tv Happening Now FOX News April 11, 2017 10:00am-11:01am PDT
united airlines interview, jesse watters, you're going to stick around? >> for the world. >> great to have you. always a pleasure. we are going to pop up online, facebook live as well, "happening now" now. >> jon: fox news alert, we are awaiting the daily white house briefings are to begin at about half an hour from now. >> a lot in the lineup today including a warning from north korea at u.s. warships approached the region and the president's trillion dollar promised to rebuild our infrastructure as well. recovering of the new "happening now." >> we want to create a future for syria that is stable insecure, and so russia can be part of that future in play an important role. >> jenna: secretary of state rex tillerson arriving in moscow, warning the assad gene of syria is coming to an end, the high-stakes meeting as the secretary presses russia to choose sides. plus... >> revolution, it is time for change.
>> jenna: a nationwide manhunt for a man accused of sending an antigovernment manifesto to president trump and stealing more than a dozen firearms. by someone close to him fears he was a violent showdown with police. and the u.s. facing a deadly opioid epidemic. how did we get here and how do we stop it? it's all "happening now." ♪ >> jenna: we begin with this our expecting some breaking news and awaiting attorney general jeff sessions arrival in arizona se towards our border with mexico and meets with law enforcement officers as well. welcome to the second hour of "happening now," i am jenna lee. >> jon: i'm jon scott. sessions is expected in the area south of tucson that was once one of the biggest 8 busiest places on the border for illegal crossings and drug smuggling. it comes as sessions plans to ask federal prosecutors to take a harder line on immigration offenses. our chief intelligence correspondent catherine herridge
is live in washington with more on all of this. >> we are awaiting the attorney general who is traveling in the tucson, arizona, sector. this announcement today is part of a broader strategy to create a deterrent for illegal immigrants trying to come into the united states. the first step was surging immigration judges to the border to speed up processing of their status just discourage people from crossing illegally and the next phase according to a new memo from the attorney general instructs u.s. attorneys to put prosecuting criminal aliens to the front of the line. that memo reads in part "the president and i want to do our best to arm you and the prosecutors to partner with you with more tools in your fight against criminal aliens so today i am pleased to stay in here with you and announce new guidance regarding our commitment to criminal immigration enforcement." another key component of this strategy is the physical wall along the southwest border. fox news traveled with homeland security secretary john kelly do the texas-mexico border
in the rio grande valley in february. that is now considered the busiest sector. kelly told fox at the time that construction would likely begin before the end of the year based on input from border patrol agents beginning with the most vulnerable stretches, they would either get a physical barrier or sensors. the wall will be built in phases. >> i think it will be built where it is needed first most and then filled in, that is how i'm looking at it. >> how quickly will construction began? >> i don't know, but i don't think it will be more than a few months. and of course, any discussion about the protection of our southwest border involves discussions clearly of the physical barriers, but also of technological sensors, things like that, and it has to be a layered approach. >> in a separate briefing about an hour ago, homeland security spokesman said that when it comes to the money to build the border wall, there going to be able to do what is called a
reprogramming of funds that have already been allocated for fiscal year 2017 then use that money to look at the prototype and submissions for bids on the prototype just finished about a week ago with 800 applications. >> jon: catherine herridge keeping an eye on the southern border, thank you. >> jenna: continuing to keep that live shot up for you because we do expect the attorney general to arrive at the podium moments from now. and he will deliver some comments that will bring some news as far as the policy of this administration and where their priority is when it comes to illegal immigration. it's going to be very important to watch his comments and watching along with us is a columnist at the "washington examiner" and republican pollster and isaac, former executive director of a super-pac in just a heads up, if we do see the attorney general and goes to the microphone, we might have to interrupt you, we apologize in advance. i was looking at this article and "the washington post."
