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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  July 26, 2017 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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sure. still yes! you can get it too. welcome to the party. introducing gig-speed internet from xfinity. finally, gig for your neighborhood too. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you so much for being with me. breaking news on multiple fronts this afternoon. one, news that the white house is moments away from once again president trump unleashing on his own attorney general, jeff sessions, despite multiple republicans saying, essentially, cut it out. the president is also facing backlash for announcing a ban on all transgender people in the military, so we need to talk about that. number two. and just a short time from now, the senate will vote on republican efforts to repeal obamacare without a replacement and then different iterations
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follow that. the voting starts live during the show. so let's start with attorney general jeff sessions, though. for the fifth time in to week, president trump has insulted him. here's the latest. "why didn't a.g. sessions replace acting fbi director andrew mccabe, a comey friend who was in charge of the clinton investigation but got big dollars, $700,000, for his wife's political run from hillary clinton and her representatives. drain the swamp." so as we wait for that white house briefing to begin on camera, thank goodness, today with white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders, we've got jeff zeleny in the room and where to begin. i understand that jeff sessions was actually at the white house when the president tweeted against him. >> reporter: good afternoon, brooke. he was indeed. it's not uncommon for the attorney general to be here at the white house. he has routine meetings in the situation room and other places
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so he was here again today around 9:00 or so, simply going about his business. he was having meetings with officials, other members of the cabinet as well. what was unusual, that he still has not spoken with the president. the president is still not requested a meeting, you know, he's simply has chosen to talk at him, talk about him, but not to him. so that pattern continuesd this morning at the west wing and all indications that we are getting from people who are close to the attorney general that he is simply keeping his head down and simply staying on the job. simply doing the things that he believes in this agenda. he believes in this, from immigration to other matters, and he simply is trying to ignore as best he can the very unusual, extraordinary fight between the white house and the justice department. but i can tell you, brooke, i don't recall in all the fights we've seen over the last six months or so one where republicans were as willing to speak out against the president as they are here in the jeff sessions matter. our manu raju on capitol hill has been talking to so many
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republican senators who simply say that, look, the president is doing the wrong thing here. that they stand with jeff sessions. senator richard shelby, republican of alabama, a long-time friend and colleague of jeff sessions who served with him from alabama, said, look, he is the -- not the president's lawyer. he is the attorney general of the united states. the president needs to treat him better. so, brooke, we'll see how this escalates. of course sarah huckabee sanders will likely be asked about this today. the president yesterday in the rose garden said time will tell, time will tell. he did not say he was going to fire the attorney general. the real difficulty here, brooke, and the reason that he probably hasn't fired him yet, a confirmation process would be very difficult in this climate here. so, for now, a week into this withering assault of the attorney general, he continues to be in limbo but he is at the justice department at this hour. he's at work, brooke. >> as you says, head down, doing his job as a cabinet secretary for the president. jeff zeleny, stand by.
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we'll take you and the press briefing the second that starts. let me broaden this out. i've got david chalian and maeve reston kicking off the discussion here. david chalian, listen, we can't begin to understand or explain why the president over and over is publicly belittling his attorney general, this loyal soldier and first senator to sign on for team trump. but what are we -- what more reporting do we have on how jeff sessions is feeling and his next moves? >> well, we can explain a little bit of why the president is doing this, because the president has explained it. it is all due to being upset that jeff sessions has recused himself from the russia investigation. i mean, that's what's -- that is what's so astonishing about what's going on. not just that the president is letting a cabinet member sort of twist in the wind like this for a week going on. it's that he stated initially in that "new york times" interview and since that he's so disappointed that sessions removed himself from the russia
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investigation. so, that -- >> but should he be surprise bid that? >> well, i don't understand why he should be except he may not have looked detailed into the recusal guidelines, but jeff sessions said as soon as he started at the doj, the moment he was starting there, he had a team of lawyers looking at this issue. he was very involved in the campaign last year. and he came to this conclusion. nobody else seems to be surprised that jeff sessions recused himself except donald trump. >> well and even, maeve, listening to president trump in the rose garden with the, you know, lebanese pm yesterday, again reiterating the point that he made in "the new york times" piece just about how had he known jeff sessions would recuse himself, he said, he should have told me when i was thinking about him for the job and i wouldn't have picked him but is that right? >> well, i just shows you how much respect donald trump has for our american institutions and the department of justice. i mean, it's such a self-serving
