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tv   Happening Now  FOX News  May 12, 2017 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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you. rachel, love will you to have you as well. we're back on tv monday at noon eastern, "happening now" starts now. >> the news of the hour, we're awaiting the white house briefing set to start any moment. >> it comes after president donald trump sends the former fbi director a warning via twitter about leaking information to the media. we're covering all of the us into, happening now. >> i tell you also that director comey enjoyed broad support within the fbi. still does to this day. >> fbi morale now front and center after all of the controversy involving america's premiere law enforcement agency. but how does this compare to other rough patches in our history? and we're joined by commerce secretary wilbur ross on the trump administration's new plan to reset trade with china. it's all happening now. we begin with the fox news alert, alert as we await the
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start of a white house briefing. and it comes as the president issues a warning to the fbi director, he fired this week, welcome to the second hour of "happening now." it could be a rocky one. >> well, interesting. something good to watch. >> jenna: i'm jenna lee. sean spicer set to take the podium any moment. we expect him to address a new deal, strengthening trade ties between the u.s. and china, one of the big news items of the day that the white house is pushing forward. wilbur ross joins us a little later on to talk more about that. in the meantime, the white house is facing criticism for the sudden firing of director james comby of the fbi. the white house defending that decision. kevin cork is live with more. kevin? >> hey, jenna, you're right, you ready for this? fridays are pretty relaxed but we expect there could be a knew fireworks. as we look forward to the white house press briefing. john roberts, will be sitting in the front row, he will have a chance to question the press
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secretary, sean spicer, back on the job after missing a couple of days there. we're certainly looking forward to that. still a great deal of conversation following that interesting and revealing interview with lester holt, the president talking about a number of different topics. mr. holt something big the tick to be in his decisionmaking to fire james comey. the president said i was going to fire the day, the memo from one of the guys over the a.g.'s office was obviously the tipping point for that decision. but interesting the president today also went on a bit of a twitter rant as is his wont, likes to control the news cycle heading into the weekend. he's been very busy on twitter. he said this is an important one. china agreed that the u.s. will be allowed to sell beef and other major products into china once again. this is real news. he uses the words "real news" there as sort of a contrast to what he's been calling fake news, his per spec te of the so hive called russian meddling story.
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for some time. this is a very big story, obviously, increasing trade opportunities. you heard the president call china, currency manipulator, he said they were doing terrible things to the u.s. economy on trade. so this, would appear to be something that would speak directly to that. thereof been a number of other big stories we've been talking about here, that you mentioned, just coming into the segment, the fbi director, james comey, has been fired. the acting director, andrew mccabe, oigs the job for now. the white house will tell you they're still swer viewing and looking at possible replacements. there are a number of big names floating around. i won't suggest that any of these men will ultimately end up being the fbi director. however, these are names that we do know that the president would like to consider. ray kelley, if you're in new york you know about his years of service. mike rogers. and trey gowdy, i mentioned him yesterday, his name tends to come up any time there's an opening for a major post here in
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the nation's capital because of his sort of no-nonsense style and clearly a guy who is well connected. i want to just throw one more thing at you as we continue to take a look at the podium, i don't see shawn just yet, i want to talk about fake news. for. jo. the president has been adamant he feels this administration hasn't gotten a fair shake when it comes to media coverage in general. today he floated an idea that i think really caught a lot of people by surprise. this idea yesterday you heard a number of people saying the white house press secretary said one thing and the president said something different. as far as that time line. firing james comey. check out what the president was tweeting about that this morning. he's saying this, maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future, quote, press briefings, end quote, and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy? now, for the folks at home who haven't been following this inside baseball, the truth is
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there's a little sloppiness in terms of the time line and the exact wording the president has used in talking to his communications staff. and other pronouncements we've seen. this is what happens, right, the game in washington. we're going to keep an eye on the press briefing and see how mr. spicer addresses that. a quiet day. i'm kidding. >> jenna: reading responses would make us have to do dramatic readings of them. which could get interesting as well. [ chuckling ] kevin, thank you, great start to our hour here. coming up we'll talk to the congress secretary ty wilbur ross about the deal the trump administration struck with china. a lot to get to. and of course bring back to the press briefing room shortly. jon? >> jon: as we've been reporting president trump tweeted a warning of sorts to the former fbi director this morning, writing, quote, james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. this is on the hooems of a "new york times" report the president demanded a pledge of loyalty
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from comey when they had dinner a week after he took office and the former fbi director told the president he couldn't promise loyalty. but that he would always be honest with him. joining us, doug showen fox news contributor and former advisor to. bill clinton. ed rollins, from the 1984 presidential bid. thanks for being here. ed, give us your first gut reaction to that presidential tweet about hoping that there are no tapes. >> well, certainly no evidence. any time you mention tape, after watergate, it raises concerns. there's no evidence whatsoever that comey has been a leaker or comey would do anything disrespectful. the president had every right to dismiss him, could have dismissed him on january 20th, would have been more effective. to attack him at this point, you should say thank you for your service, i want to thank you and all of the men and women of the fbi, let's move on. you know, you make this a bigger story than it is.
