Skip to main content

Sean Spicer
  White House Wont Confirm Back- Channel Communications with Russians  CSPAN  May 30, 2017 6:31pm-6:56pm EDT

6:31 pm
at today's white house briefing spokesman sean spicer answer questions about the president's recent trip to the middle east and europe. this is a half-hour. [inaudible conversations] good afternoon.
6:32 pm
i hope you all have had the opportunity to pay your respects to the brave men and women who have even their lives for freedom yesterday a memorial day party i want to begin by recapping the incredible historic trip that the president and first lady have just concluded because it truly was an extraordinary week for america and our people read in just nine days president traveled across europe and the middle east and interacted with nearly 100 foreign leaders. it was an unprecedented first trip abroad just four months into this demonstration shows how quickly and decisively the president is acting to strengthen alliances to form a partnership and to rebuild america's standing in the world. we have never seen before at this point in a presidency such sweeping reassurance of american answers and the inauguration of a foreign-policy strategy designed to bring back the growing disasters brought on by failed leadership a presence trumps start in saudi arabia in the nation the custodian to the
6:33 pm
two holiest sites in the islamic faith. the president was greeted on the tarmac by the king of saudi arabia and received with incredible graciousness by the kingdom and its leaders throughout his day for the present address to the leaders more than 50 arab leaders was a historic point that people be talking about from in years to come. did exactly as he promised it in his inaugural address united the civilized world in the fight against terrorism and extremists. the president was very direct and calling on the leaders of the region to type out the terrorists and extremists had to isolate the iranian regime that supports so much of the violence. he lets american allies know exactly what they can expect going forward, what he called quote a principled realism rooted in common values and shared trust. he mouthed the case in persuasive detail for why the muslim world must take the lead in combating radicalization and he concluded by saying quote
6:34 pm
unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens our world than there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have to do president's historic speech was met with nearly universal praise. former cia director jim woolsey called a quote courageous speech. former house speaker newt gingrich's ed and the "washington post" would have to look back decades quote to find a comparatively dramatic moment in the history of u.s. foreign policy and former democratic representative jane harman said she quote love the idea that he's going to the found of all three major religions. catholics air of allies praised the president's leader on his leadership. president trump's you need personality with capable of doing the impossible. the saudi foreign minister said quote this is the beginning of a turning point in the relationship between the united states and the arab and islamic world. king solomon and other key allies also gave extraordinary praise, extraordinary speeches
6:35 pm
at the summit underscoring just how much president trump had done to rally the world against terrorism. we cannot overlook the significance of so many leaders of muslim countries coming together to recognize the need to fight extremism. this was a historic event in that regard alone. king solomon said he shares the president's determination and quote renounce extremism and work on countering terrorism and in all its forms and manifestations. king at the love toward an agreed that quote the grave challenges of terrorism and extremism demands cooperation at every every level. steady quote were all accountable to our commitment to fight radicalization in all of its forms. the visit also included x. historic development of united states well over half a trillion dollars in the creation of tens of thousands of american jobs. these deals include an immediate 110 billion-dollar investment which will grow $350 billion over the next 10 years in
6:36 pm
defense cooperation from saudi arabia that will further enable muslim troops to take on a greater role in fighting terrorism. the president also participated in the launch of a new task force to block terror funding in the gulf, the opening of a new global center for combating extremist ideology and more than 30 commercial deals that include companies like lockheed-martin and raytheon boeing ge dow honeywell alcoa and cisco among others that will result in additional $270 billion of saudi investment in american businesses and american jobs. the personal into israel where he was received with incredible warrant. he strengthened america's unbreakable bond with israel made the first-ever visit by a sitting american president for the western wall and gave a highly praised address in israel on our continuing effort to rally the nations together in the fight against terrorism and common enemies. moving address spoke of the
6:37 pm
future which quote children throughout the world will be absolute without fear determined that limits and prosper without violence. he said i asked ms. linda promised to join me in fighting a common enemy to pursue our shared values and protect the dignity of every child of god. the president also visited yad vashem tim memorialize the holocaust. the president met with prime minister netanyahu palestinian authority president abbas to advocate for a new push for peace which they both agree they are prepared to work for. also discussed the both leaders have increased cooperation against terrorism through prime minister netanyahu said quote for the first time in my life i seal real hope for change and when they leading israel publications in the short. >> of three days trump carried out a semi-revolution from israeli president traveled alone where he met with pope francis at the vatican.
