James S. Brady Briefing Room
1:34 P.M. EDT
MR. SPICER: Hi, guys. Good afternoon. I hope everyone had a great weekend, seriously. It’s Monday, so I brought a special guest.
First, I’d like to have the Attorney General come up to the podium to make an announcement regarding immigration enforcement with respect to sanctuary cities. When the Attorney General is done speaking, we’ll have time for a couple questions and then I’ll continue with the briefing. So if your question is not germane to sanctuary cities, keep your hand down and we’ll get to it after we go through the events of the day.
So, with that, Attorney General Sessions, come on up.
ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: Thank you, Sean. The Department of Justice has a view to enforce our nation’s laws, including our immigration laws. Those laws require us to promptly remove aliens when they are convicted or detained of certain crimes. The vast majority of American people support this commonsense requirement. According to one recent poll, 80 percent of Americans believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities. Unfortunately, some states and cities have adopted policies designed to frustrate this enforcement of immigration laws. This includes refusing to detain known felons on the federal detainer request, or otherwise failing to comply with these laws.
For example, the Department of Homeland Security recently issued a report showing that in a single week, there were more than 200 instances of jurisdictions refusing to honor ICE detainer requests with respect to individuals charged or convicted of a serious crime. The charges and convictions against these aliens included drug-trafficking, hit-and-run, rape, sex offenses against a child, and even murder. Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets. We all remember the tragic case of Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old woman who was shot and killed two years ago in San Francisco as she walked along a pier with her father. The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, was an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.
Just 11 weeks before the shooting, San Francisco had released Sanchez from its custody, even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers had filed a detainer requesting that he be held in custody until immigration authorities could pick him up for removal. Even worse, Sanchez admitted the only reason he came to San Francisco was because it was a sanctuary city.
A similar story unfolded just last week, when Ever Valles, an illegal immigrant and a Mexican national was charged with murder and robbery of a man at a light rail station. Valles was released from a Denver jail in late December, despite the fact that ICE has lodged a detainer for his removal.
The American people are not happy with these results. They know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe. Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.
DUIs, assaults, burglaries, drug crimes, gang rapes, crimes against children, and murderers — countless Americans would be alive today and countless loved ones would not be grieving today if these policies of sanctuary cities were ended. Not only do these policies endanger lives of every American — just last May, the Department of Justice inspector general found that these policies also violate federal law.
The President has rightly said, disregard for the law must end. In his executive order, he stated that it is the policy of the executive branch to ensure that states and cities comply with all federal laws, including all immigration laws.
Today, I’m urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, including 8 U.S.C. Section 1373. Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards.
This policy is entirely consistent with the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Program’s guidance that was issued just last summer under the previous administration. This guidance requires state and local jurisdictions to comply and certify compliance with Section 1373 in order to be eligible for OJP grants.
It also made clear that failure to remedy violations could result in withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.
The Department of Justice will also take all lawful steps to claw back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction that willfully violates 1373. In the current fiscal year, the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Program and Community Oriented Policing services anticipates awarding more than $4.1 billion in grants.
I strongly urge our nation’s states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to rethink these policies. Such policies make their cities and states less safe — public safety, as well as national security, are at stake — and put them at risk of losing federal dollars.
The American people want and deserve a lawful system of immigration that keeps us safe, and one that serves the national interest. This expectation is reasonable, just, and our government has the duty to meet it, and we will meet it.
Q In Montgomery County, right up the road, there was a rape in Maryland at Rockville High School. Has anyone from the Department of Justice had any conversations with anyone in Montgomery County or Rockville, as they describe themselves as a sanctuary county and city? And there’s also a boatload of federal government in Montgomery County.
ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: Well, you know, Maryland is talking about a state law to make the state a sanctuary state. The governor is opposed to that, I’m glad to hear. That would be such a mistake. I would plead with the people of Maryland to understand that this makes the state of Maryland more at risk for violence and crime. It is not good policy. And as a former prosecutor for many years in state and federal law in jurisdictions, I just know the historic relationship different federal agencies have with regard to honoring detainers. It’s just a fundamental principle of law enforcement that if you have a person arrested, and another jurisdiction has a charge, then they file a detainer. And when you finish with the prisoner, you turn them over to the next jurisdiction for their adjudication. That is why it should be done —
MR. SPICER: Major.
Q Mr. Attorney General, so listening to you carefully, it sounds like you’re applying the standards and the policy that the Obama administration put forward on compliance with underlying Justice Department rules. Are you taking any additional steps? And have you asked the President to maybe talk about other federal funds that are not necessarily under your control as a way to punish sanctuary cities or states?
ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: Well, that’s a good question. What I’m saying today is that essentially the policies of the Obama administration that were issued last July make clear that you should not be receiving certain federal funds if you’re not in compliance with 1373. We believe that grants in the future could be issued that have additional requirements, as every grant that’s being issued in America today usually has a requirement that if you qualify for this grant, you have to meet certain requirements. So we’ll be looking at that in the future, and we’ll continue to pursue it. But fundamentally we intend to use all the lawful authority we have to make sure that our state and local officials, who are so important to law enforcement, are in sync with the federal government.
Q Some officials in cities, for example — bigger cities — have said, despite the lack of federal funding, they will continue to be sanctuary cities; that they don’t care that they’re losing money, essentially. What recourse does the Department of Justice have in those cities that look at what you’re doing and say, we don’t care, we’re going to continue to implement this policy?
ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS: Well, that’s very disheartening, but I hope that the American people and their constituents in their own cities will communicate with them. And as we continue a dialogue and a discussion, and as we continue to ensure that monies that go for law enforcement only go to cities who are participating in an effective, collegial, cooperative way with the federal government, that that would also send a message. We have simply got to end this policy. Thank you all.
MR. SPICER: Okay. You guys ready to continue?
MR. SPICER: Good. Before I get into today’s schedule, I wanted to read — I know there’s been some interest in the State Department’s statement regarding the arrest of hundreds of protestors — peaceful protestors — that occurred in Russia.
The statement that the State Department put out says:
“The United States strongly condemns the detention of hundreds of peaceful protestors throughout Russia on Sunday. The detention of peaceful protestors, human rights observers, and journalists is an affront to essential democratic values. We are troubled to hear of the arrest of the opposition leader upon arrival at the demonstration, as well as the police raids on the anti-corruption organization he heads. The United States will monitor the situation, and we call on the government of Russia to immediately release all peaceful protestors. The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas, transparent and accountable governance, equal treatment under the law, and the ability to exercise their rights without fear of retribution.”
Now, with respect to events for the day, this morning, after receiving his daily intelligence briefing, the President participated in a roundtable with women small business owners. The President is hosting a group of women business owners as part of the White House’s full calendar of Women’s History Month events.
At the roundtable this morning, Vice President Pence, SBA Administrator McMahon joined with other senior administration officials to hear from these amazing female entrepreneurs and small business leaders about their firsthand experiences, successes, and challenges. As the President said, “Empowering and promoting women in business is an absolute priority in the Trump administration because I know how crucial women are as job-creators, role models, and leaders all throughout our communities.
The women in attendance this morning have incredible stories, including many who have started businesses from scratch with very limited resources, and, through hard work and determination, turned their dreams into reality. Between them, they provide hundreds of jobs to Americans across the country. The President is dedicated to continuing to remove the unique barriers that women face in our economy, including access to capital, markets, and networks. This administration will continue to advocate for policies that support working family, including a national initiative to promote women business leaders and entrepreneurs that his daughter, Ivanka, is helping to lead.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the White House has been hosting events all throughout March. Just to name a few, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Systems Administrator Verma held a roundtable with Women in Healthcare, which the President attended. The First Lady held a Women’s Empowerment lunch on International Women’s Day. Earlier this month, Second Lady Karen Pence joined women from all five military branches for lunch at Fort Meade, and last week hosted military women at the Vice President’s residence to thank them for their service. Under President Trump, the American economy is a place for everyone, regardless of their gender, to thrive.
Following the roundtable, the President had lunch with the Vice President and Secretary of State Tillerson. And at three o’clock, the President will sign House Joint Resolutions 37, 44, 57, and 58 — all of which use the powers of the Congressional Review Act to roll back job-killing rules. Before this administration, only one time in the nation’s history had a President ever signed a bill that used the Congressional Review Act to cancel a federal regulation. In just his first 66 days as President, he will have signed six resolutions to eliminate unnecessary and burdensome rules.
House Joint Resolution 37 rolls back the so-called “blacklisting” rule, which manufacturers identified during their meeting with the President as one of the most significant threats to growing American businesses and hiring more American workers. The rule simply made it too easy for trial lawyers to go after American companies and American workers who contract with the federal government. The President saw that workers, taxpayers, and businesses were the ones who truly suffered under this rule, and he is glad to be signing legislation to eliminate it.
House Joint Resolution 45* , 57, and 58 cancel federal power grabs that took decision-making away from the states and local governments who know the unique challenges of their own populations. The President firmly believes that Washington is not always the solution to these problems, and that these bills return the power to the people by putting more decision-making in the hands of states.
House Joint Resolution 44 removes a Bureau of Land Management rule, known as “Planning 2.0,” that would have centralized federal and land management in Washington, diluting the concerns of local citizens who have a right that is protected by law to be involved in this decision-making process.
