TX: YATES TRIAL/CLOSING ARGUMENTS
YATES TRIAL / CLOSING ARGUMENT
FTG OF DEFENSE ATTORNEY WENDELL ODOM'S CLOSING ARGUMENT FOR THE TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES WHO DROWNED HER FIVE CHILDREN /
Yates - Closing - Arguments
CLOSING ARGUMENTS IN ANDREA YATES CASE
ANDREA YATES TRIAL / CLOSING ARGUMENTS
FTG COVERAGE OF THE RE-TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES, WHO WAS ORIGINALLY CONVICTED OF DROWNING HER FIVE CHILDREN IN A BATHTUB / FTG OF CLOSING ARGUMENTS / VIDEO
TX: YATES TRIAL/CLOSING ARGUMENTS
00:00:00:00 15:51:28 shot of Andrea Yates sitting at table while prosecutor continues her closing arguments 15:54:14 shot of Andrea Yates crying while sitting at the table and wiping her face with a b ...
ANDREA YATES TRIAL / CLOSING ARGUMENTS
FTG COVERAGE OF THE RE-TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES, WHO WAS ORIGINALLY CONVICTED OF DROWNING HER FIVE CHILDREN IN A BATHTUB / FTG OF CLOSING ARGUMENTS BY PROSECUTER JOSEPH OWMBY
YATES: CLOSING ARGU
00:00:00:00 - 03-12-0210:17:32 10:18:27 we have been denied by the court the right to tell the jury what happens to Yates if convicted....remind the court...the defendent will be walking free likewise ...
YATES TRIAL / CLOSING ARGUMENT
FTG OF THE CLOSING ARGUMENT OF HARRIS COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY JOE OWMBY FOR THE TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES WHO DROWNED HER FIVE CHILDREN / CUTAWAY YATES STIRRING /
ANDREA YATES TRIAL / CLOSING ARGUMENTS
FTG COVERAGE OF THE RE-TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES, WHO WAS ORIGINALLY CONVICTED OF DROWNING HER FIVE CHILDREN IN A BATHTUB / FTG OF CLOSING ARGUMENTS / SHOTS OF ANDREA'S HUSBAND RUSSELL "RUSTY", DORA, ANDREA'S MOM, ANDREA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY GEORGE PARNHAM
ANDREA YATES CONVICTED OF MURDER IN DEATH OF HER CHILDREN
NATS INT FTG OF CLOSING ARGUMENTS IN TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES FOR MIKE VON FREMD CS VO / FTG OF THE GUILTY VERDICT AGAINST ANDREA FOR THE DROWNING MURDER OF THEIR FIVE CHILDREN / FTG INCLUDES RUSSELL YATES, HUSBAND OF ANDREA, IN COURT
ANDREA YATES TRIAL / CLOSING ARGUMENTS
FTG COVERAGE OF THE RE-TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES, WHO WAS ORIGINALLY CONVICTED OF DROWNING HER FIVE CHILDREN IN A BATHTUB / FTG OF CLOSING ARGUMENTS BY DEFENSE ATTORNEY WENDELL ODOM
YATES TRIAL / CLOSING ARGUMENT
FTG OF THE CLOSING ARGUMENT OF HARRIS COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT KAYLYNN WILLIFORD FOR THE TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES WHO DROWNED HER FIVE CHILDREN / CUTAWAY YATES STIRRING / HARRIS COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY JOE OWMBY CONTINUE W/ THE CLOSING ARGUMENT
ANDREA YATES TRIAL / CLOSING ARGUMENTS
FTG COVERAGE OF THE RE-TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES, WHO WAS ORIGINALLY CONVICTED OF DROWNING HER FIVE CHILDREN IN A BATHTUB / VS OF COURTROOM INT, YATES ENTERING COURTROOM, COURT IN SESSION, YATES LISTENING TO CASE, (BRIEF FEED INTERRUPTION SHOWING UNRELATED AERIALS BUT CONTINUES BACK TO COURT AT 12:01:09), PROSECUTOR JOE OWMBY AND DEFENSE ATTORNEY WENDELL ODOM TESTIFYING
YATES TRIAL / B ROLL INSIDE COURTROOM / CLOSING ARGUMENT
B ROLL OF INSIDE COURTROOM / CU SIGN ON JUDGE BENCH READING JUDGE BLEINDA HILL / FTG OF DEFENSE ATTORNEYS WENDELL ODOM AND GEORGE PARNHAM FOR THE TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES WHO DROWNED HER FIVE CHILDREN / YATES' FAMILY MEMBERS SITTING INSIDE COURTROOM / THE FATHER OF FIVE CHILDREN RUSSELL (RUSTY) YATES SITTING IN THE COURTROOM / HARRIS COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY JOE OWMBY IN THE COURTROOM / JURY BOX / ODOM CLOSING ARGUMENT / JUDGE HILL REVIEWING THE CASE / CU ANDREA YATES LISTENING TO THE JUDGE
US Yates Trial - Closing arguments in drowned children case
TAPE: EF02/0208 IN_TIME: 23:49:52 DURATION: 2:54 SOURCES: APTN/POOL/ABC RESTRICTIONS: DATELINE: Houston - 12 March 2002/File SHOTLIST: POOL Houston, Texas March 12, 2002 1. Andrea Yates walks into courtroom APTN File 2. Home video of the Yates boys POOL Houston, Texas March 12, 2002 3. Wide shot of prosecutor Joe Owmby giving closing statement 4. SOUNDBITE: (English) Joe Owmby, Prosecutor: "She may have believed that it was in the best interest of the children. She may have believed because of her mental depression that it was in the best interest of the children to drown them, one after the other, but that's not the law in Texas." 5. Close shot of Yates listening, pull out a bit ABC File 6. Family portrait of the Yates POOL Houston, Texas March 12, 2002 7. Wide shot of prosecutor Katlynn Williford 8. SOUNDBITE: (English) (Overlaid over shot of Yates crying) Katlynn Williford, Prosecutor: "She made the choice to fill the tub, she made the choice to kill those five children. She knew it was wrong, she called the police, she told what she did. She knew it was a sin, she told Dr. Dietz that she didn't do it on her first opportunity because she wasn't mentally prepared." 9. Wide shot of defence attorney George Parnham walking over towards jury 10. SOUNDBITE: (English) George Parnham, Defence Attorney: "We can get caught up in semantics, we can get caught up in legality and we can get caught up in these concepts and we can get caught up in these expert testimony about what they think is right and wrong. But if this woman doesn't meet the test of insanity in this state, then nobody does. Zero. We might as well wipe it from the books." 11. Slow zoom from mid shot to close shot of Yates in courtroom 12. SOUNDBITE: (English) Wendell Odom, Defence Attorney: "Mental health is a disease. It's just like diabetes. I mean, it's not just like it, but it's a disease like diabetes, it's a disease like a heart attack, it's a disease like a stroke. And ladies and gentlemen, every one of you, I suspect, that if you had a situation where a truck driver has a stroke, and runs over five children, you wouldn't find him guilty, would you?" 13. Close shot of Andrea Yates in courtroom STORYLINE: Jurors in the U.S. heard closing arguments on Tuesday in the case against Andrea Yates, the 37-year-old Texas woman accused of drowning her five children in a bathtub. Both sides agreed that Andrea Yates is mentally ill, but prosecutors argued she knew that killing her children was wrong, and for that, she should be convicted of capital murder. Yates has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. She faces life in prison or the death penalty if convicted in the drownings of 7-year-old Noah, 5-year-old John and 6-month-old Mary. Charges could be filed later in the deaths of 3-year-old Paul and 2-year-old Luke. In Texas, a defendant is presumed sane unless proven otherwise. To prove insanity, defence attorneys must convince jurors Yates suffered from a severe mental disease or defect that prevented her from knowing her actions were wrong. In his closing, defence attorney George Parnham said Yates was unable to determine right from wrong. Following closing arguments, the case was handed to the 9-woman, 3-man jury for deliberations.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA PRESSER ON ELECTRICITY & HEAT RELATED ISSUES
KOVR FTG OF CALIFORNIA STATE PRESSER ON ELECTRICITY AND HEAT RELATED ISSUES / PRESSER, NEWSER, PRESS CONFERENCE W/ SECRETARY OF ENERGY AFFAIRS TO THE RESOURCES AGENCY JOE DESMOND, FLEX YOUR POWER'S WALLY MCGUIRE ON SPEAKERPHONE, DIRECTOR OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF EMERGENCY SERVICES HENRY RENTERIA, AND OTHERS ON HOW CALIFORNIA'S HEAT CONDITIONS HAVE CAUSED SOME MAJOR POWER EMERGENCIES AND HAVE REALLY TESTED THE LIMITS OF THE STATE'S ELECTRICAL GRID, REMARKS ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE STATE, AND HOW TO CONSERVE ENERGY MORE EFFICIENTLY TO PREVENT WORSE CONDITIONS UNRELATED KHCW FTG OFF TOP FOR COVERAGE OF THE RE-TRIAL OF ANDREA YATES, WHO WAS ORIGINALLY CONVICTED OF DROWNING HER FIVE CHILDREN IN A BATHTUB / BRIEF FTG OF CLOSING ARGUMENT BY DEFENSE ATTORNEY WENDELL ODOM
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROBO CUTS
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING WITH SEAN SPICER DC SLUG: 1300 WH BRIEF STIX FS37 73 AR: 16x9 NYRS: WASH-3 13:23:39 SPICER: Wow. We got a full house today. Good afternoon. It's good to be back with you. Apparently I was a little missed. We're one week out from the president's first foreign trip, so I wanted to make sure, as we prepare for that trip, that I bring up General -- our national security adviser, General McMaster, to give you a preview of what the team has been doing to prepare for the president's trip. Our -- our goal is to, kind of, start that process now, and then next week, bring the general back and give you a more detailed update as to what the president's going to be doing in each of the areas and some of the highlights from the trip. We'll obviously -- obviously additionally have background briefings for you as well to give the team that's going to be traveling from the press corps some logistical updates. So without further ado, General McMaster. QUESTION: Will you take questions after his talk? SPICER: Yes, Jeff. I will be glad to take your question. In fact, if you'd like, you get to go first today. 13:24:28 MCMASTER: Thank you, Sean. Good afternoon and happy Mother's Day weekend, everybody. As you all know, in exactly one week, the president will embark on his first trip abroad since taking office. Today, I'd like to explain the president's objectives for his visits to the Middle East and to Europe and also preview a bit of the schedule. MCMASTER: The trip has three core purposes: first, to reaffirm America's global leadership; second, to continue building key relationships with world leaders; and third, to broadcast a message of unity to America's friends and to the faithful of the three -- of three of the world's greatest religions. The president prioritizes building strong relationships, as you see here every day, with world leaders as a way to strengthen our alliances. And he's been successful. You can see that in his diplomacy with a range of leaders from -- from Prime Minister May to President Xi. President Trump understands that America first does not mean American alone. To the contrary, prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and approve the security of the American people. This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on one trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity. He will bring a message of tolerance and of hope to billions, including to millions of Americans who profess these faiths. The president will focus on what unites us. 13:26:23 MCMASTER: Thank you, Sean. Good afternoon and happy Mother's Day weekend, everybody. As you all know, in exactly one week, the president will embark on his first trip abroad since taking office. Today, I'd like to explain the president's objectives for his visits to the Middle East and to Europe and also preview a bit of the schedule. MCMASTER: The trip has three core purposes: first, to reaffirm America's global leadership; second, to continue building key relationships with world leaders; and third, to broadcast a message of unity to America's friends and to the faithful of the three -- of three of the world's greatest religions. The president prioritizes building strong relationships, as you see here every day, with world leaders as a way to strengthen our alliances. And he's been successful. You can see that in his diplomacy with a range of leaders from -- from Prime Minister May to President Xi. President Trump understands that America first does not mean American alone. To the contrary, prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and approve the security of the American people. This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on one trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity. He will bring a message of tolerance and of hope to billions, including to millions of Americans who profess these faiths. The president will focus on what unites us. 13:29:48 Lastly, just a few words on how this all came together. The impetus for this trip came from the president himself and he's been fully engaged from the beginning, setting objectives, overseeing the planning. The president's receiving regular briefings from his Cabinet and from our senior staff here on the national security side and on the economic side as well. MCMASTER: Most of the leaders the president will meet on this trip, as you know, he's already met in person or certainly by phone. These relationships are off to a very strong start and the trip is an opportunity to broaden and deepen those relationships. The administration continues to be in close contact and consultation with Congress, and we're drawing on the expertise across the Senate and the House in preparation for the trip as well. And finally, this really is a team effort. The White House and National Security Council staffs, the National Economic Council, continue to work closely with our Departments of State, Treasury, Defense and others to fulfill the president's objectives and ensure smooth execution. On behalf of the president, I express the whole administration's thanks for all the hard work it takes to organize a trip of this scope and of this importance. So the president of (sic) all of us are looking forward to the journey. And with that I'll take -- I'll take a couple of questions. (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: Defer to Sean (ph)? SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: General McMaster, how is this president viewed among our Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, UAE and others, compared to his predecessor? 13:31:17 MCMASTER: Well, I would just say the president's leadership has been welcomed; welcomed enthusiastically. There was a perception that America had largely disengaged from the Middle East in particular, and -- and that disengagement coincided with this humanitarian and political catastrophe in the region. And so now there's a broad recognition among all of our partners in the region that American leadership is necessary to help address this catastrophe and to begin to move the region toward the peace, security and stability that the people there so deserve. And so what you're seeing I think is a galvanizing effect of the president's leadership in bringing those leaders together across the region under -- and bringing them together for a positive agenda, right? Who's against ending this catastrophe? Who's against confronting these terrorists who are the enemies of all civilized people? Confronting Iran who's participating in this -- in this cycle of violence and to bring prosperity, peace to the region, the people who so richly deserve it? Thanks. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: General McMaster, you're somebody who is crucial, obviously, in the intelligence community, somebody who's leading the National Security Council, so I have to ask you, this week in particular there have been a lot of reports, including from our network, that intelligence officials are extremely concerned about how James Comey was fired. Do you believe that that threatens national security right now? 13:32:34 MCMASTER: Well, I told -- I told Sean that I would pass all those questions to him, and he'll be happy answer that after this... QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) MCMASTER: ... after this. But I'll -- what I would like to do is focus on the -- I'd like to focus on the trip and I'll come back next week with more details of the trip as well. SPICER: John (ph)? QUESTION: You said the president was -- that the impetus for the trip came from the president himself. Was it the president himself who decided to begin this trip in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam? And is there -- is there symbolic significance to that? And how many of our Muslim allies -- how many countries -- how many Muslim-majority countries will be represented at the meetings in Saudi Arabia? 13:33:14 MCMASTER: Well, this is the president's initiative, to being the trip in the Middle East, hosted -- hosted... QUESTION: (inaudible) MCMASTER: ... hosted by -- by King Salman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And the king is going to bring together partners from across the region to meet with the president. So the answer to your question is -- and I can answer in more detail next week because it's still coming, the -- sort of, the final attendees. But he'll meet with a broad range of leaders in the Middle East, of course many of whom -- most of whom he's met already here, or -- or by phone certainly. And we have -- we have the -- the crown -- the -- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is coming, for example, on Monday as well. SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: Sean. General McMaster, at the beginning of this very long week we were hearing speculation that the president was considering thousands more troops for Afghanistan. When he goes to Brussels on Thursday of next week, what is the message to the NATO partners with respect to their commitment in this long fight? 13:34:12 MCMASTER: Well, the -- the key is all of us have to be committed, right, to -- to achieving our fundamental objectives in Afghanistan. I mean, Americans know really better than anybody because the mass murder against our own country on September 11, 2001, originated with a terrorist safe haven and support base in Afghanistan. Recently we have been engaged against ISIS or in -- ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan with highly successful operations there that you'll hear more about in the press conference at the Department of Defense here in the -- in the near future. But what has happened in Afghanistan, is the Afghan army is taking the brunt of the fight against these transnational terrorists and the Taliban. And so, we are -- we are working with our allies to figure out what more we can do to have a more effective strategy in Afghanistan, what are options we can bring to the president to be more effective in meeting our objectives in Afghanistan, and what more can we ask our allies to do which we're asking them now. MCMASTER: So -- so this is going to be really consistent with the president's guidance to us. QUESTION: Has the president decided that there should be thousands more troops? MCMASTER: The president has not made a decision yet on a course of action. What we have done, which is what we have done in many cases, on the -- on the North Korea problem set, for example, is we've consulted broadly across our government and with allies. The president wants to hear from our allies as well. This is a president who listens to his allies and partners. He'll have an opportunity to do so at the NATO summit. He'll have an opportunity to do so at the G-7. And so what we we'll have at the end of -- of this next few weeks here, is an opportunity for a much more effective strategy for the problem set in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region broadly. SPICER: Jessica? QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. General, if you can talk first about the evolution from a -- the way the president campaigned, which is a more unilateral foreign policy, to this multilateral engagement you're emphasizing, and the way that you're rolling out this trip to explain that. And then secondly, if you could also talk about the decision to send a delegation to the One Belt, One Road forum in China and why -- what you hope to get out of that. MCMASTER: OK. QUESTION: Thank you. 13:36:12 MCMASTER: All right, so -- so "America first" didn't mean "America alone," ever, I don't -- I don't think. And so -- and so what we have done is -- is -- is advanced the president's agenda in national security by -- by strengthening alliances by burden-sharing. Americans don't have to do everything, don't have to bankroll everything. And our allies and partners are grateful for, I think, the president's leadership in asking them to do more. So, is an alliance in which each of the members are doing their fair share, who are shouldering the burden -- is it stronger or weaker? It's stronger. So the president has done a great deal to strengthen our alliances. And "America first" didn't mean "America not leading," right? So for America to -- to secure and advance its interests, that requires American leadership. And so -- so the president's leadership has been -- has been welcomed in all the places that -- that he'll be visiting on -- on this trip. And -- and -- and his agenda, I think, that he laid out in -- in the campaign is being operationalized and implemented by his Cabinet, primarily with the assistance of our team here in the White House. SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Two questions. First, the -- there were reports out of Israel that President Trump may try to get Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas in the same room together while he's there. Is that, in fact, the case? And also, to NBC News yesterday the president said that General Mattis and his other generals would be announcing something on ISIS next week. And so, as one of the generals on his administration, can you talk to that? Is there an announcement coming next week? 13:37:39 MCMASTER: On the first part, it'll be whatever the president wants to do. You know, so -- so a lot -- a lot of what we do in that security council is try to keep up with the president, so you may have -- no -- I -- I think it -- it -- it -- there are plans to... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... try to reach out to both of them, to get them together? MCMASTER: You know, the -- the -- the final plans aren't set yet. We can comment maybe more about that next week. But it will obviously be up to the president and those leaders about how -- how he wants to engage with them. But he'll engage with -- with both those leaders there as part of the trip. In terms of the -- the campaign against transnational terrorist organizations, and ISIS in particular, the president has asked us to do everything we can to -- to defeat ISIS, and in particular to ensure that we defeat ISIS in this -- you know, this so-called caliphate and the terrain that they -- that they're endeavoring to hold onto in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other -- and other areas. And what the president has -- has also told us is he doesn't want to telegraph what he's doing tactically, day to day. He wants the Department of Defense and -- and our military commanders to be able to execute those campaigns consistent with his guidance, the policy and the strategy that he's approved. And so, what -- what we -- what next week we'll do, will be an opportunity for our -- our military leadership to lay out how we are -- how they are executing the president's guidance, the progress they've made in the campaign and what -- what remains to be done. And so that's really the emphasis of the -- of the -- of the press conference next week. SPICER: Thanks, General. