tv White House Briefing CSPAN October 2, 2017 3:26pm-3:44pm EDT
be brightened by a single light and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a ingle ray of hope. melania and i are praying for every american who has been hurt, wounded, or lost the ones they loved so dearly in this terrible attack. we pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace and we pray for the day when evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and from ear. may god bless the souls of the lives that are lost. may god give us the grace of healing and may god provide the grieving families with strength to carry on. thank you. god bless america. thank you.
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national able satellite corp. 2017] >> white house press secretary sara huckabee sanders this afternoon offered condolences for the victims of the mass shooting in las vegas. she then answered questions from reporters. sarah: good afternoon. our thoughts and prayers today are with the victims and survivors in las vegas and with the people of puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands where massive storm recovery efforts are ongoing. the president will be flying to puerto rico tomorrow to view the devastation and he will
assure the people there that we are with them 100% today and for the long haul. puerto ricans have shown incredible resilience and we're fully committed to helping them rebuild their lives. last night thousands of our fellow citizens endured what the president has rightly called an act of pure evil in las vegas. the president has ordered our flags to half-staff and to further honor those lost in the attack, we will hold a moment of silence on the south lawn this afternoon at 2:45 eastern time. the president will visit las vegas on wednesday to grieve with the friends and family of the victims, to offer his support to those recovering from their wounds, and to thank the courageous first responders. in the coming days this attack will directly impact communities all over our country whose residents were visiting the entertainment capital of the world to attend a concert. one man, 29-year-old sonny, had traveled from tennessee to las vegas for the concert with his wife, heather. when the bullets began raining down from above, sonny shield her from danger, selflessly giving up his life to save
hers. they've been married for just over a year. others risked their own lives to save people they had never met. mike of philadelphia laid on top of students at the concert to protect them from the gun fire. they're 20, i'm 53, he said, and i've lived a good life. lindsey and her fiance fled for cover during the attack and immediately returned to the scene with their pickup truck to help transport the wounded to nearby hospitals. gale who was attending the concert with her husband says she owes her life to a brave police officer who instinctively served as a human shield, protecting her from harm. sadly multiple police officers, both on duty and off duty, were among those killed on injured. but what these people did for each other says far more about who we are as americans than the cowardly acts of a killer ever could. the gospel of john reminds us that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend. the memory of those who displayed the ultimate expression of love in the midst of unimaginable act of hate will never fade.
their examples will serve as an eternal reminder that the american spirit cannot and will not ever be broken. in the days ahead, we will grieve as a nation, we will honor the memory of those lost as a nation. and we will come together united as one nation under god and indivisible. with that i'll take your questions. reporter: can you tell us a little bit about how the president first learned about it and your engagement with him ? his own personal reaction? they said he might spend more than a day in las vegas. was he referring to a couple days there? sarah: we're still finalizing the details of the travel that will take place. we know for sure he'll be there on wednesday and beyond that we'll keep you posted. as those arrangements are finalized, in terms of activities this morning, the president was briefed early this morning by general kelly. and has been updated regularly and constantly throughout the day and will continue to as new
information is provided by law enforcement officials. reporter: you have talked to him about his own -- how he's dealt with this? sarah: i've seen him today and i think he, like most of america, is saddened and certainly his heart and compassion goes out to those that were affected. reporter: many times when these horrible massacres occur, it leads to questions about gun control. has this particular massacre made the president think anything more about pursuing tighter gun laws such as background checks, to prevent massacres like this from happening again? sarah: look, this is an unspeakable tragedy. today is a day for could be soling the survivors -- consoling the survivors and mourning those we lost. our thoughts and prayers are certainly with all of those individuals. there's a time and place for a political debate. but now is the time to unite as a country. there's currently be a open and ongoing law fornsement --
currently an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation. it would be premature for to us discuss policy when we don't fully know all the facts or what took place last night. reporter: to follow on that. do you believe that or does the president believe that this is a moment, that this is a time when this should not be a political discussion, it should be a policy discussion? does he believe that he could bring something new to the gun ebate that has been, you know, locked in typical politics for so many years? sarah: i think today is more, again, like i said, a day of reflection, a day of mourning. a day of gratefulness for those that were saved. and i think that there will be certainly time for that policy discussion to take place. but that's not the place that we're in at this moment. certainly i think that there's a time for that to happen. reporter: before he was elected president, some 15 or 16 years ago, he did have a different