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i think to a certain extent, comey is a man who spent many, many years in government, is well respected, and had a difficult task. i think the president has a lot on his plate, he needs to get focused back on these issues that matter, and this basically ought to be thank you very much, we're done with this, i made my choice, and again i will have a first rate choice in the near future and move forward. >> jon: doug, what do you think of ed's advice? >> well, i think ed is right. i think that to get into a twitter war with james comey now, is absolutely counter productive. we should move on, move forward. i think, really, though the issues that we haven't talked about this morning is the russian investigation. and it appears to me that it is at the very least very possible that that is what led president trump to dismiss james comey. the letter that was sent alludes to that possibility when
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president trump said you said three times i'm not under investigation. i feel pretty strongly we need a special commit of it house and the senate, a special counsel, special committee. this is partisan, too divided, we need to get to the bottom of what's happening and will happen with that investigation to see what, if any evidence there is of collusion between the trump campaign and the russians. >> jon: within the last hour, chris stierwalt is out with a new piece on fox news.com, chris writes this. of the president's tweets and so forth. this is deadly serious stuff. many of the president's supporters seem unaware or unwilling to confront the situation as it exists. just because one thinks the democrats are historical in their responses to trump, does not mean 245 trump is doing the right thing. the undisciplined, erratic approach to a scandal that represents mortal peril for this presidency is not primarily the
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ball of a bad star, it's the fault of the president who refuses to empower his staff, show respects for the separation of are powers or exhibit patience. ed, pretty strong words there. is his presidency in peril? >> no, it's a long way from being in peril. they have stumbled, the communication plan has not been clear, what you normally do is put a crisis plan together, like you do in anything that we have a big issue, consistent message. the problem is 15 different messages and the. always basically adds something backto it, whether attacking rosie who's totally irrelevant. the russian investigation will go on. the quicker it gets done the better for the country. i'm not in favor of the special prosecutor but i think the congress and the fbi itself needs to get this thing done and get it done quickly. the president ought to encourage it, stay out of it, he made it clear he had no contact with the russians. if anybody in his campaign did, obviously it's going to get out there and he can deal with that when it comes down.
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i think the key thing is don't challenge the fbi, don't challenge the congress, their right to move forward, they will. >> jon: doug, you have said an independent investigator is called for here. >> yeah, i think g given what the president has said and done, given that we have competing investigations in the house and the senate, i just think this is, as chris stirewalt indicated, an important enough issue that we need an independent special committee or special counsel as i've written, to get to the bottom of the facts. without partisanship. like the watergate committee. i don't know what the facts, are it may well be there is no collusion. but i'm very worried between the president's efforts, his communication staff, which has been at the least off-message, competing investigations, the firing now of james comey, we need at best to have a separate body or separate investigator get to the bottom of what did or did not happen.
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>> jon: doug and ed, thank you, gentlemen. >> thank you. >> jenna: fous news alert, a police chief is dead after a man opens fire at an ohio nrsing home. matt is live in chicago with the latest. matt? >> jenn, total of four people dead, three people inside the ohio nursing home, two employees, the third was the shooter. we have learned that that police chief was shot and killed in this case, 36-year-old steven desario, sounds like he's only been on the job for three weeks, father of six with one on the way. reports appear that the police chief had engaged with the shooter at some point and that he himself was shot and killed. police are still trying to figure out why the shooter did. this it's not clear if there is a connection between the shooter and nursing home employee found dead. several blocks remain closed right now, multiple crime scenes are in process.
