways that we can best prevent things like this in the future and we're looking at a number of different options and we'll continue to do that over the coming weeks.

REPORTER: Admiral Rogers has the agency that could go and confront Russian intrusion at the source and he hasn't been given the authority. In fact, he says that the Russians haven't paid a sufficient price to make them change their behavior. He is the one with the power and means to do it. All he needs is a presidential directive, the authority to --

SANDERS: I disagree with the premise of your question. It's not just one individual. It's looking at a number of different ways.

REPORTER: But why not give him the authority, though? He's in charge of Cyber Command. Why not give him the authority?

SANDERS: Nobody is denying him the authority. We're looking at a number of different ways that we can put pressure. Look, this president, as I told you last week, has been much tougher on Russia than his predecessor. Let's not forget that this happened under Obama. It didn't happen under President Trump. If you want to blame somebody on past problems, then you need to look at the Obama administration.

The president is looking at all of the different causes and all of the different ways that we can prevent it. And as we find different ways that we can do that, we're implementing them -- like you see with the money that was allocated from the State Department, as you see with the conversations that the Secretary from DHS is having. We're going to continue looking at different ways to combat it, and I would imagine that that will be certainly a big part of it. But I can't speak to anything further on it right now.

REPORTER: This is not about the past, though. This is not about the past. This is about protecting intrusion in the next election.

SANDERS: Exactly. And that's --

REPORTER: And he said that he needs the authority, and he hasn't been given it. He says he can't act without the authority.

SANDERS: Well, I can't speak to that specifically. I can tell you that we are taking a number of steps to prevent this, and we're looking at a variety of other ways that we're going to continue to implement over the coming weeks and months.

Justin?

REPORTER: I have one on the renewable fuel credit. But first, just a housekeeping one on the clearances. The Oversight Committee requested details from the White House about still-pending clearances among White House staff, and whether there is any derogatory information there. They set a deadline of tomorrow. The Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter over today asking for some of the same information.

I'm wondering if the White House is going to -- plans to comply with those requests and if -- I know you've been hesitant to release some of that information, even in aggregate --

SANDERS: I haven't been hesitant. I've been very clear that we don't discuss security clearances. And that's not changing today, it didn't change yesterday. It's not going to change tomorrow.

REPORTER: So you don't plan to comply with the request (INAUDIBLE)?

SANDERS: I didn't say that. I said I'm not going to discuss security clearances with members of the press. And that hasn't been different at any point during this administration, and we have no intention of changing it right now.

REPORTER: When are you going to comply with those tomorrow?

SANDERS: I'll let you know when we have a chance to review that and make a decision.

REPORTER: But -- can I do the fuel standard question?

SANDERS: Sorry, go ahead.

REPORTER: Yes. You guys put out a statement today saying that the president supports the renewable fuel credit, but also that he is in support of energy producers. So it seems that the issue here is whether or not the president or the White House supports a cap to lower the cost of credit waivers. So I'm wondering if you could tell us what the President's position is on that.

SANDERS: Look, the president knows that there are a lot of differing views on this issue. We're going to continue having conversations. He met, today, with Senator Cruz, Ernst, Grassley, and Toomey to discuss this and to continue that conversation. They had a productive meeting, and we're going to continue working with not only those members but others as we go through this process.

John?

REPORTER: Two questions, different topics. If I could return to something that we talked about yesterday: the President's support to raise the minimum age of buying a long gun from 18 to 21.

He expressed support for that idea in a tweet last Thursday. He talked about it with the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. He didn't mention it at CPAC. He didn't mention with the governors. He said he had lunch with Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox --

SANDERS: To be fair, of all of the governors, when that conversation was opened, none of them mentioned it either. But -- in a two-hour discussion.

REPORTER: But he had supported it, so. He had lunch with Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox. The NRA remains firmly opposed to this idea of raising the age for long guns. The President said yesterday, if they're not always with you, sometimes you got to fight them.

Is he willing to take on the NRA on this idea of raising the minimum age for buying long guns?

SANDERS: The president still supports raising the age limit to 21 for the purchase of certain firearms. We're meeting with bipartisan members of Congress tomorrow. We expect that to be a topic of discussion. He knows that everybody doesn't necessarily agree. We're not going to get into the details on the specifics of what we will propose, but we expect that to be part of the conversation tomorrow.