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statement. it's very transparent about what he's doing and, you know, this feeling that he is having that he doesn't have control over the mueller investigation and his feeling that that's all a farce and should not be swallowing up so much of our attention. so, i just think that in this way, leaving sessions twisting in the wind out there, he is starting to endanger himself somewhat. not only are people alarmed that there may not be enough checks and balances on this president and what he'd like to do with his power, but you also do see this ground swell from conservatives and republican senators saying, wait a minute, back off, this guy is carrying out your agenda, and there's no reason for him to leave the administration at this point. and that could really start to harm donald trump. i mean, going back to the nixon years, it was, you know, when the saturday night massacre happened that you really started to see cracks in nixon's
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support. so, if trump is trying to start a chain of events like that, that's a huge risk to the way that even his own supporters look at him. >> stand by, you two. let me bring in two more voices, chris quinn, vice chairwoman of the new york democratic party and former speaker of the new york city council is here. and the chairman of the american conservative union and former political director to president george w. bush. matt, i want to hear from you first. i want to give you the opportunity. you've been this loyal trump supporter. and we've heard the reporting that even some of these republican senators are really standing by jeff sessions and don't quite understand what the president's doing by publicly belittling him. can you defend the president? >> yeah, i mean, i can understand why the president's frustrated. i'm frustrated. there's a lot of republicans and conservatives who are frustrated that the first six months of the trump administration has been kind of overshadowed by all this russia talk. and i think after we saw the ten-page testimony that jared
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kushner gave the other day, that it's pretty clear that there's not a lot to this russia story at all, and certainly no collusion, but yet we're going to be talking about this. and the problem with special counsel -- >> let's be fair. >> i'll be fair. >> we don't know the conclusion. we don't know how the investigation's going to play out. >> we're not talking about -- >> he wasn't colluding and he said to the best of his knowledge that others have not but let's let it play out first. >> brooke, let's be fair. there's a reason why we're not talking about it today and it's not dominating the news because it didn't have any tantalizing details for the press to talk about. so they quickly changed the topic. i mean, i was supposed to be on a conversation on the jared kushner topic the other day and they changed the topic because there was no "there" there in his testimony. my point is this. republicans are frustrated that we have a special counsel at all. the only thing that's kind of ironic here is that jeff sessions didn't pick the special counsel. yes, he recused himself but in recusing himself, it was his deputy, rod rosenstein, who without even talking to jeff sessions, picked this special counsel. he's the one who got us going on
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all this, and if sessions were to leave as the attorney general, it would be that very same deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, who would then be the acting attorney general so if you look at how the dominos would fall on this, i don't think it would be to the president's benefit. >> chris, i see you out of the corner of my eye shaking your head. let me just say, i can't speak for that show and whatever guest opportunity you were supposed to have in talking about the testimony or the russia investigation, but listen, we're going to talk about -- we wanted to have you on, matt, and i love talking to you and we're going to talk about anything that is percent pertinent to the news of the day. >> first of all, he's the president of the united states. if he doesn't want this man to be attorney general for any reason, fire him. you know, i don't often quote senator lindsey graham, but he had it right today. it's a sign of weakness that the president is torturing jeff sessions on twitter. he said, and i'm paraphrasing,
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strong people make a decision, and they implement their decision. if he doesn't -- >> and if he wants to fire him, fire him, don't let him flap in the breeze. >> not humiliate him. that's exactly the wrong thing and untoward and bad behavior from the president of the united states. if he doesn't want him, fire him. but also the president has said, if i knew he would recuse himself, i wouldn't have fired him. so you're saying, if your attorney general follows the law and the protocols, you wouldn't have hired him. that doesn't make any sense. second, if there's no there there to the russian investigation, why do you care if the attorney general had to recuse himself? and on the special counsel, the president basically brought that upon himself saying, we'll take a special counsel at different times to paraphrase, so with all due respect, i think most of the argument we just heard from matt doesn't hold up and beyond that, right before jared kushner began to testify, and in his testimony, we know he said he had no financial dealings with the russians.
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"the guardian" reported a long documentation of interactions financially with the russians, including a real estate deal with a russian tycoon who was a known money launderer, and the family that was involved in setting up the meeting is also one that the trump family has had financial dealings with in the past. so tlas lot of "there" there and it's not as if the testimony hasn't already -- doesn't already have bullet holes in it. >> i think you're referring to -- "the guardian" piece, the eighth person in the room, the money laundering, someone called him the poster child, senator carl levin, yes, there are questions about that person. >> there's not no interaction. >> you made multiple points. let's stick with the first one. matt, i want you to respond. why doesn't the president -- i mean, clearly -- at least seems to be clear how he feels about the man. why doesn't he just fire him? >> because i think what we're missing here is that i actually think the president's very fond of jeff sessions, and he's