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nearby elementary school was on lockdown, the kids taken home. no i.d. on the shooter or victims outside of columbus, ohio. this is a developing story. and we will keep you updated as details come in. >> jenna: thank you, appreciate it. what a story, we'll continue to watch that. we are's another alert getting attention today, major cyber attack forcing hospitals across the u.k. to turn away patients. the british national health service saying computer systems were impacted. no evidence that patient data was compromised. the attacker apparently are demanding the hospital pay a ransom. officials telling patients not to go to the hospital unless it is an emergency. the spanish government also reporting cyber attacks on some of its computers. >> jon: the white house unveiling a trade deal with china, part 169 hyundai push after the president's meeting with the chinese president. what does it mean for your wallet? the secretary of commerce joins us next. and we're awaiting the white
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>> jenna: fox news alert, waiting for the white house daily briefing to begin one day after a new trade deal is announced with china, aimed at boosting access with certain sectors of the american economy into the chinese economy. i'm joined by secretary of commerce bill wur ross, a main part of some of these big deals. secretary ross, nice to have you on the program. >> thank you for having me back. >> jenna: i kept the intro becausic, i'd like you to explain to the viewers what is the practical impact of the deal for everyday americans? >> well, the practical impact is it will create more help for the economy and more jobs for americans. it will do so in the livestock industry because for the first time after decades of fighting, american cattle will be able to be sold in china. china is a $2.5 billion market
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that,'s a big deal. second, we've cleared the way for liquified natural gas exports from the u.s. to go to china, including under long-term contract. that's a good thing, because that will substitute, liquified natural gas or lng, for much more pollutive activities. it will help boost american employment, it'll deal with the resource that we have that's in excess supply, and then it will also help improve the global climate. next two things are in the financial sector, namely it will clear up the ability of american credit card companies to have their credit cards used in a duel brand, duel currency way, being issued by the chinese banks, and finally to foreign-owned financial institutions, will get the right to issue bonds and clear the
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trades in china. it's helping the services sector as well. >> jenna: quite a few different things, i'm glad the viewers get to hear you from you about what the impact may be of this. question about the impact, though, you mention the decades of fighting, particularly when it comes to the beef industry. there are those who have a question about our new trade deals with china, whether or not they're providing a temporary foix a problem that's blocking us from getting into the economy, or whether whether or not these new deals will really produce a structural change that will be lasting when it comes to u.s.-china relations. what do you say to that? >> several things. we have made, as i say, more progress in 40 days than the prior trade negotiators had in this century. so, from an achievement point of view, there's no question that this overwhelms everything else. >> jenna: have you been able to see the actual implementation in a way that you feel produces the results that you want, not just
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simply the deal coming together? >> sure. that's why we put very quick dates, all of these will have tangible impact by the 16th of july. most trade deals you don't even notice any impact for a year or two. these will be very near-term. that will also be a measure of proof that both sides are going to live up to the deal. and assuming that that happens, then we will have more deals that we will work on within the one-year time horizon and assuming we make tangible progress there, we will work on longer term deals. >> jenna: that's how you believe there will be real structural changes that will come in the chinese economy, that will be lasting for the american public? >> there already have been. a few things more sensitive to any country than its food supply. between giving us the cattle and giving us the biotech, those are
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two enormous steps. you cannot imagine the amount of congratulatory phone calls i've gotten from the agricultural industry about it. and similarly, the phone calls i've gotten from the lng industry. the people in the firing line, they know the impact of these deals. >> jenna: i want to ask, we talk about china, we're talking about chinese cooperation when it comes to north korea as well. china came up about worldwide threats that we were watching here on "happening now." here's what the cia director said about china. >> with respect to the chinese, they have made efforts, in a way that they have not made before. in an effort to close down the trade that nef and putting pressure, diplomatic pressure as well, on the north koreans. the intelligence suggests that we're going to need more to shake free the terribly challenging problem. and that they could do more and
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have of the capacity to do more. >> jenna: i'm curious how discussions about north korea, wanting china to be helpful in that particular area, have impacted our sds to work with china -- our desire to work with china and set up trade deals producing a relationship that is more, is more on the same page, more a member of the same team. >> well, there's no question that the biochemistry between president donald j. trump and chinese president has been very, very good. and more recently, at the trade negotiation level, we've developed some fair amount of time, more than 30 negotiating sessions in the little time since april 7, with the chinese. and we're developing some rapport at the trade level as well. i think those are all very constructive. because americans may not realize it, but china is very
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much a relationship-based society. and some ways, the personal relationship is even more important than the contract. so, i think it's really important that we get good relationships at a variety of levels. >> jenna: interesting, biochemistry, i'm going to remember that, describing the relationship between the two presidents. what else do you want from china? >> well, probably another 100 issues that will need discussion over a period of time. you notice we didn't really get into the digital economy, we didn't get into intellectual property rights, we didn't get into nontariff barriers to trade. there are myriad issues. what we decided to do, is a deliberate course of action, was deal with those things that were binary decisions. took a yes or no. so that we could get them implemented quickly to show that this is not just a debating society.