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: One more? MCMASTER: Sure. Hold on. QUESTION: Can we hear about Russia and the agreements that were made this week with Russia's top diplomat? I mean, you're going to the region to speak with Arab allies. How are you going to explain agreements you've made with Russia, allies of Iran, in Syria, like this president has said is now a priority for him (ph)? 13:39:16 MCMASTER: I would -- I would characterize the engagements with -- with Russian leadership by our secretary of state, the brief meeting that the president had with Foreign Minister Lavrov, the -- the -- the phone conversations that we've had with -- with Russian leadership as -- as engagements, not -- not decisions, or -- or -- or specific approaches. I think what the president has made clear is that -- is that he will confront Russian disruptive behavior, such as its support for -- for the murderous Assad regime in -- in Syria and its enabling of Iran and -- and its very destructive -- disruptive (ph) policy and strategy that it's executing across the -- the Middle East, what it's -- what it's done and continued to -- to do in Ukraine. He will confront that disruptive behavior, but the president's looking for areas of cooperation. MCMASTER: There are -- there are a lot of very significant security problem sets across the world. All -- all of them would get easier, right, if -- if -- if Russia were to come to the conclusion that it could best advance its interests through cooperating with the United States and others to resolve those conflicts rather than perpetuate them. QUESTION: But aren't they party to those conflicts, and causing them, in Syria? I mean, the president said at the end of his meeting with Lavrov that it was really good, that there was -- you know, he spoke in very positive terms that (ph) there was progress made. Are you saying there were no agreements? 13:40:30 MCMASTER: The -- the -- the president spoke in -- in positive, affirmative, strong terms in his engagements with -- with Russian leaders. QUESTION: Follow, and my question... (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: I'll take one more. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: John (ph)? (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Sara (ph)? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Hi. I'm Sara (ph) (inaudible). Can you tell us a little bit more about the America First policy, about how it changed over time? Because it's not been very clear what it means and how other people would want to sign up for it. 13:41:01 MCMASTER: Well, what -- what it means is that the president's prioritizing the security and interests of the American people. You can see that with what Secretary Ross has done in the -- in the economic relationship with China, to look for ways to advance American prosperity. Every theme of this trip is wholly consistent with the president's approach to prioritize American -- the American people, American security, American jobs, American prosperity. And so you'll see that with, I think, almost a -- a refreshing, I would say, integration of what we're doing in terms of security partnerships, along with economic relationships and -- and -- and the diplomatic engagement that the president's Cabinet has been engaged with since he's -- since he's taken over as president. And -- and this trip is going to be a tremendous way to solidify the gains already made and -- and advance them further. QUESTION: General... (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: Thanks -- thanks very much. SPICER: All right. Thank you, General McMaster. I'm going to go through a couple updates and a schedule before I get to your questions, and Jeff will get the first one. 13:42:08 First off, Secretary Ross I know was up here last night to tell you about the envelopments (ph) -- as General McMaster just noted it -- the developments that have happened and advances that have happened in trade. The 10 commitments that Secretary Ross announced yesterday are the initial results of the 100-day action plan of the United States- China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, which began with President Trump and President Xi's meeting in Mar-a-Lago. Under the leadership of Secretaries Ross, Mnuchin and their Chinese counterparts, the United States has negotiated intensively to reach consensus in areas including agricultural trade, financial services, investment and energy. One of the actions I want to point out in particular sets the stage for China to allow imports of American beef beginning no later than July 16th of this year. It's been 13 years since our cattle producers have been able -- have been effectively locked out of the Chinese market. China is the second-largest beef importer in the world, buying roughly $2.6 billion of beef every year. In a statement last night, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the nation's largest association of cattle farmers, said, and I quote, "It's impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for America's cattle producers, and how the Trump administration deserves a lot of credit for getting this achieved," end quote. This announcement came on the same day that Secretary Perdue visited a large -- a barge loading facility in the Ohio River and announced that he will appoint the first-ever undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is further proof of the seriousness of (sic) which the administration is approaching the promotion of U.S. agriculture products abroad. And that's just one part of the deal that was reached. Here are some of the other highlights that we have worked with China. Eight pending biotech patents from the United States firms will be evaluated at a meeting of Chinese National Biosafety Committee by the end of May. We welcome China to receive imported liquefied natural gas, with companies allowed to proceed at any time to negotiate contracts. China will allow foreign-owned (ph) financial services firms in China to provide credit rating services and credit investigations. By July 16th, China will issue further guidance to allow American-owned suppliers of electronic payment services to operate in China. And China will allow two American financial institutions to issue underwriting and settlement licenses no later than July 16th, as we continue to make progress within the 100-day framework, including discussion of a one-year plan to solidify action that will benefit both of our countries. Moving on, this morning, Attorney General Sessions issued a memo that restores flexibility to prosecutors so that they can most effectively combat the crisis of illegal drug trafficking that is polluting our cities and destroying our communities and families. This policy was formulated after extensive consultation with the prosecutors that handle these cases each and every day around the country. SPICER: With these additional options available to them, they now have the leverage they need to get at the root of drug trafficking and the violent crime that surrounds it. As the attorney general said this morning, this will take the handcuffs off our nation's prosecutors. And if I can add, it frankly puts the handcuffs on the drug traffickers who threaten the safety of our families and communities. The Trump administration is signaling to the worst of the worst, the drug traffickers who violate our drug laws to move these dangerous substances around our border and into our communities, that the United States Department of Justice will no longer look the other way. This week, the administration has also been busy engaging with senators and their staffs, now that the American Health Care Act and the relief it promises for the American people is in the Senate's hands. I know Sarah talked to you yesterday about how Aetna has pulled out of Obamacare exchanges completely, leaving only one insurer in some of the markets. Another -- another report yesterday out from EHealth showed that the average premium for individual plans has spiked 39 percent since 2014. In some cases, insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses have become families' most significant expenses. With each new report, it becomes clearer and clearer that we can't wait any longer to repeal and replace this failing system. Until we enact serious reforms of the health care system, the American people will continue to suffer under the consequences. Tomorrow, the president will deliver the --- his first commencement address in Lynchburg, Virginia, at Liberty. He is greatly looking forward to visiting with Liberty students and faculty who gave him such a warm welcome last year. He can be expected to note to the graduates his own change in status since they were last together. As many of you know, Liberty is the largest Christian school in the nation and has in recent years made many remarkable strides in its forward -- strides forward in its academic, extracurricular and athletic endeavors. Besides taking note of these achievements, the president will be congratulating the graduates on their accomplishments and encouraging them to be a force for good in the world by standing up for their values that Liberty has taught them. He'll be offering congratulations, thanks and praise and encouragement on a day of optimism and new beginnings for the graduates as well as the nation. In terms of the run-down for next week, the president has a very packed schedule before we depart on his first foreign trip. On Monday, he's hosting the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates. On Tuesday, he'll welcome the president of Turkey. On Wednesday, the president will travel to New London, Connecticut, to deliver the commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy. On Thursday, the president of Colombia will be at the White House for an official visit. And on Friday, we set off for -- on the trip, with the first stop being Saudi Arabia. And finally, in honor of Mother's Day, this afternoon, the first lady will host a reception in honor of military mothers in the residence, followed by a performance by the Army Chorus and Marine Band. The White House will issue a Mother's Day proclamation later as well. And beyond all of the activity here, this is the official reminder to everyone to get your flowers and cards before it's too late. And with that, Jeff Mason? QUESTION: Thank you for that reminder, Sean. SPICER: You're welcome. QUESTION: Moving on to the news of the week, really, and the day, did President Trump record his conversations with former FBI Director Comey? 13:48:21 SPICER: I assume you're referring to... QUESTION: His tweet. SPICER: ... the tweet. And I -- I've talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: And why did he say that? Why did he tweet that? What should we interpret from that? SPICER: I -- as I mentioned, the president has nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: Is there -- are there recording devices in the Oval Office or in the residence? 13:48:39 SPICER: As I said for the third time, there's nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: Does he think it's appropriate to threaten someone like Mr. Comey not to speak? SPICER: I -- I don't think that's -- that's not a threat. He simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself. I'm moving on. John? QUESTION: If I could quote another one of the president's tweets this morning, he said, quote, "Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat excuse for losing the election." What does the president mean by that? How do you -- how specifically is the U.S. tearing itself apart over all of this? 13:49:11 SPICER: I think the president's comments about the -- Russia and the collusion have been very clear with respect to some of the charges that've been made. He's been very clear that it's one thing that -- that he believes that the -- that the notion that there's collusion is a hoax. It's been reaffirmed by several people, including Senator Grassley and others who have spoken to him. And that he wants to make sure that he's focused every day on doing what's best for the American people. QUESTION: I understand all that. But you've said that many times. But how is the U.S. tearing itself apart over this? 13:49:41 SPICER: Well, I think, obviously, this has been a subject that comes up over and over again, when it's been very clearly stated on multiple occasions that there's no collusion that occurred, and yet this narrative continues to be perpetuated. QUESTION: Do you think this is what the Russians wanted all along in interfering with the election? SPICER: I -- I don't -- I have no idea. But what I'm just telling you is I think we've made it clear at this podium several times and I think the president made it clear that -- what his feelings are on this. QUESTION: Sean... SPICER: Steve (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, in the dinner that the president had with James Comey earlier in -- in January, did the president implore him to pledge his loyalty to the president? Is that true? SPICER: No. QUESTION: Did that happen? That did not happen. SPICER: No. QUESTION: How important is it that the FBI director be loyal to the president? Is that a -- is that a quality the president wants to see in anyone, particularly his FBI director? 13:50:30 SPICER: I think the president wants loyalty to this country and to the rule of law. Trey? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. On the dinner with James Comey, does anyone in this White House have an audio recording of what unfolded during the January 27th dinner between the former FBI director and the president of the United States? 13:50:48 SPICER: I -- I'm not aware of that. QUESTION: I have one follow-up question for you. What can the administration do better when it comes to communication? Today, the president tweeted out that he felt, from behind that podium, it's not always possible to present the information with perfect accuracy. 13:51:06 SPICER: So, I -- look, I think we come out here every day and try to do the best job we can communicating what the president's done and the accomplishments he's making on the American people. We get here early, we work beyond being here at this podium. As many of you know, we get here early, we work pretty late, we do what we can. But the president is an activist (ph) president. He keeps a very robust schedule, as many of you are very well aware, and as you can tell by the activities of next week alone. And I think sometimes we don't have an opportunity to get in to see him, to get his full thinking. In those cases, we do our best to follow up with you. But I think that there are times when you, more than not, read a story where someone's trying to -- trying to pull apart one word, one sentence and say, "Aha!" and make it a gotcha thing. We work very hard to get you the most accurate and up-to-date information throughout the day. We don't always have the opportunity to get in to see the president, and in those cases, I think we do a pretty good job of following up and getting you that information after the briefing, or in a subsequent -- so -- so that's -- that's -- that's exactly what he meant. QUESTION: Is the president considering canceling the daily press briefings? SPICER: I think he's a little dismayed, as well as a lot of people, that we come out here and try to do everything we can to provide you and the American people with what he's doing on their behalf, what he's doing to keep the nation safe, what he's doing to -- to grow jobs, and yet we see time and time again an attempt to parse every little word and -- and make it more of a game of gotcha, as opposed to really figure out what the policies are, why -- why something's being pursued or what the update is on this. And I think that's where there's a lot of dismay, and I don't think it's something that's just alone -- the president feels. QUESTION: Can I ask you one -- one final logistical question? SPICER: Sure, one final. It's Friday. QUESTION: On the original question I had about the dinner on January 27th with James Comey... SPICER: Right. QUESTION: ... the president wasn't clear during the NBC interview who invited the FBI director to the White House at that time. How many invitations did the White House send to Director James Comey after January 20th and before the director was fired? 13:53:05 SPICER: I don't know. I'll (inaudible) I'll try to get back to you. Katie (ph)? QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. I have a question on the Turkish president's visit... SPICER: OK. QUESTION: ... next week. He recently called -- President Erdogan called the Muslims to rush the Temple Mount. Considering the president has said he's a mediator for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, what is his response to that? And then I have another question. 13:53:26 SPICER: So, I think what you've seen with the president's meeting with -- with these leaders, is he engages privately in a lot of these things. And, I think, to -- to a degree, a large degree, he's been able to achieve great success, whether Aya Hijazi in that particular case, working behind the scenes, whether it's the progress that he's made with China. The president's behind-the-scenes diplomacy is paying dividends for the United States, and that's how he's going to continue to operate. As -- as General McMaster noted, it's that kind of diplomacy that's reasserting our position in the world. And that trust and those relationships continue to be built. QUESTION: (inaudible) (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, again -- I -- again, I think there's -- there's -- there's a difference, Katie (ph). If we can get out here and -- I think what the president believes is that behind-the-scenes diplomacy pays dividends in terms of affecting behavior and outcomes and furthering the goals of the United States. So that -- that's as much as I want to say there. QUESTION: My other question is, is the discussion about the refugee crisis, which is fueling problems in Europe -- the president has talked about refugees being a problem in the United States, and terrorists hiding refugees or -- or refugees hiding in the -- terrorists hiding in refugees (ph), excuse me. Is he going to talk about that with Arab leaders specifically when he visits Saudi Arabia? Or is that not something that he's willing to bring up to those -- those leaders (ph)? 13:54:44 SPICER: I mean, he's talked about safe zones. He talked about it yesterday with the foreign minister -- earlier this week, rather. He's brought it up on the calls. QUESTION: What about Saudi Arabia specifically (ph)? SPICER: I -- I -- I'm not going to get ahead of his conversations that he's going to have. SPICER: But I think the president's been very publicly clear about his desire to address that situation and some of the -- the -- the solutions that exist. But -- but he's -- in -- in a lot of the readouts, we've had that as part of it, because he believes that that has to be part of the solution. John (ph)? QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sean. In that interview that the president conducted yesterday with NBC, he indicated and confirmed that on three separate occasions he asked the director of the FBI and received assurances from the FBI that he was not under investigation by the FBI. Why was the president seemingly so consumed by this that he would ask that question on three separate occasions? 13:55:35 SPICER: I think because the narrative continued to be perpetuated and he wanted clarity to make sure. But again, I haven't spoken to him on it about the reason, but I think he answered it yesterday very clearly. And so I can get back to you, but that -- that's the answer. QUESTION: I would appreciate you getting back to me. And as far as asking that question, did the president ask the -- the White House Counsel whether it would be appropriate to ask such a question, given that it was against, generally, Justice Department guidelines to indicate whether or not investigations are ongoing against any individual, let alone one at the White House? 13:56:14 SPICER: I don't know. I will tell you that I know several legal scholars, including Alan Dershowitz and others, have said there was nothing inappropriate about that. Dave? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... Counsel -- did the White House Counsel... SPICER: I don't know the answer. QUESTION: OK. Thank you. SPICER: Dave? QUESTION: General McMaster mentioned that on the trip the president's going to raising the issue of religious persecution to the pope. And I wanted to ask you about a case in the last week in Indonesia where a Christian governor, in the state of Jakarta, was imprisoned for two years for blaspheming the Quran. Does the president find that case troubling? Does he plan to say anything when he... SPICER: Did John Gizzi give you this question? QUESTION: I'm sorry. (LAUGHTER) SPICER: I don't -- I don't have any updates on -- on that particular case. I would ask to check with the -- with the State Department. QUESTION: Sean? SPICER: Zeke? QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. I just want to clear up a point on Jeff's questions. I'm hoping you can answer this in a yes-or-no fashion. Is the president of the United States currently recording conversations taking place in the Oval Office? 13:57:09 SPICER: I -- I think the point that I made with respect to the tweet is the president has no further comment on this. Cam (ph)? QUESTION: I wanted to follow up... SPICER: OK. QUESTION: ... since you were involved in this on Tuesday night as well, giving a blanket answer saying at the time that "It was all him," regarding Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, why did you come out with information that was later contradicted by the president -- that was later -- can you explain the tick-tock, when were you brought in? Who else was involved? Why were the American people given incorrect information that night? 13:57:35 SPICER: I -- I don't necessarily believe that that's true, Zeke. We -- there was a decision-making process. The president explained it in the interview process (sic). The bottom line is is that the director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the president. The president made a decision to replace him, as he has stated very clearly now, publicly. The president is now focused on making sure that he finds a replacement that has the leadership qualities to lead the FBI. That's it, plain and simple. Cam (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, I want to follow up on that really briefly. What you said Tuesday doesn't match what the president was laying out yesterday (inaudible). Can you walk through why the discrepancy, in terms of whose decision this was? 13:58:18 SPICER: Well, it's always the president's decision. That's it, final. QUESTION: Do you think that... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Look I -- as I mentioned to Zeke, this is ultimately the president's -- always going to be the president's decision. Everyone who serves at the pleasure of the president -- it's ultimately going to be his decision to hire someone, to fire someone. He made a decision, in part based on the recommendation, and he's now focused on making sure that we have a replacement at the FBI to instill the proper leadership they need. Blake? QUESTION: Sean, let me ask you about the way forward as it relates to who the president might nominate to be the FBI director. Where does that process stand right now? How many people have been interviewed? Does the president hope to wrap this up before he goes overseas? 13:58:55 SPICER: On the timing, I -- I think as soon as he finds a candidate that fits the qualities that he feels are necessary to lead the FBI, that's the timeline of that. I know that the Department of Justice has begun to create that list and I believe they're going to -- if they haven't already, are going to be starting the process of interviewing people either today or through the weekend. But -- I mean, the president obviously wants to make sure that we've got the right person. And they -- that process is being headed by the -- by the Department of Justice. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (inaudible) about how somebody -- not necessarily being political in that role. If somebody has been a member of Congress, past or present, does that count as an automatic disqualifier of somebody who is... 13:59:37 SPICER: I have not -- I don't -- I've not asked the president, but I don't believe he has stated any sort of in and out. The Department of Justice is screening candidates. And I'm sure that as they feel as though they've got a list of finalists, they'll share that with the president and he'll -- he'll make a decision. QUESTION: And lastly, does the president still have -- the other day we were -- someone asked does the president have confidence in Andrew McCabe, after the testimony on Capitol Hill the other day. Is that still the case? He is the acting director at this moment. 14:00:02 SPICER: I -- I've not asked him about the deputy... (LAUGHTER) I've -- I've not asked him about his -- generally, I don't go through the list of government employees and ask him. So I -- I've not asked him specifically about that. Eamon? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Yesterday, Sarah told us that the president expects that the FBI investigation will be wrapped up with integrity, that's what the White House wants. Today, the president tweeted and called it a witch hunt. How does tweeting and calling it a witch hunt help wrap that investigation up with integrity? 14:00:31 SPICER: The president -- you know, no one wants this done -- he wants to know very clearly -- there's two pieces to this, right, which is what was Russia's involvement -- the president is obviously very concerned about any entity's attempts to influence the United States election -- and that's one investigation. I think the second, this false narrative that we continue to fight every day, that has been debunked by intelligence individuals, members of Congress who've been briefed over and over again -- that's where I think he's growingly (ph) concerned, as well as a number of American people who are growingly (ph) concerned that there is this perpetuated false narrative out there. That's -- that's, I think, the nut of this. QUESTION: And secondly, I talked to a former FBI official today, who said that the president's tweet, the implicit threat to FBI -- former FBI Director James Comey, indicates that the president, in his words, is "simply out of control." I'd like to get you to respond to that. Is he? 14:01:24 SPICER: I -- that's, frankly, offensive. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: John? John? QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. Two questions about the FBI director selection process. You said the names are coming from the Justice Department right now. Is the president consulting with Democratic congressional leaders as well, or Republican congressional leaders, on this? Or is he just getting names out of DOJ? 14:01:49 SPICER: That's a good question. I know that he was -- obviously, he's going to take input from them. I don't know what specific conversations he's had, so I'd be glad to check on who he's spoken to or -- or may be speaking to. Anita? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I had a... SPICER: I'm sorry. I forgot you had two. QUESTION: ... follow-up question. SPICER: I got confused that Dave stole one. QUESTION: Now, I know that, you know, you have said you're not disqualifying anyone on this. You also know there has been considerable mention in the last 24 hours of former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers as the new FBI director. Does the president have a meeting planned this weekend with Congressman Rogers? 14:02:27 SPICER: I -- I'm not aware of anything of that nature on his schedule. But we'll obviously -- as you know, we'll put out -- if there's a meeting, we'll put it out for you. Right now, there's nothing that I'm aware of on the schedule. But generally, we put out the -- the next day's schedule later in the -- in the evening, and we will -- we will do that as well. Kristen (ph)? QUESTION: You already called on me (ph). SPICER: I'm sorry. I -- thank -- sorry. (inaudible). QUESTION: I had a couple questions about the president's remarks in -- to NBC about General Flynn. He said that it wasn't an emergency, or he didn't think it was an emergency, and that's why the firing -- dismissal didn't happen right away. So a couple questions about that. Is it -- why didn't he think it was an emergency? And was it because of the messenger? Was it because it -- information came from Sally Yates, who you called an opponent, I think -- a political opponent of the president? Or is it because Don McGahn downplayed the situation? Can you explain what he meant by that? And I had a follow-up. 14:03:20 SPICER: I can't specifically say what he meant by that. But what I can tell you is -- I mean, again, look at the timeline that happened. We went over this the other day, and this has been asked and answered multiple times. The former acting attorney general came and said, "I want to give you a heads-up on something." Don McGahn of the counsel's office informed the president. They asked for the documents or materials that she had referred to. It took -- I forgot now -- five or six days to get those. They reviewed them and he was asked to resign shortly thereafter. But I think that that's -- there is a difference. There wasn't a review process. That was the review process in this case. As the president noted yesterday during his interview, he had been thinking about this for a long time. The Justice Department had done a review. But again, I -- I'm not (ph) really sure in both cases... QUESTION: (inaudible) Comey. So then, since you just... SPICER: No, no. You just asked -- you just asked me what's... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I didn't ask (inaudible) Justice, though. Is that what you're talking about? SPICER: No, what I'm saying is you're asking why -- why it wasn't an emergency. I think -- but it's not a question of is it an emergency. He took the time to do due process. Someone comes to you with a -- a -- an allegation, I think everyone deserves due process to make sure that that allegation -- someone coming in and giving you a heads-up -- we did exactly what was necessary. And the president made the right decision and it -- he continues to stand by it. QUESTION: OK. So then two follow-ups. One, why -- it's still unclear, and you've mentioned this several times. Why did it take so long for the White House to get those documents? 14:04:39 SPICER: I don't know. I think we've... QUESTION: (inaudible) you couldn't go get the documents? SPICER: That's not -- I -- making it sound that is -- is rather -- with all due respect, it's -- it's not how it worked. They're the ones who possess the documents. They had them in their possession. I believe they asked for them, and it took a while... QUESTION: (inaudible) fired, though, in between? SPICER: No. I think part of it is just there's -- some of the things don't happen as easily, in terms of where they're stored. I don't know the answer. But I think that, in the course of action, if you look at the intervening days, that's a question that you should ask the Department of Justice. QUESTION: OK. And then I just had a follow-up. SPICER: Sure. QUESTION: Just explain to us, then, a little bit when you compare these two situations with General Flynn and Director Comey. The -- the memo came one day, and he was fired that day. That was the review process? And General Flynn was 18 days. SPICER: No... QUESTION: That's a huge difference. Why was one so fast when one was 18 days? 14:05:28 SPICER: Well, I -- I think it -- to -- to -- first of all, they both had a review. They both came and the president looked at the information and the reviews and made a decision. Ultimately, as I mentioned, he -- that's his job. He's the decider. He felt as though he had the information necessary in both cases to act and he did. Vivian (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, in the tweet -- in the tweet about -- about Director Comey, he said -- the president said that he better be careful before he goes leaking to the press. Yesterday, on NBC News, the president called him a showboat and a grandstander. Would the White House acknowledge that Director Comey has a First Amendment right to speak to the press if he so chooses to set the record straight about any of this instead of just leaking? It's not -- it may not be leaking, it may just be his First Amendment rights. 14:06:11 SPICER: Well, one -- of course one -- everyone in this country has a First Amendment right. I think the difference -- you've heard the president echo this multiple times -- is that sharing information that's not meant to be, or is not authorized to be in the public domain in terms of the classification of it is concerning. And I think the president's been very clear over and over again of his concern with respect to information that gets put in the public domain that's not mean to be. But I -- I -- I don't -- I don't think that those are -- everyone in this country has every right to speak their mind and express themselves in accordance with the Constitution. QUESTION: OK. And a follow-up. Just in terms of the FBI being in disarray also with the president's comments, is -- is he concerned that if he continues like this, the -- it could jeopardize moral at the FBI instead of actually, kind of, correcting a problem that he, obviously, observes there? 14:06:55 SPICER: Well, I think that one of the reasons that he wants to go through the process of finding an individual who can lead the FBI and -- and the men and women who serve there so bravely and ably, is to make sure that morale and the focus is -- is as it's supposed to be, and that you have a leader that can do that. And -- and, you know, as he's mentioned, it's the crown jewel of law enforcement. And I think the reason that he wants to go through this process and choose a leader that can be -- restore leadership with -- with -- you know, ensure that morale stays where it needs to be and that -- that there's a focus. That's -- that's why he's conducting the process that he has. And -- so, Jessica (ph)? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I'd like to give my question to Kris (ph) (inaudible). SPICER: What's that? QUESTION: She -- she -- you called on her first, so I just wanted to give her the question that you promised her before... QUESTION: Thank you. QUESTION: ... then I'll pick up from there. QUESTION: And I'll owe you a question. Thank you. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I just want to -- I want to... SPICER: ... currency exchange back there with questions. QUESTION: I want to ask you -- President Trump seemed to rely on James Clapper this morning when he tweeted that virtually he and everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt says there's no collusion. James Clapper himself today told Andrea Mitchell, "I don't know if there was collusion or not. I don't know if there's evidence or collusion or not. Nor should I." On March 5th, on "Meet the Press," when he was asked a similar question, he said, "Not to my knowledge." So, can you describe the discrepancy and explain it? 14:08:21 SPICER: No. I -- I'm -- I actually think that that's a great question that you should ask Director Clapper. I think... QUESTION: (inaudible) Director Clapper's comments and President Trump. Why is he leaning on Clapper, when he said, "I have no knowledge of whether there was..." SPICER: No, I think on several occasions, Director Clapper has said that he has no knowledge of any collusion. That's it. I mean, that's -- that's the point that he has... QUESTION: He said he hasn't briefed -- he said he wouldn't know because he hasn't been briefed on the... SPICER: He was DNI up until January 20th. QUESTION: He was very clear today that he said, "Nor should I have in this particular context." He made the case that he's not briefed on... SPICER: Right, and -- and I'm... QUESTION: ... an FBI investigation because that's not his purview. SPICER: Fair enough. He's the director of national intelligence. On multiple occasions prior to today, he made it very clear that he was unaware of any collusion. QUESTION: But his (inaudible) point was he wouldn't know, right? SPICER: Well -- but -- but -- but... QUESTION: Because there's been no final conclusion. SPICER: Right, I understand. QUESTION: There's been no final conclusions. SPICER: I understand that, but then... QUESTION: Does that really seem to indicate... SPICER: So -- so the question that I would ask then, Kristen (ph), is then why did he say what he said before? It seems his testimony and comments on multiple occasions prior to today was, "I have no evidence that there was any collusion," right? So, to suddenly today shift his story, I believe that the question should be asked to him, "You were the director of national intelligence. You said multiple times, including in testimony in front of Congress under oath, that there was no collusion." I believe that that's a question for him. QUESTION: (inaudible) final conclusion made about this investigation, right? There's an ongoing investigation. SPICER: I -- I do. QUESTION: He's not making that argument. SPICER: I under -- but -- but my point is, is that all we're able to do at this point is that the people who are aware of the former director of national intelligence, the head of the nation's agencies -- intelligence agencies, made multiple statements, as others -- Charles -- you know, Senator Grassley and others, talking about the involvement, making it very clear that there was none. We took them at their word then, and we continue to believe... QUESTION: (inaudible). (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, then that -- again, I think that -- but the question, Kristen, before you move on, is, then why did he make the statements that he did when he did? To turn around now, a month later, and say, "Well, even though I made those comments on multiple occasions, you know, I -- I wasn't briefed"? QUESTION: But the comments are not (ph) (inaudible). (CROSSTALK) SPICER: I -- I -- well, I appreciate... QUESTION: ... "It's not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation..." SPICER: Yeah, it sounds like the story is changing... QUESTION: "... or the context of the investigation." SPICER: Right. OK, well, ultimately there's been several... QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) very quickly about the... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, I -- do you mind if I -- I just -- I think in this case, it is interesting how the story has changed. He made those comments several times, over several courses of action. And to say the director of national intelligence, who stated unequivocally what his position was on multiple occasions before today, and now suddenly is saying, "I wasn't sure about it," that -- the burden seems to be on him, not us. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) but, moving on to the... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: You could apply for, like, a Clapper spokesman job soon (ph). QUESTION: No, but I just -- I'm interested in the discrepancy and drawing conclusions (ph)... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: And I think that that's a great thing to ask him. QUESTION: No, on the part of the president -- drawing the final conclusion about the investigation. In terms of the accuracy tweet, should we take that tweet to mean that you don't have the full picture when you stand at that podium? 14:11:28 SPICER: As I said, we come up here every day, not just to the podium, but, you know, we -- we are here first thing in the morning until late at night every day answering your questions on a variety of subjects and throughout issues that are happening in the government. We -- as -- as most of you can attest, work day and night to make sure that we get you the most up-to-date, accurate information at all times. With respect to the president, as I mentioned, he's an activist president. He keeps an unbelievably busy and robust schedule. And there are times when we give you the information that we have at the time, and we seek to get an update, and I believe that you and others will attest to, when we don't have an answer, we try really hard to either update you after the fact or to get you the facts that we didn't have at the time. But we work really hard every day to do that. And I think the president's point that I pointed out earlier is that there are times when -- when we're asked a question, we do our best to give you the answer, and every word is picked apart to try to figure out how to make an issue out of it, as opposed to allowing us to, you know, talk to the president, get his current thinking, and updates if we hadn't had an opportunity to do that at this time. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Jennifer? Jennifer? Jennifer? QUESTION: Can I... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Sean, can I actually pick up there... SPICER: I'm sorry, Jessica. Then we'll do the Js. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... if you don't mind -- thank you so much. So I wanted to ask you about the One Belt, One Road summit that starts on Sunday in China. SPICER: Yes. QUESTION: You announced yesterday -- or... SPICER: Sarah... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... Secretary Ross did -- that you're going to send a delegation to that summit. SPICER: Yeah. QUESTION: Can you talk about how you came to that conclusion, why it's important for the U.S. to be represented at what's ostensibly a major trade initiative by a foreign country? 14:13:00 SPICER: I -- as you point, it's a major trade initiative. There's a lot of ports and infrastructure that they're looking to do, and -- through those discussions that Secretary Ross and Secretary Mnuchin and others had a Mar-a-Lago, and -- and part of this is that that is something they've done. We're going to continue to work with them. Obviously, trade is a major issue for us, and they're -- what they're looking to do is of great importance to our economic and national security, and they've asked us to send -- send people to that. And we have them attend things that we're doing as well. And I think that's -- as the president has shown, in terms of the relationship that he's built with President Xi and the rest of the team built with their delegation, those relationships are clearly paying dividends, both on the national security front and on the economic front. Jennifer? QUESTION: (inaudible) send a signal that the U.S. is going to participate... SPICER: Is it -- I -- I think... QUESTION: ... in the One Belt, One Road initiative? SPICER: ... we'll -- we'll have a readout. At this point, that's all we have on One Belt, One Road. QUESTION: Two questions, the first one on loyalty, and the next one on the visit to the FBI headquarters. So, this president does value loyalty. Was there any sort of -- before you were hired, any sort of request or hint that you pledge personal loyalty to him at all before you were hired? 14:14:10 SPICER: No. I pledged my loyalty to the Constitution and to the American people, as has everyone who serves in our government and this administration. And we stand by that. QUESTION: Is it true that the president was warned that he might not be well received at the FBI headquarters if he (inaudible)? SPICER: I don't -- not that I'm aware of. Thank you, guys. Have a great weekend. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: We'll see you on Monday. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Thank you. Goodbye. END
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING CUTS