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frustrated that what has happened is the democrats have been able to repeat all these false claims about russian collusion, interaction with the russians, when there's really no evidence of anything because nobody can cite any evidence, over and over again. that's really the standard. what's your evidence. and i think what he's saying is the evidence we actually do have is the dnc actually had an operative that was colluding with the government of ukraine. we actually know there have been illegal leaks, both from comey and others, obama holdovers who have been going after this trump administration, and i know the press enjoys the leaks but some of these are criminal leaks. >> but why take the a.g. to task publicly? if you're pointing out the dnc and all of that, why then take the a.g. to task so publicly if he really likes the guy? >> i will tell you, brooke, i will admit to you that it is unconventional. having worked for a president, it's not uncommon for a president to be kind of p.o.'d
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at one of his staffers, including a cabinet secretary. the difference is with donald trump, when he is disappointed or upset, we all get to know about it. i can't believe anybody in the press is complaining about that because it sure gives you a lot to talk about. >> okay. let's hit pause on unconventional, matt. matt and chris, stay with me. we're going to take a quick commercial break. just a reminder, we're watching and waiting for sarah huckabee sanders, the new press secretary, to take the helm there and answer questions on all things jeff sessions, the news the president made on transgender men and women serving in the u.s. military, and of course the health care votes that are happening next hour. lots happening on this wednesday. quick break and we're back in a moment. ...or snack a day with glucerna... ...made with carbsteady... help minimize blood sugar spikes... can really feel it. now with 30% less carbs and sugars. glucerna. parts a and b and want more coverage, guess what? you could apply for a medicare supplement insurance
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make sure they're producing. woo! employee of the month! you really shouldn't leave their side. vita coco coconut water, hydration comes naturally. welcome back. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. lots to walk you through for the next two hours or so. again, live pictures inside the press room there at the white house where we're just a couple minutes away from sarah huckabee sanders briefing the press on all things. jeff sessions, health care, and this twitter missive from the president on transgender men and women in the military. and lots of questions and surprises swirling from the pentagon and beyond. but let me bring david
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chalian and maeve reston back in because i want to hone in on health care. yesterday we were all watching the senate and the chamber and the vote open to debate. david chalian, explain to our viewers what we will see with these three different votes upcoming this hour on, how do you want to describe it, different versions of votes? >> yeah, well, there will be some procedural votes but what you see there on that graphic up next, repeal and delay. this is the repeal only option. you may have heard rand paul or ted cruz or others really demanding that they have a chance to vote on a repeal only. it puts in a two-year transition period where basically it's so that people don't have the rug pulled out from underneath them, that it instantly and disappears but that there's a two-year time window in which to fully put in place and implement a
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replacement plan. this is key, because this is going to be a vote that is likely to fail, because this is not something a lot of the moderates in the republican conference in the senate are eager to support to get out there and just vote for repeal only without a replacement plan. and this is going to be the moment where mitch mcconnell then can go back to the conservatives, if it does indeed fail and say, that repeal only doesn't work so now we got to move on to the next step, which is what you see there, the skinny repeal, the graham/cassidy amendment. these are other options at looking at how you can get to repealing and replacing with the number of votes that they need. >> now, this is what we'll be looking for upcoming and we're actually going to be talking to senator cassidy whose name is on that amendment next hour. but maeve, it was a win for republicans yesterday in the sense that they got to the 51 votes, vice president being the tie. >> breaker and this opening up to debate. the president last night in ohio touting that as a victory and then promptly woke up this
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morning and insulted one of his own republicans being, you know, alaska senator lisa murkowski, tweeting, senator murkowski of the great state of alaska really let the republicans and our country down yesterday. too bad. is this how he woos senators? >> well, we have more and more questions as this goes along, right, about how effective his negotiating tactics are. i don't think that was particularly wise at the beginning of this whole process, you know, as mcconnell is trying to find a vehicle that could actually get through for the president to be bullying the senator from alaska, but you know, i mean, i think that his comments also have been confusing to people. you know, earlier on, he talked about the house version of the bill being mean and then he was making comments in the "wall street journal" interview, i believe, about how, you know, he didn't want the rug pulled out from under people. so, trump has really been all over the place on what he
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actually wants, and what he actually wants, it seems, is just a win here, and we'll see this all play out over the next few days. i mean, it is an interesting time to watch the great diversity of opinions within the republican party on all of these issues. it's just completely unclear what we're going to end up with. particularly if the skinny repeal -- the skinny option gets anywhere. and then what the house will do with that, eventually. >> yeah. >> and brooke, just -- the president got some positive feedback about this kind of bullying tactic, right? he took on dean heller. >> right. >> you remember a couple weeks ago, and super pac allied with him was threatening these ads, going up against him, sort of picking on his own. you remember the moment when dean heller was sitting next to the president and he said, hey, he wants to keep his job, right. well, dean heller voted with the president to actually start debating this bill.
