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  White House Briefs Reporters on Hurricane Irma Response  CSPAN  September 11, 2017 2:45pm-3:23pm EDT

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ms. huckabee sanders: good afternoon. this -- this morning we had the honor of joining the president at the pentagon to observe the anniversary of september 11 with the families andurvivors of the horrific attack our homeland that ok the lives of 2,977 ofheir brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives 16 years ago. the lives of those survivors and families were changed forever on
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th d and our country has never been the same since the unimaginable evil of terrorism reached our shores. in response to the attack, we are -- in response to the attack we are memorializing today, the department o homeland security was created to address the threatse face from counterterrorism and border security to disaster preparedness and relief which we know all too well. the men and women i responding to thesetorms embody the spirit under which d.h.s. was establisthe presidt recognized a pentagon police officer o sped to the scene of the crash at the pentagon as soon as he heard the attack and saved as many as 20 people. like isaac, the first responders to hurricanes harvey and irma are running directly into danger to save lives and serve our nation. i hope every american can take comfort in the fact that in the face of unbelievable tragedy this country has come together
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to heal prork tect and save. from the firefighters and police officers who rushed in burning buildings 9/11 to the first responde on the ground in florida, the united stes virgin islands and puerto rico, fema, through its national and regional response coordination centers and liaisons to the national hurricane center continue to actively monitor the track of hurricane irma and support local sport responding to the damage the storm has already caused. i'd like to bring up tom the president of homeland security and counterterrorism advisor, to provide an update on issues related to hurricanes irma and harvey bore i take questions. as always, he'll make an opening state nledment and take question, then i'll be back u to answer further questions. thank you. tom: good afternoon. it's a somber day today and i and sarah and others re honored to join the president at the pentagon in a moment of
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silence on the south lawn as well. in addition i would note that president trump continued a long tradition of president since 9/11 to receive a counterterrorism briefg is morning in the oval office from his intelligence community, from his director of national counterterrorism center, from myself and others on the team. the purpose of that is to give the president a sense of the terrorist threat that exists globally and to the homeland and give him a sen o what we're doing about it and make sure he's comfortable with our posture. as i said the other day, we don't have current, active threats against the homeland to our knowledge and that's a good news story for today. let me move into quick thought. before i do it, though, sarah noted created the department of homeld securitin the wake of 9/11. would note that the government gaged in a massive reorganization of its structures and efforts to create and national counterterrorism center, creat the department of homeland security, office of director of national
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teigence, a u.s. northern command, which you've seen marshal rources in expert fashion for these storms, a combatant command in the united states. we've marshaled resources and organized them in a way to confront the threat of terrorism but also to oanize ourselveses in a way to allow us to respond to any event from mande hazard to an unfortunate terrorist attack but also to a hurricane. let me see if i can today talk to you about what we done. i believe harvey, as i said earlier, was the best integrated, union fid, joint federal, local, state response effort our country has seen in its history. i continue to stand by that. we've got roughly 700,000 registrants foindividual assistancen the greater houston and southwest taxrea. president trump continues to work wit him and direct his
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cabinet to not lose focus then people of texas. with respect to hurrica irma, it's now a tropical depression. that does not mean it's not a dangerous storm. as you'll see, jacksonville is suffering wh has been calle some of the worst flooding it's seen in 100 years. the category might be reduced by the effects on jacksonville, for instance, when you combine storm surge and winds, mighteplicate thoof a category 3 storm even ough it's a tropic deprefplgs as that flooding is ongoing, we have life save, fe-sustaining operations under way. we are prayerful there are not people rightow trapped by floodwaters. the presint spoke this morning o the governor of the u.s. --gin islands, governor mack the thanked the u.s. government for roviding -- providing a rapid response and ongoing response. if i could on that, i'll speak to it later, but the mobilization of our military in