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING WITH SEAN SPICER DC SLUG: 1300 WH BRIEF STIX FS37 73 AR: 16x9 NYRS: WASH-3 13:23:39 SPICER: Wow. We got a full house today. Good afternoon. It's good to be back with you. Apparently I was a little missed. We're one week out from the president's first foreign trip, so I wanted to make sure, as we prepare for that trip, that I bring up General -- our national security adviser, General McMaster, to give you a preview of what the team has been doing to prepare for the president's trip. Our -- our goal is to, kind of, start that process now, and then next week, bring the general back and give you a more detailed update as to what the president's going to be doing in each of the areas and some of the highlights from the trip. We'll obviously -- obviously additionally have background briefings for you as well to give the team that's going to be traveling from the press corps some logistical updates. So without further ado, General McMaster. QUESTION: Will you take questions after his talk? SPICER: Yes, Jeff. I will be glad to take your question. In fact, if you'd like, you get to go first today. 13:24:28 MCMASTER: Thank you, Sean. Good afternoon and happy Mother's Day weekend, everybody. As you all know, in exactly one week, the president will embark on his first trip abroad since taking office. Today, I'd like to explain the president's objectives for his visits to the Middle East and to Europe and also preview a bit of the schedule. MCMASTER: The trip has three core purposes: first, to reaffirm America's global leadership; second, to continue building key relationships with world leaders; and third, to broadcast a message of unity to America's friends and to the faithful of the three -- of three of the world's greatest religions. The president prioritizes building strong relationships, as you see here every day, with world leaders as a way to strengthen our alliances. And he's been successful. You can see that in his diplomacy with a range of leaders from -- from Prime Minister May to President Xi. President Trump understands that America first does not mean American alone. To the contrary, prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and approve the security of the American people. This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on one trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity. He will bring a message of tolerance and of hope to billions, including to millions of Americans who profess these faiths. The president will focus on what unites us. 13:26:23 MCMASTER: Thank you, Sean. Good afternoon and happy Mother's Day weekend, everybody. As you all know, in exactly one week, the president will embark on his first trip abroad since taking office. Today, I'd like to explain the president's objectives for his visits to the Middle East and to Europe and also preview a bit of the schedule. MCMASTER: The trip has three core purposes: first, to reaffirm America's global leadership; second, to continue building key relationships with world leaders; and third, to broadcast a message of unity to America's friends and to the faithful of the three -- of three of the world's greatest religions. The president prioritizes building strong relationships, as you see here every day, with world leaders as a way to strengthen our alliances. And he's been successful. You can see that in his diplomacy with a range of leaders from -- from Prime Minister May to President Xi. President Trump understands that America first does not mean American alone. To the contrary, prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and approve the security of the American people. This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on one trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity. He will bring a message of tolerance and of hope to billions, including to millions of Americans who profess these faiths. The president will focus on what unites us. 13:29:48 Lastly, just a few words on how this all came together. The impetus for this trip came from the president himself and he's been fully engaged from the beginning, setting objectives, overseeing the planning. The president's receiving regular briefings from his Cabinet and from our senior staff here on the national security side and on the economic side as well. MCMASTER: Most of the leaders the president will meet on this trip, as you know, he's already met in person or certainly by phone. These relationships are off to a very strong start and the trip is an opportunity to broaden and deepen those relationships. The administration continues to be in close contact and consultation with Congress, and we're drawing on the expertise across the Senate and the House in preparation for the trip as well. And finally, this really is a team effort. The White House and National Security Council staffs, the National Economic Council, continue to work closely with our Departments of State, Treasury, Defense and others to fulfill the president's objectives and ensure smooth execution. On behalf of the president, I express the whole administration's thanks for all the hard work it takes to organize a trip of this scope and of this importance. So the president of (sic) all of us are looking forward to the journey. And with that I'll take -- I'll take a couple of questions. (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: Defer to Sean (ph)? SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: General McMaster, how is this president viewed among our Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, UAE and others, compared to his predecessor? 13:31:17 MCMASTER: Well, I would just say the president's leadership has been welcomed; welcomed enthusiastically. There was a perception that America had largely disengaged from the Middle East in particular, and -- and that disengagement coincided with this humanitarian and political catastrophe in the region. And so now there's a broad recognition among all of our partners in the region that American leadership is necessary to help address this catastrophe and to begin to move the region toward the peace, security and stability that the people there so deserve. And so what you're seeing I think is a galvanizing effect of the president's leadership in bringing those leaders together across the region under -- and bringing them together for a positive agenda, right? Who's against ending this catastrophe? Who's against confronting these terrorists who are the enemies of all civilized people? Confronting Iran who's participating in this -- in this cycle of violence and to bring prosperity, peace to the region, the people who so richly deserve it? Thanks. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: General McMaster, you're somebody who is crucial, obviously, in the intelligence community, somebody who's leading the National Security Council, so I have to ask you, this week in particular there have been a lot of reports, including from our network, that intelligence officials are extremely concerned about how James Comey was fired. Do you believe that that threatens national security right now? 13:32:34 MCMASTER: Well, I told -- I told Sean that I would pass all those questions to him, and he'll be happy answer that after this... QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) MCMASTER: ... after this. But I'll -- what I would like to do is focus on the -- I'd like to focus on the trip and I'll come back next week with more details of the trip as well. SPICER: John (ph)? QUESTION: You said the president was -- that the impetus for the trip came from the president himself. Was it the president himself who decided to begin this trip in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam? And is there -- is there symbolic significance to that? And how many of our Muslim allies -- how many countries -- how many Muslim-majority countries will be represented at the meetings in Saudi Arabia? 13:33:14 MCMASTER: Well, this is the president's initiative, to being the trip in the Middle East, hosted -- hosted... QUESTION: (inaudible) MCMASTER: ... hosted by -- by King Salman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And the king is going to bring together partners from across the region to meet with the president. So the answer to your question is -- and I can answer in more detail next week because it's still coming, the -- sort of, the final attendees. But he'll meet with a broad range of leaders in the Middle East, of course many of whom -- most of whom he's met already here, or -- or by phone certainly. And we have -- we have the -- the crown -- the -- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is coming, for example, on Monday as well. SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: Sean. General McMaster, at the beginning of this very long week we were hearing speculation that the president was considering thousands more troops for Afghanistan. When he goes to Brussels on Thursday of next week, what is the message to the NATO partners with respect to their commitment in this long fight? 13:34:12 MCMASTER: Well, the -- the key is all of us have to be committed, right, to -- to achieving our fundamental objectives in Afghanistan. I mean, Americans know really better than anybody because the mass murder against our own country on September 11, 2001, originated with a terrorist safe haven and support base in Afghanistan. Recently we have been engaged against ISIS or in -- ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan with highly successful operations there that you'll hear more about in the press conference at the Department of Defense here in the -- in the near future. But what has happened in Afghanistan, is the Afghan army is taking the brunt of the fight against these transnational terrorists and the Taliban. And so, we are -- we are working with our allies to figure out what more we can do to have a more effective strategy in Afghanistan, what are options we can bring to the president to be more effective in meeting our objectives in Afghanistan, and what more can we ask our allies to do which we're asking them now. MCMASTER: So -- so this is going to be really consistent with the president's guidance to us. QUESTION: Has the president decided that there should be thousands more troops? MCMASTER: The president has not made a decision yet on a course of action. What we have done, which is what we have done in many cases, on the -- on the North Korea problem set, for example, is we've consulted broadly across our government and with allies. The president wants to hear from our allies as well. This is a president who listens to his allies and partners. He'll have an opportunity to do so at the NATO summit. He'll have an opportunity to do so at the G-7. And so what we we'll have at the end of -- of this next few weeks here, is an opportunity for a much more effective strategy for the problem set in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region broadly. SPICER: Jessica? QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. General, if you can talk first about the evolution from a -- the way the president campaigned, which is a more unilateral foreign policy, to this multilateral engagement you're emphasizing, and the way that you're rolling out this trip to explain that. And then secondly, if you could also talk about the decision to send a delegation to the One Belt, One Road forum in China and why -- what you hope to get out of that. MCMASTER: OK. QUESTION: Thank you. 13:36:12 MCMASTER: All right, so -- so "America first" didn't mean "America alone," ever, I don't -- I don't think. And so -- and so what we have done is -- is -- is advanced the president's agenda in national security by -- by strengthening alliances by burden-sharing. Americans don't have to do everything, don't have to bankroll everything. And our allies and partners are grateful for, I think, the president's leadership in asking them to do more. So, is an alliance in which each of the members are doing their fair share, who are shouldering the burden -- is it stronger or weaker? It's stronger. So the president has done a great deal to strengthen our alliances. And "America first" didn't mean "America not leading," right? So for America to -- to secure and advance its interests, that requires American leadership. And so -- so the president's leadership has been -- has been welcomed in all the places that -- that he'll be visiting on -- on this trip. And -- and -- and his agenda, I think, that he laid out in -- in the campaign is being operationalized and implemented by his Cabinet, primarily with the assistance of our team here in the White House. SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Two questions. First, the -- there were reports out of Israel that President Trump may try to get Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas in the same room together while he's there. Is that, in fact, the case? And also, to NBC News yesterday the president said that General Mattis and his other generals would be announcing something on ISIS next week. And so, as one of the generals on his administration, can you talk to that? Is there an announcement coming next week? 13:37:39 MCMASTER: On the first part, it'll be whatever the president wants to do. You know, so -- so a lot -- a lot of what we do in that security council is try to keep up with the president, so you may have -- no -- I -- I think it -- it -- it -- there are plans to... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... try to reach out to both of them, to get them together? MCMASTER: You know, the -- the -- the final plans aren't set yet. We can comment maybe more about that next week. But it will obviously be up to the president and those leaders about how -- how he wants to engage with them. But he'll engage with -- with both those leaders there as part of the trip. In terms of the -- the campaign against transnational terrorist organizations, and ISIS in particular, the president has asked us to do everything we can to -- to defeat ISIS, and in particular to ensure that we defeat ISIS in this -- you know, this so-called caliphate and the terrain that they -- that they're endeavoring to hold onto in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other -- and other areas. And what the president has -- has also told us is he doesn't want to telegraph what he's doing tactically, day to day. He wants the Department of Defense and -- and our military commanders to be able to execute those campaigns consistent with his guidance, the policy and the strategy that he's approved. And so, what -- what we -- what next week we'll do, will be an opportunity for our -- our military leadership to lay out how we are -- how they are executing the president's guidance, the progress they've made in the campaign and what -- what remains to be done. And so that's really the emphasis of the -- of the -- of the press conference next week. SPICER: Thanks, General. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: One more? MCMASTER: Sure. Hold on. QUESTION: Can we hear about Russia and the agreements that were made this week with Russia's top diplomat? I mean, you're going to the region to speak with Arab allies. How are you going to explain agreements you've made with Russia, allies of Iran, in Syria, like this president has said is now a priority for him (ph)? 13:39:16 MCMASTER: I would -- I would characterize the engagements with -- with Russian leadership by our secretary of state, the brief meeting that the president had with Foreign Minister Lavrov, the -- the -- the phone conversations that we've had with -- with Russian leadership as -- as engagements, not -- not decisions, or -- or -- or specific approaches. I think what the president has made clear is that -- is that he will confront Russian disruptive behavior, such as its support for -- for the murderous Assad regime in -- in Syria and its enabling of Iran and -- and its very destructive -- disruptive (ph) policy and strategy that it's executing across the -- the Middle East, what it's -- what it's done and continued to -- to do in Ukraine. He will confront that disruptive behavior, but the president's looking for areas of cooperation. MCMASTER: There are -- there are a lot of very significant security problem sets across the world. All -- all of them would get easier, right, if -- if -- if Russia were to come to the conclusion that it could best advance its interests through cooperating with the United States and others to resolve those conflicts rather than perpetuate them. QUESTION: But aren't they party to those conflicts, and causing them, in Syria? I mean, the president said at the end of his meeting with Lavrov that it was really good, that there was -- you know, he spoke in very positive terms that (ph) there was progress made. Are you saying there were no agreements? 13:40:30 MCMASTER: The -- the -- the president spoke in -- in positive, affirmative, strong terms in his engagements with -- with Russian leaders. QUESTION: Follow, and my question... (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: I'll take one more. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: John (ph)? (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Sara (ph)? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Hi. I'm Sara (ph) (inaudible). Can you tell us a little bit more about the America First policy, about how it changed over time? Because it's not been very clear what it means and how other people would want to sign up for it. 13:41:01 MCMASTER: Well, what -- what it means is that the president's prioritizing the security and interests of the American people. You can see that with what Secretary Ross has done in the -- in the economic relationship with China, to look for ways to advance American prosperity. Every theme of this trip is wholly consistent with the president's approach to prioritize American -- the American people, American security, American jobs, American prosperity. And so you'll see that with, I think, almost a -- a refreshing, I would say, integration of what we're doing in terms of security partnerships, along with economic relationships and -- and -- and the diplomatic engagement that the president's Cabinet has been engaged with since he's -- since he's taken over as president. And -- and this trip is going to be a tremendous way to solidify the gains already made and -- and advance them further. QUESTION: General... (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: Thanks -- thanks very much. SPICER: All right. Thank you, General McMaster. I'm going to go through a couple updates and a schedule before I get to your questions, and Jeff will get the first one. 13:42:08 First off, Secretary Ross I know was up here last night to tell you about the envelopments (ph) -- as General McMaster just noted it -- the developments that have happened and advances that have happened in trade. The 10 commitments that Secretary Ross announced yesterday are the initial results of the 100-day action plan of the United States- China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, which began with President Trump and President Xi's meeting in Mar-a-Lago. Under the leadership of Secretaries Ross, Mnuchin and their Chinese counterparts, the United States has negotiated intensively to reach consensus in areas including agricultural trade, financial services, investment and energy. One of the actions I want to point out in particular sets the stage for China to allow imports of American beef beginning no later than July 16th of this year. It's been 13 years since our cattle producers have been able -- have been effectively locked out of the Chinese market. China is the second-largest beef importer in the world, buying roughly $2.6 billion of beef every year. In a statement last night, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the nation's largest association of cattle farmers, said, and I quote, "It's impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for America's cattle producers, and how the Trump administration deserves a lot of credit for getting this achieved," end quote. This announcement came on the same day that Secretary Perdue visited a large -- a barge loading facility in the Ohio River and announced that he will appoint the first-ever undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is further proof of the seriousness of (sic) which the administration is approaching the promotion of U.S. agriculture products abroad. And that's just one part of the deal that was reached. Here are some of the other highlights that we have worked with China. Eight pending biotech patents from the United States firms will be evaluated at a meeting of Chinese National Biosafety Committee by the end of May. We welcome China to receive imported liquefied natural gas, with companies allowed to proceed at any time to negotiate contracts. China will allow foreign-owned (ph) financial services firms in China to provide credit rating services and credit investigations. By July 16th, China will issue further guidance to allow American-owned suppliers of electronic payment services to operate in China. And China will allow two American financial institutions to issue underwriting and settlement licenses no later than July 16th, as we continue to make progress within the 100-day framework, including discussion of a one-year plan to solidify action that will benefit both of our countries. Moving on, this morning, Attorney General Sessions issued a memo that restores flexibility to prosecutors so that they can most effectively combat the crisis of illegal drug trafficking that is polluting our cities and destroying our communities and families. This policy was formulated after extensive consultation with the prosecutors that handle these cases each and every day around the country. SPICER: With these additional options available to them, they now have the leverage they need to get at the root of drug trafficking and the violent crime that surrounds it. As the attorney general said this morning, this will take the handcuffs off our nation's prosecutors. And if I can add, it frankly puts the handcuffs on the drug traffickers who threaten the safety of our families and communities. The Trump administration is signaling to the worst of the worst, the drug traffickers who violate our drug laws to move these dangerous substances around our border and into our communities, that the United States Department of Justice will no longer look the other way. This week, the administration has also been busy engaging with senators and their staffs, now that the American Health Care Act and the relief it promises for the American people is in the Senate's hands. I know Sarah talked to you yesterday about how Aetna has pulled out of Obamacare exchanges completely, leaving only one insurer in some of the markets. Another -- another report yesterday out from EHealth showed that the average premium for individual plans has spiked 39 percent since 2014. In some cases, insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses have become families' most significant expenses. With each new report, it becomes clearer and clearer that we can't wait any longer to repeal and replace this failing system. Until we enact serious reforms of the health care system, the American people will continue to suffer under the consequences. Tomorrow, the president will deliver the --- his first commencement address in Lynchburg, Virginia, at Liberty. He is greatly looking forward to visiting with Liberty students and faculty who gave him such a warm welcome last year. He can be expected to note to the graduates his own change in status since they were last together. As many of you know, Liberty is the largest Christian school in the nation and has in recent years made many remarkable strides in its forward -- strides forward in its academic, extracurricular and athletic endeavors. Besides taking note of these achievements, the president will be congratulating the graduates on their accomplishments and encouraging them to be a force for good in the world by standing up for their values that Liberty has taught them. He'll be offering congratulations, thanks and praise and encouragement on a day of optimism and new beginnings for the graduates as well as the nation. In terms of the run-down for next week, the president has a very packed schedule before we depart on his first foreign trip. On Monday, he's hosting the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates. On Tuesday, he'll welcome the president of Turkey. On Wednesday, the president will travel to New London, Connecticut, to deliver the commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy. On Thursday, the president of Colombia will be at the White House for an official visit. And on Friday, we set off for -- on the trip, with the first stop being Saudi Arabia. And finally, in honor of Mother's Day, this afternoon, the first lady will host a reception in honor of military mothers in the residence, followed by a performance by the Army Chorus and Marine Band. The White House will issue a Mother's Day proclamation later as well. And beyond all of the activity here, this is the official reminder to everyone to get your flowers and cards before it's too late. And with that, Jeff Mason? QUESTION: Thank you for that reminder, Sean. SPICER: You're welcome. QUESTION: Moving on to the news of the week, really, and the day, did President Trump record his conversations with former FBI Director Comey? 