view on guns than he had during the campaign. does he believe that this is something that he could lead a bipartisan effort on at some point? and at what point would that be appropriate? sarah: i think that's something we can talk about in the coming days. and see what that looks like moving forward. i think one of the things that we don't want to do is try to reate laws that won't create or stop these types of things interest happening. if you look to chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year, they have the strictest gun laws in the country. that certainly hasn't helped there. i think we have to -- when that time comes for those conversations to take place, then i think we need to look at things that may actually have that real impact. reporter: thanks. on puerto rico, can you tell us a little bit about the president's ames -- aims for his visit today? -- tomorrow? do you expect any tension given some of his comments over the weekend? sarah: we have several stops
that we'll put out later this afternoon in terms of the specifics of that trip. we are going to be spending significant time there in puerto rico, meeting both the first responders as well as the storm survivors. we'll again put out the details of that exact schedule later today. reporter: some of his comments over the weekend, like the folks down there wanted everything done for them, do you expect that to come up in any of his conversations? sarah: i expect the focus to be on the recovery efforts. which were fully commit -- which we're fully committed to. the top priority for the federal government is certainly to protect the lives and the safety of those affect -- in affected areas and provide life-sustaining services as we work together to rebuild their lives. that's going to be the focus. not just in the conversations tomorrow, but certainly the focus that we've had since this began. reporter: who exactly wants everything done for them? sarah: i haven't talked to him specifically about a defined of
who they might be. the federal government is doing everything within our powers and capabilities to first focus on the life-sustaining and life-saving measures, as well as on the rebuilding process. we have over 12,000 federal staff on the ground, 64 hospitals out of 67 are partially or fully operational. 14 are now back on the electrical grid. 45% of customers in puerto rico have access to drinking water. eight commercial airports are operational. 65% of gas stations are open. all of these things are things that we're continuing to push. continuing to move forward and will be part of that effort. reporter: if i may, does the president believe that what happened amounts to an act of domestic terrorism? sarah: again, we're still in a fact-finding mission. this is an ongoing investigation. and it would be premature to weigh in on something like that before we have any more facts. we'll leave that to local law fornsement. to work with also -- law
enforcement. to work with also the federal law enforcement to make that determination. reporter: over the weekend the president was critical of the mayor of san juan. other than your comments on friday morning, where she criticized elaine duke for saying this was a good news story in terms of d.h.s. getting supplies to areas where they were needed, what was she doing that prompted such criticism from the president? sarah: look, right now our focus is to bring the mayor into the coordination efforts. this administration, as well as other members on the ground, have reached out to her. we hope that she will join with us in those efforts and be part of things. she's been invited to participate in the events tomorrow as well and we hope that those conversations will happen. and we can all work together to move forward. reporter: -- [inaudible] -- reimburse the government yet for -- [inaudible] -- and if not, is there a specific deadline when you and the president expect -- [inaudible] sarah: i'm not sure on the time
frame for that. or whether or not it's already taken place. but we'll keep you posted on that. reporter: given what the president said about secretary of state tillerson's outreach to north korea over the weekend, does the president still have confidence in him as secretary of state? sarah: he does, yes. reporter: you have spoken to him since those -- [inaudible] -- sarah: i believe so. i'll have to verify. reporter: thanks a lot. it's a very sad day in this country, as you mentioned at the top. the president said in his remarks that when he goes out to las vegas, he's going to meet with first responders and, in addition to that, families of the victims that were impacted by this. what's the message to each of those groups when he goes out there? sarah: i think it's very simple to say that his goal is simply to be there, to show the support of people from around the country and to stand united and not only this act of evil, but against all acts of evil and i think that was clear in
the president's remarks today and something certainly that you'll see from his visit on wednesday. reporter: following up on the tweets about the -- [inaudible] -- the president tweeted, save your energy, rex, we'll do what has to be done. is it the stated position of the white house that you're trying to get back to talks or you have given up? sarah: no. we've been clear that now is not the time to talk. the only conversations that have taken place or that would would be on bringing back americans who have been detained. like with otto. those are the types of conversations that this administration was willing to have. beyond that there will be no conversations with north korea at this time. there are three americans still detained in north korea. reporter: -- lines of communication with pyongyang, that's what you're using it for? you're not using it to try to get -- sarah: that would be the only reason for us to have conversations with them at this time.