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so, he, from the president's point of view, just got a little bit of a positive impact. he got what he wanted out of dean heller initially. we'll see where dean heller ends up in this process. he's still going to have to be a vote that they have to woo but it's not terribly surprising that he wakes up and says, it's time to take on lisa murkowski. let's see if i can get her on board. >> but on the vote yesterday was such a, you know, just an important but just a procedural maneuver, you know, it wasn't for heller and others who agreed to go along with this plan, it was basically saying, all right, let's tear this thing open and see what we end up with. >> but if heller went the other way, we'd be in a whole different world today. >> that's true. >> that is the only thing. i'm not saying that heller is necessarily going to suffer huge political consequences for this, but the president sort of was on his case and the most immediate goal that the president wanted was to avoid complete implosion and heller helped him avoid that yesterday. >> and the democrats certainly are coming after heller already
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for taking that vote and will continue to do so as he faces his own tough race. >> quickly, and we want to take a break and move on to this other tweet from the president on transgender members in the military. but what if all these votes you outlined, none of which hit that magic number, then what? >> this is the reality that we're in, and this is what maeve was just describing so well inside the republican party, the ideological divide. there is no plan yet that has been presented on the table as a plan that can garner 50 votes out of the senate. so, that's why you hear this term, skinny repeal. so what may end up happening here is that mcconnell has to adjust to come up with the bare minimum of what he could possibly pass out of the senate that repeals it but that the real goal, then, is just to punt the ball a little bit here and kick the can down the road to just get something out of the senate, a vehicle, as maeve said, so that a negotiation can happen between the house and the senate to try to come up with a
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package that the president can sign. >> okay. got it. we'll take those votes. we'll see how they go. coming up within the next hour or so. thanks to both of you. we're watching and waiting for this white house press briefing to again. lots of questions for sarah huckabee sanders to answer, including the tweets this morning from the president on transgender members of the military serving or not. we'll have that debate coming up. the nation's largest senior living referral service. for the past five years, i've spoken with hundreds of families and visited senior care communities around the country and i've got to tell you, today's senior livingnd communities are better than tever.ou, today's senior living communities are better than ever. these days, there are amazing amenities like movie theaters, texercise rooms and swimmingg pools, public cafes, bars and, bistros. exercise rooms and swimming pools, public cafes, bars and bistros. even pet care services. and nobody understands your options like the advisors at a place for mom. these are local, expert advisors that will partner with you to find the perfect place
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welcome back. here's more breaking news today as we're waiting for that white house briefing to get going. the president today in a multitude of tweets essentially
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reinstating the ban on transgender individuals serving in the u.s. military, which would then reverse the course of the ban that was lifted by president obama and the d.o.d. about a year ago. this is what the president tweeted. "after consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the united states government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the u.s. military. our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. thank you." chris quinn, matt, back with me on this one. chris, you are appalled by this. >> i think it's just -- actually, i think it's disgusting. we have 4,000 transgender individuals in the military right now who have caused no burden or distraction from service, who are willing to die for our country, and a man who was not willing to serve in the
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military, who got released, if you will, through an ability that many in resource think was totally bogus. some call him a draft dodger. i would agree. he's going to say these 4,000 americans are not up to the job. it is outrageous. and how did he check with his generals and his military advisers when department of defense secretary is on vacation and the pentagon is saying they were not spoken to. and beyond that, this money argument is the ultimate of bogus. >> let me jump in. the defense secretary is mattis, who did recently essentially saying he was -- his statement was -- i want to get this right. last month, delay enactment of the plan, wanted to evaluate the impact on readiness. that's what the sec def has said. >> this happened this morning. >> the pentagon was blind sided.
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>> that part was bogus. let's talk about the money for a second. this has nothing to do with facts. it has to do with hateful discrimination. the rand corporation did a study and estimated that it could cost $2.5 million to $8 million if there's medical services relating to transgender people in the military. every year, out of a close to $63 billion medical budget for the military, we spend about $90 million on erectile d dysfunction drugs. $90 million compared to potentially $2.5 million to $8 million. this is just about the president of the united states who said he would leave transgender americans alone and stand with them during campaign. he's now angered conservatives, because he's picking on jeff sessions, so he's throwing them a bone while attacking the transgender community and really pulling the rug out from 4,000 brave americans. >> okay.
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i've heard your side. matt, let me hear your side. how do you see it? >> christine's been very rough on barack obama. i can't believe she just said that he was -- that it was disgusting discrimination. for seven and a half years. >> i did. i did. check the record, matt. i did. as i said, his delay in putting marriage equality in place was horrible. so don't pretend i'm only an lgbt activist now that donald trump -- don't play that game because you will lose. make your argument on what is true to you. >> christine, for seven and a half years, president obama -- >> he's not president anymore. he did the right thing at the end and now your president is undercutting it. it took him too long. >> i appreciate that you're passionate on this issue. it is a very touchy issue. i get it. but for seven and a half years of the obama administration, this was the very same policy. when general mattis came into the pentagon, he asked for an internal review.