REPORTER: Question number two on an unrelated topic. Jeff Sessions confirmed, a few minutes ago, that he is going to open an investigation into FISA abuses during the election. The president clearly has been expressing that he believes that Sessions should look into this. Is the president happy now that Sessions is opening this investigation?

SANDERS: I haven't spoken with him about it to determine his feelings. But as you said, it's something that he's clearly had frustration over, so I would imagine he certainly supports the decision to look into what we feel to be some wrongdoing. I think that's the role of the Department of Justice, and we're glad that they're fulfilling that job.

Margaret? REPORTER: Sarah, I have one question. But one housekeeping item before that. You talked about nominations and how slow Congress is to move. I'm wondering, do you have a timeline on when the White House will name a nominee to be ambassador to South Korea?

SANDERS: I don't have a timeline, and I don't have any personnel announcements on that position, specifically.

REPORTER: OK. And then the question I had, again, going back to Admiral Rogers. He said today, we are not where we need to be or want to be on cyber. Does the White House, does the president plan to hold a National Security Council session to discuss, specifically, these concerns about having a menu of options to respond to a cyberattack, and one specifically in relation to Russia?

SANDERS: In terms of a specific meeting, I don't know that a date is set. But I do know that there are constantly conversations going on within the administration on this topic and we're going to continue those. I'll keep you posted on the president's schedule.

REPORTER: Has there been one so far on Russia and cyberattacks?

SANDERS: I know that he's been briefed on it. In terms of specifics, beyond that, I'd have to check and get back to you.

Jordan?

REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah.

Did anyone from the White House instruct Hope Hicks not to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee about her time serving in the White House and in the transition?

SANDERS: As is always the case, I'm not going to comment on any individual's interactions with the committee. But we are cooperating because, as the President has said repeatedly, there is no collusion. And we're going to continue to cooperate. Hopefully, they'll wrap this up soon.

REPORTER: Why did she refuse to answer the questions about --

SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to comment on any individual's specific interactions with the committee. I'd refer you to outside attorneys for that.

Jon?

REPORTER: Thanks a lot, Sarah. I just want to pick up on what Jordan was just asking you, and that is about this idea of citing executive privilege for conversations that took place during the transition period. We're told that's exactly what Hope Hicks, the communications director, cited in refusing to answer questions that were posed of her related to the transition period.

Is the President aware -- is the White House aware that no federal court, at any level, has ever granted that privilege pertaining to the transition period?

SANDERS: Just because we ask the question in different ways, I'm still not going to comment on any individual's interactions with the committee. I'm also not going to comment on leaks from what is supposed to be a confidential setting. There continues to be zero evidence of collusion, and we hope these investigations wrap up shortly.

Steve?

REPORTER: To follow up on what Margaret was asking. Joseph Yun, the State Department's envoy to North Korea, is retiring. How does that impact the diplomatic process?

SANDERS: Look, we're going to continue appointing people to different positions, whether it's the ambassador to South Korea and a number of other positions. I don't have any specific announcements on it at this time.

REPORTER: And secondly, the Chinese economic minister is here for trade talks. As you consider tariffs on steel and aluminum, what do you hope to hear from this fella?

SANDERS: He's meeting with a few different members of the administration, but not the president directly. I don't have any specific readouts from any of his meetings at this point.

REPORTER: Sarah, thank you very much.

[14:5:04] House Speaker Ryan, today, disagreed with the president on arming teachers. He says he thinks it should be up to the locals whether teachers should be armed. What is the president's response to not having support from the Republican leader of the House?

SANDERS: Look, as we've said, this is something that will continue to be part of the discussion with state, federal, and local officials, as well as law enforcement. The President is going to be meeting with bipartisan lawmakers tomorrow, and that will be another one of those topics discussed, and we'll have further specific policy announcements later this week.

REPORTER: But without the support of Speaker Ryan, how can this get any traction in the House?

SANDERS: Again, this is part of an ongoing conversation. It's something that the President still supports. It's something he knows that there are a lot of differing views on. It's one of the topics that we expect to come up tomorrow and we're going to continue having that discussion.