13:48:21 SPICER: I assume you're referring to... QUESTION: His tweet. SPICER: ... the tweet. And I -- I've talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: And why did he say that? Why did he tweet that? What should we interpret from that? SPICER: I -- as I mentioned, the president has nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: Is there -- are there recording devices in the Oval Office or in the residence? 13:48:39 SPICER: As I said for the third time, there's nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: Does he think it's appropriate to threaten someone like Mr. Comey not to speak? SPICER: I -- I don't think that's -- that's not a threat. He simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself. I'm moving on. John? QUESTION: If I could quote another one of the president's tweets this morning, he said, quote, "Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat excuse for losing the election." What does the president mean by that? How do you -- how specifically is the U.S. tearing itself apart over all of this? 13:49:11 SPICER: I think the president's comments about the -- Russia and the collusion have been very clear with respect to some of the charges that've been made. He's been very clear that it's one thing that -- that he believes that the -- that the notion that there's collusion is a hoax. It's been reaffirmed by several people, including Senator Grassley and others who have spoken to him. And that he wants to make sure that he's focused every day on doing what's best for the American people. QUESTION: I understand all that. But you've said that many times. But how is the U.S. tearing itself apart over this? 13:49:41 SPICER: Well, I think, obviously, this has been a subject that comes up over and over again, when it's been very clearly stated on multiple occasions that there's no collusion that occurred, and yet this narrative continues to be perpetuated. QUESTION: Do you think this is what the Russians wanted all along in interfering with the election? SPICER: I -- I don't -- I have no idea. But what I'm just telling you is I think we've made it clear at this podium several times and I think the president made it clear that -- what his feelings are on this. QUESTION: Sean... SPICER: Steve (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, in the dinner that the president had with James Comey earlier in -- in January, did the president implore him to pledge his loyalty to the president? Is that true? SPICER: No. QUESTION: Did that happen? That did not happen. SPICER: No. QUESTION: How important is it that the FBI director be loyal to the president? Is that a -- is that a quality the president wants to see in anyone, particularly his FBI director? 13:50:30 SPICER: I think the president wants loyalty to this country and to the rule of law. Trey? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. On the dinner with James Comey, does anyone in this White House have an audio recording of what unfolded during the January 27th dinner between the former FBI director and the president of the United States? 13:50:48 SPICER: I -- I'm not aware of that. QUESTION: I have one follow-up question for you. What can the administration do better when it comes to communication? Today, the president tweeted out that he felt, from behind that podium, it's not always possible to present the information with perfect accuracy. 13:51:06 SPICER: So, I -- look, I think we come out here every day and try to do the best job we can communicating what the president's done and the accomplishments he's making on the American people. We get here early, we work beyond being here at this podium. As many of you know, we get here early, we work pretty late, we do what we can. But the president is an activist (ph) president. He keeps a very robust schedule, as many of you are very well aware, and as you can tell by the activities of next week alone. And I think sometimes we don't have an opportunity to get in to see him, to get his full thinking. In those cases, we do our best to follow up with you. But I think that there are times when you, more than not, read a story where someone's trying to -- trying to pull apart one word, one sentence and say, "Aha!" and make it a gotcha thing. We work very hard to get you the most accurate and up-to-date information throughout the day. We don't always have the opportunity to get in to see the president, and in those cases, I think we do a pretty good job of following up and getting you that information after the briefing, or in a subsequent -- so -- so that's -- that's -- that's exactly what he meant. QUESTION: Is the president considering canceling the daily press briefings? SPICER: I think he's a little dismayed, as well as a lot of people, that we come out here and try to do everything we can to provide you and the American people with what he's doing on their behalf, what he's doing to keep the nation safe, what he's doing to -- to grow jobs, and yet we see time and time again an attempt to parse every little word and -- and make it more of a game of gotcha, as opposed to really figure out what the policies are, why -- why something's being pursued or what the update is on this. And I think that's where there's a lot of dismay, and I don't think it's something that's just alone -- the president feels. QUESTION: Can I ask you one -- one final logistical question? SPICER: Sure, one final. It's Friday. QUESTION: On the original question I had about the dinner on January 27th with James Comey... SPICER: Right. QUESTION: ... the president wasn't clear during the NBC interview who invited the FBI director to the White House at that time. How many invitations did the White House send to Director James Comey after January 20th and before the director was fired? 13:53:05 SPICER: I don't know. I'll (inaudible) I'll try to get back to you. Katie (ph)? QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. I have a question on the Turkish president's visit... SPICER: OK. QUESTION: ... next week. He recently called -- President Erdogan called the Muslims to rush the Temple Mount. Considering the president has said he's a mediator for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, what is his response to that? And then I have another question. 13:53:26 SPICER: So, I think what you've seen with the president's meeting with -- with these leaders, is he engages privately in a lot of these things. And, I think, to -- to a degree, a large degree, he's been able to achieve great success, whether Aya Hijazi in that particular case, working behind the scenes, whether it's the progress that he's made with China. The president's behind-the-scenes diplomacy is paying dividends for the United States, and that's how he's going to continue to operate. As -- as General McMaster noted, it's that kind of diplomacy that's reasserting our position in the world. And that trust and those relationships continue to be built. QUESTION: (inaudible) (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, again -- I -- again, I think there's -- there's -- there's a difference, Katie (ph). If we can get out here and -- I think what the president believes is that behind-the-scenes diplomacy pays dividends in terms of affecting behavior and outcomes and furthering the goals of the United States. So that -- that's as much as I want to say there. QUESTION: My other question is, is the discussion about the refugee crisis, which is fueling problems in Europe -- the president has talked about refugees being a problem in the United States, and terrorists hiding refugees or -- or refugees hiding in the -- terrorists hiding in refugees (ph), excuse me. Is he going to talk about that with Arab leaders specifically when he visits Saudi Arabia? Or is that not something that he's willing to bring up to those -- those leaders (ph)? 13:54:44 SPICER: I mean, he's talked about safe zones. He talked about it yesterday with the foreign minister -- earlier this week, rather. He's brought it up on the calls. QUESTION: What about Saudi Arabia specifically (ph)? SPICER: I -- I -- I'm not going to get ahead of his conversations that he's going to have. SPICER: But I think the president's been very publicly clear about his desire to address that situation and some of the -- the -- the solutions that exist. But -- but he's -- in -- in a lot of the readouts, we've had that as part of it, because he believes that that has to be part of the solution. John (ph)? QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sean. In that interview that the president conducted yesterday with NBC, he indicated and confirmed that on three separate occasions he asked the director of the FBI and received assurances from the FBI that he was not under investigation by the FBI. Why was the president seemingly so consumed by this that he would ask that question on three separate occasions? 13:55:35 SPICER: I think because the narrative continued to be perpetuated and he wanted clarity to make sure. But again, I haven't spoken to him on it about the reason, but I think he answered it yesterday very clearly. And so I can get back to you, but that -- that's the answer. QUESTION: I would appreciate you getting back to me. And as far as asking that question, did the president ask the -- the White House Counsel whether it would be appropriate to ask such a question, given that it was against, generally, Justice Department guidelines to indicate whether or not investigations are ongoing against any individual, let alone one at the White House? 13:56:14 SPICER: I don't know. I will tell you that I know several legal scholars, including Alan Dershowitz and others, have said there was nothing inappropriate about that. Dave? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... Counsel -- did the White House Counsel... SPICER: I don't know the answer. QUESTION: OK. Thank you. SPICER: Dave? QUESTION: General McMaster mentioned that on the trip the president's going to raising the issue of religious persecution to the pope. And I wanted to ask you about a case in the last week in Indonesia where a Christian governor, in the state of Jakarta, was imprisoned for two years for blaspheming the Quran. Does the president find that case troubling? Does he plan to say anything when he... SPICER: Did John Gizzi give you this question? QUESTION: I'm sorry. (LAUGHTER) SPICER: I don't -- I don't have any updates on -- on that particular case. I would ask to check with the -- with the State Department. QUESTION: Sean? SPICER: Zeke? QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. I just want to clear up a point on Jeff's questions. I'm hoping you can answer this in a yes-or-no fashion. Is the president of the United States currently recording conversations taking place in the Oval Office? 13:57:09 SPICER: I -- I think the point that I made with respect to the tweet is the president has no further comment on this. Cam (ph)? QUESTION: I wanted to follow up... SPICER: OK. QUESTION: ... since you were involved in this on Tuesday night as well, giving a blanket answer saying at the time that "It was all him," regarding Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, why did you come out with information that was later contradicted by the president -- that was later -- can you explain the tick-tock, when were you brought in? Who else was involved? Why were the American people given incorrect information that night? 13:57:35 SPICER: I -- I don't necessarily believe that that's true, Zeke. We -- there was a decision-making process. The president explained it in the interview process (sic). The bottom line is is that the director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the president. The president made a decision to replace him, as he has stated very clearly now, publicly. The president is now focused on making sure that he finds a replacement that has the leadership qualities to lead the FBI. That's it, plain and simple. Cam (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, I want to follow up on that really briefly. What you said Tuesday doesn't match what the president was laying out yesterday (inaudible). Can you walk through why the discrepancy, in terms of whose decision this was? 13:58:18 SPICER: Well, it's always the president's decision. That's it, final. QUESTION: Do you think that... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Look I -- as I mentioned to Zeke, this is ultimately the president's -- always going to be the president's decision. Everyone who serves at the pleasure of the president -- it's ultimately going to be his decision to hire someone, to fire someone. He made a decision, in part based on the recommendation, and he's now focused on making sure that we have a replacement at the FBI to instill the proper leadership they need. Blake? QUESTION: Sean, let me ask you about the way forward as it relates to who the president might nominate to be the FBI director. Where does that process stand right now? How many people have been interviewed? Does the president hope to wrap this up before he goes overseas? 13:58:55 SPICER: On the timing, I -- I think as soon as he finds a candidate that fits the qualities that he feels are necessary to lead the FBI, that's the timeline of that. I know that the Department of Justice has begun to create that list and I believe they're going to -- if they haven't already, are going to be starting the process of interviewing people either today or through the weekend. But -- I mean, the president obviously wants to make sure that we've got the right person. And they -- that process is being headed by the -- by the Department of Justice. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (inaudible) about how somebody -- not necessarily being political in that role. If somebody has been a member of Congress, past or present, does that count as an automatic disqualifier of somebody who is... 13:59:37 SPICER: I have not -- I don't -- I've not asked the president, but I don't believe he has stated any sort of in and out. The Department of Justice is screening candidates. And I'm sure that as they feel as though they've got a list of finalists, they'll share that with the president and he'll -- he'll make a decision. QUESTION: And lastly, does the president still have -- the other day we were -- someone asked does the president have confidence in Andrew McCabe, after the testimony on Capitol Hill the other day. Is that still the case? He is the acting director at this moment. 14:00:02 SPICER: I -- I've not asked him about the deputy... (LAUGHTER) I've -- I've not asked him about his -- generally, I don't go through the list of government employees and ask him. So I -- I've not asked him specifically about that. Eamon? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Yesterday, Sarah told us that the president expects that the FBI investigation will be wrapped up with integrity, that's what the White House wants. Today, the president tweeted and called it a witch hunt. How does tweeting and calling it a witch hunt help wrap that investigation up with integrity? 14:00:31 SPICER: The president -- you know, no one wants this done -- he wants to know very clearly -- there's two pieces to this, right, which is what was Russia's involvement -- the president is obviously very concerned about any entity's attempts to influence the United States election -- and that's one investigation. I think the second, this false narrative that we continue to fight every day, that has been debunked by intelligence individuals, members of Congress who've been briefed over and over again -- that's where I think he's growingly (ph) concerned, as well as a number of American people who are growingly (ph) concerned that there is this perpetuated false narrative out there. That's -- that's, I think, the nut of this. QUESTION: And secondly, I talked to a former FBI official today, who said that the president's tweet, the implicit threat to FBI -- former FBI Director James Comey, indicates that the president, in his words, is "simply out of control." I'd like to get you to respond to that. Is he? 14:01:24 SPICER: I -- that's, frankly, offensive. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: John? John? QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. Two questions about the FBI director selection process. You said the names are coming from the Justice Department right now. Is the president consulting with Democratic congressional leaders as well, or Republican congressional leaders, on this? Or is he just getting names out of DOJ? 14:01:49 SPICER: That's a good question. I know that he was -- obviously, he's going to take input from them. I don't know what specific conversations he's had, so I'd be glad to check on who he's spoken to or -- or may be speaking to. Anita? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I had a... SPICER: I'm sorry. I forgot you had two. QUESTION: ... follow-up question. SPICER: I got confused that Dave stole one. QUESTION: Now, I know that, you know, you have said you're not disqualifying anyone on this. You also know there has been considerable mention in the last 24 hours of former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers as the new FBI director. Does the president have a meeting planned this weekend with Congressman Rogers? 14:02:27 SPICER: I -- I'm not aware of anything of that nature on his schedule. But we'll obviously -- as you know, we'll put out -- if there's a meeting, we'll put it out for you. Right now, there's nothing that I'm aware of on the schedule. But generally, we put out the -- the next day's schedule later in the -- in the evening, and we will -- we will do that as well. Kristen (ph)? QUESTION: You already called on me (ph). SPICER: I'm sorry. I -- thank -- sorry. (inaudible). QUESTION: I had a couple questions about the president's remarks in -- to NBC about General Flynn. He said that it wasn't an emergency, or he didn't think it was an emergency, and that's why the firing -- dismissal didn't happen right away. So a couple questions about that. Is it -- why didn't he think it was an emergency? And was it because of the messenger? Was it because it -- information came from Sally Yates, who you called an opponent, I think -- a political opponent of the president? Or is it because Don McGahn downplayed the situation? Can you explain what he meant by that? And I had a follow-up. 14:03:20 SPICER: I can't specifically say what he meant by that. But what I can tell you is -- I mean, again, look at the timeline that happened. We went over this the other day, and this has been asked and answered multiple times. The former acting attorney general came and said, "I want to give you a heads-up on something." Don McGahn of the counsel's office informed the president. They asked for the documents or materials that she had referred to. It took -- I forgot now -- five or six days to get those. They reviewed them and he was asked to resign shortly thereafter. But I think that that's -- there is a difference. There wasn't a review process. That was the review process in this case. As the president noted yesterday during his interview, he had been thinking about this for a long time. The Justice Department had done a review. But again, I -- I'm not (ph) really sure in both cases... QUESTION: (inaudible) Comey. So then, since you just... SPICER: No, no. You just asked -- you just asked me what's... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I didn't ask (inaudible) Justice, though. Is that what you're talking about? SPICER: No, what I'm saying is you're asking why -- why it wasn't an emergency. I think -- but it's not a question of is it an emergency. He took the time to do due process. Someone comes to you with a -- a -- an allegation, I think everyone deserves due process to make sure that that allegation -- someone coming in and giving you a heads-up -- we did exactly what was necessary. And the president made the right decision and it -- he continues to stand by it. QUESTION: OK. So then two follow-ups. One, why -- it's still unclear, and you've mentioned this several times. Why did it take so long for the White House to get those documents? 14:04:39 SPICER: I don't know. I think we've... QUESTION: (inaudible) you couldn't go get the documents? SPICER: That's not -- I -- making it sound that is -- is rather -- with all due respect, it's -- it's not how it worked. They're the ones who possess the documents. They had them in their possession. I believe they asked for them, and it took a while... QUESTION: (inaudible) fired, though, in between? SPICER: No. I think part of it is just there's -- some of the things don't happen as easily, in terms of where they're stored. I don't know the answer. But I think that, in the course of action, if you look at the intervening days, that's a question that you should ask the Department of Justice. QUESTION: OK. And then I just had a follow-up. SPICER: Sure. QUESTION: Just explain to us, then, a little bit when you compare these two situations with General Flynn and Director Comey. The -- the memo came one day, and he was fired that day. That was the review process? And General Flynn was 18 days. SPICER: No... QUESTION: That's a huge difference. Why was one so fast when one was 18 days? 14:05:28 SPICER: Well, I -- I think it -- to -- to -- first of all, they both had a review. They both came and the president looked at the information and the reviews and made a decision. Ultimately, as I mentioned, he -- that's his job. He's the decider. He felt as though he had the information necessary in both cases to act and he did. Vivian (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, in the tweet -- in the tweet about -- about Director Comey, he said -- the president said that he better be careful before he goes leaking to the press. Yesterday, on NBC News, the president called him a showboat and a grandstander. Would the White House acknowledge that Director Comey has a First Amendment right to speak to the press if he so chooses to set the record straight about any of this instead of just leaking? It's not -- it may not be leaking, it may just be his First Amendment rights. 14:06:11 SPICER: Well, one -- of course one -- everyone in this country has a First Amendment right. I think the difference -- you've heard the president echo this multiple times -- is that sharing information that's not meant to be, or is not authorized to be in the public domain in terms of the classification of it is concerning. And I think the president's been very clear over and over again of his concern with respect to information that gets put in the public domain that's not mean to be. But I -- I -- I don't -- I don't think that those are -- everyone in this country has every right to speak their mind and express themselves in accordance with the Constitution. QUESTION: OK. And a follow-up. Just in terms of the FBI being in disarray also with the president's comments, is -- is he concerned that if he continues like this, the -- it could jeopardize moral at the FBI instead of actually, kind of, correcting a problem that he, obviously, observes there? 