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tv   White House Briefing  CSPAN  March 21, 2018 6:07am-6:27am EDT

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allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have and also, to discuss ukraine and syria and north korea and various other things. will probably be seeing president clinton and the not-too-distant future. putin in the not-too-distant future. monthcoming up in another or so. you will see what i do. but iran has not been treating the world or the world itself appropriately. a lot of bad things are happening in around. -- in a ramp. in iran. >> everybody make your way out please. let's go. thank you.
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announcer: white house secretary sarah sanders was asked about president trump's briefing. she was also asked about the investigation being that by special counsel robert mueller. >> here you go. >> good afternoon. happy agriculture day. today we honor the men and women who work every day to feed, fuel, and clothe the people of the united states and the world. secretary of agriculture sonny perdue hosted vice president pence at the department of agriculture to commemorate the day. as you may remember when the president spoke at the american farm bureau convention earlier this year, he said our farmer deserve a government that serves their interests and empowers them to do the hard work they
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love to do so much. this administration is making sure government does that by reducing burdensome regulations allowing them to be more productive by cutting their taxes and empowering them to make their own decisions about investing in their operations. and by working to make sure our trade agreements are fair and that other countries play by the rules. the president was proud to issue a proclamation declaring today the 45th annual national ag day. earlier today the president was pleased to welcome saudi crown prince muhammad bin salman to the white house. this meeting provided an opportunity to make progress on a range of issues including syria and its sponsor, yemen, the g.c.c., and our israeli-palestinian peace efforts. today we were able to engage with saudi leaders to increase coordination on regional issues, shared objectives and develop new channels and capabilities to institutionalize these interactions. this afternoon the president also met -- will also meet with top law enforcement officials, members of congress, and administration leaders to discuss the threats of lawless sanctuary cities. sanctuary jurisdictions release thousands out of our prisons and jails back into our communities.
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such policies threaten the safety and security of our people. every american family deserves to live in safety and security in their home and neighborhood. sanctuary cities make that goal much more difficult to achieve and the president is committed to restoring the rule of law in these communities. we're also continuing to monitor the situation both in austin, texas, and in maryland, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims involved in these situations and we'll continue to work with state and local law enforcement officials around both of those. with that, i'll take your questions. john. reporter: let me start by ask you what the president said about meeting with vladimir putin, quote, soon. there's nothing that will put them in the same city at the same time until november. at the earliest. so what he's talking about in terms of soon, would that include a visit of putin to the white house or the president going to russia? sarah: there are no specific
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plans made at this time. but we want to continue to have a dialogue with russia, continue to talk about some of the shared interests we have, whether it's north korea, iran, and particularly as the president noted today slowing the tension when it comes to an arms race, something that is clearly important to both leaders. reporter: now that putin has won yet another term as president is president trump concerned he will continue his aggressive posture toward the rest of the world and maybe even increase that posture? sarah: look, we're going to continue to maintain the position that we've had and be tough when necessary. at the same time, we want to continue to have dialogue so we can work on some of the issues that concern both countries and we're going to continue to do that while also continuing to be tough on a number of things including sanctions on russia, rebuilding our own military, and exporting energy, things that we know are not great for russia.
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reporter: i want to get your reaction to a statement senator mccain, chairman of the armed services committee, put out, i'm quoting him directly. an american president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. by doing so with vladimir putin, president trump insulted every russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country's future, including countless russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist putin's regime. how do you respond? sarah: the president once again has maintained that it's important for us to have a dialogue with russia so that we can focus on some areas of shared interest. ones that i have already named. at the same time we're going to continue to be tough on them. the president joined other countries in these calls, both germany and france reached out, as well as president obama in 2012.