"the justice department is seeking to play a more muscular role in the trump administration." some think that means a strong, others may dangerous. what do you think makes it unique to the trump administration? >> law enforcement always has a bit of discussion about how much they put resources into enforcing certain types of laws, and president trump has made clear that his goal is to put a lot of emphasis on illegal immigration so you can see that it makes sense that that justice department under this president would say they would take a bigger, bolder role and focusing on illegal immigration, making sure you have more judges that can handle immigration cases, making sure things do not get caught up in the system, processed more effectively. i think it actually makes complete sense given everything president trump has said about his position on immigration that you would see the department of justice taking a bolder role. >> jenna: there are concerns about this as well. isaac, i know you have them. we see the attorney general, and we will go to him then come back
to you when he is finished when we hear the news about these policies and specifics from the attorney general then talk about the practicality of them, the real-life application of what the attorney general has to say, let's go ahead and listen in. >> good morning. it's a pleasure for me to be with you. i want to thank the brave men and women of the border and customs protection for their hospitality, the doctors, the officers who work every day to restore a lawful system of immigration that we can be proud of. i appreciate secretary kelly for his leadership and his willingness to have his people host me today. i appreciate that and all of homeland security. our men and women who are securing our border are making astounding progress. here, along coronation southwest
border, is ground zero in the fight.zona sun, ranchers work each day to make an honest living, and law-abiding citizens seek to provide for their families. but it is also here along this border that transnational gangs like ms-13 and international cartels flood our country with drugs and leave death and violence in their wake. it is here that criminal aliens and coyotes and document forgers seek to overthrow our lawful system of immigration. so let's stop here for a moment. when we talk about -- when we talk about ms-13 and for cartels, what do we mean? we mean international criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent civilians
and profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our border. depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks, even beheadings. they threatened the very integrity of our nation and our hemisphere. it is here on this sliver of land, on this border where there first -- we first staked our stand. it is a direct threat to our legal system and to our peace and prosperity. in this fight, i am here to tell you the brave men and women of the customs and border protection, we hear you. we hear your concerns. we have your back. under the president's leadership and guided by his executive order, we will secure this border and bring the full weight of both the immigration force and the federal enforcement and
prosecutors to combat this attack on our national security and our sovereignty. as all know, the president has made this a priority, and already, we are seeing results. from january to february of this year, illegal crossings dropped by 40%, which was an unprecedented drop. then last month, we saw a 72% drop compared to the month before -- month before that president was inaugurated. that is the lowest monthly figure in 17 years. we are so proud of your work. but this is no accident. this is what happens when you have a president who understands the threat, who is not afraid to publicly identify the threat and to stand up to it and who makes clear to law enforcement that
the leadership of their country finally has their back. and tells the whole world that they legality is over. so together, we will further drastically reduce the danger posed by criminal aliens, gang members, and curled tail henchman. to that end, the president, secretary kelly and i want to do our best to arm you, -- with the support of our prosecutors and partner with you with more tools in your fight against criminal aliens. the battle is far from over. we must follow up on the successes we have had so far, and here on the border, we will do so. so today, i am pleased to stand with you, our law enforcement officers, and to announce new guidance regarding our commitment at the department of
justice and to criminal enforcement of immigration laws. and as we speak, i am issuing a document to all federal prosecutors that mandates the prioritization of these immigration enforcement. starting today, federal prosecutors are now required to consider for prosecution all of the following offenses, often not prosecuted in the past. the transportation and harboring of aliens. as you know too well, this is a booming business. no more. we are going to shut down and jailed those who have been profiting from this lawlessness. smuggling gang members across the border, helping convicted criminals reenter the country, and praying on those who don't know how dangerous and costly this journey can be. further, where an alien has unlawfully entered the country,
which is a misdemeanor, that alien will now be charged with a felony if they unlawfully entered or attempted to enter a second time and certain aggravating circumstances are present. also, aliens that illegally reenter the country after prior removal will be referred for felony prosecution. and priority will be given to such offenses, especially where indicators of gang or cartel affiliations or risk to public safety, drug smuggling, or criminal history are present. fourth, where possible, prosecutors are directed to charge criminal aliens with document fraud and aggravated identity theft, the latter carrying a two-year minimum mandatory penalty. finally, and perhaps most importantly, i have directed that all 94 united states attorney's offices make the
prosecution of assault on federal officers a priority. assault on you as you go about doing your duty. if someone dares to assault one of our folks in the line of duty, they will do federal time for it. you are very often away from backup out in dangerous areas, and the smugglers and drug dealers need to know that we will not tolerate any attacks on our federal officers. to ensure that these priorities are implemented, starting today, each united states attorney's office, whether border or interior, will designate an assistant united states attorney as the border coordinator in that district. it will be this experienced prosecutor's job to coordinate
the criminal investigation and enforcement response for their specific office. for those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned. this is a new era. this is a trump era. the lawlessness, abdication of duty to enforce our laws and they catch and release policies of the past are over. in that vein, i am also pleased to announce a series of reforms regarding immigration judges to reduce the significant backlog in our immigration courts. backlogs and catch and release policies have undermined the effectiveness of our law officers work. pursuant to the president's executive order, we will now be detaining all adults who are apprehended at the border. they will not be released. to support this mission, we have
already served 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border. and i want to think personally, the many judges who answered our call to support this initiative. in addition, we will put 50 more immigration judges on the bench this year and 75 year. we can no longer afford to wait 18-24 months to get these judges on the bench. so today, i have implemented a new streamlined hiring plan. it requires just as much vetting as before of their skills and expertise, but reduces the hiring time. we must end the backlog in our immigration courts. with the presidents executive order on border security, transnational criminal organizations, and public safety as our guide posed, we will execute a strategy that once again secures our borders.
