tv Politico Women Rule Summit with White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders CSPAN December 16, 2018 5:33pm-6:01pm EST
women's contributions. everything you have seen today is from a collection of a smith sony museum. we are building a culture in which of the absence of women's representation is unacceptable. ofcan change how hundreds millions of people understand the intel ability of women's impact in a global history, presence, and our future. on behalf of the smithsonian, we are excited, deliberate, and unafraid to be part of this revolution. thank you. [cheers and applause] >> more now from the conference secretary house press sarah sanders talks about her approach to press briefings and the impact of the job on her personal life. more sessions from the woman's leadership summit are available on c-span.org. [applause] >> hi, i'm a white house
reporter for politico, and i'm thrilled to be here today with one of the most influential women in the trump white house. please welcome sarah huckabee sanders, the white house press secretary. [applause] thank you so much for joining us at women rule. i'm going to get right to the news of the day, but we're also going to discuss how sarah has put her personal stamp on the job and how she's juggled the demands of a public high-profile , literally nonstop job with raising a young family. sarah has 3 kids under the age of six, so not too much going on in her life. >> i know most of you are just impressed i got showered and ready with 3 kids and made it here. [laughter] >> so, i want to start with some of the events that unfolded here while most of us were here. the president had, i think, spirited would be a good way to
describe it, meeting with chuck schumer and nancy pelosi and indicated that he is willing to shut down the government over funding a border wall. does the white house think that this is a winning political issue? >> first, let me just say thank you for having me. it's an honor to be with you in a different type of format than we usually get to engage at the -- engage in at the white house, and i'm grateful to be here with this group of people. when it comes to the meeting that took place today, the word i would use would be, productive. there were a lot of issues that were discussed, certainly the funding of the government was one of them, but the first part of the meeting and the first thing that they talked about were actually areas that they could work together, and we saw that when they talked about criminal justice reform. there's been a massive undertaking by the president and by his administration over the last, really over the last year to put an emphasis on major criminal justice reform.
it's been a heavily bipartisan effort, and we saw some real progress on that front today with leader mcconnell announcing that he's going to bring that to the senate floor by the end of the year and we expect that to have a vote and certainly to be widely supported by both democrats and republicans. the second thing they talked about was the progress that they've made on the farm bill and their ability to work together to move that down the field and it looks like we're going to get something done on that. we're certainly hopeful that we will. and then the last thing, certainly, was the government funding, which is a little bit more contested and certainly a lot more passion probably from both sides because there's not quite that same consensus, but i think that's why it's important for them to be able to have those types of meetings, and it's one of the reasons that i love the way that the president operates. i love that he brought the press in and allowed america to see both sides of the aisle and where both democrats and repuicans stand on that issue and see some of that negotiation play out in realtime and i think it's important for america to have that type of transparency, and that's one of the reasons that i think the president has continued to be popular.
that being said, we'll see what happens. it's still an ongoing negotiation, and you're going to see democrats and republicans go back and forth. one thing was clear today. the president's not going to back down when it comes to border security. it's something he's passionate about and something he's going to continue to advocate for. >> i think a lot of people were surprised to hear the president say that he would be proud to shut down the government. if this shutdown does happen, will it then be fair to call this a trump shutdown? >> we're less concerned about labels and more concerned about the fact that the president's putting in place policies that help protect american lives. without a border, you do not have a country and the president has been clear on that since day one. it's it's one of the things he talked about repeatedly during the campaign and one of the reasons that he's president today is because he's been passionate on that topic and he's going to continue not just to fight for that border wall, oftentimes that's the only thing that's talked about, but it's border security. it's making sure that we're closing these loopholes. look, the president wants to see people come into this country,
but he wants to see them do that legally and in an orderly process. we want to make sure that we're not incentivizing human trafficking and drug cartels to bring drugs and illegals across the border and make sure we're doing what we can to protect american citizens and we're going to continue to advocate for that. >> the other thing that's been dominating the headlines is the president's search for a new chief of staff. can you give us some insight into that search? i'm curious what the president is looking for in a candidate that perhaps he hasn't found in reince priebus, his first chief of staff, and now john kelly. >> i don't think it's fair to say that he didn't find what he was looking for, particularly in general kelly. i think they've had an incredibly good relationship. general kelly's been there for a year and a half. he served our country admirably, not just in the administration both as the department of homeland secretary but also the president's chief of staff but also 40-plus years as a marine