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response to the storms in puerto rico and the.s. virgin islands is the largest ever mobilization of our military in naval and marine operations. we now have an air force carrier deployed in this effort. s theirst ever as well. we have the largest flotilla operation in our nation's history to help not only the people of puerto rico, people of the u.s. virgin islands but also st. martin and other non-u.s. islands affected and the people of florida. with respect to puerto rico, the president spoke the governor of puerto rico this morning around 11:30 a.m. and they discussed similarly how happy they were with the feder government response to their needs, t governor communi kated to the prident that they -- communicated to the president that they have a large, island-wide power outage problem that we're addressing asoon as we can. and then florida, i ink governor scott has been demonstrating an outstanding leadership instinct and pressing
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forward, continuing the message of getting people out of harm's way whi is an ongoing effort. the storm is still hitting the united stes in georgia and south carolina. it'll move up through an inland flooding problem in nnsee, maybe north carolina as we see the storm progress. governor scott has at this stage beguconducting overflight surveys -- surveys of the keys and it looks like to the north and et of key west, the storm theris took the i-- the islands there took the lanchest brunt of the storm. i'll be able to speak to that when we take questions. if i can come back to 9/11, i think the lesson we learned that day among others was thanot only doesvil exist but good people ting action ca confront that. what ie been aured and reassured about for the last 24 hours, how many good pple are taking action. so that's kind of my lesson for today. 'd like to take questions now. reporter: in the immediate aftermath of harvey, the federal response priority was to rescue
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people who were trapped by the enormous flooding. in the state of florida what's the priority for the federal government? >> there's a number of prioritierin feder government. right now because the tomorrow is -- storm is ongoing, our priority is life save, life sustaining. the keys are taking a considerable amount of attention. what you'll see in florida and more broly speaking as a comparative matte houston and harvey was an acutely narrow area ofperations, comparively. what we have now is a large sce area of operations. what we're trying to do is marshal the resources where they're needed so it's a prioritization effort. we areorried about flooding, house, debris and power restoration. wer restoration is also a function of access to fuel, refined fuel. as you'll see the next days and weeks play out, we'll have to clear debris from roadways so people can gain re-entry. right now though the message is not to rush re-entry. there are still dangerous conditions, downed electric lines, flood conditions, problems that would be compounded byo re-entry.
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listen to your local officials not only about evacuation but also when and how to stagger youre-entry. there's a public safety reason. there's a priority set, eventually we'll move into issues about recovery and insurance. >> what are you doing on the fuel front? mr. bossert: what we're doing at this stage and were doing leading up was get out othe way. we waived regulations, waived rulewaived the joans act restrictions to free up additional cacity. florida is a uniquely ptured state in the way it receives refined fuel. it's not part of the larger pipeline system throughout th country. it receives fuel by sh tanker, those ship tankers then link a to intermodal sites where think fill up trucks and truck distribute. what we'll doe is clear those pathwa, assess tse three ports where those tankers dock, ke sur they're not damaged and get things back up and ruing and florida power and
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light and thorkseuclear power generation facility, duke energy and ose will coinue with their professionasm and bring those facilities back up as soo as possible. >> do we have any agreements in place with the prite sector to distribute to folks in respon and recovery, talking about coco, home depot, wal-mart, so we don't have to depletehe dister relief fund? public service. mr. bossert: there's a rtnership where private sector entities are build into -- built intour coordinating centers to understand what we're doing and how to prioritizeeopening facileties and the safe i have to the work force. secondly, it is our absolutely baseline doctrine nowadays in thmergency magement mmunity that we would rather reopen the stores than contie pridg food, water, temporary shelter to people. it's just not within the regular cour of operating business, it not routine and it's not something we can easily sustain. it's healthier, better, faster for us to reopen the stores as
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fast as possible. >> previous administration saw a -- reporter: previous administration saw climate change. harveynd irma could pose a problem. you could have fema budgets that can't keep up with the demand when you have powerful storms hitting the country. is that something that you think this administration should take a look at? we know the president pulled out they have paris climate accord. are these storms giving this administration some pause when it comes to the issue of climate change and homeland security? . bossert: i was here in the 2004 and 2006 cycles of hurricanes. causality is outside of my ability to analyze right now. i will say we continue to take seriously the climate change, not the cause of it, but the things we observe. rising floodwars, one inch every 10 years in tampa. thgs thawouleqre