apprehended and prosecuted those criminal aliens that threaten public safety, and takes the fight to gangs like ms-13 and makes dismantlement and destruction of cartels a high priority. we will deploy a multifaceted approach. we are going to interdict your drugs on the way into this country, your money on the way out, and investigate and prosecute your trafficking network to the fullest extent of the law. why are we doing this? because it is with the duly enacted laws of the united states require. i took an oath to protect this country from all enemies foreign and domestic. on behalf of our people, congress has said very generous rules for immigration. people have pleaded, however, with congress and with their leaders to enforce those good
rules for many, many years. they have often gotten promises from their leaders but no action. now is the time for action. now is a time we will have results. how else can we look at parents and loved ones of kate steinle and so many others in the eye to say we are doing everything possible to prevent such tragedies in the future? let me finish where i started. first, by thanking you, the officers who serve our country so effectively. you are on the front lines of this fight. you are doing historic work at this point in our nation's existence. i know we ask a tremendous amount from all of you, but know this, we have your back. we will do what we can to empower and support you and all your work. we will establish a system of
immigration that serves the national interest and one that we can be proud of, one that is lawful. god bless all of you who do this work and give -- we ask god's blessings on the success of this effort to improve the lawlessness and safety of our country. thank you. >> what do you say to people who have charged that your policies -- >> jenna: attorney general sessions is going to be taken some questions. we are going to monitor that for news. this is the bottom line for you, three major parts from his policy speech and i'm going to semper fi as best as i can. the three major points i see is if you are an illegal immigrant, you can be charged with more serious, higher stage crimes, that is one of the points, also the point that all adults crossing the border illegally will be detained, so that is directly against they catch and
release policies of the past. there's going to be 125 new immigration judges, that has been a major issue because once you arrest people, you need a judge to be able to continue the legal process. from our reporting, we have revealed they are not enough judges to do that. so those are a couple key points. we will continue to watch for questions. kristin and isaac are back with us. let me start with you, what is your reaction to the news you just heard? >> there to fund mental problems with the trump administration and with the secretary sessions of the program they are proposing that either shows an ignorance of the facts and details or the desire to just make a political grandstanding move rather than look for real solutions. part of that is our actual security with this. as you heard, sessions just said he wants to focus on criminal activity crossing the border. how are they going to pay for the border wall? how are they going to pay for the 175 new employees and trillion dollar -- excuse me, billion dollars in
infrastructure this is going to take? they have proposed cuts to things like the coast guard and utsa and to fema's program fighting extremism. so at the same time they are going to harden era land border, they are going to pay for that by suffered the max i think the maritime border in the borders over our heads in the sky. our maritime border, the coast guard picked up over 6,000 and document a people and thousands of pans of marijuana and kilos of cocaine. >> jenna: that is an interesting point that republicans have been asked about, so what about that point? interesting ideas, but what about the money to enforce it? >> it amuses me when democrats suddenly decide to care about the amount of money the government spends on anything. i think donald trump's -- president trump is going to have a challenge when it comes to fiscal conservatives defining money to pay for certain priorities, but he has made clear from the beginning that a physical border barrier is something he wants in place. he said mexico is going to pay
for it, other people and the government said it may not play out quite like that, but the other thing these statements made by attorney general sessions will do is have a deterrent effect. so folks who may be thinking about trying to enter the united states illegally, they are hearing what was said today by the attorney general and thinking, this does not sound like quite as good an idea. simply by the action of making these statements, to have a deterrent effect for anyone who thinks it might otherwise have been easy to come to the united states, that is in and of itself making it easier for the government.hat have to spend a ton of money to deal with the problem in the first place. >> jenna: we will see the real-life impact as the policies get in place, we will hear from both of you. we will hear a laugh from attorney general josh sessions come he's going to speak with sean hannity about his new plans for immigration enforcement may be some of those concerns, how will it work itself out? that is 10:00 p.m. eastern time right here on fox news channel. >> jon: we are learning more about the dangerous fugitive who sent a manifesto to the president. why a relative thinks he might
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>> jon: some new information about a wisconsin man still on the rent a week after police say he stole high-powered weapons and sent a threatening manifesto to president trump. joseph jakubowski's stepfather speaking out, he says he thinks his stepson is preparing for a violent showdown with police. jakubowski is accused of stealing 16 firearms from a wisconsin gun store and sending a 151 page antigovernment manifesto to the white house. prompting a nationwide search for the end police warn is armed and dangerous. joining us now is gregg jarrett, fox news anchor and lawyer. who do they think he is targeting for violence? >> the secret service together