reporter: does the president believe diplomacy then is not worth pursuing in north korea? sarah: there's a difference between talking and putting diplomatic pressure. we still strongly support putting diplomatic pressure on north korea. which we're continuing to do. but now is not the time simply to have conversations with north korea. we've encouraged all of our allies and partners to do more and we're going to continue to keep all options on the table when it comes to that. reporter: you talked about how now is not the time to get into a gun control debate or to talk about policy. after the orlando shooting, the president that day was out on twitter talking about policy. he was talking about a travel ban. so when, for example, senator murphy said it's time for congress to get off its ass and do something, does the president agree? sarah: i agree with him that congress should get up and do something. i'm not sure that it's specific to that. i think congress has had several months of doing very little and we'd like it see some actual legislation come through. reporter: what would the president like to see congress do? sarah: we haven't had the moment to have a deep dive on
the policy part of that. we've been focused on the fact that we had a severe tragedy in our country and this is a day of mourning, a time of bringing our country together and that's been the focus of the administration this morning. reporter: -- orlando, though, when at that day he was talking about the travel ban, saying he didn't want congratulations, essentially. sarah: there's a difference between being a candidate and being the president. reporter: before last night's massacre, a bill was advancing through the house, republicans cleared it through the house committee on natural resource that would, among other things, make it easier for people to buy silencers. hillary clinton tweeted about it this morning. she said that imagine the deaths in las vegas if the shoot heir a silencer, which the n.r.a. wants to make easier to get. does the white house have a position on this particular piece of legislation? sarah: again, i haven't spoken with the president about a specific issue. but i don't think that that is something that would have changed. again, i think before we start trying to talk about the
preventions of what took place last night tpwheerksd to know more facts. right now we're not at that point. t's very easy for mrs. clinton to criticize and come out but we need to remember that the only person with blood on their happeneds is that of the shooter and this isn't a time for -- hands is that of the shoot around this isn't a time for us to go after individuals or organizations. i think that we can have those policy conversations but today is not that day. reporter: are there any policy descriptions that the president considers to be out of bounds on the policy debate that we'll ave in the next few weeks? sarah: the president's been clear that he's a strong supporter of the second amendment. and i don't have anything further at this point. i'll take one more question. reporter: couple questions. one, head of the puerto rico -- [inaudible] -- wanted to ask about the bill that congressman
mccain -- [inaudible] -- which would give a permanent exemption for puerto rico. [inaudible] -- consider a permanent repeal or at least an exemption from it for puerto rico at some time? sarah: i don't think that's something that's necessary at this time. if we deemed that it was, we could have that discussion then. but certainly something that we don't feel like is necessary today. i wouldn't imagine that would be something needed. reporter: also, on the nomination of -- [inaudible] -- there's been some attacks amongst senators, some in the media, about her religious beliefs. does the white house have some concerns about that? sarah: we certainly support religious freedom and would ask that congress also support that as well. as you all know, we've got a moment of silence taking place on the south lawn here momentarily. and so with that i'll close and
just, again, i think we ask collectively that everyone across the country keep the people both in las vegas and in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands in our prayers. thanks. cred c.d. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> we heard press secretary sara huckabee sanders mention the moment of silence at the white house to mourning the deaths in the mass shooting in las vegas. president trump, first lady, vice president mike pence, and his wife, marked the moment of silence this afternoon on the south lawn of the white house.