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all the reports i have read online that there were -- there was a lot of pushback from the services on this policy change. there's a very legitimate argument going on in congress, just like with health care, as to whether or not -- you say leave the lgbtq community, leave the transgender community alone. i think that's a very fair argument. >> the president said that. >> let me talk now. but the question is, you're actually not asking them to be left alone. you're asking the american taxpayers, including those who might have disagreements with the idea of paying for these surgeries, to actually foot the bill for all of this. that is a question we have to ask ourselves as a country. not whether you have the right to live your life, because you do have the right to live your life, but do the taxpayers -- are they mandated. >> apparently not the right to defend your country. and as a taxpayer, matt, i'm not so interested in paying for erectile dysfunction. not a big thing to me. >> let's join together on that. but the point is -- >> on ending erectile
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dysfunction? i'm with you. >> christine, it's not -- >> i'm with you. we could be a team on that. >> it's not discrimination when you say you don't want to pay for abortions. >> that's not what the president said they could not serve. they could not serve. >> if you could just let me talk, you're not going to win your argument. >> you're talking, quite frankly, out of both sides of your argument. >> you're not going to get yourself converts doing that. as a country, we can decide whether or not you should be able to live your life and it should be legal, but the question of whether every taxpayer has to pay for it is a legitimate question. we have to answer that. >> that's not the question. >> hang on. what if you are a transgender individual in the military and you don't want to undergo the surgery or you already have and you are actively serving. help me understand. we did a pre-tape with former navy s.e.a.l. kristen beck whose question was, what does that mean for those current people serving the country. does that mean they'll be kicked
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out? >> i don't know. >> you agree with me there is a bit of ambiguity. >> yeah. >> in all honesty, is it really about the money or is it about the transgender individuals? because i pay for a lot of things as a taxpayer, as do you, that we may not want to. but now we're not saying it's about the money. we are saying they are not allowed to serve. so what's it really about? >> in the end, what happens on all questions of funding the government, this is going to be resolved in congress, right? there's going to be a vote on whether or not this is allowed or not allowed. i can't tell you from the president's tweet, although it looks like it's accoucategorica me. i don't know what it means to the people who are serving or not serving but i don't think it's fair to say that just because people have a question about what taxpayer money should go to pay for or not pay for that it's discrimination. if you want to live your life as you want to live it, you also should pick up the bills that are associated with it. >> you know what? when the president of the united
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states says a group of americans, 4 ,000 of them who are serving bravely right now, when he says those 4,000 are not allowed to serve in the military, that's discrimination. period, end of conversation. >> and you would agree that for seven and a half years, barack obama was a bigot and was discriminating. >> i would not say he was a -- wait, matt. i would not say he was a bigot. i would say he was wrong and discriminating against transgender americans. >> so donald trump isn't a bigot. he's just wrong. >> i never called donald trump a bigot but he is discriminating against transgender people. let's be clear. as did obama. it's not whatever, matt. it's people's lives. and it sends a message that's hateful and i would call anyone on that, whether it was barack obama, hillary clinton, donald trump, whomever. i'm consistent in fighting discrimination. you guys aren't. >> okay. >> can we just agree that you have -- >> here we go. the white house press briefing.
quote quote
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>> thank god. >> here we go. sarah huckabee sanders. >> it's that time again, as many of you have probably noticed, and i know several of you have asked about for us to announce where the president will be donating his quarterly salary. last quarter, the president's salary went toward the restoration of two projects at a national battlefield. after his donation, additional donors quickly stepped up to bring the total gift to over $260,000. and this quarter, the president will be donating his salary to the department of education. and with that, i would like to bring up secretary devos to tell you about what the department will be doing with the president's money to help equip the boys and girls who will be the leaders of tomorrow. secretary devos, it's my pleasure on behalf of the president of the united states to present a check for $100,000 to the department of education. >> thank you very much, madam secretary. >> well, thank you so much, sarah. i want to start by saying how
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grateful i am to the president for this generous gift. the president is committed to our nation's students and to reforming education in america so that every child, no matter their zip code, has access to a high quality education. he and i have had many conversations about how best to put students' needs first and ensure we are setting them up for a lifetime of success. there's much work to be done but we are certainly on the right track thanks to the president's leadership. just yesterday, ivanka trump and i hosted a summer reading event at the smithsonian's national museum of american history where the focus was on getting young girls age 6 to 10 excited about learning science, technology, engineering, and math. it was fun to see their eyes light up as they got to explore, create, and experiment in a collaborative environment. today's and tomorrow's economy require students prepared for s.t.e.m. careers. that's why we decided to use the president's second quarter salary to host a s.t.e.m.