H.J. Res. 57 and 58 eliminate the Department of Education regulations which limits states’ flexibility in how they assess the performance of schools and teacher preparation and programs. Removing these additional layers of bureaucracy will make it easier for parents, teachers and communities, and state leaders to address the needs of their students.
The President will continue to work with Congress and the rest of the federal government until every unnecessary regulation that stands in the way of success for American business and American people is taken off the books.
Additionally, the President spoke with German Chancellor Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Modi earlier today to congratulate them on their parties’ success in recent elections. We’ll have readouts on those calls a little later for you both.
The President also will announce the establishment of the Office of American Innovation. The Office of American Innovation will apply the President’s “ahead of schedule and under budget” mentality to a wide number of government operations and service, enhancing the quality of life for all Americans. The office will have a particular focus on technology and data, hearing back from leaders in the industry.
As some of its first priorities, the office will focus on modernizing the technology of every federal department, identifying transformational infrastructure projects, and reimagining the VA system so that it can better serve our nation’s heroes. The effort will be led by Assistant to the President and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner.
Tomorrow, the President will sign an executive order to strengthen the nation’s energy security by reducing unnecessary regulatory obstacles that restrict the responsible use of domestic energy resources. This order will help keep energy and electricity affordable, reliable and clean in order to boost economic growth and job creation.
And finally, before I came out today, Senate Democrats continued their obstruction to the President’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court with the Judiciary Committee seeking a one-week postponement on its decision.
Over the weekend, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer defended his decision to mount a filibuster against the President’s unquestionably qualified nominee. If Senator Schumer gets his way, this would be the first successful filibuster against a Supreme Court nominee in American history. He argued, quite misleadingly, that the Senate has “required” a 60-vote threshold of “every” Supreme Court nominee. That’s simply not true.
And as I’ve said before, only three Supreme Court Justices have faced a filibuster in the last half of the century. Senator Schumer cited four justices confirmed under President Bush and Obama, but in fact, among those four, only one faced an attempted filibuster — that was Justice Samuel Alito. And it was President Obama who, then as a senator, voted to filibuster Justice Alito, and later publicly expressed his regret for that.
The fact is, an attempted filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee is rare, and to do so in this context, with such an eminently qualified and brilliant judge, is nothing short of obstructionism. That’s why Senator Pat Leahy, the former Democratic Chairman of the Senate Judiciary, said he is “not inclined to filibuster,” even if he ultimately may not vote to confirm the Judge.
The fact that the former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee won’t stand by the Minority Leader exposes the Leader’s efforts as nothing but obstructionism that undermines decades of Senate tradition. Through four days of extensive hearings, Judge Gorsuch demonstrated his judicial philosophy, his sterling academic credentials, and a brilliant legal mind. He deserves a fair up or down vote.
And with that, I’d be glad to take a few of your questions. Jonathan.
Q Is the President serious about working with Democrats going forward after what happened with healthcare?
MR. SPICER: Absolutely. In fact, starting Friday afternoon through late yesterday, he’s received a number of calls, as well as other members of the senior staff that had been working on healthcare, from members of both sides, saying that they would like to work together, offer up ideas, and had suggestions about how to come to resolution on this and get to a House vote on this.
Q But —
Q But wouldn’t this require a —
MR. SPICER: I’m sorry, John, this isn’t a free-for-all. Jonathan is asking the question.
Q But wouldn’t this require a serious course correction for the White House? I mean, the President branded Chuck Schumer a “clown,” worked entirely with Republicans on this bill. Wouldn’t this require a serious change of course for the President?
MR. SPICER: To some degree, sure. And I think the President talked about that. I think we learned a lot through this process. I think we’re obviously looking at ways that we can improve not only how we handle healthcare, but other things — how we do everything. And I mentioned it to some of you in the course of things. I think one of the traits of a successful organization is to always examine how you do things, but I think that there’s been a lot of outreach from members of both sides with ideas, and the President is willing to listen to these individuals. And if they can come to a resolution on a way forward, obviously we’re willing to listen and to move forward.
But there are a lot of folks that came forward with these ideas. And with all due respect, to the beginning of your question, I don’t think it’s a one-way street some of the comments that have been made. I think some of the Democrats. who now say they weren’t involved, early on in the process said that they wanted nothing to do with this process, there was no way that they would engage in any discussion to repeal. So I think it’s a two-way street, and I think that we have been willing to listen to folks and their ideas. And the President’s advice is that if we can come up with resolution on a way to move forward, we’ll certainly entertain that.
Q Where does the buck stop for this failure? Does the buck stop —
MR. SPICER: Just so we’re clear, look, we’re at the beginning of a process. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of healthcare. As most people have noted, I think the Obama administration, from beginning to end, it ultimately took about 17 months and went through a series of fits and starts. And it wasn’t until Scott Brown was elected, denying them the 60th vote in the Senate, that they finally jammed something through. And, frankly, a lot of the reason that the Secretary of Health and Human Services has some of the powers that they do is because they had to jam it through. But there were several failures, when Obamacare went through, during the process. And ultimately, they tried to go through a single-payer process, and they got rebuffed on that by some of their own members.