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this is a series of discussions that has real targets, real tangible benefits. >> jenna: i think that's something that we really learned in our conversation, there are certain checks to make sure they're following through, holding both sides accountable. look forward to talking to you about that. we're going to run, we have the press briefing coming up, i'm curious to get your take on the news of the week. you've been an extremely good businessman. you've hired and fired people. what's your take on the firing of jim comey? >> i didn't seem aware in a comey is a trade issue. it seems that that's a personnel matter. and that's a little bit out of my department. >> jenna: seems that president trump wants to trade up, if you will, when it comes to an fbi director. we'll see what we learn. secretary ross, thank you very much. here's press secretary sean spicer. >> good afternoon, good to be back with you. apparently i was a little missed. one week out from the
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president's first foreign trip. so i wanted to make sure as we prepare for that trip i bring up general, our national security advisor general mcmaster to give you a preview of what the team has been doing to prepare for the president's trip. our goal is to kind of start that process now and then next week, bring the general back, and give you a more detailed update as to what the president is going to be doing in each of the areas, some of the highlights from the trip. we'll obviously additionally have background briefings as well to give the team that's going to be traveling from the press corps some logistical updates. without further ado, general mcmaster. >> will you take questions after? >> i will be glad to take your questions. you get to go first if you like. [ chuckling ] >> thank you, shawn. good afternoon, happy mother's day weekend everybody. as you all know, in one week the president will embark on his first trip abroad since taking office. today i'd like to explain the president's objectives for his advicets, to the middle east and
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to europe. and also preview a bit of the schedule. the trips has three core purposes. first, to reaffirm america's global leadership. second, to continue building key relationships with world leaders. and third, to broadcast a message of unity to america's friends and to the faithful of the three of the world's greatest religions. the president prioritizes building strong relationships as you see here, every day. with world leaders,s a way to strengthen our alliances. he been successful. you can see that in his diplomacy with the range of leaders from prime minister may to president xi. president trump understands that america first does not mean america alone. to the contrary, prioritizing american interests means strengthening alliances and partnerships that help us extend our influence and approve the
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security of the american people. this trip is truly historic. no president has ever visited the home lands and holy sites of the jewish, christian, and muslim faiths all on one trip. and what president trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress, and prosperity. he will bring a message of tolerance and of hope to billions including to millions of americans who profess these faiths. the president will focus on what unites us. the president's trip will begin in saudi arabia, home of two of the holiest sites in islam. he will encourage our arab and muslim partners to take bold, new steps to promote peace and to confront those from isis to
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al qaeda to iran to the assad regime who perpetuate chaos and bias in a inflicted so much suffering throughout the muslim world and beyond. he will lead the first steps toward a stronger, more capable, and more robust security partnership with our gulf, arab and muslim partners. he will develop a strong, respectful message that the united states and the entire civilized world expects our muslim allies to take a strong stance againsted a radical islamist ideology that use as perverted interpretation of mnl, to justify crimes mens all humanity. he will call for muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of islam. the president will then travel to israel, with president rivlin and prime minister netanyahu, he will reaffirm the unshakeable
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bond to the jewish e station. expressing desire for dignity, self determination for the palestinians with president abbas. and to leaders and peoples alike across the entire trip he will demonstrate his hopes for just and lasting peace. in rome, the president will be honored to accept an audience with pope francis. he looks forward to paying his respects and to discussing religious freedom, ways to combat religious persecution, human trafficking and cooperating on humanitarian misses across the globe. he will also pay his respects to the italian people, by meeting with the president, the head of state, and one of america's most important treaty allies and trading partners. he will see prim minister who is hosting the g-7 conference in sicily. the president will continue to brussels for the nato leaders meeting.
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he will reaffirm america's commitment to the alliance. while stressing the need for members to pay their fair share, to shoulder responsibility, to share burdens, and for the institution to continue on the path of strengthening the alliance. president trump will end his trip in sicily for the g-7 meeting, in taramina, promoting american economic leadership and also address unfair trade practices. he will remind our friends and partners that we are eager to explore further ways to address threats to our mutual security, from north korea to afghanistan to the broader middle east. before leaving, the president will visit naval the air station where he will thank our wonderful and courageous servicemen and women, allied personnel and family members, for their sacrifices. and across the trip, he will meet with sdip low mats of the staff at our embassies who
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represent us so well throughout the world. lastly, just a few words on how this came together. the impetus came from the president himself, and he has been fully engaged from the beginning. setting objectives, overseeing the planning. the president is receiving regular briefings, from his cabinet and from our senior staff here on the national security side, and on the economic side as well. most of the leaders the president will meet as you know he's met in person, certainly by phone. these relationships are off to a very strong start. and the trip is an opportunity to broaden and deepen those relationships. the administration continues to be in close contact and consultation with congress, and we're drawing on the expertise across the senate, and the house, in preparation for the trip as well.finally, this real effort. the white house and national security council staffs, national economic counsel, continue to work closely with our departments of state,
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treasury, defense, and others to fulfill the president's objectives and ensure smooth execution. on bee ha of the president is expression the whole administration's thanks for the hard work it takes to organize a trip of this scope and this importance. so the president and all of us are looking forward to the journey w that i'll take a couple of questions. >> how is this president viewed among our arab allies, saabie arabia, u.a., with his presidency? >> i would say the president's leadership has been welcomed enthusiastically. there was a perception that america had largely disengaged from the middle east in particular. and that disengagement coincided with this humanitarian and political catastrophe in the region. now there's a broad recognition among all of our partners in the region that american leadership is necessary. to help address this catastrophe
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and begin to move the region toward the peace, security, and stability that the people there so deserve. so what you're seeing is a galvanizing part of the president's leadership and bring the leaders together and bringing them together for a positive agenda. who's against ending this catastrophe? who's against confronting the terrorists, who are the enemies of all civilrized people? confronting iran who's participating in the cycle of violence and bring prosperity, peace to the region and the people who so richly deserve it. thanks. >> it is crucial in the intelligence community, somebody leading the national security council, to ask you, there have been reports including from our network, intelligence officials are concerned how james comey was fired. do you believe that threatens national security? >> i told shawn i would pass those questions to him, he will be happy to answer these. i'd like to focus on the trip
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and i'll come back next week with more details of the trip as well. >> you said the president was the impetus for the trip came from the president himself. was it the president himself who decided to begin with trip in saudi arabia, the birthplace of islam? is there sick bollic significance to that, and how many -- symbolic significance to that, how many of our muslim majority countries will be represented at the meeting in saudi arabia? >> yes, well this is the president's initiative to begin the trip in the middle east. hosted by king soman and the king have saudi arabia. and the king is going to bring together partners from across the region to meet with the president. the answer to the question, can i answer in more detail next week, it's still coming in, the final attendees, he will meet with a broad range of leaders in the middle east. of course, many of whom, most of whom he's met here.