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focused camp for students at the department of education. we want to encourage as many children as possible to explore s.t.e.m. fields in the hope that many develop a passion for these fields. we look forward to this exciting endeavor, and i thank president trump again for this generation gift. thanks. >> thank you, secretary devos. thank you for coming and being here for that today. now i know anthony's probably a little bit disappointed that he's not up here today, but since he did some tv this morning, he was able to go ahead and get his hair and make-up done, so i think he'll be okay. as anthony said when he was up here last week, we're looking to mix things up a little bit. from time to time, i'd like to give us all a little reminder of why we're here every day which i imagine for most of us is because we love our country and want to make it better. i've spent a lot of time around
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the president over the last year and i know exactly why he's here. he's tough. he's a fighter. he's a strong leader and he's somebody who deeply loves this country and he loves its people and he wants to make america great again. in washington, it's often easy to go to work, get lost in the process, and forget why we're here every day. the reason we're here is to serve the american people, and today i'd like for you to indulge me and let me tell you a little bit about what that means to me. to the best of my knowledge, i'm the first mom to hold the job of white house press secretary. that says less about me than it does about this president. it's not just with personnel. it's about people and it's about policy, empowering working moms is the heart of the president's agenda, particularly when it comes to things like tax reform. i have three children, and the oldest, scarlet, starts kindergarten in a few weeks. scarlet and every little girl in america should grow up in a country that if we deliver on the president's agenda of better jobs, better health care and a better tax system, that
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incentivizes women to work and raise children. as a working mom, it's not lost on me what a great honor and what a privilege it is to stand here at the podium and i thiank the president for the opportunity. i'll always do my absolute best to truthfully answer your questions and dlooieliver the president's message. jonathan, i'll preempt you from asking that question later. but i hope to send my daughter a message and to every other kid in america. don't listen to the critics. dream big and fulfill your potential because in this country, you still can. to remind us a little bit more often about some of the forgotten men, women, and children that we're here to serve and that the president is fighting for, we're going to start the white house briefing every once in a while with a letter or an e-mail that we may receive from some of those individuals. to kick it off with that process, i'd like to read you a letter from 9-year-old dylan. my name is dylan harbin, but everybody calls me pickle. i'm 9 years old and you're my favorite president. i like you so much that i had a
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birthday about you. my cake was the shape of your hat. then dylan goes on to ask a few questions. how old are you? dylan, president trump is 71 years old. how big is the white house? the white house is 168 feet long, it's 70 feet tall on the south side and it takes 300 gallons of white paint to cover the exterior of the white house residence. it has 132 rooms and approximately 55,000 square feet. how much money do you have? dylan, i'm not sure but i know it's a lot. i don't know why people don't like you. me either, dylan. you seem really nice. can we be friends? i'm happy to say that i directly spoke to the president, dylan, and he would be more than happy to be your friend. my picture is in here, so if you can, see me and say hello. dylan, i hope you're watching because the president wanted me to personally tell you hello.
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dylan, thanks for writing to the president and if you're ever in washington, d.c., i hope you'll stop by and let us show you around the white house. and with that, i'll take your questions. >> sarah, jeff sessions was here today. did he -- what was he doing here? did he meet with the president? and what does the president think about the conservatives who are rallying behind jeff sessions, saying he's essential to staying in his house? >> the attorney general was here for other meetings, not with the president. it was a principals committee meeting, and did not see the president while emphasis here. i thi he was here. i think the president's been very clear about where he is. he's obviously disappointed but also wants the attorney general to continue to focus on the things that the attorney general does. he wants him to lead the department of justice. he wants to do that strongly. he wants him to focus on things like immigration, leaks, and a number of other issues and i think that's what his focus is at this point. >> if the attorney general launches a leak probe, would
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that help his status with the president? >> i don't think that's the, you know, nature of the relationship. again, i think that the president is disappointed. he stated that and i don't think there's anything more to add beyond that at this point. >> sarah, thank you. couple questions about the new policy on transgender service members the president announced this morning. first, what happens to transgender service members now? are they immediately thrown out of the military? >> that's something that the department of defense and the white house will have to work together as implementation takes place and is done so lawfully. >> so, it's possible -- because i see that -- the president was pretty clear in his tweet that transgender individuals, he will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity. so, does that mean that those that are now in theater, that are now deployed to afghanistan, for example, will have to be immediately sent home? >> again, the implementation
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policy is going to be something that the white house and the department of defense have to work together to lawfully determine and, you know, i would imagine the department of defense will be the lead on that and keep you posted as that takes place. >> why did he decide to do this given that during the campaign he had declared that he would protect the rights of transgender individuals? he said he would be better on this issue than hillary clinton and now he's turned the clock back on this issue regarding the military. >> the president has a lot of support for all americans and certainly wants to protect all americans at all times. the president's expressed concerns since this obama policy came into effect, but he's also voiced that this is a very comprehensive and disruptive policy and based on consultation that he's had with his national security team, came to the conclusion that it erodes military readiness and unit cohesion and made the decision based on that. >> if i could follow up on what
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jonathan just asked, the president actually tweeted, thank you to the lgbt community. i will fight for you while hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs. and so i'm wondering, you said the policy -- the president in general wants to protect all americans. does this shift in policy protect transgender americans, and what is the message that he is attempting to send to them by making this shift in policy? and if i could follow on health care -- >> let me answer that first question and we'll come back to health care. on that, the decision is based on a military decision. it's not meant to be anything more than that. and it's simply about, obviously, it's a very difficult decision. it's not a simple one. but the president feels that it's the best one for the military. >> okay, on health care, then, if i could follow really quickly, can you repeal and replace the affordable care act and still protect medicaid funding? we're talking about the most dependent among us and the need for medicaid is great. and that seems to be a major