6:38 pm
they had a productive conversation about isis and other terrorist groups protecting religious liberty and numerous other issues. the president and first lady were incredibly honored by the visit to the president to the nato summit in brussels where he boldly stood up for american taxpayers and our common defense by calling another nato countries to pay their fair share delivered with all nato countries. hard-working americans saw a leader in their security on international stage. the president urged nato to adapt an alliance to more effectively combat terrorism. later in the meeting the member states unanimously agreed on those two priorities and secretary-general was extremely complementary of the present work to strengthen the alliance by getting member states to increase their contributions. finally the president traveled to the summit in sicily where he and other leaders promoted better prosperity and security for each other countries. those meetings were marked by
6:39 pm
outstanding success that we see reflected in the communiqué that was issued. they include a strong statement the g7 nations will stand against trade practices and fostering a true level playing field to the g7 leaders also endorsed the right of sovereign nations to control their borders and endorsed in that communiqué the policy outlined by president trump to seek resettlement of refugees as close as possible to their home countries so they can be part of an eventual rebuilding to this language on migration of refugees is a major shift of policy. the g7 formerly condemned the use of chemical weapons and made this to say the president's leadership is critical in setting those priorities. this and the president met with prime minister abe of japan. the two greater need for sanctions against north korea. the president concluded his meeting with an address to thank them for their service on memorial day weekend to deliver another strong message about the unity in the fight against
6:40 pm
terrorism. yesterday president trump spoke at arlington national cemetery for memorial day services and visited the grave sites of many of our fallen heroes. this is an extraordinarily successful trip the president said. he accomplished the return of a strong america to international affairs rallied for the world against terrorism to grill steps towards peace in the middle east and renewed our alliances on the basis of shared interest in shared burdens. the trend sets the stage iv a much more safe and prosperous nation here at home in a more peaceful world for all. we are back at home than on the president is working on the president's agenda. the president noted this weekend as planned for the most significant tax reform continues led by secretary mnuchin and director come to love a person was a way they team held members meetings on leadership. republican and democrat members to freedom caucus and the republican study committee. the vice president had a meeting
6:41 pm
with multiple members on capitol hill. we will begin holding industry listening sessions next we provide an opportunity for business leaders and job creators to give us their input on what reforms are necessary to allow us to grow jobs and the economy. the president was met with administrative pruitt and one of the topics they discuss is the presence of coming decision on the paris point -- climate accords. the president spent a great deal of time on it. ultimately he wanted a fair deal for the american people and he will have an announcement coming shortly. also today the president's trade representative ambassador y. caeser is having meetings with several representatives from the get homies government including the trade minister ahead of tomorrow's leading between the present and the premise of the u.s. trade representative notes will be available for you today.
6:42 pm
that speech should be available on the chamber space but page. during his speech he will highlight the developments for bilateral russian ships with vietnam over the past few decades while underscoring the work ahead in addressing the challenges presented by the increase in our trade deficit with vietnam. as a president has made clear to trade deficit and unfair trade practices have hurt american workers through a robust and very to trade agenda this is drinking a relationship with partners like get mom by leveling the paint -- playing field with four american businesses across the world and without i will take your questions. >> to the issue of the russian probe i'm wondering if you can tell us if the president knew at the time that jared kushner was seeking to establish back channel communications with the russian government and if he
6:43 pm
didn't you didn't know at the time what does he you know? >> i would say mr. kushner has said esther krisher has volunteered to share with congress what he knows about the meetings and he will be doing the same connect with any other inquiries. i'm not going to get into what the president did or did not discuss the way your question assumes are a lot of facts that are not substanch aided by anything but anonymous sources that are so far being week now. you are asking if it was an action and it was not a confirmed action. that being said i think secretary kelly and general mcmaster have both discussed in general terms back channels aren't appropriate part of diplomacy. i'm not going to get into the ditch but your question predisposes facts that have not been confirmed. >> thank you sean. the president tweeted an article about that back channel from an anonymous source that said there
6:44 pm
was an effort to set up a back channel that was a russian analyst to talk about syria. was the president not confirming that there was an effort? >> i think what i just said speaks for itself. >> by you said the article was based on anonymous sources. in the article at the present rip it was also based on anonymous sources. why was the source that they use more credible -- more credible? >> there are two issues at hand. one is the statement that the attorney is provided and the second is whether or not the dossier the basis of this was largely discredited in the first place. most of the publications were not published in the first place. there's an ongoing investigation. john. >> thank you sean. i have two questions.
6:45 pm
first the president for the second time in a month re-tweeted his desire for the senate to reduce the votes to pass anything which would effectively scuttle the filibuster legislation as it has been scuttle for nominations. is this something he discussed with majority leader mcconnell or any of the senate leadership? >> the concerns he has had has been long-standing. obviously the use of the filibuster are left up to senator mcconnell but the frustration he has had with the pace of some of the legislation sunday obstructions and taxes -- tactics the democrats have deployed has been well-documented. >> he wants to scrap the filibuster entirely. hickey once the action done, john. that's what the president wants.
6:46 pm
he wants action. the president was elected to get things done and he wants to see things move through the house and the senate especially when you have a majority of support. >> the second question, did want to mention that before he left to go abroad the president praised president duterte for his action against drug dealers and dealing with them. various human rights groups have condemned president duterte saying a lot of it has been done without trial. as the present stand by his praise for the filippini president? >> the president recognizes the need to combat drugs but he also understands human rights is at one of the reasons he is repealing the policy. it's something he wants to discuss in private with countries.