general and he is a great american and somebody that all of us in the administration have a great deal of respect and admiration for. and we're very thankful for his service. i think he brought a lot of structure to the white house that was needed at the time he came in, and has certainly, i think, been an incredible addition to the white house. that being said, i think the president is looking for somebody that believes in what we're doing and believes in the policies that we spend every single day, all day working to enact and working to implement and looking for somebody who can lead his team at this point over the next two years as we move into 2020 and certainly into a much more political environment that we anticipate going into as a presidential election year. >> was there a feeling on the president's part that general kelly didn't always believe in the president's agenda or wasn't, at times, politically attuned enough? >> i don't think it's, there's been a question whether or not
general kelly supported the president's policies. certainly, they're going to disagree, but if you can't have a chief of staff that you disagree with, then they're not going to be effective. in fact, i think that's one of the things that the president looks for is somebody who can say if ty don't agree with how things may go, but they need to do that behind closed doors when you have those disagreements. at the end of the day, the only person that was elected to office was donald trump, and obviously, mike pence is the vice president, but those decisions are his to make and once he's made them, it's our job as a staff and as a team and as an administration to implement them. >> i've been watching and sort of gripped by a new a&e documentary about the clinton administration, and the lewinsky affair and one of the things that's come out, one of the main themes, has been the tremendous personal toll that the independent counsel's investigation took on the white house staff. i'm curious if you could talk a
little bit about the personal toll that the mueller investigation may have taken on some in the white house and perhaps on you. >> i see that less as a personal toll on us, but i think it has been a personal toll on the country. the fact that we've spent the better part of two years so singularly focused, particularly the media in large part, so focused on this when the majority of americans say that this isn't something of a great deal of interest to them. i think most people would love to see not just in the media but everyone focus a lot more on economy, safer communities, defeating isis, and policies that actually impact their day-to-day lives. i certainly would love for us to spend a lot more time focused on that, and i think most everybody else would as well. >> i want to shift gears a little bit and talk about your approach to this job. you're the first woman who's had the white house press secretary job since dana porino had it over a decade ago and sarah has
often said at the podium that the chaos that sometimes we in the news media perceive in the white house pales in comparison to the chaos in her own house with 3 young kids. the women rule podcast often asks high-profile women whether they think women can have it all. what do you think? >> i certainly think so. and i think it would be a true disservice to every woman in the country if we ever believed anything differently. i have 3 incredible kids. i have a daughter who's six, a son who's five, and another son who's three. they're incredibly cute, which is probably good because their behavior is not always perfect and if they weren't so cute, we might think about trading them in or something. [laughter] kidding, by the way. that will probably get me in trouble. but i think it's important for me personally, i want my daughter to see that if she wants to do anything in this world, she's capable of doing that.
she's capable of having and raising a family and doing that in an, in a powerful way, but i also want her to kw that if she -- no that if she wants to have a career, she can do that. but if she doesn't, that's ok too. i think it's absolutely vital to our society that we empower women and that we help them believe that they can have everything. >> politico reported that the white house brought on a stylist and a make-up artist and i'm sure all of the women in this room are familiar with the sort of scrutiny that high powered and professional women are subject to about their appearance. how have you handled that, being in front of the camera so often? >> some days better than others. [laughter] like everybody else, you have good days and bad days. look, i try to focus on what we're there to do and not necessarily what the critics are going to say, no matter how good or how bad you look or how great or how bad you say something,
you're always going to have people that disagree with you, no matter what you do. so, i've always tried to focus on the positive and focus on the goal at hand and not let the critics, not only not just define me but not to distract me from what i'm there to do every day. >> in your job as press secretary, i'd imagine that you consume a lot of news. what do you read in the morning? >> i read a lot of e-mail. [laughter] unfortunately, for me, there are a lot more reporters in the world than there are people on our team, so we're a little outnumbered, so they are on a 24-hour churn, so certainly i usually wake up to quite a bit of back-up in e-mail, but also i read all of the news of the day, some of the short version newsletters that come out from a number of different outlets, twitter's always a good quick update, and then usually i'm reading kids folders, i've never seen so much paperwork in my whole life as the preschool and
elementary school packets that come home and despite the fact that all 3 of my kids are at the same school, we get, like, ten different sheets of paper to explain all of the same things, so i spend a lot of my morning doing that as well. >> what do you consider your most trusted sources of news? what are you go-tos? you mentioned newsletters but are there particular ones that you read or that you really trust? >> i like to look, i always say you can tell something that is actually a good news story if you have no idea what side of the story the journalist is on. unfortunately, i think that is more rare today than it used to be. i think it's hard to find where you don't sense some bias and some direction that a reporter may be leaning one side or the other. i try not to spend a lot of time bogged down in the opinion components and really try to look at the facts.