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concern among some lawmakers, including alaska senator lisa murkowski. so i'm wondering, from the president's perspective, if congressional lawmakers do send him a repeal that does not protect medicaid funding, is that something he would still support, and what is he doing to try to protect medicaid as it is now. >> the president's been clear that he wants to protect those that are a part of that program. but also, very focused on repealing and replacing. we're working through that process. excited about the progress that was made yesterday, and we're going to continue pushing forward until we get a new and better health care plan. >> one short thing and then questions. can you provide us with a copy of the letter that you read? even hold it up or distribute a copy to us. >> i'll be happy to. i'll knock out dylan's last name. >> but back on attorney general jeff sessions, you said that he didn't meet with the president when he was at the white house this week. has he spoken to the president this week? do you know when the last time the two of them spoke was? >> i don't believe they've
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spoken this week. i'm not sure on the time frame. >> and then another follow-up on jeff sessions. you said that the president -- you said that the president has been very clear about his position on jeff sessions. and yesterday, the president said that he wasn't leaving him to, quote, twist in the wind. but he continued to tweet about him this morning. if he is so frustrated and so disappointed in him, why doesn't he just ask him to resign or fire him? why does he continue to just tweet about him instead? >> look, you can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job and that's where they are. >> does he want him to continue in that job. >> i think that i made clear last week, if there comes a point he doesn't, he'll make that decision. >> let me have you please clarify if you can some comments that the president made in the "wall street journal" interview yesterday about tax reform. he said, and i quote here, the truth is that the people i care most about are the middle income people in this country who have gotten, as he say, screwed, and if there's upward revision, it's going to be on high income
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people. on that upward revision part, what exactly was the president talking about? is it a revision from his plan on the personal side of 35% or is it revising it up from the current tax code. >> when we get ready to walk through the full details of the plan, i'm happy to do that at that time. but right now, we're focused on the three big priorities of the tax reform, a simple fairer tax code, middle class relief, and creating jobs. that's where we are right now. we're continuing to work through that process and we'll make announcements as we have specifics. >> let me ask you that more general question on that. does the president believe that the wealthiest americans deserve a tax cut? >> i think the president is looking and prioritizing middle class tax relief. he's made no secret about that. that's one of the biggest priorities of the three things that he's focused on when it comes to tax reform. >> two questions for you. first, the president has had almost 24 hours to review the russia sanctions legislation. has he decided if he's going to sign that? >> well, it's a little bit more
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complicated than that. senator corker came out earlier today and said that he's not fully supportive of where the bill stands. we expect that there's a possibility that more changes take place. and so we're going to see what that looks like before we make a final decision. but i can tell you that the white house, the president and the entire administration as we've said many times before, strongly supports sanctions against russia, iran, and north korea. >> second question is, is the president considering looking at any kind of policy about transgender people serving in the white house now that he's tried to make a decision on transgender people serving in the white house. >> no, once again, this was a decision based on what was best for the military and military cohesion. and on the counsel of his national security team. >> so, the impression we get in the pentagon is they were caught a little bit flat foot bid the president's tweet. as i understand it this was and has been for the last couple
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weeks a conversation here specifically about tricare coverage for transgender procedures, and it suddenly evolved, for the president to then go on twitter to announce this ban. and as you already told us, the white house and the pentagon are going to have to lawfully implement that. typically when you have an announcement of this magnitude, all of that work has been done at the procedural level between the bureaucracy of the pentagon and the white house. why wasn't any of that work done and why was the pentagon caught so surprised this morning by the president's tweets on that. >> as i said before, the president's national security team was part of this consultation. you mentioned yourself that there have been ongoing conversations. >> about this one particular small issue, not a whole ban. >> when the president made the decision yesterday, the secretary of defense was immediately informed, as were the rest of the national security team that had been part of this ongoing conversation. >> but you can't answer the question of what's going to happen to transgenders who are in the military now. shouldn't you have been able to answer that basic question with
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a policy of this magnitude? >> look, i think sometimes you have to make decisions and once he made a decision, he didn't feel it was necessary to hold that decision and they're going to work together with the department of defense to lawfully implement it. >> one last thing on sessions. just because this is a -- the baseline question. you said earlier the president was frustrated. is that frustration now in the past? and does he fully have confidence in the attorney general to carry out his duties from this day forward? >> the president wants the attorney general to focus on his duties as attorney general, and i think we've both spoken about that pretty extensively and i don't have anything else to add. >> you just announced the president's donating the second quarter salary of $100,000 to the department of education. why then is he calling for $9.2 billion in cuts to the department of education in the next budget? >> look, i think that oftentimes you have a lot of duplicative efforts, and they want to streamline the process, and we simply have a government that's
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completely out of control when it comes to spending. we have an outrageous deficit. and we're looking to make things that we have a balanced budget in the next ten years. the president campaigned on it. he's committed to seeing it through but he's also committed to education as you can see by his own personal commitment and looking for ways that we can save and continue on to make education better, passing some of that decision making down to more local and state control and something we're certainly supportive of. >> quickly on transgender -- just a quick follow-up. in june of 2016, he wrote, thank you to the lgbt community. i will fight for you. did the president today just betray his commitment to the transgender community? >> no, as i answered before, this was a decision about military readiness. and i've already answered even to that specific tweet. >> what do you say to the transgender community that he is still committed to fight for them and how is this not not fighting for them. >> i think the president has made very clear he's fighting for all americans. >> is this fighting for all