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prenitatn ases wh sd heg l ll an'us reild thingthat will be in ha's way later or won't be hardened against fute predictable floods we see. that has to do with engineerg analysis and changing cditions along eroding shorelines and inland water and flood control projects. reporter: just to follow up on that whenou see three category 4 hurricanes on the same map at the same time does the thought occur to you, maybe there i something to this climate change thing and its connection to powerful hurricanes? could you -- or do you separate the two and say, there's a lot of big hurricanes coming r wa a cyclica : there's natu of hurricane ass. the scientists we dead on with their predictio that this would a ig bigger hurricane season
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than usual. reporter: on the budget, you've got wildfiresn the west, two major hurricane strik, what effect on the federal governme's budget have ese had and how will we react to it? willhere be programcut? building the infrastructure will take several years. mr. bossert: i think they started a bipartisan discussion on this point. i think right now we havelenty resources to get through this. that w the naturofhe appropation thate saw and the second appropriation that we will see at the end this month, subject to the regular course ofrd in the fiscal year. we'll ask for a third, perhaps fourth, supplemental propriation for the purpose of rebuilding. 'll do it smartly to the previous question t in terms pressure the budget this a disaster relief fund iss, funded little bit differely and i have every lief this president will end up with proposals as hstarted his administration with. i can't get too far into how that works and e politics is
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outside my lane. reporter: at any point in time as y're taking a look at this issue is thereny chae that fema, the e.p.a. and some of the places that were cut will se more money go into their budget? mr. bosser tmbing: i think we'll put money in as money is needed to address needs. s the same trend i alluded to earlier. in 2005 we had a large spike in disaster relief funding, but we had to elevate the cap on floo insurance. swreel to do that here. you'll see over the longer span of time even the flood insurance budget i red and black, red a black,ased on claims and premiums. we'll analy it in that fashion. i n't have a prediction for you on that. reporter: i asdwo weeks ago about harvey and you said, i ked you aut house, wanted to know if you have an update on the issue of housing since now weave harvey and what else is coming along the way? can you get us an update as to
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locating housing for those who have been displaced. mr. bosser tmbing: in texas? -- mr. bossert: in texas? reporter: in texas or erever. . bosser tmbing: going bac to texas, the governor is doing what we haven't seen before, he's dealing with that, assigned someone to be in charge of the long-term recovery. there's four or five it's been flooded when the dry wa is ripped out, when the repairs begin ey willave to find a place temporarily. fema has initiated a manufactured housing solution where they'll put aobile home or travel trailer on your proper where you can live in for a period of time while your home is being repred. the are ideal while your
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house is being fixed. that's esstially the option we have right now the third option of course is just distance. so the's available renta stock but you have to draw a larg ircircumference as people move fm their hos into rental sck. we had analys done on the available manufactured house we canet that to you. inlorida we will have a slight different issue. we haven't assesse entirel what the damage is. florida will be the same model but remember it's a peninsula and it'a wider scale proem and it's been larger swath storm. so what we'll do there is assess whether those arehe right models or apply different creative solutions. if we we have the authority and budget to do so. we wilmake sure people are taken care of. >> there is a ccern about the mobile homand wound up having formaldehyde. there is big concern about
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mobile home communities jus ing in place after katrina. ishat out of e mindset or part of the mindset? mr. bossert: what we do as a government isurchase available manufactur housing. we don't make it and we purchase it off the open maet. i think thepen market has improved. eir building practices and i think we have improved through that experience knowing who to buy from and who not to buy from. i unrstand pblems with ambienair quality persist in our everyday lives. i don't know how much formaldede is in this room t i know it's a carcinogen at any level. we take it very siously and we message very seriously the importance of basically ventilatn. but to my knowledge we buyff of a better market now and providth solution in a more tailered and resnsible manner. reporter: couple questions about thconditions in
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florida. rst of all, floridians without power, usually a very local issue but this is a catastrophe of a much grander scale. when is your assessment people in florida can get their power back? what'she federal government's role in making that happen? mr. bossert: my number is somewhere north of five million. i don't know if that constitutes half the people in florida. reporter: households and businesses. mr. bossert: it's a significant number. to the extent a customer might have four people in the usehold you'll see that number increase. the number opeople will be four in the home, the number of customerwod be one. that's the difference. the idea is we have a joint role in this. florida power and light, duke electr, othersill be bringing forces to bear here. federal government brings to bear a numbeof fors that are imperative to the restoration effort like pushing debris outf the road and clearing roadways. yesterday what we saw w not justhe reports of but the