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or by phone certainly. and we have the crown prince benzi on monday as well. >> general mcmaster at the beginning of this very long week we were hearing speculation that the president was considering thousands more troops for afghanistan. when he goes to brus else on thursday of next week what is the message to the nato partners with respect to their commitment? >> well, the key is all of us have to be committed, to achieving our fundamental objectives in ofgs. i mean, americans know better than anybody, the mass murder against our own country september 11, 2001 begun originated with the save haven in afghanistan and support base. we have been engaged against isis, in afghanistan, with highly successful operations there, that you will hear more about in the press conference at the department of defense here in the near future. but what has happened in
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afghanistan is the afghan army is taking the brunt of the fight against these transnational terrorists and the tally ban. we are working with our -- taliban. we're working with our allies to have a more effective strategy, what are option weiss can bring to the president to be more effective in meeting the objectives in afghanistan, and what more can we ask our allies to do which we're asking them now. this is going to be consistent with the president's guidance to us. >> there should be thousands more troops? >> the president hasn't made a decision yet on the course of action. what we have done, in many cases on the north korea problem set for example, consulted across the government and with allies. the president wants to hear from our allies as well. this is a president who listens to his allies and partners. we will have an opportunity to do so at the nato summit, an opportunity at the g-7. what we will have, at the end of this next few weeks here, is an opportunity for an effective
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strategy for the problems set in afghanistan, pakistan and the region broadly. >> thank you. general, if you can talk first about the evolution from the way the president campaigned, more unilateral foreign policy, to this multi-national lal engagement and the way you're rolling out this trip to explain that. secondly, if you can talk about the decision to send a delegation to the one belt, one road forum in china and what you hope to get out of that. >> okay. so, america first didn't mean america alone, ever, i don't think. so what we have done is advance the president's agenda in national security, by strengthening alliances by burden-sharing. americans don't have to do everything, we don't have to bank role everything. al liegs and partners are grateful for the president's leadership in asking them to do more. it is an alliance in which each of the members are doing their fair share, is it stronger or weaker? it's stronger.
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the president has done a great deal to strengthen our alliances. america first didn't mean america not leading. for america to secure and advance its interests that requires american leadership. so, the president's leadership has been welcomed in all of the places that he will be visiting on this trip. and his agenda, i think, he laid out in the campaign is being operationalized and implemented by his cabinet, primarily, with the assistance of the team in the white house. >> two questions. first, there were operates out of israel that president trump may try to get benjamin netanyahu and abbas together while hes there. is that the case? and to nbc news yesterday, the president said that general mattis and his other generals would be announcing something on isis. is there an announcement coming next week the first part, whatever the president wants to do. a lot of what we do in the
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security council is try to keep up with the president. i think it is -- there are plans -- >> are you going to reach out to both of them together? >> the final plans aren't set yet, we can comment more about that maybe next week. obviously up to the president and those leaders about how he wants to engage with them. he will engage with both those leaders there as president of the trip. in terms of the cap pain -- campaign against trance terrorist organizations, the president has asked to us do everything we can to defeat isis and ensure that we defeat isis in this so-called calaphet and terrain in syria, iraq, afghanistan, other areas. what the president has told us, he doesn't want to telegraph what he's doing, tactically, day-to-day. he wants the department of defense and military commanders to execute the campaigns consistent with the guidance, policy, and strategy he has approved. what we -- next week will do is an opportunity for our military
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leadership to lay out how we're -- how they are executing the president's guidance. the progress they've made in the campaign. and what remains to be done. that's really the emphasis of the press conference next week. >> thank you, general. one more? >> can we hear about russia and the dpreements made this week -- agreements that were made with russia's top diplomat? you are going to the region, how are you going to explain dpreements you made with russia, allied with iran, which the president says is a priority? >> i would say the brief meetings that the president had with the prime minister, the phone conversations that we have had with russian leadership, as engagements not decisions or specific approaches. i think what the president has made clear, is that he will confront russian disruptive behavior, such as support for the murderous assad regime in
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syria, achbld its enabling of iran and its destructive policy and stradie that is executing across the middle east. what it has done and continued to do in ukraine. he will confront that disruptive behavior. the president is looking for areas of cooperation. there are a lot of very significant security problem sets across the world. all of them would get easier, right, if russia were to come to the conclusion that it could best advance its interests through cooperating with the united states and others to resolve those conflicts rather than perpetuate them. >> are they party to causing the conflicts? the president said that it was a good meeting, he spoke positive terms, that there was progress made. are you saying there were no agreements snmpl the president spoke in positive, affirmative, strong terms in his engagements with russian leaders. >> thank you very much. >> can we follow up --