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these are conversations that sometimes take place and certainly the president finds there to be an importance in having that dialogue with russia so we can talk about some of the big problems that face the world. reporter: does the white house disagree with president mccain's characterization of this as a sham election? sarah: we disagree with the fact that we couldn't have conversations with russia. there are important topics we should be able to discuss and that is why the president is going to continue to have that dialogue. at the same time we have been very clear in the actions we have taken that we're going to be tough on russia, particularly when it comes to areas that we feel they've stepped out of place, we placed tough sanctions on russia and a number of other things where we have shown
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exactly what our position is. reporter: you brought up in context of john's timing, since you mentioned north korea and iran is it the president's intention to meet with vladimir putin before he meets with kim jong un? sarah: we don't have any specific plans at this time. reporter: neither the white house readout of the phone call nor the russian readout says anything about election meddling, did that not get mentioned? sarah: i don't believe it came up on that specific call but it's something we've spoken extensively about and we have looked at ways to make sure it never happens again. reporter: the president's new attorney said there's a brazen plot by the f.b.i. and d.o.j. to frame the president. does the white house share that view? is there a plot to frame president trump? sarah: look, we certainly said there have been some concerns with some of the actions that were taken but in terms of any comments that he's made, i
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couldn't speak to those. reporter: two more questions on the putin phone call. first, does the white house believe the election in russia was free and fair? sarah: i'm sorry? reporter: does the white house believe the election in russia was free and fair? sarah: look, in terms of the election we were focus on our elections. we don't get to dictate how other countries operate. what we do know is that putin has been elected in their country and that's not something we can dictate to them how they operate. we can only focus on the freeness and fairness of our elections, something we 100% fully support, and something we're going to continue to do everything we can to protect to make sure bad actors don't have the opportunity to impact them in any way. reporter: you said election meddling didn't come up, did the
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recent poisoning in the united kingdom come up? sarah: i don't believe that was discussed in today's call. john? reporter: over the weekend, on one of the sunday morning show, trey gowdy a republican of south carolina said when responding to various tweets the president put out over the weekend regarding special counsel robert mueller he said -- when you're innocent, act like it. what's your response to what trey gowdy said over the weekend? sarah: look, the president has been very clear about the fact that there was no collusion between his campaign and any other entity. however, to pretend like going through this absurd process for over a year would not bring frustration seems a little bit ridiculous. i don't think that any individual, including members of congress, would like it if they had been accused of taking their seat in congress by doing something nefarious when they hadn't, particularly if it went on for more than a year into their time in office. my guess is they would be more than anxious to push back and certainly would defend themselves as the president has clearly done in this situation and has since day one. reporter: another republican over the weekend, lindsey
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graham, also a republican, from south carolina, said if the president were to fire -- sarah: maybe we need to work on our south carolina members. reporter: said if the president tries to fire robert mueller it would be the beginning of the end of his presidency. what's your response to what he says? sarah: as white house counsel ty cobb said earlier this week the white house yet again confirms that the president is not considering or discussing the firing of special counsel robert mueller. bless you. reporter: do you feel like you are losing republicans? these two prominent republicans from south carolina in this matter over the weekend? sarah: i do not think we are losing republicans at all. i think we are voicing some frustration over this ongoing process that we look forward to ending soon. reporter: in january the president told reporters that he would love to sit down and do an
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robert mueller under oath. obviously that timeframe has passed. does he still want to sit down and do that interview? sarah: we have been fully transparent throughout the process. we have been fully cooperative and we will continue to to cooperate with the office of special counsel. reporter: can you provide more clarity on the president's tweets over robert mueller, calling him out my name. what was behind that? sarah: clearly we have not been shy about the fact that there was frustration of this process. we would like it to end quickly and soon. the president has contended since date went that there was absolutely no collusion tween his campaign and any outside force or country, so i do not understand why it is hard for anyone to process. if you had been attacked and day in and day out while you are trying to do the things for this