So, look, we’re not saying it’s the end of healthcare. But I think that we are looking to look for a way forward, and I think that a lot of the members — and again, on both sides of the aisle — have reached out not just to the President, but to members of the team, willing to share some ideas both that will make — that they think would make the bill stronger. But ultimately, the goal is to get to 216 and potentially 218, depending on where we are with special elections.
And so we’re going to look to see where we can get those 218 votes. And there may be other opportunities to work with people across the aisle that get us to 218. But that’s the name of the game, and we’re going to continue to pursue that.
Q Sean, the last Congress passed significant tax reform, it took about five years, and that was 30 years ago, in 1986. After the failure or defeat of the American Health Care Act on an issue where there was broad GOP consensus, what makes the President think he can pass significant tax reform this year?
MR. SPICER: Well, I think it’s been 30 years. I think people — we have a series of — we have an economy that’s evolved, especially in the technology area; they just made a lot of things change. And I think our tax code is outdated. And, frankly, on the business side, we’re uncompetitive. There’s a reason that companies are leaving America to go to other places, because the same reason sometimes companies move from state to state. Our corporate and regulatory system has become unattractive for a lot of companies that want to either manufacture here, grow here, or begin here, or want to return jobs here.
I think the President recognized that, and business leaders from around the country. It’s not a partisan issue. I mean, you go out to the tech sector, out in Silicon Valley in particular, there’s a lot of these companies out there that admittedly weren’t with the President during the election, or continued not to be, and I think recognized that we are not as competitive as we can be when you consider the tax and regulatory climate of other countries around the world. And we need to be more competitive.
And then I think you look at the individual side of the House, and I think especially when you talk to middle-income Americans, especially in the context of health premiums skyrocketing up, they recognize that they need some relief. And so we’ve got to do what we can to address that.
Q Thank you. Historically, since healthcare has beguiled many Presidents, all the way to Harry Truman, and certainly when Hillary Clinton came to Washington, she went to the Hill and thought that she could get it done. I’m sure there are many lessons you can learn from previous Presidents and perhaps previous First Ladies. Has the President thought about reaching out to Hillary and finding out how she maneuvered and some of the best practices or some of the pitfalls that she came to?
MR. SPICER: And I think that you know — I mean, he’s met with Dr. Zeke Emanuel and others — it’s not been a — he’s reached out to several people throughout this process to gauge both their policy ideas and strategy ideas. And I think the President noted on Friday afternoon that we learned a lot, on several fronts, about strategically how to handle this, as well as some of the members that we thought we would have with us. And we’re reexamining that on a variety of bases.
Q Thank you. We got some guidance from the White House earlier about Chairman Nunes’s meeting on the White House grounds, involving (inaudible) any idea that questions about the meeting should be referred to the Committee Chairman. But I wanted to ask a slightly different question, which is, does the White House know now what absolutely happened? Do you have issues with the idea that someone, perhaps in the executive branch, shared information from the White House grounds without you knowing about it? Or are you investigating this? Do you believe there was a leak? Or was it, in fact, someone on the White House staff or NSC staff, or on loan to either, who provided the information and therefore it’s not leaked?
MR. SPICER: So, obviously, all of what I know has been available through public comments. I know that Chairman Nunes confirmed that he was on White House grounds Tuesday. And, frankly, any questions regarding who he met with or why he was here should be referred to him. I’ve seen some of the comments that he’s made to your outlet in particular about who he met with. And I would refer you to his comments that he’s made. I’m not going to get into who he met with or why he met with them. I think that’s something that he had made very clear, and I’ll let him answer it. He is the one who has discussed what he is reviewing. And so I will leave it up to him and not try to get in the middle of that.
Q Can I just follow up, just to close the circle on it? I’m asking a slightly different question, or at least I’m trying to ask a slightly different question, which is, does the White House know what happened now, beyond public accounts? And are you satisfied that you don’t have an inappropriate leak in the executive branch?
MR. SPICER: No, we’re not concerned about that. I know that he is — again, everything that I know about what he has done is through public reports that he has made on the record to different folks when he said he has multiple sources, he had met with different folks to gather things as part of his review of the situation. And so all I know, and what I’m willing to communicate, is what has been made available through on-the-record comments that he has made.
Q But to come to White House grounds you have to be cleared —
MR. SPICER: No, not necessarily. I don’t know that members of Congress need to be cleared.
Q Wouldn’t the White House want to know?