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>> i'll take one more. one more. in the back. can you tell us a little bit more about america first policy, about how it changed over time? it's not been clear what it means and how other people would want to sign up for it. >> what it means is that the president's prioritizing the security and interests of the american people. you can see that with what secretary ross has done in the relation -- economic relationship with china. to look for ways to advance american prosperity. every theme of this trip, is wholly consistent with the president's approach to prioritize the american people, american security, american jobs, american prosperity. so you'll see that, with i think almost a refreshing, i would say, integration of what we're doing in terms of security partnerships. along with economic relationships. and the diplomatic engagement that the president's cabinet has been engaged with since he's
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taken over as president. and this trip is going to be a tremendous way to solidify the gains already made and advance them further. thank you very much. >> all right. thank you general mcmaster. i'll go through a couple updates and schedule before i get to your questions. and jeff will get the first one. first off, secretaries ro, i know, was up here last night to tell you about the developments and general mcmaster noted it, developments that happened in advance that have happened in trade. the 10 commitments that secretary ross announced yesterday, are the initial results of the 1 hyundai action plan of the -- 100 day action plan of the dialogue that began with president trump and president xi in mar-a-lago. the united states has negotiated intensively to reach consensus in areas including agricultural trade, financial services,
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investment, and energy. one of the actions i want to point out in particular sets the stage for china to allow import of american beef begin nothing later than july 16 of this year. it's been 13 years since our cattle producers have been effectively locked out of the chinese market. china is the second largest beef importer, buying roughly $2.6 billion of beef every year. in a statement last night the national cattlemen's beef association, the nation's largest association of cattle farmers, said and i quote, it's impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for america's cattle producers and how the trump administration deserves a lot of credit for getting this achieved, end quote. this announcement came on the same day that secretary ty perdue visited a barge loading facility in the ohio river and announced he will appoint the first ever undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture affairs at the u.s. department of agriculture. this is further proof of the
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seriousness of which the administration is approaching property motion of u.s. agricultural products abroad. that's just one part of the deal that was reached, here are some of the other highlights we have worked with china. eight tending weo tech patents will be evaluated at a meeting of chinese biosafety committee by the end of may. we welcome china to receive imported liquified natural gas with companies allowed to proceed at any time to negotiate contracts. china will allow foreign owned financial services firms in china to provide credit rating services and credit investigation. by july 16, china will issue further guidance to allow american owned supply erpgs of electronic payment services to operate in china. china will allow two american financial institutions to issue underwriting and settlement licenses no later of july 16. as we continue to make progress within the 1-00 day frame work, including the plan to solidify action that benefits both
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countries. attorney general sessions issued a memo this morning that restores flexibility to prosecutors, so that they can most effectively combat the crisis of illegal drug trafficking that is polluting our cities and destroying our communities and families. this was formulated after extensive consultation with the prosecutors that handle the cases every day around the country. with these additional option is available to them, they now have the leverage they need to get at the root of drug trafficking and the violent crime that surrounds it. as the attorney general said this morning, this will take the handcuffs off our nation's prosecutors. and if i can add it frankly puts the handcuffs on the drug traffickers who fleten the safety of our families and communities. the trump administration is signalling to the worst of the worst the drug traffickers who move these dangerous substances around the border and into our communities the united states department of justice will no longer look on thor in way. this week the administration is also businessy engaging with
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senators and their staff now that the american healthcare actnd the relief it promises for the american people is in the senate's hands. sara talked about how aetna has pulled out of obamacare completely. another report out from e-health showed the average premium for individual plans rose by 39% since 2014. in some cases insurance premiums and out of pocket expenses have become family's most significant expenses. with each new report it becomes clearer and clearer that we can't wait any longer to repeal and replace this failing system. until we enact serious reforms of the healthcare system, the american people will continue to suffer under the consequences. tomorrow, the president will deliver his first xhinsment address in lynch burg, virginia at liberty. he is greatly looking forward to visiting with liberty students and faculty who gave him a warm welcome last year. he can be expected to 2340e9 to