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country, and literally every day you wake up to an onslaught of people saying you are there because of reasons that are completely false, that is frustrating. certainly, i think it is fair for him to be frustrated. reporter: why does he not push for the firing of robert mueller? sarah: because we would like to cooperative and we would like for this to wrap up soon. that seems to be the most productive step forward. we would like to see this come to a conclusion. reporter: i want to follow up on the accusations of fraud in the russian election. accusations have been brought up by the u.k. government in statement. they are listing a fundamental lack of freedom. why does the president not
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believe it is something he should be discussing with the russian leader? say theydidn't it said --scuss it, said it did not come up on today's call. the focus was to talk about areas of shared interest. we know we need to continue a dialogue. it is a port for a lot of the safety and security of people across the globe. we would like to be able to work with them on things like north korea and both countries share an interest on lowering the tension when it comes to an arms race, recogonizing it is not the best thing for either country. we want to be able to have those conversations. that was the point of today's call. reporter: when is an appropriate time to raise questions about political freedoms with russia? sarah: what we continue to talk about these important issues, but that's not what today's call was about. reporter: two questions. first, we discussed the
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president's call to president putin following his election. did the president place a seminal call to chancellor angela merkel in berlin? sarah: i believe he spoke with the chancellor last week. i would have to look back at the specific details of their conversation, but i know that they spoke within the last week. reporter: congressman ryan costello in pennsylvania is expected sometime in the coming weeks to announce he is not running for reelection, making him the 38th republican house member to announce retirement, resignation or pursuit of another office. a post-world war ii guy and exodus of republican house members. is this is something that the president is bothered about? do people call him when they make an announcement? sarah: he has had a conversation
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with a number of members. i cannot speak specifically about the situation if he has spoken with the president. worried, we think we have a great story to tell after the first year of being in office, and we look forward to communicating that to the american people and continuing to push the president's agenda. reporter: did the topic of religious liberty come up with the crown prince at all today? sarah: i do not believe they came up. i would have to check on the last half of the meeting to be sure. i was not there. reporter: human rights watch estimates that the saudi led coalition is responsible in 2017 for the death of 1000 civilians and took part in 85 unlawful airstrikes. did the president bring up concerns in his meeting with the crown prince today? sarah: i would have to check on the last half of the meeting. i'm not sure. reporter: between the call of trump and vladimir putin, the readout that was released by the
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trump administration did not mention any issue about -- did not mention a mention about syria. did he discuss the high casualty rate? sarah: it briefly came up. as you know we have had a number of public statements on our position there. that has not changed. reporter: yesterday, the canadian prime minister noticed talkace of that accelerating. is the president that and there's yesterday that getting a deal? sarah: the president as always interested to get a good deal and dizzy after to get a good deal. at the convent 20 conversation
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would be to make sure that was a good deal for americans and american workers. entire political process, is anything possible for it to be that quick, within six weeks? sarah: i do not have any specific announcements at this time. we will continue to have those conversations led by ambassador lighthizer and working with the president. reporter: the president frequently speaks about the need to improve the nation's crumbling infrastructure. can you explain his opposition to the eight way project, the railway tunnel between new jersey and new york, and is key to 20% of the nation's gross national product? sarah: the president wants to address infrastructure on a broader scale. we want to see the infrastructure across the
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country rebuilt, which is why we put forward priorities. we look forward to working with congress to make real progress in the coming days. thank you so much. the president has an event in a few minutes. ♪ the announcer: c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, discussing friday's government funding deadline and what is in the 1.2 train dollar omnibus spending package. also, talking about the government funding bill deadline and the mueller investigation. russianlking about the probe and trump national security team. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal. join the discussion.
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>> the senate intelligence committee today takes a look at ways to improve election security. with homeland security kirstjen nielsen. of jeh johnson, who was head dhs during the obama administration. that hearing will include testimony from state officials. 9:30ll have coverage at a.m. eastern on c-span3. as always, you can watch online that c-span or or listen on the free c-span radio app. members of these studded intelligence committee spoke with members of the election security board yesterday. from capitol hill, this is just over 30 minutes. mr. burr: good morning. afternoon, excuse me. i want to thank everybody for being here.

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