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actual evidence this will be the largest ever mobilization of line restoration workersn this country, period, end of story. they were already mobilized yesterday. they were at the daytona speedway. we wl have line restoration workers from every company in this country from states all over the country but also from canada coming to florida to help restore the lines. so in florida, unlike in houston where they're buried powerlines, in florida they are strung on poles. we have to restorthe poles string the lines. they restorehe plant and subplant, then line by line to each road and half by half. you can't hook upach half until the home is safe. it's literal a joint effort from federal cleing to public and private partnerships to line restoration that are partnered the for-profit and regulated world all theay through the individual homeowners. reporter: how long will that
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take? mr. bossert: i would say be patient beeen re-entry and that process. we could have wer down in homes for cometting weeks. weeks. now, i don't want to cause panic in florida. there are hospitals and nursing homes and other facilities that have generator power to provide services that are necessary. and there the concern is providing fuel those generators should they run out. from that perspective the federal government provides a great deal of fuel, great dea of transport assistance and we ve that fueto the state and locals and they distribute to thos wholesale and retail distribution. that's t best analogy. they disibute to those facilities. that's ourole there. we expect that to happen selessly. reporter: is preventing price gouging in the sta of florida a state rponsibility? mr. bsert: it can be both. you'llear from the attorney general later and he will
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explain fraud. i think y already heard pam . e is engaging in gouging both is the answer but i can tell you neither official, attorney general of the united stes or attorney general -- attorneys general of the states are going to tolerate gouging. that's something i think people ought to think twice about. sir. reporter: there is a possibility of a third and four supplemental for disaster relief. can you tell us how much the administration wts to be included in the supplemental and will you put language raising p for flood insurance in that legislation as well? mr. bossert: the first point, no. we are trying to make su we have responsible estates as opposed to making wild gases now. we will try to get through the response phase and as we transition into recovery figure out theamage, go up for another responsible request. if we got that wrong then we go for another. it's not necessarily wrong but if we estimate and find tules
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don't et the estimates then we'll go and rectify. as far as flood insurance, we will see how many claims. they had $6.8 billion available to it. if claims exceed we will ask for the cap to be raised. reporter: i was hoping you could drill down the efforts of evacuating americans in the caribbean. th state department had a task force. they're working round the clock. can you assess tho efforts and can you give a message to americans who are right now in dire straits in e caribbean who might be listening to this, what should the expectation be for an evacuation, how soon can the americans get the americans out? mr. bossert: i'm preaching cautiono make sure people understand this is an ongoing effort and still going to be long, painful days ahead. i am doubling down, this is the best integrated, full-scale response effort in our nation's universities that includes the u.s. virgin islands and prto rico and non-u.s. islands where we helped americans during a window of operational safety
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between jose and irma. this has been a large event. you are going to see lot of positive stories from it. now, expectations. an island where we have to transport commodities, food, water, long road to bring electric power online but we have assembled two of the most powerful naval flotillas in recent memy, a total onine large ships. i am going to cut right to the he u.s-- the abraham feragut.owjeema, that's an aircraft. that's an operation for most americans you can't picture it has never been mobilized f ef ith een isss , am pudf . to the extent it meets the needs, i hope it does because were saving thousands off of these islands. if the burn rate is not fast
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enough i would be surprised because we are mobilizing ourselvein ways we have never mobilized. the president of thunited states and the governor of puerto rico were all very pleased in their phone calls today. i am in no better position from this podium thanheir to assess this. reporter: with so many people evacuated from the keys and given the level of destruction there, any time estimate on when people might be able to return to the keys? mr. bossert: the keys are going to take a while. we have not assessed the structural integrity of the bridges there. there is reason to believe some of the draw bridges that were up may or may not have been bent. restoring those will take some time. that route 1 is a large expansive bridge. essentially all of the undergirding has to be assessed for structural integrity. i expect the keys will not be fit for re-entry for weeks. if that's wrong and i'm wro then fine. let the local officialsring u in.