with the fbi are analyzing that manifesto, looking for clues. this guy is angry at the president, ed government as a whole, vowing to "take out one politician at a time." any government authority figure or government building could be at risk. he has also uttered antireligious sentiments of churches that could be targets and also threatened schools, they could be soft targets, but of course, public schools are government-run. finally, he has a rap sheet involving confrontations with police expressing animus toward police, they might be targeted. so this is a guy with a deadly arsenal and a lot of anger, if not hatred, that is a dangerous combination. >> jon: let's say police spotted him driving along the highway somewhere. they cannot just open fire. >> now, they cannot, but given his stolen weaponry, expressed threats, he is considered armed and dangerous, so local police and the fbi are allowed under
the law to be aggressive to protect themselves and the public. as you point out, that does not mean shoot first, ask questions later, but if and when he is located, they are allowed to assume he is an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death and accordingly, they may act. that can be very tricky depending on just how he behaves. if, for example, he brandishes or waives a gun or threatens anyone, police do not have to wait for him to fire before using deadly force. the u.s. supreme court has said police do not have to limit themselves to lesser nonlethal force in those situations. we should add that the man who shot the video of jakubowski mailing this manifesto to the white house, he is cooperating with police. he has not as yet been charged. that suggests he may provide some valuable information on what the suspect intends to do and where he might be hiding.
>> jon: gregg jarrett, fox news anchor as well as attorney. let's hope they find this guy soon. >> jenna: secretary tillerson had some strong words for the assad regina after meeting with the seven leaders italy today. >> the reign of that assad family is coming to an end. we see no further role for the assad regina longer term. >> jenna: i was right before heading to moscow, assad's ally, so with tensions over syria rising between the u.s. and russia, what does it mean for the democrat argument that the trump admission has ties to russia? we will take a look at that as well as the 8 press briefing ahead.
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>> jon: fox news alert, secretary of state rex tillerson is in moscow today, the highest ranking official to visit russia since president trump took office. the secretary met with g7 leaders this morning in italy, discussing whether russia should face more sanctions for supporting the assad regime. >> it is also clear that russia has failed to uphold the agreements that have been entered into under multiple u.n. security council resolutions for these agreements stipulate that russia is the guarantor of a syria free of chemical weapons, that they would also locate, secure, and destroy all such armament in syria. >> jon: our rich edson has more now from moscow. >> this is secretary of state rex tillerson looking ahead to tomorrow morning's meeting with russian foreign minister sergey lavrov. as he was meeting with the g7
countries in italy, he previewed his message that he's going to be bringing to the russian government. he says essentially that it is clear that reign of the assad regime is coming to an end and it is up to russia to facilitate a transition. >> i hope that what the russian government concludes is that they have aligned themselves with an unreliable partner in bashar al-assad, and now assad has made the russians look not so good under the circumstances. >> tillerson is referring to chemical weapons used in syria, it was the russian government that helped broker that deal to essentially destroy or secure all of the chemical weapons in syria. russian president vladimir putin spoke about an hour before the secretary of state landed in moscow today. he said he is going to raise with the united nations the issue that the u.n. it should investigate chemical weapons used in that chemical attack
last week in syria. the russian government denies that the assad regime is responsible for that and in fact, the russian president said that he has received intelligence about provocations that would put the blame on the syrian government. in other words, vladimir putin is saying that the assad regime was framed in last week's chemical attack and that chemical attack, of course, was the basis for the united states using muscles to launch the attack last thursday against that assad regime. so tomorrow morning, secretary of state will meet with foreign minister sergey lavrov. there are questions as to whether he will get an invitation from russian president vladimir putin. senior state department officials say the secretary of state would meet with president putin if you were invited. the kremlin this morning saying that a meeting is not yet on the schedule. so we will wait and see. back to you. >> jon: the russians are masters of disinformation, but it is hard to see how that one will fly. rich edson in moscow, thank you. >> jenna: rising tension between the u.s. and russia may
have an unintended consequence, at least according to some conservatives who say it disproves the democrats argument that the president isn't too close to russia. a piece in the "washington examiner" spells it out this way. "increasing tension with moscow over u.s. strikes in syria have complicated the democrats argument that president trump isn't too close to russia even has congressional committees continue to investigate russian interference in the presidential election and any collision with the trump campaign." none of this is likely to lessen the vigor with which democrats pursue the russia probe, still is there an effect? joining me now as democratic strategist jessica, and mercedes schlapp, g.o.p. strategist and former spokesperson for george w. bush and fox news contributor. jessica, just this week we met we can the democrats argument? >> absolutely not. it certainly should not because we're talking about two different situations here. speed hates interest in donald trump would have nothing to do with a left for donald trump. he used him as a vessel, as a way of infiltrating the starkest