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the graduates his own change in status since they were last together as many of you know, liberty is the largest christian school in the nation. has in recent years made many remarkable strides forward in its academic, extra curricular, and athletic endeavors. besides taking note of these achievements the president will be congratulating the gradts with on their accomplishments and encouraging them to be a force for good in the world by standing up for their values that liberty has taught them. he will be overg congratulations, thanks and praise and encouragement on a day of optimism and new beginnings for the dprad watts as well as the nation n terms of the rundown for next week, the president has a packed schedule before we depart on his first foreign trip. on monday, he's hosting the crown prince of the united arab emirates o tuesday welcomes the president of turkey. on wednesday, the president will travel to new london, connecticut to deliver the xhinsment address at the united states coast guard academy. on thursday the president of columbia will be at the white house for an official visit o friday, we set off for, on the
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trip, first stop being saudi arabia. in honor of mother's day this after into the first lady will host a reception in honor of military mothers in the residence. followed by a performance by the army chorus and marine band. the white house will issue a mother's day prok la makes. beyond the activities here, this is the official reminder, to get your flowers and cards before it's too late. and with that, jeff masonnch thank you for that reminder. >> you're welcome. >> moving on to the news of the week, does president trump record his conversations with former fbi director comey? >> i assume you're referring to the tweet. and i've talked to the president, the president has nothing further to add. >> why did he say that? why did he tweet that? what should we interpret from that the president has nothing further to add. >> is there a recording devices in the oval office or the residence as i said for the third time, there is nothing further to add on that. >> does he think it is
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appropriate to threaten some one like mr to speak snjts i don't think that's a threat. he simply stated a fact, the tweet specs for itself, i'm moving on. john. . another one of the president's tweets this morning, he said, quote, russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching the u.s. tears itself apart over a democrat excuse for losing the election. what did the president mean by that, how specifically is the u.s. tearing itself apart over all of this? >> i think the president's comments about russia and collusion have been very clear. with respect to some of the charges that have been made. he's very clear that it's one thing, that he believes, that the notion that there's collusion is a hoax, reaffirmed by several people, including senator grassley and others. he wants to make sure he's focused on doing what's best for the american people. >> you said that many times. how is the u.s. tearing itself apart? >> obviously this is a subject that comes up over and over
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again when it's been very clearly stated on multiple occasions that there's no collusion that occurred, and yet this narrative continues to be perpetuated. >> do you think this is what the russians wanted all along, interfering with the election? >> i have no idea. what i'm just telling you, i think we've made it clear at this podium several times and the president made it clear that what his feelings are on this. >> in the dinner that the president had with james comey earlier in january, did the president implore him to pledge his loyalty to the president? is that true? >> no. >> that did not happen? >> no. >> how important is it that the fbi director be loyal to the president? is that a quality the president wants to see in anyone, particularly as frib director? >> i think the president wants loyalty to this country and the rule of law. >> thanks. and the dinner with james comey, does anyone in the white house have an audio recording of what unfolded during the january 27
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dinner between the former fbi director and president of the united states? >> i'm not aware of that. >> one follow up, what can the administration do better when it comes to communication? today the president tweeted out that he felt from behind that podium it's not always possible to present the information with perfect accuracy. >> so, look, i think we come out here every day and try to do the best job we can communicating with the president what he's donend the accomplishments he's making on the american people. we get here early, work beyond being here at this podium, as many of you know we get here early, work pretty late. we do what we can. the president is active as president, he keeps a robust schedule, as many of you are well aware. you can tell by the activities of next week alone. sometimes we don't have an opportunity on get in to see him, to get his filthying. and those cases we do our best to follow up with you. but i think -- to get his feelings. when you read a story, someone
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is trying to pull apart one word, one sentence and say, ah-hah, make it a got-you thing. we work hard to get accurate information. we don't always get in to see the president, in those cases, we do a pretty good job of following up and getting you the information after the briefing or subsequent -- so that's exactly what he meant. >> is the president considering cancelling the daily press briefings? >> he's a little dismayed as well as a lot of people that we come out and try to do everything we can to provide you and the american people with what he's doing on their behalf, what he's doing to keep the nation safe, to grow jobs. and yet, we see time and time again an attempt to pars every little word and make it a game of gotcha as opposed to figure out what the policies are, why? is being pursued, what is the up jit date on this. there's a lot of dismay, not just alone the president feels.