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i uld set that expectation pretty broad right now and say for the peoplehat chose to stay, they had every warning to leave, whope they tookhat warning. those that didn't we will get back dn there as soon as we humanly can. we had three or four overflighttoday. i talked to the fema administrator and he's not certain yet that we had good overflight assessment ofhe all those people might be. neitheof us uld be surprised if liv were lost but neither of us would be surprid if the responder wi get down there aggressively. we're doing everything we can to help them. i amoing tactually e on that if i could. end whe i started. today is the day of remembrance for 9/11. it is why i got into this business and it's w i believe our government is now organized for theevel of response that we've seen. it just goes to kind of show whate got. if we wanto bring ourselves together in helng o felw humans, under good leadership for preside trump, i ink we put together a good effort. please for the people of
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florid continue to follow the instructions of your first responders and local authities. this isn over yet and it's going to be a painful, slightly frtrating ifot very frustrating week or two ahead. thank you all very much. [captions copyrit national cable tellite co. 2017] [ctioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caion contenand accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> thank you, tom. as he wrapped up, he reiterated the need to listetoocal authorities. i know the governor of florida getting ready to hold a press conference. i am going to try to te as many questions we can. but i want to make sure everyone is able to tune in to that and cover that extensively. finally before i tak your questions several asked about the ongoing violence in burma. the united states is deeply troubledy the ongoing crisis in burma where at least 300,000 people have fled their homes in the wake of attacks on burr meese securi posts on august 25. ms. sanders: we reiterati the
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condemnation and ensuing violence. jeff. reporter: do you have a reaction to the comments on "60 mites" saying the firing of james comey was the worst thing in political snirt and the president's meeting with the maysian pri minisr, what do y expect he will achieve in that meeting and will he address or avoid the -- [inaudible] ms. sanders: pretty wide ranging topics. first on the comey firing, i think we've been pretty clear what our position is and certainly i think it has been shown in the days that followed that the president was right in firing director comey. since director's firing we learned new information about his conduct. that only pvided further justification for that firing, inclingiven false testimony, leaking privileged information to scombrurnlists. he went outside of the chain of commandnd policized an
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investigation into a presidential candidate. i think the president has been very cle on his position on th front. he's very pleased with the new director. and has full confidence in him to fully restore and leathe f.b.i. in terms of malaysia and on that question, hard transition but i'll try to make sure we cover that. the ited states and malaysi have had a 60-year relationship and partnership built on common economic and security interests and that continues and the president looks forward to discussing a wide variety and wide range of regional and security issues with the prime minister. and talking about ways they can strengthen counterterrorism, cooperation, certainly t halt of isis, addressing north korea and their continued action and making sure we promote maritime security in thsouth china sea. those e certainly i think some of the priorities of tomorrow's meeting but i am not going to get ahead much further than that on any conversation
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that may take place. look, we are not going to commt on an ongoing investigation being led byhe department of justice. and that investigatn is apolitical and certainly independent of anything tang place tomorrow. reporter: i also have question on mr. bannon's interview. during that he said i think mitch mcconnell and to degree paul ryan they don't want donald trump's populous and economic agenda. [inaudible] first, does the president agree with that obvious arterization of mcconnell and ryan? ms. sandersthe president is committed to working with congress to get things done. the president has a big agenda. he wants to work with all memberof congress. that iludes republican leadership and democrats. i think you s some the president's leadership last week when he helped strike a deal to make sure that we got the funding that was necessary. we're focused on moving things forward and certainly that's the goaand priority of the administration. reporter: would he like to see
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given his pascriticism of mcconnell and rya would he like to see dierent leadership in the republican congress? ms. sanders: the president is committed to working with the leadership we have and nhing beyond that at this point. john. reporter: a folw-up on bannon's comments. he actually when he sd all that about mcconnell and ryan, they wanted to nullify the 2016 results. just a simple yes or no question, does the president agree with that assessment? ms. sanders: not that i am aware with. reporter: is he talking t steve bannon,eeking counsel? ms sanders: i think they had one conversation t not one since he lt. [inaudible] popular topic. i think we may be ansring more questions on steve bannon now that 's not her than when he was. reporter: did the president happen twatch t interew? any reaction? did you happen to watch the