MR. SPICER: Again, I think there’s a difference. He’s doing a review, and it’s not something that we’re going to necessarily get in the middle of or get in the way of. Part of it is to let him review and have conversations and look at things that he thinks are relevant.
Q Sean, a clarification on your answer to Margaret. You said, I don’t know that members of Congress have to get cleared in. There was some question about that. Who in the White House signed him in, essentially, to be able to —
MR. SPICER: I don’t know that you have to. I’ll be glad to check on that. I’m not sure that that’s how that works. But I will follow up on that point.
Q Okay, and my second question is — and it’s related to this — I understand that you’re not going to speak about some of the swirl surrounding this issue with Chairman Nunes. Does the White House believe that he can still lead an impartial investigation? Or would the administration support some of these calls now for an independent committee to investigate this?
MR. SPICER: First of all, I would question what “this” is. Because as I’ve mentioned countless times from this podium, there’s two issues at hand — there’s multiple. Number one, there’s any action with respect to Russia itself. And every single person that’s been briefed by Director Comey in particular, and the FBI, has said there’s nothing there. What he is looking into are two things that we are aware of because of the pleas that we have made. One is the leaks of classified and other information that have come out. And two is whether or not there has been people that have been unmasked, and whether or not there was surveillance — I don’t know why — we stand by the original request that was made. And I think Director Comey, in open testimony the other day, talked about what the FBI is looking into.
So I think we have a lot of people looking into this whole situation.
Q Will the administration pursue, will the White House pursue a leak investigation into whoever is giving Chairman Nunes this information, if it’s in the executive branch?
MR. SPICER: At this point, we’re letting his — the review of this situation proceed. And we can address that after he decides to be clear about that.
Q Why is this leak okay, but other leaks are not?
MR. SPICER: I think there’s a difference between a leak and someone pursuing a review of a situation that they have determined. There’s a difference between a leak — someone leaking out to reporters for nefarious — to take classified information and share it with people who aren’t cleared. Chairman Nunes is cleared; he’s the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Someone who is cleared to shared classified information with somebody else cleared is not a leak.
Q I have two for you. Just a quick housekeeping note. At the beginning of the briefing, you read out that the State Department stated on the protests and arrests in Russia. Does that reflect the White House’s views?
MR. SPICER: That reflects the view of the United States government.
Q Okay, just wanted to clarify that. And secondly, back on — you mentioned there were lessons learned off of what went down last week, the last several weeks, around healthcare. Can you give us some specifics on what some of those lessons are in terms of the President talked a lot about he learned a lot about loyalty, I think is one of the lines he stated on Friday? Does he believe that some members of his party are no longer loyal to him? Will you go through what are some of the lessons that —
MR. SPICER: No, I’m not going to detail, go through — I mean, obviously this is an internal thing. But I will say that we look at things like — everything from who we met with and when we met with them, to whether or not we should have — how everything was rolled out and what organizations were met with, what commitments were met and when. But there’s a lot that goes into this. And you look at whether or not that’s applicable to another situation, whether that’s unique. But obviously, yeah, you do look at some of the individuals that you met with, both in terms of timing, in terms of commitment, in terms of substance, and evaluate just the process itself, but then also, to some degree, the individuals and whether or not that is someone that —
Q Who’s leading that review?
MR. SPICER: There’s several folks. Again, it depends on the aspect of it. There’s a legislative affairs team, there’s a public policy team, there’s a comms aspect to this. But we all internally talk about what went well, what didn’t. And we do that not just with the bad, but the good.
I mean, I think Jonathan asked it somewhere at the beginning, but I think most organizations — whether or not you do something really well or not as well — it’s usually incumbent upon you to think, what did we do well so that for things that we did really well, we sustain those kinds of aspects of something — because there’s always something to improve — and even when you don’t do as well. But there’s part of things that you did that you did well and you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. So there’s an ongoing piece to this.
Q Just a quick follow-up on Chairman Nunes, and then I have a question about Jared in a second. So, yes, members of Congress may not need to be cleared in, but to get access to a SCIF, I do believe that requires some cooperation from the executive branch, because there are intelligence places on Capitol Hill that are secure, that his meeting could have taken place. So it creates the impression that Chairman Nunes came over here and, with some degree of cooperation with this White House, was able to carry out this meeting and then make the announcement that he did, which is perceived by some — most of them Democrats, I’ll grant you that — that it was trying to be helpful to this President and this administration. So it appears there was some degree of cooperation in this process that the White House granted Chairman Nunes, making it not just an investigative action, but a cooperative one.
MR. SPICER: Right. So I would refer you to two things. Number one, we’ve asked both of these entities, both the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees, to undertake this review. So it is partially at our request that they’re looking into this.