14:06:55 SPICER: Well, I think that one of the reasons that he wants to go through the process of finding an individual who can lead the FBI and -- and the men and women who serve there so bravely and ably, is to make sure that morale and the focus is -- is as it's supposed to be, and that you have a leader that can do that. And -- and, you know, as he's mentioned, it's the crown jewel of law enforcement. And I think the reason that he wants to go through this process and choose a leader that can be -- restore leadership with -- with -- you know, ensure that morale stays where it needs to be and that -- that there's a focus. That's -- that's why he's conducting the process that he has. And -- so, Jessica (ph)? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I'd like to give my question to Kris (ph) (inaudible). SPICER: What's that? QUESTION: She -- she -- you called on her first, so I just wanted to give her the question that you promised her before... QUESTION: Thank you. QUESTION: ... then I'll pick up from there. QUESTION: And I'll owe you a question. Thank you. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I just want to -- I want to... SPICER: ... currency exchange back there with questions. QUESTION: I want to ask you -- President Trump seemed to rely on James Clapper this morning when he tweeted that virtually he and everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt says there's no collusion. James Clapper himself today told Andrea Mitchell, "I don't know if there was collusion or not. I don't know if there's evidence or collusion or not. Nor should I." On March 5th, on "Meet the Press," when he was asked a similar question, he said, "Not to my knowledge." So, can you describe the discrepancy and explain it? 14:08:21 SPICER: No. I -- I'm -- I actually think that that's a great question that you should ask Director Clapper. I think... QUESTION: (inaudible) Director Clapper's comments and President Trump. Why is he leaning on Clapper, when he said, "I have no knowledge of whether there was..." SPICER: No, I think on several occasions, Director Clapper has said that he has no knowledge of any collusion. That's it. I mean, that's -- that's the point that he has... QUESTION: He said he hasn't briefed -- he said he wouldn't know because he hasn't been briefed on the... SPICER: He was DNI up until January 20th. QUESTION: He was very clear today that he said, "Nor should I have in this particular context." He made the case that he's not briefed on... SPICER: Right, and -- and I'm... QUESTION: ... an FBI investigation because that's not his purview. SPICER: Fair enough. He's the director of national intelligence. On multiple occasions prior to today, he made it very clear that he was unaware of any collusion. QUESTION: But his (inaudible) point was he wouldn't know, right? SPICER: Well -- but -- but -- but... QUESTION: Because there's been no final conclusion. SPICER: Right, I understand. QUESTION: There's been no final conclusions. SPICER: I understand that, but then... QUESTION: Does that really seem to indicate... SPICER: So -- so the question that I would ask then, Kristen (ph), is then why did he say what he said before? It seems his testimony and comments on multiple occasions prior to today was, "I have no evidence that there was any collusion," right? So, to suddenly today shift his story, I believe that the question should be asked to him, "You were the director of national intelligence. You said multiple times, including in testimony in front of Congress under oath, that there was no collusion." I believe that that's a question for him. QUESTION: (inaudible) final conclusion made about this investigation, right? There's an ongoing investigation. SPICER: I -- I do. QUESTION: He's not making that argument. SPICER: I under -- but -- but my point is, is that all we're able to do at this point is that the people who are aware of the former director of national intelligence, the head of the nation's agencies -- intelligence agencies, made multiple statements, as others -- Charles -- you know, Senator Grassley and others, talking about the involvement, making it very clear that there was none. We took them at their word then, and we continue to believe... QUESTION: (inaudible). (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, then that -- again, I think that -- but the question, Kristen, before you move on, is, then why did he make the statements that he did when he did? To turn around now, a month later, and say, "Well, even though I made those comments on multiple occasions, you know, I -- I wasn't briefed"? QUESTION: But the comments are not (ph) (inaudible). (CROSSTALK) SPICER: I -- I -- well, I appreciate... QUESTION: ... "It's not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation..." SPICER: Yeah, it sounds like the story is changing... QUESTION: "... or the context of the investigation." SPICER: Right. OK, well, ultimately there's been several... QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) very quickly about the... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, I -- do you mind if I -- I just -- I think in this case, it is interesting how the story has changed. He made those comments several times, over several courses of action. And to say the director of national intelligence, who stated unequivocally what his position was on multiple occasions before today, and now suddenly is saying, "I wasn't sure about it," that -- the burden seems to be on him, not us. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) but, moving on to the... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: You could apply for, like, a Clapper spokesman job soon (ph). QUESTION: No, but I just -- I'm interested in the discrepancy and drawing conclusions (ph)... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: And I think that that's a great thing to ask him. QUESTION: No, on the part of the president -- drawing the final conclusion about the investigation. In terms of the accuracy tweet, should we take that tweet to mean that you don't have the full picture when you stand at that podium? 14:11:28 SPICER: As I said, we come up here every day, not just to the podium, but, you know, we -- we are here first thing in the morning until late at night every day answering your questions on a variety of subjects and throughout issues that are happening in the government. We -- as -- as most of you can attest, work day and night to make sure that we get you the most up-to-date, accurate information at all times. With respect to the president, as I mentioned, he's an activist president. He keeps an unbelievably busy and robust schedule. And there are times when we give you the information that we have at the time, and we seek to get an update, and I believe that you and others will attest to, when we don't have an answer, we try really hard to either update you after the fact or to get you the facts that we didn't have at the time. But we work really hard every day to do that. And I think the president's point that I pointed out earlier is that there are times when -- when we're asked a question, we do our best to give you the answer, and every word is picked apart to try to figure out how to make an issue out of it, as opposed to allowing us to, you know, talk to the president, get his current thinking, and updates if we hadn't had an opportunity to do that at this time. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Jennifer? Jennifer? Jennifer? QUESTION: Can I... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Sean, can I actually pick up there... SPICER: I'm sorry, Jessica. Then we'll do the Js. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... if you don't mind -- thank you so much. So I wanted to ask you about the One Belt, One Road summit that starts on Sunday in China. SPICER: Yes. QUESTION: You announced yesterday -- or... SPICER: Sarah... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... Secretary Ross did -- that you're going to send a delegation to that summit. SPICER: Yeah. QUESTION: Can you talk about how you came to that conclusion, why it's important for the U.S. to be represented at what's ostensibly a major trade initiative by a foreign country? 14:13:00 SPICER: I -- as you point, it's a major trade initiative. There's a lot of ports and infrastructure that they're looking to do, and -- through those discussions that Secretary Ross and Secretary Mnuchin and others had a Mar-a-Lago, and -- and part of this is that that is something they've done. We're going to continue to work with them. Obviously, trade is a major issue for us, and they're -- what they're looking to do is of great importance to our economic and national security, and they've asked us to send -- send people to that. And we have them attend things that we're doing as well. And I think that's -- as the president has shown, in terms of the relationship that he's built with President Xi and the rest of the team built with their delegation, those relationships are clearly paying dividends, both on the national security front and on the economic front. Jennifer? QUESTION: (inaudible) send a signal that the U.S. is going to participate... SPICER: Is it -- I -- I think... QUESTION: ... in the One Belt, One Road initiative? SPICER: ... we'll -- we'll have a readout. At this point, that's all we have on One Belt, One Road. QUESTION: Two questions, the first one on loyalty, and the next one on the visit to the FBI headquarters. So, this president does value loyalty. Was there any sort of -- before you were hired, any sort of request or hint that you pledge personal loyalty to him at all before you were hired? 14:14:10 SPICER: No. I pledged my loyalty to the Constitution and to the American people, as has everyone who serves in our government and this administration. And we stand by that. QUESTION: Is it true that the president was warned that he might not be well received at the FBI headquarters if he (inaudible)? SPICER: I don't -- not that I'm aware of. Thank you, guys. Have a great weekend. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: We'll see you on Monday. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Thank you. Goodbye. END
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING STIX
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING WITH SEAN SPICER DC SLUG: 1300 WH BRIEF STIX FS37 73 AR: 16x9 NYRS: WASH-3 13:23:39 SPICER: Wow. We got a full house today. Good afternoon. It's good to be back with you. Apparently I was a little missed. We're one week out from the president's first foreign trip, so I wanted to make sure, as we prepare for that trip, that I bring up General -- our national security adviser, General McMaster, to give you a preview of what the team has been doing to prepare for the president's trip. Our -- our goal is to, kind of, start that process now, and then next week, bring the general back and give you a more detailed update as to what the president's going to be doing in each of the areas and some of the highlights from the trip. We'll obviously -- obviously additionally have background briefings for you as well to give the team that's going to be traveling from the press corps some logistical updates. So without further ado, General McMaster. QUESTION: Will you take questions after his talk? SPICER: Yes, Jeff. I will be glad to take your question. In fact, if you'd like, you get to go first today. 13:24:28 MCMASTER: Thank you, Sean. Good afternoon and happy Mother's Day weekend, everybody. As you all know, in exactly one week, the president will embark on his first trip abroad since taking office. Today, I'd like to explain the president's objectives for his visits to the Middle East and to Europe and also preview a bit of the schedule. MCMASTER: The trip has three core purposes: first, to reaffirm America's global leadership; second, to continue building key relationships with world leaders; and third, to broadcast a message of unity to America's friends and to the faithful of the three -- of three of the world's greatest religions. The president prioritizes building strong relationships, as you see here every day, with world leaders as a way to strengthen our alliances. And he's been successful. You can see that in his diplomacy with a range of leaders from -- from Prime Minister May to President Xi. President Trump understands that America first does not mean American alone. To the contrary, prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and approve the security of the American people. This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on one trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity. He will bring a message of tolerance and of hope to billions, including to millions of Americans who profess these faiths. The president will focus on what unites us. 13:26:23 MCMASTER: Thank you, Sean. Good afternoon and happy Mother's Day weekend, everybody. As you all know, in exactly one week, the president will embark on his first trip abroad since taking office. Today, I'd like to explain the president's objectives for his visits to the Middle East and to Europe and also preview a bit of the schedule. MCMASTER: The trip has three core purposes: first, to reaffirm America's global leadership; second, to continue building key relationships with world leaders; and third, to broadcast a message of unity to America's friends and to the faithful of the three -- of three of the world's greatest religions. The president prioritizes building strong relationships, as you see here every day, with world leaders as a way to strengthen our alliances. And he's been successful. You can see that in his diplomacy with a range of leaders from -- from Prime Minister May to President Xi. President Trump understands that America first does not mean American alone. To the contrary, prioritizing American interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and approve the security of the American people. This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on one trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity. He will bring a message of tolerance and of hope to billions, including to millions of Americans who profess these faiths. The president will focus on what unites us. 13:29:48 Lastly, just a few words on how this all came together. The impetus for this trip came from the president himself and he's been fully engaged from the beginning, setting objectives, overseeing the planning. The president's receiving regular briefings from his Cabinet and from our senior staff here on the national security side and on the economic side as well. MCMASTER: Most of the leaders the president will meet on this trip, as you know, he's already met in person or certainly by phone. These relationships are off to a very strong start and the trip is an opportunity to broaden and deepen those relationships. The administration continues to be in close contact and consultation with Congress, and we're drawing on the expertise across the Senate and the House in preparation for the trip as well. And finally, this really is a team effort. The White House and National Security Council staffs, the National Economic Council, continue to work closely with our Departments of State, Treasury, Defense and others to fulfill the president's objectives and ensure smooth execution. On behalf of the president, I express the whole administration's thanks for all the hard work it takes to organize a trip of this scope and of this importance. So the president of (sic) all of us are looking forward to the journey. And with that I'll take -- I'll take a couple of questions. (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: Defer to Sean (ph)? SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: General McMaster, how is this president viewed among our Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, UAE and others, compared to his predecessor? 13:31:17 MCMASTER: Well, I would just say the president's leadership has been welcomed; welcomed enthusiastically. There was a perception that America had largely disengaged from the Middle East in particular, and -- and that disengagement coincided with this humanitarian and political catastrophe in the region. And so now there's a broad recognition among all of our partners in the region that American leadership is necessary to help address this catastrophe and to begin to move the region toward the peace, security and stability that the people there so deserve. And so what you're seeing I think is a galvanizing effect of the president's leadership in bringing those leaders together across the region under -- and bringing them together for a positive agenda, right? Who's against ending this catastrophe? Who's against confronting these terrorists who are the enemies of all civilized people? Confronting Iran who's participating in this -- in this cycle of violence and to bring prosperity, peace to the region, the people who so richly deserve it? Thanks. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: General McMaster, you're somebody who is crucial, obviously, in the intelligence community, somebody who's leading the National Security Council, so I have to ask you, this week in particular there have been a lot of reports, including from our network, that intelligence officials are extremely concerned about how James Comey was fired. Do you believe that that threatens national security right now? 13:32:34 MCMASTER: Well, I told -- I told Sean that I would pass all those questions to him, and he'll be happy answer that after this... QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) MCMASTER: ... after this. But I'll -- what I would like to do is focus on the -- I'd like to focus on the trip and I'll come back next week with more details of the trip as well. SPICER: John (ph)? QUESTION: You said the president was -- that the impetus for the trip came from the president himself. Was it the president himself who decided to begin this trip in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam? And is there -- is there symbolic significance to that? And how many of our Muslim allies -- how many countries -- how many Muslim-majority countries will be represented at the meetings in Saudi Arabia? 13:33:14 MCMASTER: Well, this is the president's initiative, to being the trip in the Middle East, hosted -- hosted... QUESTION: (inaudible) MCMASTER: ... hosted by -- by King Salman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And the king is going to bring together partners from across the region to meet with the president. So the answer to your question is -- and I can answer in more detail next week because it's still coming, the -- sort of, the final attendees. But he'll meet with a broad range of leaders in the Middle East, of course many of whom -- most of whom he's met already here, or -- or by phone certainly. And we have -- we have the -- the crown -- the -- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is coming, for example, on Monday as well. SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) QUESTION: Sean. General McMaster, at the beginning of this very long week we were hearing speculation that the president was considering thousands more troops for Afghanistan. When he goes to Brussels on Thursday of next week, what is the message to the NATO partners with respect to their commitment in this long fight? 13:34:12 MCMASTER: Well, the -- the key is all of us have to be committed, right, to -- to achieving our fundamental objectives in Afghanistan. I mean, Americans know really better than anybody because the mass murder against our own country on September 11, 2001, originated with a terrorist safe haven and support base in Afghanistan. Recently we have been engaged against ISIS or in -- ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan with highly successful operations there that you'll hear more about in the press conference at the Department of Defense here in the -- in the near future. But what has happened in Afghanistan, is the Afghan army is taking the brunt of the fight against these transnational terrorists and the Taliban. And so, we are -- we are working with our allies to figure out what more we can do to have a more effective strategy in Afghanistan, what are options we can bring to the president to be more effective in meeting our objectives in Afghanistan, and what more can we ask our allies to do which we're asking them now. MCMASTER: So -- so this is going to be really consistent with the president's guidance to us. QUESTION: Has the president decided that there should be thousands more troops? MCMASTER: The president has not made a decision yet on a course of action. What we have done, which is what we have done in many cases, on the -- on the North Korea problem set, for example, is we've consulted broadly across our government and with allies. The president wants to hear from our allies as well. This is a president who listens to his allies and partners. He'll have an opportunity to do so at the NATO summit. He'll have an opportunity to do so at the G-7. And so what we we'll have at the end of -- of this next few weeks here, is an opportunity for a much more effective strategy for the problem set in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region broadly. SPICER: Jessica? QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. General, if you can talk first about the evolution from a -- the way the president campaigned, which is a more unilateral foreign policy, to this multilateral engagement you're emphasizing, and the way that you're rolling out this trip to explain that. And then secondly, if you could also talk about the decision to send a delegation to the One Belt, One Road forum in China and why -- what you hope to get out of that. MCMASTER: OK. QUESTION: Thank you. 13:36:12 MCMASTER: All right, so -- so "America first" didn't mean "America alone," ever, I don't -- I don't think. And so -- and so what we have done is -- is -- is advanced the president's agenda in national security by -- by strengthening alliances by burden-sharing. Americans don't have to do everything, don't have to bankroll everything. And our allies and partners are grateful for, I think, the president's leadership in asking them to do more. So, is an alliance in which each of the members are doing their fair share, who are shouldering the burden -- is it stronger or weaker? It's stronger. So the president has done a great deal to strengthen our alliances. And "America first" didn't mean "America not leading," right? So for America to -- to secure and advance its interests, that requires American leadership. And so -- so the president's leadership has been -- has been welcomed in all the places that -- that he'll be visiting on -- on this trip. And -- and -- and his agenda, I think, that he laid out in -- in the campaign is being operationalized and implemented by his Cabinet, primarily with the assistance of our team here in the White House. SPICER: (OFF-MIKE) (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Two questions. First, the -- there were reports out of Israel that President Trump may try to get Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas in the same room together while he's there. Is that, in fact, the case? And also, to NBC News yesterday the president said that General Mattis and his other generals would be announcing something on ISIS next week. And so, as one of the generals on his administration, can you talk to that? Is there an announcement coming next week? 13:37:39 MCMASTER: On the first part, it'll be whatever the president wants to do. You know, so -- so a lot -- a lot of what we do in that security council is try to keep up with the president, so you may have -- no -- I -- I think it -- it -- it -- there are plans to... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... try to reach out to both of them, to get them together? MCMASTER: You know, the -- the -- the final plans aren't set yet. We can comment maybe more about that next week. But it will obviously be up to the president and those leaders about how -- how he wants to engage with them. But he'll engage with -- with both those leaders there as part of the trip. In terms of the -- the campaign against transnational terrorist organizations, and ISIS in particular, the president has asked us to do everything we can to -- to defeat ISIS, and in particular to ensure that we defeat ISIS in this -- you know, this so-called caliphate and the terrain that they -- that they're endeavoring to hold onto in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other -- and other areas. And what the president has -- has also told us is he doesn't want to telegraph what he's doing tactically, day to day. He wants the Department of Defense and -- and our military commanders to be able to execute those campaigns consistent with his guidance, the policy and the strategy that he's approved. And so, what -- what we -- what next week we'll do, will be an opportunity for our -- our military leadership to lay out how we are -- how they are executing the president's guidance, the progress they've made in the campaign and what -- what remains to be done. And so that's really the emphasis of the -- of the -- of the press conference next week. SPICER: Thanks, General. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: One more? MCMASTER: Sure. Hold on. QUESTION: Can we hear about Russia and the agreements that were made this week with Russia's top diplomat? I mean, you're going to the region to speak with Arab allies. How are you going to explain agreements you've made with Russia, allies of Iran, in Syria, like this president has said is now a priority for him (ph)? 13:39:16 MCMASTER: I would -- I would characterize the engagements with -- with Russian leadership by our secretary of state, the brief meeting that the president had with Foreign Minister Lavrov, the -- the -- the phone conversations that we've had with -- with Russian leadership as -- as engagements, not -- not decisions, or -- or -- or specific approaches. I think what the president has made clear is that -- is that he will confront Russian disruptive behavior, such as its support for -- for the murderous Assad regime in -- in Syria and its enabling of Iran and -- and its very destructive -- disruptive (ph) policy and strategy that it's executing across the -- the Middle East, what it's -- what it's done and continued to -- to do in Ukraine. He will confront that disruptive behavior, but the president's looking for areas of cooperation. MCMASTER: There are -- there are a lot of very significant security problem sets across the world. All -- all of them would get easier, right, if -- if -- if Russia were to come to the conclusion that it could best advance its interests through cooperating with the United States and others to resolve those conflicts rather than perpetuate them. QUESTION: But aren't they party to those conflicts, and causing them, in Syria? I mean, the president said at the end of his meeting with Lavrov that it was really good, that there was -- you know, he spoke in very positive terms that (ph) there was progress made. Are you saying there were no agreements? 13:40:30 MCMASTER: The -- the -- the president spoke in -- in positive, affirmative, strong terms in his engagements with -- with Russian leaders. QUESTION: Follow, and my question... (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: I'll take one more. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: John (ph)? (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Sara (ph)? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Hi. I'm Sara (ph) (inaudible). Can you tell us a little bit more about the America First policy, about how it changed over time? Because it's not been very clear what it means and how other people would want to sign up for it. 13:41:01 MCMASTER: Well, what -- what it means is that the president's prioritizing the security and interests of the American people. You can see that with what Secretary Ross has done in the -- in the economic relationship with China, to look for ways to advance American prosperity. Every theme of this trip is wholly consistent with the president's approach to prioritize American -- the American people, American security, American jobs, American prosperity. And so you'll see that with, I think, almost a -- a refreshing, I would say, integration of what we're doing in terms of security partnerships, along with economic relationships and -- and -- and the diplomatic engagement that the president's Cabinet has been engaged with since he's -- since he's taken over as president. And -- and this trip is going to be a tremendous way to solidify the gains already made and -- and advance them further. QUESTION: General... (CROSSTALK) MCMASTER: Thanks -- thanks very much. SPICER: All right. Thank you, General McMaster. I'm going to go through a couple updates and a schedule before I get to your questions, and Jeff will get the first one. 13:42:08 First off, Secretary Ross I know was up here last night to tell you about the envelopments (ph) -- as General McMaster just noted it -- the developments that have happened and advances that have happened in trade. The 10 commitments that Secretary Ross announced yesterday are the initial results of the 100-day action plan of the United States- China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, which began with President Trump and President Xi's meeting in Mar-a-Lago. Under the leadership of Secretaries Ross, Mnuchin and their Chinese counterparts, the United States has negotiated intensively to reach consensus in areas including agricultural trade, financial services, investment and energy. One of the actions I want to point out in particular sets the stage for China to allow imports of American beef beginning no later than July 16th of this year. It's been 13 years since our cattle producers have been able -- have been effectively locked out of the Chinese market. China is the second-largest beef importer in the world, buying roughly $2.6 billion of beef every year. In a statement last night, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the nation's largest association of cattle farmers, said, and I quote, "It's impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for America's cattle producers, and how the Trump administration deserves a lot of credit for getting this achieved," end quote. This announcement came on the same day that Secretary Perdue visited a large -- a barge loading facility in the Ohio River and announced that he will appoint the first-ever undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is further proof of the seriousness of (sic) which the administration is approaching the promotion of U.S. agriculture products abroad. And that's just one part of the deal that was reached. Here are some of the other highlights that we have worked with China. Eight pending biotech patents from the United States firms will be evaluated at a meeting of Chinese National Biosafety Committee by the end of May. We welcome China to receive imported liquefied natural gas, with companies allowed to proceed at any time to negotiate contracts. China will allow foreign-owned (ph) financial services firms in China to provide credit rating services and credit investigations. By July 16th, China will issue further guidance to allow American-owned suppliers of electronic payment services to operate in China. And China will allow two American financial institutions to issue underwriting and settlement licenses no later than July 16th, as we continue to make progress within the 100-day framework, including discussion of a one-year plan to solidify action that will benefit both of our countries. Moving on, this morning, Attorney General Sessions issued a memo that restores flexibility to prosecutors so that they can most effectively combat the crisis of illegal drug trafficking that is polluting our cities and destroying our communities and families. This policy was formulated after extensive consultation with the prosecutors that handle these cases each and every day around the country. SPICER: With these additional options available to them, they now have the leverage they need to get at the root of drug trafficking and the violent crime that surrounds it. As the attorney general said this morning, this will take the handcuffs off our nation's prosecutors. And if I can add, it frankly puts the handcuffs on the drug traffickers who threaten the safety of our families and communities. The Trump administration is signaling to the worst of the worst, the drug traffickers who violate our drug laws to move these dangerous substances around our border and into our communities, that the United States Department of Justice will no longer look the other way. This week, the administration has also been busy engaging with senators and their staffs, now that the American Health Care Act and the relief it promises for the American people is in the Senate's hands. I know Sarah talked to you yesterday about how Aetna has pulled out of Obamacare exchanges completely, leaving only one insurer in some of the markets. Another -- another report yesterday out from EHealth showed that the average premium for individual plans has spiked 39 percent since 2014. In some cases, insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses have become families' most significant expenses. With each new report, it becomes clearer and clearer that we can't wait any longer to repeal and replace this failing system. Until we enact serious reforms of the health care system, the American people will continue to suffer under the consequences. Tomorrow, the president will deliver the --- his first commencement address in Lynchburg, Virginia, at Liberty. He is greatly looking forward to visiting with Liberty students and faculty who gave him such a warm welcome last year. He can be expected to note to the graduates his own change in status since they were last together. As many of you know, Liberty is the largest Christian school in the nation and has in recent years made many remarkable strides in its forward -- strides forward in its academic, extracurricular and athletic endeavors. Besides taking note of these achievements, the president will be congratulating the graduates on their accomplishments and encouraging them to be a force for good in the world by standing up for their values that Liberty has taught them. He'll be offering congratulations, thanks and praise and encouragement on a day of optimism and new beginnings for the graduates as well as the nation. In terms of the run-down for next week, the president has a very packed schedule before we depart on his first foreign trip. On Monday, he's hosting the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates. On Tuesday, he'll welcome the president of Turkey. On Wednesday, the president will travel to New London, Connecticut, to deliver the commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy. On Thursday, the president of Colombia will be at the White House for an official visit. And on Friday, we set off for -- on the trip, with the first stop being Saudi Arabia. And finally, in honor of Mother's Day, this afternoon, the first lady will host a reception in honor of military mothers in the residence, followed by a performance by the Army Chorus and Marine Band. The White House will issue a Mother's Day proclamation later as well. And beyond all of the activity here, this is the official reminder to everyone to get your flowers and cards before it's too late. And with that, Jeff Mason? QUESTION: Thank you for that reminder, Sean. SPICER: You're welcome. QUESTION: Moving on to the news of the week, really, and the day, did President Trump record his conversations with former FBI Director Comey? 13:48:21 SPICER: I assume you're referring to... QUESTION: His tweet. SPICER: ... the tweet. And I -- I've talked to the president. The president has nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: And why did he say that? Why did he tweet that? What should we interpret from that? SPICER: I -- as I mentioned, the president has nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: Is there -- are there recording devices in the Oval Office or in the residence? 13:48:39 SPICER: As I said for the third time, there's nothing further to add on that. QUESTION: Does he think it's appropriate to threaten someone like Mr. Comey not to speak? SPICER: I -- I don't think that's -- that's not a threat. He simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself. I'm moving on. John? QUESTION: If I could quote another one of the president's tweets this morning, he said, quote, "Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat excuse for losing the election." What does the president mean by that? How do you -- how specifically is the U.S. tearing itself apart over all of this? 13:49:11 SPICER: I think the president's comments about the -- Russia and the collusion have been very clear with respect to some of the charges that've been made. He's been very clear that it's one thing that -- that he believes that the -- that the notion that there's collusion is a hoax. It's been reaffirmed by several people, including Senator Grassley and others who have spoken to him. And that he wants to make sure that he's focused every day on doing what's best for the American people. QUESTION: I understand all that. But you've said that many times. But how is the U.S. tearing itself apart over this? 13:49:41 SPICER: Well, I think, obviously, this has been a subject that comes up over and over again, when it's been very clearly stated on multiple occasions that there's no collusion that occurred, and yet this narrative continues to be perpetuated. QUESTION: Do you think this is what the Russians wanted all along in interfering with the election? SPICER: I -- I don't -- I have no idea. But what I'm just telling you is I think we've made it clear at this podium several times and I think the president made it clear that -- what his feelings are on this. QUESTION: Sean... SPICER: Steve (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, in the dinner that the president had with James Comey earlier in -- in January, did the president implore him to pledge his loyalty to the president? Is that true? SPICER: No. QUESTION: Did that happen? That did not happen. SPICER: No. QUESTION: How important is it that the FBI director be loyal to the president? Is that a -- is that a quality the president wants to see in anyone, particularly his FBI director? 13:50:30 SPICER: I think the president wants loyalty to this country and to the rule of law. Trey? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. On the dinner with James Comey, does anyone in this White House have an audio recording of what unfolded during the January 27th dinner between the former FBI director and the president of the United States? 13:50:48 SPICER: I -- I'm not aware of that. QUESTION: I have one follow-up question for you. What can the administration do better when it comes to communication? Today, the president tweeted out that he felt, from behind that podium, it's not always possible to present the information with perfect accuracy. 13:51:06 SPICER: So, I -- look, I think we come out here every day and try to do the best job we can communicating what the president's done and the accomplishments he's making on the American people. We get here early, we work beyond being here at this podium. As many of you know, we get here early, we work pretty late, we do what we can. But the president is an activist (ph) president. He keeps a very robust schedule, as many of you are very well aware, and as you can tell by the activities of next week alone. And I think sometimes we don't have an opportunity to get in to see him, to get his full thinking. In those cases, we do our best to follow up with you. But I think that there are times when you, more than not, read a story where someone's trying to -- trying to pull apart one word, one sentence and say, "Aha!" and make it a gotcha thing. We work very hard to get you the most accurate and up-to-date information throughout the day. We don't always have the opportunity to get in to see the president, and in those cases, I think we do a pretty good job of following up and getting you that information after the briefing, or in a subsequent -- so -- so that's -- that's -- that's exactly what he meant. QUESTION: Is the president considering canceling the daily press briefings? SPICER: I think he's a little dismayed, as well as a lot of people, that we come out here and try to do everything we can to provide you and the American people with what he's doing on their behalf, what he's doing to keep the nation safe, what he's doing to -- to grow jobs, and yet we see time and time again an attempt to parse every little word and -- and make it more of a game of gotcha, as opposed to really figure out what the policies are, why -- why something's being pursued or what the update is on this. And I think that's where there's a lot of dismay, and I don't think it's something that's just alone -- the president feels. QUESTION: Can I ask you one -- one final logistical question? SPICER: Sure, one final. It's Friday. QUESTION: On the original question I had about the dinner on January 27th with James Comey... SPICER: Right. QUESTION: ... the president wasn't clear during the NBC interview who invited the FBI director to the White House at that time. How many invitations did the White House send to Director James Comey after January 20th and before the director was fired? 13:53:05 SPICER: I don't know. I'll (inaudible) I'll try to get back to you. Katie (ph)? QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. I have a question on the Turkish president's visit... SPICER: OK. QUESTION: ... next week. He recently called -- President Erdogan called the Muslims to rush the Temple Mount. Considering the president has said he's a mediator for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, what is his response to that? And then I have another question. 13:53:26 SPICER: So, I think what you've seen with the president's meeting with -- with these leaders, is he engages privately in a lot of these things. And, I think, to -- to a degree, a large degree, he's been able to achieve great success, whether Aya Hijazi in that particular case, working behind the scenes, whether it's the progress that he's made with China. The president's behind-the-scenes diplomacy is paying dividends for the United States, and that's how he's going to continue to operate. As -- as General McMaster noted, it's that kind of diplomacy that's reasserting our position in the world. And that trust and those relationships continue to be built. QUESTION: (inaudible) (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, again -- I -- again, I think there's -- there's -- there's a difference, Katie (ph). If we can get out here and -- I think what the president believes is that behind-the-scenes diplomacy pays dividends in terms of affecting behavior and outcomes and furthering the goals of the United States. So that -- that's as much as I want to say there. QUESTION: My other question is, is the discussion about the refugee crisis, which is fueling problems in Europe -- the president has talked about refugees being a problem in the United States, and terrorists hiding refugees or -- or refugees hiding in the -- terrorists hiding in refugees (ph), excuse me. Is he going to talk about that with Arab leaders specifically when he visits Saudi Arabia? Or is that not something that he's willing to bring up to those -- those leaders (ph)? 13:54:44 SPICER: I mean, he's talked about safe zones. He talked about it yesterday with the foreign minister -- earlier this week, rather. He's brought it up on the calls. QUESTION: What about Saudi Arabia specifically (ph)? SPICER: I -- I -- I'm not going to get ahead of his conversations that he's going to have. SPICER: But I think the president's been very publicly clear about his desire to address that situation and some of the -- the -- the solutions that exist. But -- but he's -- in -- in a lot of the readouts, we've had that as part of it, because he believes that that has to be part of the solution. John (ph)? QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sean. In that interview that the president conducted yesterday with NBC, he indicated and confirmed that on three separate occasions he asked the director of the FBI and received assurances from the FBI that he was not under investigation by the FBI. Why was the president seemingly so consumed by this that he would ask that question on three separate occasions? 13:55:35 SPICER: I think because the narrative continued to be perpetuated and he wanted clarity to make sure. But again, I haven't spoken to him on it about the reason, but I think he answered it yesterday very clearly. And so I can get back to you, but that -- that's the answer. QUESTION: I would appreciate you getting back to me. And as far as asking that question, did the president ask the -- the White House Counsel whether it would be appropriate to ask such a question, given that it was against, generally, Justice Department guidelines to indicate whether or not investigations are ongoing against any individual, let alone one at the White House? 13:56:14 SPICER: I don't know. I will tell you that I know several legal scholars, including Alan Dershowitz and others, have said there was nothing inappropriate about that. Dave? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... Counsel -- did the White House Counsel... SPICER: I don't know the answer. QUESTION: OK. Thank you. SPICER: Dave? QUESTION: General McMaster mentioned that on the trip the president's going to raising the issue of religious persecution to the pope. And I wanted to ask you about a case in the last week in Indonesia where a Christian governor, in the state of Jakarta, was imprisoned for two years for blaspheming the Quran. Does the president find that case troubling? Does he plan to say anything when he... SPICER: Did John Gizzi give you this question? QUESTION: I'm sorry. (LAUGHTER) SPICER: I don't -- I don't have any updates on -- on that particular case. I would ask to check with the -- with the State Department. QUESTION: Sean? SPICER: Zeke? QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. I just want to clear up a point on Jeff's questions. I'm hoping you can answer this in a yes-or-no fashion. Is the president of the United States currently recording conversations taking place in the Oval Office? 13:57:09 SPICER: I -- I think the point that I made with respect to the tweet is the president has no further comment on this. Cam (ph)? QUESTION: I wanted to follow up... SPICER: OK. QUESTION: ... since you were involved in this on Tuesday night as well, giving a blanket answer saying at the time that "It was all him," regarding Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, why did you come out with information that was later contradicted by the president -- that was later -- can you explain the tick-tock, when were you brought in? Who else was involved? Why were the American people given incorrect information that night? 13:57:35 SPICER: I -- I don't necessarily believe that that's true, Zeke. We -- there was a decision-making process. The president explained it in the interview process (sic). The bottom line is is that the director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the president. The president made a decision to replace him, as he has stated very clearly now, publicly. The president is now focused on making sure that he finds a replacement that has the leadership qualities to lead the FBI. That's it, plain and simple. Cam (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, I want to follow up on that really briefly. What you said Tuesday doesn't match what the president was laying out yesterday (inaudible). Can you walk through why the discrepancy, in terms of whose decision this was? 13:58:18 SPICER: Well, it's always the president's decision. That's it, final. QUESTION: Do you think that... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Look I -- as I mentioned to Zeke, this is ultimately the president's -- always going to be the president's decision. Everyone who serves at the pleasure of the president -- it's ultimately going to be his decision to hire someone, to fire someone. He made a decision, in part based on the recommendation, and he's now focused on making sure that we have a replacement at the FBI to instill the proper leadership they need. Blake? QUESTION: Sean, let me ask you about the way forward as it relates to who the president might nominate to be the FBI director. Where does that process stand right now? How many people have been interviewed? Does the president hope to wrap this up before he goes overseas? 13:58:55 SPICER: On the timing, I -- I think as soon as he finds a candidate that fits the qualities that he feels are necessary to lead the FBI, that's the timeline of that. I know that the Department of Justice has begun to create that list and I believe they're going to -- if they haven't already, are going to be starting the process of interviewing people either today or through the weekend. But -- I mean, the president obviously wants to make sure that we've got the right person. And they -- that process is being headed by the -- by the Department of Justice. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (inaudible) about how somebody -- not necessarily being political in that role. If somebody has been a member of Congress, past or present, does that count as an automatic disqualifier of somebody who is... 13:59:37 SPICER: I have not -- I don't -- I've not asked the president, but I don't believe he has stated any sort of in and out. The Department of Justice is screening candidates. And I'm sure that as they feel as though they've got a list of finalists, they'll share that with the president and he'll -- he'll make a decision. QUESTION: And lastly, does the president still have -- the other day we were -- someone asked does the president have confidence in Andrew McCabe, after the testimony on Capitol Hill the other day. Is that still the case? He is the acting director at this moment. 14:00:02 SPICER: I -- I've not asked him about the deputy... (LAUGHTER) I've -- I've not asked him about his -- generally, I don't go through the list of government employees and ask him. So I -- I've not asked him specifically about that. Eamon? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Yesterday, Sarah told us that the president expects that the FBI investigation will be wrapped up with integrity, that's what the White House wants. Today, the president tweeted and called it a witch hunt. How does tweeting and calling it a witch hunt help wrap that investigation up with integrity? 14:00:31 SPICER: The president -- you know, no one wants this done -- he wants to know very clearly -- there's two pieces to this, right, which is what was Russia's involvement -- the president is obviously very concerned about any entity's attempts to influence the United States election -- and that's one investigation. I think the second, this false narrative that we continue to fight every day, that has been debunked by intelligence individuals, members of Congress who've been briefed over and over again -- that's where I think he's growingly (ph) concerned, as well as a number of American people who are growingly (ph) concerned that there is this perpetuated false narrative out there. That's -- that's, I think, the nut of this. QUESTION: And secondly, I talked to a former FBI official today, who said that the president's tweet, the implicit threat to FBI -- former FBI Director James Comey, indicates that the president, in his words, is "simply out of control." I'd like to get you to respond to that. Is he? 14:01:24 SPICER: I -- that's, frankly, offensive. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: John? John? QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. Two questions about the FBI director selection process. You said the names are coming from the Justice Department right now. Is the president consulting with Democratic congressional leaders as well, or Republican congressional leaders, on this? Or is he just getting names out of DOJ? 14:01:49 SPICER: That's a good question. I know that he was -- obviously, he's going to take input from them. I don't know what specific conversations he's had, so I'd be glad to check on who he's spoken to or -- or may be speaking to. Anita? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I had a... SPICER: I'm sorry. I forgot you had two. QUESTION: ... follow-up question. SPICER: I got confused that Dave stole one. QUESTION: Now, I know that, you know, you have said you're not disqualifying anyone on this. You also know there has been considerable mention in the last 24 hours of former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers as the new FBI director. Does the president have a meeting planned this weekend with Congressman Rogers? 14:02:27 SPICER: I -- I'm not aware of anything of that nature on his schedule. But we'll obviously -- as you know, we'll put out -- if there's a meeting, we'll put it out for you. Right now, there's nothing that I'm aware of on the schedule. But generally, we put out the -- the next day's schedule later in the -- in the evening, and we will -- we will do that as well. Kristen (ph)? QUESTION: You already called on me (ph). SPICER: I'm sorry. I -- thank -- sorry. (inaudible). QUESTION: I had a couple questions about the president's remarks in -- to NBC about General Flynn. He said that it wasn't an emergency, or he didn't think it was an emergency, and that's why the firing -- dismissal didn't happen right away. So a couple questions about that. Is it -- why didn't he think it was an emergency? And was it because of the messenger? Was it because it -- information came from Sally Yates, who you called an opponent, I think -- a political opponent of the president? Or is it because Don McGahn downplayed the situation? Can you explain what he meant by that? And I had a follow-up. 14:03:20 SPICER: I can't specifically say what he meant by that. But what I can tell you is -- I mean, again, look at the timeline that happened. We went over this the other day, and this has been asked and answered multiple times. The former acting attorney general came and said, "I want to give you a heads-up on something." Don McGahn of the counsel's office informed the president. They asked for the documents or materials that she had referred to. It took -- I forgot now -- five or six days to get those. They reviewed them and he was asked to resign shortly thereafter. But I think that that's -- there is a difference. There wasn't a review process. That was the review process in this case. As the president noted yesterday during his interview, he had been thinking about this for a long time. The Justice Department had done a review. But again, I -- I'm not (ph) really sure in both cases... QUESTION: (inaudible) Comey. So then, since you just... SPICER: No, no. You just asked -- you just asked me what's... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I didn't ask (inaudible) Justice, though. Is that what you're talking about? SPICER: No, what I'm saying is you're asking why -- why it wasn't an emergency. I think -- but it's not a question of is it an emergency. He took the time to do due process. Someone comes to you with a -- a -- an allegation, I think everyone deserves due process to make sure that that allegation -- someone coming in and giving you a heads-up -- we did exactly what was necessary. And the president made the right decision and it -- he continues to stand by it. QUESTION: OK. So then two follow-ups. One, why -- it's still unclear, and you've mentioned this several times. Why did it take so long for the White House to get those documents? 14:04:39 SPICER: I don't know. I think we've... QUESTION: (inaudible) you couldn't go get the documents? SPICER: That's not -- I -- making it sound that is -- is rather -- with all due respect, it's -- it's not how it worked. They're the ones who possess the documents. They had them in their possession. I believe they asked for them, and it took a while... QUESTION: (inaudible) fired, though, in between? SPICER: No. I think part of it is just there's -- some of the things don't happen as easily, in terms of where they're stored. I don't know the answer. But I think that, in the course of action, if you look at the intervening days, that's a question that you should ask the Department of Justice. QUESTION: OK. And then I just had a follow-up. SPICER: Sure. QUESTION: Just explain to us, then, a little bit when you compare these two situations with General Flynn and Director Comey. The -- the memo came one day, and he was fired that day. That was the review process? And General Flynn was 18 days. SPICER: No... QUESTION: That's a huge difference. Why was one so fast when one was 18 days? 14:05:28 SPICER: Well, I -- I think it -- to -- to -- first of all, they both had a review. They both came and the president looked at the information and the reviews and made a decision. Ultimately, as I mentioned, he -- that's his job. He's the decider. He felt as though he had the information necessary in both cases to act and he did. Vivian (ph)? QUESTION: Sean, in the tweet -- in the tweet about -- about Director Comey, he said -- the president said that he better be careful before he goes leaking to the press. Yesterday, on NBC News, the president called him a showboat and a grandstander. Would the White House acknowledge that Director Comey has a First Amendment right to speak to the press if he so chooses to set the record straight about any of this instead of just leaking? It's not -- it may not be leaking, it may just be his First Amendment rights. 14:06:11 SPICER: Well, one -- of course one -- everyone in this country has a First Amendment right. I think the difference -- you've heard the president echo this multiple times -- is that sharing information that's not meant to be, or is not authorized to be in the public domain in terms of the classification of it is concerning. And I think the president's been very clear over and over again of his concern with respect to information that gets put in the public domain that's not mean to be. But I -- I -- I don't -- I don't think that those are -- everyone in this country has every right to speak their mind and express themselves in accordance with the Constitution. QUESTION: OK. And a follow-up. Just in terms of the FBI being in disarray also with the president's comments, is -- is he concerned that if he continues like this, the -- it could jeopardize moral at the FBI instead of actually, kind of, correcting a problem that he, obviously, observes there? 14:06:55 SPICER: Well, I think that one of the reasons that he wants to go through the process of finding an individual who can lead the FBI and -- and the men and women who serve there so bravely and ably, is to make sure that morale and the focus is -- is as it's supposed to be, and that you have a leader that can do that. And -- and, you know, as he's mentioned, it's the crown jewel of law enforcement. And I think the reason that he wants to go through this process and choose a leader that can be -- restore leadership with -- with -- you know, ensure that morale stays where it needs to be and that -- that there's a focus. That's -- that's why he's conducting the process that he has. And -- so, Jessica (ph)? (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I'd like to give my question to Kris (ph) (inaudible). SPICER: What's that? QUESTION: She -- she -- you called on her first, so I just wanted to give her the question that you promised her before... QUESTION: Thank you. QUESTION: ... then I'll pick up from there. QUESTION: And I'll owe you a question. Thank you. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: I just want to -- I want to... SPICER: ... currency exchange back there with questions. QUESTION: I want to ask you -- President Trump seemed to rely on James Clapper this morning when he tweeted that virtually he and everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt says there's no collusion. James Clapper himself today told Andrea Mitchell, "I don't know if there was collusion or not. I don't know if there's evidence or collusion or not. Nor should I." On March 5th, on "Meet the Press," when he was asked a similar question, he said, "Not to my knowledge." So, can you describe the discrepancy and explain it? 14:08:21 SPICER: No. I -- I'm -- I actually think that that's a great question that you should ask Director Clapper. I think... QUESTION: (inaudible) Director Clapper's comments and President Trump. Why is he leaning on Clapper, when he said, "I have no knowledge of whether there was..." SPICER: No, I think on several occasions, Director Clapper has said that he has no knowledge of any collusion. That's it. I mean, that's -- that's the point that he has... QUESTION: He said he hasn't briefed -- he said he wouldn't know because he hasn't been briefed on the... SPICER: He was DNI up until January 20th. QUESTION: He was very clear today that he said, "Nor should I have in this particular context." He made the case that he's not briefed on... SPICER: Right, and -- and I'm... QUESTION: ... an FBI investigation because that's not his purview. SPICER: Fair enough. He's the director of national intelligence. On multiple occasions prior to today, he made it very clear that he was unaware of any collusion. QUESTION: But his (inaudible) point was he wouldn't know, right? SPICER: Well -- but -- but -- but... QUESTION: Because there's been no final conclusion. SPICER: Right, I understand. QUESTION: There's been no final conclusions. SPICER: I understand that, but then... QUESTION: Does that really seem to indicate... SPICER: So -- so the question that I would ask then, Kristen (ph), is then why did he say what he said before? It seems his testimony and comments on multiple occasions prior to today was, "I have no evidence that there was any collusion," right? So, to suddenly today shift his story, I believe that the question should be asked to him, "You were the director of national intelligence. You said multiple times, including in testimony in front of Congress under oath, that there was no collusion." I believe that that's a question for him. QUESTION: (inaudible) final conclusion made about this investigation, right? There's an ongoing investigation. SPICER: I -- I do. QUESTION: He's not making that argument. SPICER: I under -- but -- but my point is, is that all we're able to do at this point is that the people who are aware of the former director of national intelligence, the head of the nation's agencies -- intelligence agencies, made multiple statements, as others -- Charles -- you know, Senator Grassley and others, talking about the involvement, making it very clear that there was none. We took them at their word then, and we continue to believe... QUESTION: (inaudible). (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, then that -- again, I think that -- but the question, Kristen, before you move on, is, then why did he make the statements that he did when he did? To turn around now, a month later, and say, "Well, even though I made those comments on multiple occasions, you know, I -- I wasn't briefed"? QUESTION: But the comments are not (ph) (inaudible). (CROSSTALK) SPICER: I -- I -- well, I appreciate... QUESTION: ... "It's not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation..." SPICER: Yeah, it sounds like the story is changing... QUESTION: "... or the context of the investigation." SPICER: Right. OK, well, ultimately there's been several... QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) very quickly about the... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Well, I -- do you mind if I -- I just -- I think in this case, it is interesting how the story has changed. He made those comments several times, over several courses of action. And to say the director of national intelligence, who stated unequivocally what his position was on multiple occasions before today, and now suddenly is saying, "I wasn't sure about it," that -- the burden seems to be on him, not us. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) but, moving on to the... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: You could apply for, like, a Clapper spokesman job soon (ph). QUESTION: No, but I just -- I'm interested in the discrepancy and drawing conclusions (ph)... (CROSSTALK) SPICER: And I think that that's a great thing to ask him. QUESTION: No, on the part of the president -- drawing the final conclusion about the investigation. In terms of the accuracy tweet, should we take that tweet to mean that you don't have the full picture when you stand at that podium? 14:11:28 SPICER: As I said, we come up here every day, not just to the podium, but, you know, we -- we are here first thing in the morning until late at night every day answering your questions on a variety of subjects and throughout issues that are happening in the government. We -- as -- as most of you can attest, work day and night to make sure that we get you the most up-to-date, accurate information at all times. With respect to the president, as I mentioned, he's an activist president. He keeps an unbelievably busy and robust schedule. And there are times when we give you the information that we have at the time, and we seek to get an update, and I believe that you and others will attest to, when we don't have an answer, we try really hard to either update you after the fact or to get you the facts that we didn't have at the time. But we work really hard every day to do that. And I think the president's point that I pointed out earlier is that there are times when -- when we're asked a question, we do our best to give you the answer, and every word is picked apart to try to figure out how to make an issue out of it, as opposed to allowing us to, you know, talk to the president, get his current thinking, and updates if we hadn't had an opportunity to do that at this time. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Jennifer? Jennifer? Jennifer? QUESTION: Can I... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: Sean, can I actually pick up there... SPICER: I'm sorry, Jessica. Then we'll do the Js. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... if you don't mind -- thank you so much. So I wanted to ask you about the One Belt, One Road summit that starts on Sunday in China. SPICER: Yes. QUESTION: You announced yesterday -- or... SPICER: Sarah... (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... Secretary Ross did -- that you're going to send a delegation to that summit. SPICER: Yeah. QUESTION: Can you talk about how you came to that conclusion, why it's important for the U.S. to be represented at what's ostensibly a major trade initiative by a foreign country? 14:13:00 SPICER: I -- as you point, it's a major trade initiative. There's a lot of ports and infrastructure that they're looking to do, and -- through those discussions that Secretary Ross and Secretary Mnuchin and others had a Mar-a-Lago, and -- and part of this is that that is something they've done. We're going to continue to work with them. Obviously, trade is a major issue for us, and they're -- what they're looking to do is of great importance to our economic and national security, and they've asked us to send -- send people to that. And we have them attend things that we're doing as well. And I think that's -- as the president has shown, in terms of the relationship that he's built with President Xi and the rest of the team built with their delegation, those relationships are clearly paying dividends, both on the national security front and on the economic front. Jennifer? QUESTION: (inaudible) send a signal that the U.S. is going to participate... SPICER: Is it -- I -- I think... QUESTION: ... in the One Belt, One Road initiative? SPICER: ... we'll -- we'll have a readout. At this point, that's all we have on One Belt, One Road. QUESTION: Two questions, the first one on loyalty, and the next one on the visit to the FBI headquarters. So, this president does value loyalty. Was there any sort of -- before you were hired, any sort of request or hint that you pledge personal loyalty to him at all before you were hired? 14:14:10 SPICER: No. I pledged my loyalty to the Constitution and to the American people, as has everyone who serves in our government and this administration. And we stand by that. QUESTION: Is it true that the president was warned that he might not be well received at the FBI headquarters if he (inaudible)? SPICER: I don't -- not that I'm aware of. Thank you, guys. Have a great weekend. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: We'll see you on Monday. (CROSSTALK) SPICER: Thank you. Goodbye. END