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interview on "60 minutes"? ms. sanders: i know heatched a clip of it. reporter: as a former colleague of yours who wked here at the white house, were yo disapointe with any of his comments? were you surprised by any of his comments? did you like to know that a formertaffer is speaking so openly abo some of the inner workings what happens here at the white house? ms. sanders: i'm sure it made great tv and glad cbs will speak about the ratings. sarah. is that what this, a good thing? reporter: the topic of steve bannon. another comment he made is dreamers should consider self-deporting when their work permits runs out. is that somhing the white house thinks is realistic, that the dreamers would voluntarily leave the country when their work permits run out is that somethinghe president
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thinks they should do? mississippi sanders: we're hoping congress wi stand up and fix this problem and implement responsible migration reform and addressing that problewould be part of it. reporter: last week nancy pelosi said the president would signhe dream act? is that accurate, would t president sign t dream act? ms. sanders: they are looking at responsible immigration reform and part of that would be part of that process but we want to do something that addresses a multitude of issues and,gain, congress has six months to do their job. we'rvery hopeful and confident they will. reporter: "60 minut" interview, bannon said the discsion over daca could lead to a civil war in the republican party. how and why is he wrong about at? . sanders: i thi steve likes to speak in the most extreme measures. not sure i agree with that. john. rerter: on a difrent topic -- ms. sanders: oh, wow. maybeouetwo questions. reporter: in just a matter
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weeks, two storms categorized 100 and 500-year events hit the united states. has the president given any thought to leave the paris climate accd? ms. sanders: i am not knowing about th paris deal. our goal is to do the very best when it comes toaking care of the environment and takg proper steps. the united states is one of th best in the world to do this. we want to continue to do this. right now the admintration is focused on the recovery and relief efforts. as tom said a few minutes ago, we will look at that analysis once we get through the coming days and focus on recovery and relief and saving life effort taking place. reporter: to follow-up a little bit here, can you clarify whether the president believe human activity -- ms. sanders: the president addressed this. don't think it's changed over the last several weeks and, again, he's addressed his
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opinion on that several times. reporter: happened back on august 10. e president declaring he wanted to have a national emergency when its came to the opioid crisis. it's now been more than a month since he said that. a delay for aresident who likes to do things quickly, as he often said, is the prident taking this seriously enough andill he determine this emergency and get the ball roing? ms. sanders:bsolutely taking it seriously. the commission and members of the administration have contind to meet andork on the details of that national declaration and that's certainly a big priority for the ministration and continue to focus on pushing that through. reporter: this is a president that's -- ms. sanders: it's a much more involved process andomethi they are working on the legal de, administrative side a make sure it's done quickly. reporter: ask aboutteve muchein. [laughter] ms. nders: tricky, tricky. reporter: what do theyant the
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buet resution to ok like and does the administration support the house budge ms. sanders: i don't want to get ahead of their conversations. i'll let secretary mnuchin talk on that. reporter: he took some cricisms last week from publicans about handling the debt deal. what does the president think ofiserformanceo far? ms. sanders: the president h confidence in secretary mnuchin and working with gary cohn to get tax reform done this year. reporterregarding james comey you saihe was resnsible for giving false testimony. do youelieve that comey either purgered himsel before congress or at the very least misled congress in his teimony? ms. sanders: i think that's sothing for.o.j. look , not me. i am not an attorney. reporter: one on tax reform. if a bigax reform doesn't pass by december, would the
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president support adding middle class tax cuts to the end of the year tax tender bill that this congress has to pass? ms. sands: we're focused to make sure we have a complete tax reform package. that's the goal. right now that's the focus and if that doesn't happene will look at otr options at that point. reporter: americans' personal data security after theqifax leak, is more handling needed? ms. sanders: it's something we need to look at extensively. tom bossert will be the primary ople taking the lead on that front and certainly something we have to explore all the best ways to make sure americans are protected in that sense. report: s the president disappointed by steve bannon's comments on "60 minutes"? ms. sanders: i am not sure. reporter: did steve bannon warn the firing of james comeyould be the biggest political mistake in modern hisry? ms. sanders: as i mentioned when we started, the governor of florida has a press conference that will be
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starting in a few minutes. we want to make sure everyone has an opportuty to tune in. the press team are here. we will answer questions if you have anything beyond steve bannon i will be hap to answer. thanks, guys. >> wrapping here at the white house. if you missed any of this briefing today youl be able to watch it in its entirety on our website. c-span.org. we will go to florida as governor rick scott willpdate the recover on from hurricane irma. while we waito get that under way, we'll go to "washington journal"bout hurricane disaster rely.