Number two, based on the public comments that he made to Margaret’s organization, he has said, from my understanding, on the record, that he did not meet with White House staff. So, again, I think you’re trying to making something that he — is himself, from what I’ve read, not actually been the case.
Q That’s not what I asked you. I asked you about cooperation to have access to a SCIF, which is something that has to be carried out with your —
MR. SPICER: I understand. I will be glad to take a look at that and figure out whether or not that is an accurate statement or not.
Q Okay. Let me ask you about Jared. There is an understanding that’s trying to be worked out, as we understand it, between Jared and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Is that a testimony? Is that something that the committee has requested? Has he volunteered? Does he believe he has something to explain to that committee and, more broadly, the American public about what he did on behalf of the transition with whom he met with, and some of the meetings that he took that are raising questions about Russia and folks that he met with that are outside of diplomatic channels but have other aspects to their Russian business deals that may cause some stir?
MR. SPICER: So, throughout the campaign and the transition, Jared served as the official primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials until we had State Department officials up. Once we assumed —
Q (Inaudible) request?
MR. SPICER: That’s correct. And so given this role, he volunteered to speak with Chairman Burr’s committee, but has not received any confirmation regarding a time for a meeting or anything.
Q And is this going to be a private meeting, or is this going to be —
MR. SPICER: I don’t know. Again —
Q What is he trying to accomplish with that?
MR. SPICER: I think based on the questions that surround this, he volunteered to go in and sit down with them and say, hey, I’m glad to talk about the role that I played and the individuals I met with. But again, remember, given the role that he played both during the campaign and during the transition, he met with countless individuals. That was part of his job. That was part of his role. And he executed it completely as he was supposed to.
Q And so he doesn’t believe he owes the American public an explanation?
MR. SPICER: For what? Doing his job?
Q I’m just asking.
MR. SPICER: But you’re acting as though there’s something nefarious about doing what he was actually tasked to do.
Q Well, it’s not every day that someone in a senior position like Jared’s volunteers to go talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee about an investigation dealing with meddling by a foreign power in an American election.
MR. SPICER: And I think based on the media frenzy around this, he —
Q I’m just asking.
MR. SPICER: And I’m answering it. And I’m just saying to you that based on the media frenzy that existed around this, he volunteered to make sure that they — he said, hey, we’ve made some contacts, I’d be glad to explain them, let me know if you’d like to talk. Plain and simple.
Q Just to be clear, just to kind of follow up on what everyone has been asking about Chairman Nunes — so the White House does not — does the White House have knowledge of the information that Chairman Nunes received when he came to the White House the first time? And if that’s the case, or if that’s not the case, is your position that the White House is not going to look into where he got the information from or who gave him the information until his investigation is complete?
MR. SPICER: I think that — I’m not aware of where he got it from. I know in his public statements he’s talked about having multiple sources. And so I don’t know how he derived the conclusion that he did. And I think that at this point, the goal would be to wait until the review that he is undertaking is completed.
Q Why would Nunes need to brief the President on documents he viewed on White House grounds?
MR. SPICER: Because that’s a big assumption that you’re making that that’s the only thing. As I said just a second ago, he had multiple sources on multiple topics. We don’t know what he briefed him on in its totality. And so to jump to that conclusion is, frankly, irresponsible.
Q One more question. When will the White House resume releasing visitor logs?
MR. SPICER: We’re reviewing that now.
Q Just to follow up — I have two questions. One is on taxes. But last week you were advising the press corps that it didn’t make sense for Nunes to come to the White House to brief the President on something that he had obtained from the White House, from the administration. So my question to you is — I know what you just said, but can you say factually, absolutely flatly, that it is not possible that Chairman Nunes came to brief the President on something that he obtained from the White House or the administration?
MR. SPICER: I can’t say 100 percent that I know anything what he briefed him on. What I can tell you through his public comments is that he has said that he had multiple sources that he came to a conclusion on. So to the degree to which any of those sources weighed on the ultimate outcome of what he came to a decision on, I don’t know. And that’s something that, frankly, I don’t even know that he discussed with the President.
Q So it’s possible? As far as you know right now, it’s possible?
MR. SPICER: Anything is possible.
Q Okay. Here’s my question on taxes. The President has said in the past that he thought maybe tax reform would flow over into 2018 — calendar year 2018. And we know from the President’s admiration of the 1986 tax reform, that took more than two years. Can you answer two questions about tax reform? Does the President anticipate that it will take that long, going into 2018 or beyond? And who is going to write the tax legislation? Who is going to devise the plan that the President wants to put his name on?
MR. SPICER: Well, so on the first one, I know that Secretary Mnuchin has talked about August as a target date. And I think it depends. I mean, as you point out, these are big things. There’s a lot of groups that are going to want a ton of input because of the very nature that it’s been 30 years. But I think part of this is going to be dependent on whether — the degree to which we can come to consensus on a lot of big issues. But I know that we have a goal and it will depend on a lot of these issues, both on the corporate side and on the individual side, how that process evolves.