thankfully, most of the news is what we do every day. we seem to generate most of the news, and i got to experience it firsthand so i usually know what's real and what isn't in that sense. >> you really have a job that never shuts off, and i would imagine that's had an impact on your family. you also grew up with politics as a family business. but how do you deal with the nonstop aspect of your job with your kids? >> lots of coffee and a little wine in the evenings. [laughter] but that will probably also get me in trouble, i'm sure, in some way, particularly given my dad is a southern baptist minister, but look, i think you have to take every day one day at a time. i couldn't do this if i didn't have the most incredible partner in the world, my husband, hps -- husband, helps make all of it possible. and having him be there on the good days and the bad days certainly makes it doable, but i think just not trying to get too overwhelmed by the tasks of everything going on and really
trying to take things one day at a time helps you get through and you know, just one foot in front of the other and not trying to worry too much about all of the things you're not going to get to in every given day. >> do you talk about politics with your kids? do you play cable news at home? how do you approach some of the issues that you deal with in your professional life as a family? >> i do, and we talk about it, and to much of my sadness, my kids are very unimpressed by most of what i do. [laughter] i think they think everyone's parents are on tv because they grew up with my dad being on tv pretty regularly and now i am and i think they think that's just what people do so they think it's very normal, and they would much prefer to watch anything animated than to watch me. again, my kids are 6, 5, and 3 so the news isn't exactly the most exciting thing in the world to them but we try to talk to them, particularly about what
we're doing and why we do it, i think, is the most important piece of that conversation that we try to have with our kids is why we're involved is because we want them to have an america that they love, one they can be proud of, and that's why we do what we do every single day. >> the president has had some contentious interactions with some of my female colleagues. he called one of them a total loser and told another one that she asks a lot of stupid questions. as a professional woman, do you think that's appropriate? >> look, the president's had an equal number of contentious conversations with your male colleagues. the president is not, is certainly not singling out women, and frankly, i think it is actually a detriment when we do that. i think by asking am i upset because he called out a female reporter, absolutely not. women wanted to be treated
equally, and we have a president that certainly does that. he is not going to hold back and the people in this country elected him in large part because he's a fighter and when -- >> let me put the question to you a different way. do you think the president's, if you include the remarks to two of my female reporters, you mentioned that he said the same thing about male reporters, do you find those remarks appropriate? >> i don't always find the behavior of the press to be appropriate either, and i do, >> -- >> let me just stop you because if i were interviewing one of my colleagues in the news media, i would ask them about their role in the dialogue and whether they think some of the behavior of the press is appropriate, but because you're here as a representative of the white house, i'm asking you about the president's role and the president's part. >> look, again, i think, again, -- [applause] again, i think, again, i think that the president is somebody who's a fighter. this is something, when he hits, he gets hit, he always hits back. and i think that the people of this country knew exactly who donald trump was and they came out and 63 million americans
voted for him and they want to see somebody who stands up for what they believe in and is passionate about the policies that they're trying to implement and you're certainly going to get that in president trump, and i don't thin he should back down -- think he should back down from who he is because that's who america elected. and that's what they want to see is transparency. they don't want to see somebody who's different behind closed doors than they are on the public stage. and you get exactly that with this president, and i think that's actually a refreshing thing to see. now, whether or not the tone between the president and the white house press corps and the administration and members of the media could be brought down, i've said it many times before, i certainly think that it would benefit all of us to bring the temperature down. we've attempted to do that a number of times, both through the white house correspondents association as well as through the administration.
tension between the press and the administration is not new to us. i think it is certain heightened -- certainly heightened under this administration. i think it could benefit all of us to bring that temperature down, but i think both sides have a role to play in that process. >> you, as press secretary, and i just want to turn to some of the, to your personal approach to the job. in your tenure, you made a decision to pretty dramatically scale back the white house briefing. what was your thinking behind that decision? >> well, i think that the atmosphere that we live ins very different. there are a lot of different ways that we have the ability to communicate with members of the press that didn't used to exist. we also have a president who loves to engage directly a lot more with the press, and i always think that it's to the benefit of everybody in this country when they can hear directly from the president versus a spokesperson, and on
the days when we can have the president have that back and forth and answer questions from the media, i think that's far more important than them hearing from me. >> do you think there's still a role for the briefing in the trump administration? given the president's volubilit on twitter. -- volubility on twitter. >> it's not just twitter. the president uses a number of different platforms. in the last two months, the president has taken over 700 times, i want you to let that sink in. 700 times more questions from the media than his predecessors during that same period of time. he's done more interviews than any president has. he does more what we call gaggle short q&a sessions than any of his predecessors have. so, i think there are a number of platforms and mediums in which we use to communicate not just with the press but with the american people and i think that's a great thing. i think the amount of access that this white house has given to the press is unprecedented,
and i think that's certainly a positive thing and something that should be celebrated and not picked apart because we're doing it in a different way than has been done before. >> what do you, when you look at your tenure in this job, what do you hope that your legacy will be? >> i hope that it will be that i showed up every day and did the very best job that i could to put forward the president's message. to do the best job i could to answer questions, to be transparent and honest throughout that process, and to do everything i could to make america a little better that day than it was the day before. at least there's one. [applause] >> [laughter] do you think you've fundamentally changed the job for future press secretaries and if so, in what ways? >> i think in some ways, being the first mom to ever hold this job certainly paves the way for other women who have children to
step into that role and have the ability to do that and i certainly hope that is the case. but i think that every person who's been the press secretary changes it a little bit, because of their own personality and i hope that at times, we've brought a little humor into the process when it may not have existed before. sometimes my jokes go over better in the briefing room than others. but i think the most important thing for me to take away is to be another woman who's been in that position of power and influence in this administration, something else that's important to me. i am a person of deep faith, and so to be able to be in such a public way and speak so openly about my faith is something else that's very important to me, and i'm glad that i've had the opportunity to do it. >> what's been the most challenging briefing that you've had to do? >> that's a tough question.