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>> can i ask you one final question, on the original question i had about the dinner on january 27, with james comey, the president wasn't clear during the nabs interview, who invited the fbi director to the white house at that time. how many invitations did the white house send to director james comey after january 20th, and before the director was fired? >> i don't know. i'll try to get back to you. katie? >> thank you. i have a question on the president's visit next week. he recently called, called for muslims to rush the temple mount. considering the president has been a mediator, what is the response to that? and then i have another question. >> i think what you have seen with the president's meeting with these leaders, is he engages privately, and to a degree, a large degree he's been able to achieve great success. whether hagazi, working behind the scenes, whether it's the
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progress that he made with china. the president's behind the scenes diplomacy is paying dividends for the united states. that's how he'll continue to operate. as general mcmaster noted, it's that kind of diplomacy reasserting our position in the world and the trust in the relationships continue to be built. [ question inaudible ] >> again, there's a difference, katie, if we can get out here and i think what the president believes is that behind the scenes diplomacy pays dividends in terms of affecting behavior and outcomes, and furthering the goals of the united states. that's as much as i can say. >> my other question, is the discussion about the refugee crisis, fuelling problems in europe, the president talks about refugees being problem in the united states, terrorists hiding refugees -- refugees hiding in -- terrorists hiding. is he going to talk about that with arab leaders specifically when he visits saudi arabia or is that not something he's going
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to bring up? . i mean, he talked about safe zones, yesterday with the foreign minister, earlier this week, rather, brought it up on the calls. >> saudi arabia? >> i'm not going the get ahead of his conversations that he will have. the president has been publicly clear about his desire to address that situation. and some of the solutions that exist. but in a lot of readouts we have had that as part of it, because he beliefs that that has to be part of the solution. john? >> in the interview that the president conducted yesterday with nbc he indicated and confirmed that on three separate occasions he asked the director of the fbi and received assurances from the fbi that he was not under investigation by the fbi. why was the president so consumed lie by this to ask that question on three separate occasions? >> i think because the narrative continued to be perpetuated and he wanted clarity to make sure. i haven't spoken to him about
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the reasons. but i think he answered it yesterday clearly. so i can get back to you, but that's the answer. >> i would appreciate you getting back to me. as far as asking that question, did the president ask the white house counsel whether it be appropriate to ask such a question, given that it was against generally justice department guidelines to indicate whether or not investigations are undergoing against any individual let alone one in the white house? >> i don't know. i will tell you that i know several legal scholars that said there was nothing inappropriate about that. dave? >> did the white house counsel -- >> i don't know the answer. >> general mcmaster mentioned on the trip the president is going to be raising the issue of religious persecution. i wanted to ask you about a case in the last week in indonesia where christian governor in the state of jakarta was imprisoned for two years regarding the
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koran. does the president find that case troubling, does he plan to say anything -- >> did john give you this question? >> i'm sorry. [ chuckling ] >> i don't have any updates on that particular case. i would ask you to check with the state department. >> a point on jeff's question, i hope you can answer it yes or no. is the president of the united states currently recording conversations taking place in the oval office? >> i think the point that i made, with respect to the tweet, president has no further comment on that. >> it was all him regarding deputy attorney general, why did you come out with information that was later contradicted by the president, can you explain when were you brought in, who else was involved, why were the american people given incorrect information that night i don't necessarily believe that's true, zeke. there was a decisionmaking process the president explained in the interview process. the bottom line, the director of
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the fbi serves at the pleasure of the president. the president made the decision to replace mim as he has stated very clearly now, publicly. the president is focused on making sure that he finds a replacement that has the leadership qualities to lead the fbi. that's it. cam? >> one followup on that briefly. when you said tuesday, what you said doesn't match what the president was laying out. walk through why the discrepancy in terms of the decision? >> it's always the president's decision, that's it, final. >> look, as i mentioned to zeke, this is ultimately the president, always going to be the president's decision. everyone who serves at the pleasure of the president, is going to be the decision to hire some one or fire some one. he made a decision, in part based on the recommendation, and he's now focused on making sure that we have a replacement at the fbi to instill the proper leadership.
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blake? >> the president in relation to nominating fbi director, where does that process stand. how many people interviewed, the president does he rope to wrap it up up before he goes overseas? >> i think on the timing as soon as he finds a can d.a. candidate that fits the qualities that he feels are necessary to lead the fbi, that's the time line on that. i know that the ept of justice has begun to -- department of justice has created that list, if they haven't already, will be starting the process of interviewing people. either today or through the weekend. i mean the president obviously wants to make sure we have the right person. that process is being headed by the department of justice. >> shawn, tell us about how somebody not necessarily being political in that role, if somebody has been a member of congress, past or present, does that count as an automatic disqualifier? >> i don't know, i have not asked the president but i don't believe he has stated a sort of in and out. the department of justice is
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screening candidates. i'm sure that as they feel as though they have a list of intoiblists, >> the other day, someone asked for the president's confidence to andrew mccabe after the testimony on capitol hill, is that still the case? he is the acting director at this moment. >> i have not asked him about the deputy -- i have not asked him about his generally, i don't go through the list of government employees and ask him. so i have not asked him specifically about that. >> yesterday sarah told us the president expects the fbi investigation will be wrapped up with integrity. that's what the white house wants. today the president tweeted and called it a witch hunt. how does tweeting and calling it a witch hunt help wrap that up with integrity? >> no one wants this done. he wants to know very clearly, there's two pieces to this. right? which is what was russia's involvement? the president is obviously very

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