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americans? >> was this decision on transgender in the military made to put pressure on democrats running in 2018, particularly democrats running in socially conservative districts like in ohio, michigan, and wisconsin? >> not that i'm aware of. >> and just a follow-up on that. what is the time line for when guidance will be delivered to the pentagon on how the president's decision houb implement. >> we'll let you know when we have an announcement. >> the president said this morning or tweeted this morning, asking why the attorney general has not fired andrew mccabe as acting fbi director. why hasn't the president fired andrew mccabe as acting fbi director. >> the president's made an incredible nominee in chris wray and he's looking forward to taking over the fbi. >> why should attorney general jeff sessions fire him? >> he's made a choice to lead that agency and we're looking forward to getting him confirmed soon. >> two questions. one following up what major with tricare and the transgender community. there's been a concern from the
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transgender community before president trump became president trump that if obamacare changed to trumpcare, they were wondering if they were able to get the procedures to help them complete their phases of becoming the other sex or the other gender. what do you say to those people who are seeing this now with this ban in the military? what do you say to transgender america who wants to continue with the change? maybe some who already have part of the change and want to do the change and are scared because of what's happening now, not for certain. what do you say to transgender americans? >> as i've said before, and i'll try to make this clear, this was a military decision. this was about military readiness. this is about unit cohesion. this was about resources within the military and nothing more. guys, i really don't have anything else to add on that topic. as i do, i'll keep you postsed. but if those are the only questions we have, i'm going to call it a day. but if we have questions on other topics, i'll be happy to
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take those. >> sarah, i'm sorry, i wanted to finish. everyone had a second. on the morale on the cabinet, anthony scaramucci this morning on "new day" said that the cabinet secretaries need to have tough skin. how is the president working with the cabinet secretaries right now? how does he build their morale after all of this with sessions and we're hearing things that are coming out of state -- rex tillerson. how is the president working on their morale? >> i think the same way he works with all of us. he empowers us to do our jobs, and i don't think it matters whether you're a cabinet secretary, a low level staffer, we're here to do a job. he's asked us to do it and he expects us to get it done and i've spent a good bit of time with quite a few cabinet secretaries over the last couple days and morale is high. >> one more point about transgender service members. not here in this country but overseas and there are 18 countries where transgender members are allowed to serve openly. the uk is one.
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australia is another. israel is third. the president referred to disruptions. what does he mean, and is he concerned that there are disruptions in our allies' militaries and should we worry about that from a military standpoint? >> as i said earlier, this decision was made after extensive discussions with his national security team and the president decided it was in the best interest of the military to end this obama policy. i can't speak to anything about another country. pretty focused on making sure we get good things happening here. >> first off, you were talking earlier about attorney general jeff sessions to be doing in his job right now. why hasn't the president picked up the phone or invited him over into the oval office? does the president have any intention of peeking with tspea attorney general this week. >> i'll keep you posted. >> second question on the transgender service member issue. you mentioned the president reach third-degr reached this decision to improve or maintain unit cohesion.
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how does it do that when you have thousands of service members, some who may be overseas, leaving them in the dark about their status with the military. >> this was a decision made with the consultation with his military team and decided the best decision. >> i want to ask you about a tweet the president had on sunday. he said it's very sad that republicans, even some that i've carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their president. which republicans is the president talking about, and what would he like to see from them? what sort of protection? >> i'm not going to call out any senators by name up here today, but i think the president is very committed to a robust agenda and changing america for the better, and republicans have both the house and senate. he's hoping they'll join him in pushing forward. a lot of the policies that most of those people campaigned on, like repealing and replacing obamacare, i think that's a perfect example of republicans needing to step up to commitments that they made during the campaign and since
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being elected, and get those things done. guys, i hate to cut it short. the president's got an event. as you know you can all hear by all of the cheering children, i hope that we can join together in welcoming the boys and girls. thanks. >> zw and we'll take that event live when it happens at the white house. there was sarah huckabee sanders there. really two main topics that dominated discussion there, one being what's going on still with the president publicly belittling, over twitter, his current a.g. and then two, what is the deal with these tweets from the president today, which really blind sided even the department of defense when it comes to reinstating this ban on transgender individuals serving in the u.s. military. so david, let me just open this up to you, beginning on the sessions issue, and i think the news that was made there was hearing sarah huckabee sanders saying the president can be disappointed in someone but still want him on the job and saying that they hadn't talked at least in the last week. disappointed, still wants him in the job. how do you reconcile that.
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>> it's hard to do so because that sort of now begs the question with every one of attorney general session's actions serving in president trump's cabinet, are now still disappointed with that, sir? are you still disappointed with that? it's a very odd construct. obviously sarah huckabee sanders did not want to move beyond any of the language that president trump has already said about a.g. sessions. we've learned that they did not talk at all this week. that much was clear, and that she would keep us posted if indeed they do. i also thought it was interesting that she said the president wants the attorney general to focus on his duties as attorney general. now, i would imagine jeff sessions would say, that's exactly what i've been doing and by the way, that's what i was doing when i recused myself from the russia investigation. >> right. >> was to stay focused on my duties as attorney general. and ones where i won't have a conflict of interest. it is odd to have the president have his attorney general twisting in the wind the way he is but say, i want him to focus on his job. i want