So to predict it — I know the Secretary would like to have it done. He’ll play a huge role in this. Gary Cohn will play a big role in it. I think our legislative affairs team will play a role in it. There’s a lot of folks on the team — Secretary Ross on the Commerce side. There’s a lot of individuals — he’s assembled a world-class Cabinet that has a lot of interest in helping to grow the economy to attract jobs, create a more favorable tax climate here in the country, but also provide tax relief for middle-class Americans.
So we’re not there yet.
Q So will it would be the Trump plan?
MR. SPICER: What?
Q Will it be the President’s plan?
MR. SPICER: I mean, obviously we’re driving the train on this. So, I mean, we’re going to work with Congress on this. But I think the President, as you’ve heard multiple times the President be very clear — this is a huge priority for him and something that he feels very passionately about. And so we’ll have more on that later.
Q Sean, the documents that Chairman Nunes saw here at the White House complex are described by his office as being executive branch documents. In the early days after the President sent out that tweet, the White House was digging around for anything to corroborate what the President had tweeted out. Why did it take the Intelligence Committee Chairman coming here to the White House to view executive branch documents to uncover this information? Why couldn’t the White House?
MR. SPICER: Well, as I mentioned I think to Margaret, I’m not going to — I will stick to what the Chairman has said publicly. And my understanding from his public comments are that there are certain systems that he doesn’t have access to. That was his explanation, and I’m going to — I think you should follow up with him on that.
Q Did the White House ever search the same documents that the Chairman searched?
MR. SPICER: I don’t know what he found, so therefore it would be hard to say — to make an assessment of what he was briefed on or what we know. So that’s a really hard question to answer at this point.
Q Is it possible that these documents were merely surveillance reports that were —
MR. SPICER: I’m not going to get into hypotheticals, John. I don’t know what he found. And to start to say what’s possible, what’s not, I don’t know.
Q Well, let me just finish, if I could. Is it possible that these were surveillance reports from security clearances that were collected after people had filled out Standard Form 86?
MR. SPICER: I don’t know. I don’t know what he — I honestly don’t know what he’s got on his systems and what the intel community has on theirs that he wouldn’t have access to. So I don’t know what he would have had access to already.
Q Thanks, Sean. On tax cuts, it looks like you guys got a little bit of political cover from the House Freedom Caucus over the weekend to do this without paying for all of it — that is, adding to the deficit. What’s the right number from the White House’s perspective to add to the deficit in order to do tax cuts? How high are you willing to go in terms of deficit?
MR. SPICER: It’s a really early question to be asking at this point. I think the question is, as we construct this both on the corporate side and then on the individual side, I think part of it is it’s going to be an equation that isn’t just driven by that, but more what’s going to attract jobs, what’s going to help us build, what’s going to grow the economy. I think we’re growing around — potentially, growing around 2.6, and the President really would like to see that growth right up in the high 3s, 4s, and 5s. And so there’s a question about what part of tax reform, especially on the corporate side, will help us spur the economy and grow jobs.
And I think that’s an ongoing discussion. I think that’s more of the driver of this. And then I think as it evolves we’ll have the score and we’ll know more.
Q Are you comfortable entirely adding to the deficit? Or do you think something needs to be offset, maybe some other spending cuts somewhere else?
MR. SPICER: You’re asking really early in the process to make that kind of analysis before we have a policy set forth or have any kind of notion of what a score would look like.
MR. SPICER: Thanks, Sean. There’s been an escalation of the American role in the war against the Islamic State. You’ve seen Marines come ashore in Syria. There have been changes to rules of engagement. I’m trying to understand the relationship between that change and the President’s ISIS strategy review. Has he personally signed off on all the changes in America’s posture in the field since January 20th? Is that something that’s left up to the commanders in the field? I don’t understand the relationship between —
MR. SPICER: Well, it depends on which mission you’re talking about, specifically, or —
Q Marines left in, I think, October. They obviously went ashore much more recently than that. So did he have to sign off on that?
MR. SPICER: I think it depends on — I mean, he speaks with General Mattis, his national security team very regularly. I’m not going to get into some of the details of what comes up in those settings. But I will say that, as I’ve noted in the past, I think philosophically the President has made it very clear that he wants to give the commanders on the ground much more flexibility to execute their mission, especially when it comes to defeating ISIS. That’s a very big change in philosophy, but I think it also depends on the magnitude of the mission, the number of ground troops in particular. And so this is an ongoing discussion that he has with Secretary Mattis, Chairman Dunford and others.
Q So, on the review, are you waiting — is the President waiting until the review is complete before you announce sort of a new posture and new strategy? Or is it as conclusions come in you’re adapting day to day?