i think they're all challenging, because you know, we often joke that it's sort of like walking a tight rope with no net under you. you never know what questions are coming your way. probably the very first one was probably the toughest because it was so new and i had no idea what to expect or how that would go and so that was probably, certainly one of the toughest. the second press briefing i ever did was the day after jim comey was fired so i kind of got dropped into the deep end pretty quickly. but i think all of those days can be a little bit tough just because it's ever changing and so fluid and you never know what's going to come around the corner. >> we've heard a lot of rumors about your future plans and that you may be moving on from this job at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. are you planning on moving on? >> not that i know about. i know it's been reported. somebody actually asked me the other day, can you tell us about your delayed departure?
i said, i didn't know i was departing so the fact that it's delayed is also news to me. [laughter] but look, again, i take things one day at a time as long as i feel like i've been called to the place that i am and i feel like i'm an effective messenger for the president, and frankly, he feels like i'm an effective messenger for him, i'd like to continue doing what i do. i love my job. i love the people i work with. it's an honor to work for the president. it's an honor to work in the white house. and i'm glad that i have the privilege to do that every day. >> would you accept another job in the administration, potentially in the future? >> i have no idea. [laughter] i'd have to cross that bridge when i came to it. like i said, i love what i do. and i think i get to do it with some of the greatest people in the world, and i'm proud of the work that we do, and i'm honored every day i get to be there. i always say that if you walk into the building and you don't
have a sense of reverence then you've been there too long, and it's time to go home. i hope i never experience that, and every day that i do, i'm thankful for it. >> we are just about out of time, but -- >> good, because i was running out of good stuff to say. [laughter] >> but this has been a really great conversation. thank you so much, sarah, for being here with us. >> thank you. >> to share your perspective on the news that broke as we were sitting here, but also on how you've juggled an extremely public and high-profile job with having, as well as having pretty young children. so thank you so much. >> thank you. and thank you for having me. [applause] and thank you for the conference that you guys put on. i think it's important that we continue to highlight women in the workplace and certainly women who have been able to fight through a number of challenges. to be where they are. i am glad to be one of them.
i am proud and think will to be here. thank you so much. [applause] good to see you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ahead at c-span schedule. next, newsmakers with fema administrator on hurricane relief efforts and other challenges. 6:30, an event on intelligence community accountability. q&a at 8:00 features university of london literary professor's hour -- sarah churchwell author of a book that looks at the phrases america first and the american dream. this weekend on book tv, tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards, citizens united president and former trump campaign manager discussed their book trump's enemies, how the deep state is undermining the presidency.
they are interviewed by an investigative journalist. >> i do not want to be a conspiracy theorist. we referred to many of these people as the november 9 club. they became a fan of president trump the day after he got elected. they likely did not vote for him on election day. they found an opportunity to join an administration which was young and inexperienced to further their own agenda. >> part of becoming president, he listened a lot to republican leaders in washington and took advice from folks that i don't know he would do that today. during that i think during the first month of his transition, the learning curve was incredibly steep, just as it is read every president of the united states. there is no class or degree on being president. announcer 1: watch book tv this weekend on c-span2. when the new
congress takes office in january, it will have the youngest, most diverse freshman class in recent history. congress, new leaders. watch it live on c-span, starting january 3. >> our guest on "newsmakers" this week is the administrator of fema, brock long. he has had a career in emergencies response management on the state and federal level. he was sworn in january 17 and has had quite a year with his , agency with two category five hurricanes and one of the biggest wildfires in history. a category seven earthquake. lots of calls for your folks to go into action. let me introduce you to the reporters who will be asking questions. ron nixon covers homeland security for the new york times. camila dechalus is cq roll call's homeland security and immigration reporter. mr. nixon, you are up first.