parts of our country, to influence our election pair he was afraid of hillary clinton peer he certainly did not want her in office but he just utilized trump as the means of being able to engage in our election to put someone in office who can help him achieve what his and is which has been the same forever, which is to basically humiliate us on an international stage and to destabilize our country and our momentum for spreading democracy across the world. >> jenna: you think he succeeding, jessica? >> i don't think so in the long term, but i think right now one of the biggest reasons why we are having to investigate the possible collusion between the trump campaign and putin is to see how closely aligned these two people are because think about it. if you have someone that can be easily manipulated by someone like vladimir putin, that does not speak well for us. he has the potential of luring us into an international quagmire where he is more than happy to help people who are geo-political adversaries of ours. this is not a good situation for the united states. >> jenna: mercedes, what do
you think about this? is this part of his plan to pull us into a quagmire and further humiliate us. >> goodness gracious, first of all to say that putin is the one that picked and put donald trump in power is ridiculous. american voters were the ones who put donald trump and power, that is why we have a democratic system. yes, absolutely, where there problems with the fbi investigation of whether there was interference from russia? yes, but the thing with the democrats is the fact they won't take responsibility that their candidate was incredibly weak. she ran a very bad campaign and at the end, you can say you want to build up this conspiracy theory and with the russians colluding with the trump campaign to make this case in that issue, i have to say the reality here is that you want the liberal media and those democrats keeping this story alive. let the investigation happen to see what happens if, in fact, there was russian collusion with the trump campaign, which at
this point we have seen no evidence despite the fact that you have seen cumbersome and adam schiff from the house intelligence committee, a democrat, come out and say there wasn't circumstantial evidence without talking about the findings of this investigation. let the investigation happen. >> jenna: let me stop you there for one second because i think both of you can take this question, and i'm curious with your opinion. near times today, to former obama officials wrote an op-ed, in the title is "is russia testing trump." i am curious what you think about that. if it is a test, how does trump pass the test, mercedes, you first. >> here's the deal with russia. they've been testing the united states back since the cold war. so to say he is testing trump, well, there is this tension that is happening right now where the russians under the time that president obama was in power really filled this vacuum of leadership in the middle east. of course, his friends are those roby dictators from iran and
syria. so what happens is under president obama, there was a sense of weakness, and so now that you have putin facing a president trump where president trump is saying, wait a second here, if there chemical weapons used, if there are babies who are dying in syria, we are going to make sure there is some sort of response. i think that is where we are dealing with -- we are dealing with a tense situation right now between russia and the united states, but the united states is going to respond. >> jenna: jessica, mercedes is saying that donald trump is going to enforce -- i hate to use the term redline, but i will use it one more time, donald trump is going to be stronger and very clear about what russia can support and what russia can't. so the same question to you. as russia testing trump and how, whether you are republican or democrat, do you advise the president to pass that test? >> i definitely think russia is testing donald trump as they
would test anyone who is the president of the united states. you have to look at what they are long game is because that is what russia is playing here appeared one of the things they know is the united states, if the united states decided that assad does not need to leave syria, but that could create as a power vacuum. >> jenna: virtually, we just lost jessica, the heavens with the satellite. it is not the russians. i apologize. thank you very much. we are going to be going to the white house press briefing in just a moment and hopefully will not lose the satellite they are. we do think we have that secured, right? >> jon: we do have that taken care of. also, north korea, there is a u.s. aircraft carrier battle group steaming to where that country and kim jong-un is not happy about it. what is the threat? we will get into that with an expert ahead
>> jon: fox news alert, white house press briefing getting underway. let's listen to the president's spokesman. >> press secretary spicer: events occurred after the briefing so i want to make sure i acknowledge that our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families of the three victims. we hope for a speedy and full recovery of those who were wounded in the events that occurred. moving onto today, the president this morning led a discussion with some of the world's top job creators on how private-sector thinking can help the government modernize and provide a better, more efficient service to the american people. together, the companies that were represented in the room