6:47 pm
[inaudible] that decision will be made in the next 24 hours. >> we will let you know. >> also the afghanistan review in the isis review what is the status of those? >> on the afghanistan review he is still reviewing that from the department of defense. when they haven't announced that we will let you know. sarah. >> the president revealed on sunday he thinks they should add more dollars to health care and make it the best anywhere. what does he mean by that? >> there are a lot of savings that are coming out of the repeal and replace effort including $119 billion we save to the present effort. health care has been something the president has been clear on
6:48 pm
her out his time as a candidate as well as his presidency to make sure the american people get the care and accessibility that he needs. he understands how important health care is the bottom line is he will do it thing he can to make sure vegas quality health care. this is a bill in progress and it's obvious in the senate right now. he's willing to work with them to do it takes. >> i'm following on the question afghanistan has been the country's longest war. how much more american blood and treasure is he willing to expand >> the conflict that he wants to defeat his eyes is pretty to defeat al-qaeda and defeat terrorism. i think i just read to you throughout the trip that was the common thread uniting the muslim world talking to prime minister netanyahu and president abbas and talking to even the pope
6:49 pm
that wherever he went on this nine-day trip protecting our country, protecting the world's people with that discussion and i think he wants to do whatever he has to do to make sure that our country is safe or that's why he has asked for this review >> on tax reform the president's tweet over the weekend that it was going quote very well and he used the word progress however the president said maybe they should -- the filibuster rules. >> i think the reception to secretary manoush in and others on the staff and members of the house ways & means committee have been very welcoming as well as the business community but i think obviously as i just mentioned to your previous question part of the reason he's frustrated with the senate rules is because when there is a majority of support on key issues are key people in the confirmation process he thinks
6:50 pm
it's standing in the way the progress of the american people. >> i asked you about the fbi director before. before the trip joe lieberman was a candidate identified by the president. where does the fbi director search stand? john pistole reviewing today. >> the president will meet with two additional candidates today. when the president feels he has met with the right candidate he will let usknow that he will meet with those candidates today and continue to do so until he finds the right leader. >> are they the two finalists at this point? >> the president is the ultimate decision-maker money makes that the decision he will let us know. >> a president tweeted the tax apartments going well but you said he's frustrated with the
6:51 pm
progress in the senate. is the white house believe that health care and tax restructure the will get done this year? >> i think the talk that secretary mineta should and other members of the staff that had in the reception they have done to the president's bold tax reform proposal is extremely welcoming. a president general finds it frustrating how the senate operates and began i'm dating this back to the whole that they have had on unbelievably well-qualified nominees. we don't want to mix those two issues together but he feels very encouraged by the reception he has had on tax reform. secretary manoush and had talked about that was the goal and he would continue to work as hard as he could to get that done that we have a bold agenda. so pushing hard on health care and infrastructures of priorities. the presence legislative agenda is in full swing.
6:52 pm
>> how important is the relationship to the white house and the president and the american public? >> i think the relationship that the president has had would be described as fairly unbelievable. they get along very well. he has a lot of respect for her. they continue to grow the bonds that they had during their talks in the g7 and he views not just germany but the rest of europe as an important ally. during his conversations at nato and at the g7 the president reaffirmed the need to improve our trans-atlantic relationships. >> she felt that europe could no longer depend on as states. >> respectfully that's how she said so you are misquoting the chancellor. let me read wish x-ray said pucci so the time when europe relies solely on others is somewhat in the past and as i have witnessed in the past few days europe takes its state into its own hands.
6:53 pm
this means working in friendship with the u.s. the uk and relations with russia and other partners. that's great. that's what the president called for. called for additional -- the secretary-general of nato said the president calls are moving them in the right direction to the presence getting results in more countries are stepping up their burden sharing. that's a good thing for them, good thing for nato and the good things for her america. an odd. >> i'm not going to dignify partisan accusations of anonymous sources and unsubstantiated so i'm not even going to -- the president has a lot of meetings.
6:54 pm
if the president makes a decision on anything we will be sure to let you know. first, welcome back. two quick questions. this weekend while you were gone someone shot out the dash and of course understand what happened with the congressman. think it's a misdemeanor charge. will this administration take a stand against violence against reporters? >> we take a stand against violence against any individual. >> i follow that up with would you support legislation you have come out, would you support legislation that would support reportingthe shield law? >> we have a constitution and the first amendment applies to all americans. and anyone in this country for freedom of expression we support that holy. >> when yousay you are going to try defeat isis and al-qaeda what you doing to illuminate abject poverty that is the
6:55 pm
breeding ground for terrorists? >> as we have mentioned before the national security team is putting together a solution to defeating isis. when that strategy is complete we will talk about that. >> floyd abrams is an attorney and author of several books. on a recent "washington journal" to talk about his latest book "the soul of the first amendment". this is 35 minutes. huskily take every opportunity we can to talk about the first amendment on "washington journal" and floyd abrams's neww book gives us that are protected to remind the viewers the text of united states constitution amendment went congress will s make no law prohibiting the fre, exercise or abridging the freedom of speech or the press or the right of the people to peaceably assemble