I think the number one thing that we're looking at is every possible action that we can take that helps protect the safety and security of the school kids across this country. We're going to look at everything we can. A lot of those things that you guys have brought up today will be part of the discussion tomorrow. And we expect to have some specific policy proposals later this week. Steve?

REPORTER: Yes, Sarah. Today, the White House announced that it's cutting about $8 million in aid to Cambodia for what it calls recent setbacks in democracy there. Can you talk a little bit about what went into this decision, and why, specifically, just Cambodia, and not other countries where there have also been recent setbacks to democracy, such as neighboring Thailand?

SANDERS: The elections that happened earlier this month failed to represent the genuine will of the Cambodian people. That gave us great cause for concern. These setbacks compelled the United States to review that assistance. Based on the review, the government will suspend or curtail several assistance programs intended to support the Cambodian government. I don't have anything further at this point.

Anita?

REPORTER: Two questions on two different topics. First, does President Trump believe that the governor of Missouri, who, as you know, has been indicted, should resign?

SANDERS: I haven't spoken with him about that.

REPORTER: OK, can you go back to --

SANDERS: But my guess is that he would refer to the people of the state of Missouri, and -- but I haven't spoken directly with him, so I would have to get back to you.

REPORTER: The president is the leader of the Republican Party, and obviously the governors --

SANDERS: I'm well aware.

REPORTER: Well, I mean, he's a Republican --

SANDERS: Anita, I haven't spoken with him. I'd have to ask him.

REPORTER: Can you get back to me on that?

SANDERS: Sure.

REPORTER: OK. Second question: The President is having several meetings, as you mentioned, with lawmakers of both parties this week on other topics. Is he going to be talking to them about immigration? His deadline that he set, March 5th, is next Monday. Congress is nowhere near doing anything about that.

Is that still the deadline? Is he encouraging them to get something done?

SANDERS: Absolutely, he's encouraging them to get something done. That's why he laid out exactly what he expected to see in a proposal that would not only help solve the DACA problem, but also provide border security. The president went above and beyond what previous administrations have done and offered on that program.

It's really sad that Democrats are not willing to come to the table, get something done, and actually fix problems and do their job. But the president is still hopeful, and we're going to continue pushing forward and hopefully get something done.

REPORTER: So, on Monday -- what's going to happen on Monday when the deadline comes?

SANDERS: Again, we're still hopeful that something happens on this and that Congress will actually do its job.

Olivier?

REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah. I've got a couple for you as well. One on North Korea. Joseph Yun, who's been the point person for North Korea policy, has announced he's leaving.

Does the President plan to replace him?

SANDERS: I don't have any personnel announcements at this time.

REPORTER: And then on the -- we're heading into the midterm election year, obviously. Have White House staff been briefed on the dos and don'ts of political activity, including the prohibition on using formal titles in campaign literature?

SANDERS: I know for sure that cabinet and senior staff have been, and I believe a paper memo was distributed to all staff, but I'd have to verify that to be sure. But I know that both cabinet and senior staff have been briefed on upcoming midterm elections and what they are allowed to do and not do.

Mara?

REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah. Does the President believe someone who's on the no-fly list because of suspected terrorist activity should be able to buy a gun?

SANDERS: We haven't spoken about that specifically and don't have any policy announcement on that front.

REPORTER: I don't want a policy announcement. I just want to know if he thinks that somebody --

SANDERS: Well, that would be a policy. Whether or not the president supports something or not would be a policy. REPORTER: So he doesn't know?

SANDERS: I said we haven't -- I haven't spoken with him about it, so I'd have to get back to you.

John?

REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah. Two brief questions. One, I know it's been announced -- the president -- REPORTER: He's closer today.

REPORTER: That was such good timing.

SANDERS: I know, I noticed that too. You're moving up in the world, John. And it scares your colleagues, I think. You're making them nervous.

REPORTER: That was just such great timing. You sat down and you called --

REPORTER: Thank you. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you, Anita.

REPORTER: You're welcome.

SANDERS: You got a lot of support, John.

REPORTER: Reverend Billy Graham's funeral is this Friday. We know the president will attend. Has it been determined whether he'll make any remarks, any eulogies? Or will he be just there as a mourner and family friend?

SANDERS: I'm not sure on the specifics. I do know he plans to attend there --