this morning employ nearly 4 million people worldwide and at least 1.78 million americans here in our nation. starting in small interactive groups, the cabinet members shared their strategic vision to their departments and listened as business leaders offered their unique perspectives on how they might achieve those goals. the groups then came together and shared their discussions and outcomes with the president. the meeting was hosted by the american office -- office of american innovation and was another opportunity for the administration to engage withths its knowlee to develop innovative solutions to some of our country's biggest problems like the crumbling infrastructure and broken system at the veteran administration. also this morning, the president completed several procedural steps to ratify the protocol for montenegro's recession to the north atlantic treaty organization. following this and it's overwhelming and bipartisan vote of the advice and consent of this ratification. the united states looks forward to formally wealth did not welcoming montenegro as the 29th
member of that nato alliance. and later today, the present will have meetings with his national and economic security teams. later, the attorney general is at the southwest border to announce specific new actions the trump administration is taking to secure our borders and keep the country safe. the administration is committed to ending the practice of smuggling gangs in cartels across the border that flood our countries with drugs and violence previous actions which include strengthening of the laws applying to those who are caught attempting to illegally return to the united states after prior removal and those who profit off smuggling people across the border will once again make it clear to the brave men and women of law enforcement that the trump administration has their back. second tillerson finished veggie seven foreign ministers meeting today and is now in moscow for meetings with his russian counterpart. the visit is part of our effort to remain direct lines of medication with senior russian
officials and make sure the u.s. views on the situation in syria, counterterrorism efforts for north korea and other matters are clearly conveyed. we are open to strategic cooperation with russia where we can achieve a shared goal such as defeating isis, but we will stand up for our interests and values when we do not see ida i. question must fully honor the commitments it made on syria, ukraine, and the inter-range nuclear forces treaty and other topics of international concern. second tillerson is going to make that clear during his visi visit. i also want to make it now that second james mattis and the co-commander of central command will be doing a full briefing on the strike in syria that occurred today at the department of defense at 3:30, then at 4:00, i will be back up here for an off-camera briefing with director mick mulvaney of the office of management and budget and the senior advisor linda springer for regarding the president's executive order on reorganizing the executive branch. that gives us three briefings
plus this today. not to get you real excited, but we will have another one tomorrow morning in advance of the nato meeting with the secretary general. this afternoon's briefing, we will discuss a plan on reforming the federal government in reducing the size of the federal civilian workforce that omb was directed to produce by executive order, so we will be spending a lot of quality time together over the next 48-24 hours. in with that, i will be glad to take a few questions. >> reporter: on russia to start, does the meditation belief that russia had any advanced knowledge of the chemical attack in syria? does the admission believe russia may have been complicit? >> press secretary spicer: i believe there was a background briefing earlier today where that was discussed. at this time, there is no consensus in the intelligence community that is the case. >> reporter: is there any thought within the intelligence community or some strand? >> press secretary spicer: at this point, the only thing i will say is there is no
consensus within the intelligence community that there was involvement. >> reporter: in the background briefing, trump officials accused the russians of covering up syrians attack. in the past, the president has called us to be a very smart yet expressed admiration, does he still think he is smart and does that change the relationship? >> press secretary spicer: a couple things. number one, the president made it clear from the beginning that he entered office, thinking if he could get a deal with russia and our national interest which i discussed during the opening remarks as part of second tillerson's conversation with foreign minister sergey lavrov, then we are going to do it. if we cannot get a deal in and find an area of national interest, then we will not. in this particular case, no question that russia is isolated. they have aligned themselves with north korea, syria, iran, and that is not exactly a group of countries you are looking to hang out with. with the exception of russia,
they are all failed states. there is clearly -- russia is not an island when it comes to its support of syria or lack of acknowledgment of what happened. the facts are on our side p of the actions of syria are reprehensible. i think that russia has been party to several international agreements that syria is not holding up to and that russia needs to hold themselves up to. i think the president has been very clear with his stance on russia and in this particular case, we're going to be very forceful and as we'll second tillerson during his visit to make sure that we -- make sure that we let russia know that they need to live up to the obligations that is made. >> reporter: the admission has said sanctions on syria are folt will those look like, and when can we expect them? >> press secretary spicer: great question. i think you know well enough at this point that we are not going to announce any of that kind of action until it is ready to go.
i think the president has made it clear that additional action with respect to syria and terms of its failure to stop engaging in actions that harm its people will result in action, and so i am not going to get ahead of what he is planning to announce or one, but as he has made clear on a variety of circumstances, he is not want to telegraph's actions until he is ready to make those announcements. >> reporter: has the emaciation identified an opposition party that could come to power in syria if there is a redeemed change? >> press secretary spicer: first and foremost, and i stated this yesterday, the number one goal is to defeat isis, that is unequivocally the number one thing. secondly, the political conditions existing in syria right now are such that what we need russia and others to do is to help create a political environment in which the syrian people can choose a leader that is more suited to them. i think getting into who that should be, what we are trying to do right now is the shape the environment to allow the syrian
people to determine their outcome. >> reporter: change of topic. mark matos said earlier this morning that he thinks "we are very close" as it relates to health care and some options were given to the house speaker. does the white house believe that they are very close on healthcare, and have you signed up on those two options? >> press secretary spicer: two things. one, i think we're getting closer and closer every day. this has been a process that, as you know, the chief of staff, vice president and others have been extremely engaged in behind-the-scenes. we clearly are getting closer. more votes are moving in our direction. these ideas, i think, are very helpful, and the conversations are getting closer. i don't want to prejudge the outcome, but we feel buoyed by the direction it is going and some of the outcome. i know with respect to a couple of the proposals that
congressman meadows is suggesting, part of those have to be figuring out whether or not those attract additional votes and gain additional support and do not detract. i know it sounds very simple, but that is what this entire process has been about. he is reviewing a couple of the provisions he wants to make to the ongoing amendment. it is not a question of us signing off. i think we are good with the direction that this is going. as long as it continues to grow the vote. a lot of these provisions that are being discussed states the facts ability to enact their own provisions, which is consistent with our general philosophy of giving more competition and more choice to the people in the states. >> reporter: secondly, video being played about united airlines, do you think the government should investigate them, the industry as a whole as it relates to passenger treatment? >> press secretary spicer: i would just say that i think there have been clearly law
enforcement is reviewing that situation. i think there is plenty of law enforcement to review a situation like that. i know united airlines has stated that they are currently reviewing their own policies. let's not get ahead of where that review goes. it was an unfortunate incident clearly when you watch the video, it is troubling to see how that was handled. but i am not going to -- they have clearly stated their desire to review the situation. law enforcement is reviewing it. i think for us to start to get in front of what should be a very simple -- local matter, not necessarily needing a federal response. >> reporter: two questions. follow-up. has the president seen the video? >> press secretary spicer: i am sure he has. i don't think anyone looks at that video and is not a little disturbed another human being is treated that way. but again, i think one of the things that people have to understand is that when there is
a potential law enforcement matter, for the president to wait and pro or con would prejudice a potential outcome. i don't want to get in there, but clearly watching another human being dragged down and i'll come up watching blood come from their face after hitting an armrest and whatever, i do thine you can sit back and say this could be handled better when you're talking about another human being, but again, i don't think that it is my place to get in the middle of judging how a company dealt with this. i think there is clearly going to be enough review both on the corporate side and the law-enforcement side on how this was handled. i think from the human to human standpoint, to watch a human being get dragged down and i'll with their head banging off armrests and not think it could have been handled better, i would assume, we can all agree on that. >> reporter: first on foreign policy and one on syria, this initiation continues to fight for the travel ban that would
impact refugees coming from syria. the president vote 2 spoke very starkly about how affected he was by the images of young victims, but there have also been images of young refugees that have been heart wrenching for people. as the president giving any thought to be considering that aspect of the travel ban? >> press secretary spicer: in terms of letting them in? you have heard a lot of these refugees in particular talk about the fact they are not looking to flee. i think the number one goal of this president is to make sure that we protect our people, our country, and to keep those people from having to flee. they have family there. so that is our number one goal is creating a safer environment, de-escalating the conflict there. it is not to figure out how many people we can fly out. i think the u.s. has been extremely supportive when it comes to the financial peace of this. looking for ways to work in a diplomatic fashion. the goal is not to figure how many people we can just import
to this country. i think there is clearly a security concern -- they have touched him. he has been very clear. that is why with the consent and guidance of his national security team, it was very extreme -- it was moving paired going back, i don't mean to make two examples of this, but i do not think you can watch those things -- not that you should have any human being but in particular young children and babies being gassed, issued move any human being that has a hear heart. i think that is partially dealt with what he acted so decisively is to see an individual in assad and that redeem act in a way that reacted to -- we cannot condemn every act but to literally see someone who is gassed, and as pointed out, think about that. it is in the same category as nuclear weapons for a reason. it is that lethal, that deadly come of that horrific when you
recognize that use of chemical s is put in the same category of weapons of mass destruction and so many other things because of what it does to an individual, in the nature of an attack like that that even first responders, if you saw some of the tape, they were getting grossly affected by this. it moved him tremendously. that is part of the reason he reacted the way he did. >> reporter: have you seen the latest provocations from north korea, the president tweeted that if china will not help, the u.s. will solve it himself. what does that mean? >> press secretary spicer: i think he has made it very clear he will not tolerate some actions by north korea. to answer the question, i've said this on a variety of topics, the president is not one that's going to telegraph his response. i think he keeps all options on the table, cards close to the chest, and as he showed last week with respect to syria, when the president is willing to act, it will be decisive and make it very clear what the position of the united states is peer that is not what i said. i said as you know when the
president is ready to act, he makes it very clear. i think there is no question that when the president is ready to make a statement, he will do that. i think he has made it clear with respect to north korea that their behavior and their actions with respect to the missile launches is not tolerable. the last thing we want to see is a nuclear north korea that threatens the coast of the united states or for that matter, any other country in any other set of human beings. we need stability in that region, and i think he has put them clearly on notice. >> reporter: the alliance between russia and syria is a strong one, going back decades. president putin has supplied personnel, military equipment to the assad government. what makes you think at this point that he is going to pull back in his support for president assad and for the syrian government right now? >> press secretary spicer: i think a couple things. you look -- we did not use chemical weapons in world war i world war ii. you had -- someone as despicable
as hitler who did not even think to using chemical weapons. you have to, if you are russia, ask yourself, is this a country and regine that you want to align yourself with? you have previously signed on any rational agreements, rightfully acknowledging that the use of chemical weapons should be out of bounds by every country. to not stand up not only with your own word should be troubling paired russia put their name on the line. so it is not a question of how long the alliance has lasted but at what point do they recognize that they are now getting on the wrong side of history in a really bad way really quickly. again, look at the countries that are standing with them. iran, syria, north korea. this is not a team you want to be on. i think russia has to recognize that while they may have had an alliance with them, there are lines that have been crossed that are ones that no country should ever want to see another country cross.
>> reporter: first of all, coming up on tax day, when does the president plan on releasing the tax returns, and are there any concerns about possible conflict of interest reflecting on the tax statements that could be cleared up? secondly, how many people are you expected for the easter egg roll and will you reprise your role as the easter bunny? >> press secretary spicer: those are tough lines. on the first one, i think we have answered that several times. the president has been under audit. we filed our financial disclosure forms the other day in a way that allows everyone to understand and for those listening at home, tax return clearly lists how much money you made, how much tax you paid your when you look at a financial disclosure form, list every asset, it is a much more comprehensive understanding. the president, this question has been asked and answered over and over again. the american people are, frankly the middle class in particular,
companies trying to grow here in the united states are much more concerned about tax reform and allowing our economy to grow and bottom line to grow. with respect to the easter egg roll, huge topic. i appreciate that. i think we're going to have an egg-elent time. come on, you can't ask the question and not get the answer. we have worked really well. i think we're going to have a very, very enjoyable day on monday. tickets have been sent out to all the schools in the area. there will be a large military contingent that will be participating as well. i think there's five waves over two hour periods in which children and their families will be able to come to the white house. we've done extensive community outreach to bring school children in from the area. it's going to be a great day. i don't have the number. i think the east wing could probably get you an answer. i'll make sure i