MR. SPICER: I think some of it is an ongoing discussion that he’s having with both Chairman Dunford of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary Mattis of DOD. At certain times when they meet they’ll update him on certain things and give him an update on where they’re headed right now. As the review is ongoing, there’s certain events that are part of — will be part and parcel of the review in terms of where we’re going, and so they’ll update him on that and talk to him about the tweaks.
Q Thank you, Sean. President Trump has sent out two tweets now criticizing members of the House Freedom Caucus for preventing Planned Parenthood from being defunded by opposing the AHCA. Is that something that he would want to see tacked on as a rider to next month’s spending bill?
MR. SPICER: Well, I think that he’s made very clear what his position is on Planned Parenthood, and obviously this was an opportunity to defund it. But I don’t want to get ahead of our legislative strategy. We’ll look at other opportunities. But this is definitely one that was a way to make that happen.
Q On that legislative strategy and the idea of working with Democrats, there’s a school of thought in this town that last week proved that the President is lacking in political capital. So I have two questions. One is, what’s in it for Democrats to work with the President now? And two, if fully pursued and to get things through the House, Democrats and Republicans work together, wouldn’t that tend to undermine the job security of Speaker Ryan if the House Freedom Caucus is frozen out?
MR. SPICER: Well, so two things. Number one, I think the message that sends to the American — as I mentioned to, I think it was Jonathan, at the beginning, it’s a two-way street. We heard — when you see whether it’s Judge Gorsuch, which they’re throwing down decades of Senate tradition by saying we’re just going to filibuster this guy — I don’t think there’s anyone in America that can honestly look at his qualifications and suggest that he’s not qualified as a jurist on the Supreme Court. I mean, there’s nothing that anyone has seen or laid a glove on him through these four days that suggests that he’s not qualified to serve.
And I think that it’s a — and again, with Obamacare, repealing and replacing it, several of the leading Democrats came out from the get-go and said, we have no interest in doing that. So I think there’s a point at which both parties can look back and figure out whether or not it’s worth engaging. I think the President, as I mentioned, is eager to get to 218 on a lot of his initiatives, whether it’s tax reform, infrastructure. There are a lot of things. And I think that he is going to be willing to listen to other voices on the other side to figure out if people want to work with him to get these big things done, to make Washington work, to enhance the lives of the American people, then he’s going to work with them.
I think he had a great meeting with the CBC the other day, for example, where he talked about infrastructure. He talked about loans and small business lending, education. There are things that he is willing to engage individuals with — or groups or caucuses — to get to 218 and further advance his agenda.
So it’s not about undermining anybody. It’s about moving the agenda forward and getting things done.
Q It’s Speaker Ryan who puts bills on the floor, not the President. So what’s in it for Speaker Ryan?
MR. SPICER: Getting things done. I think there is still a sense of doing what’s in the best interest of this country that exists. So I mean, let’s just make sure that we understand — I think that his goal — he came here to get things done. And I think as was pointed out, there was a level of disappointment that he expressed on Friday. He wants to get things done. If people want to work together — and I think what this event on Friday did was, frankly, draw more people into the process, to saying, okay, let’s figure out if we can actually come together with some consensus ideas to get to 218, whether or not they come from one side of the aisle or the other, to pass this bill and make a better system.
He understands — and frankly, I think a lot of Democrats do — that there’s an opportunity here. With healthcare being such a big issue, with Obamacare being such a looming disaster, that we have an opportunity to do some stuff. And if Democrats want to join in, then that’s great and we’ll do that.
Q You’ve talked quite a bit up there about the wide latitude that Secretary Price has to dismantle Obamacare from this spot. Is that still the case? Will he continue to try to dismantle Obamacare while you’re trying to work with moderate Democrats on healthcare reform? And also, the healthcare bill would have repealed almost all those Obamacare taxes. Do you want to see those repealed as part of the tax reform bill?
MR. SPICER: I think Secretary Price is up here today. There’s a lot of meetings that are already taking place internally with the team. There’s a lot of options that are on the table in terms of — especially when it comes to what we call phase one and phase two, trying to get some of that stuff out the door. And as we look back on — talking about lessons learned, I think one of them is to try to get some of the phase one and phase two meshed together and pushed out.
How we do that, whether we wait for the revival of legislation before we put it up — remember, I think — just so we’re clear, and I mentioned earlier on this — Obamacare had a ton of fits and starts during its process. It was left for dead multiple times, but they pressed forward. I don’t think that that’s necessarily a model to look for in terms of how they jammed it down, but I do think that we have to recognize that we were 17, 18 days into this process.
I think the President has made very clear it’s not over, there are people coming to the table, but he’s going to listen to all good ideas across the spectrum to figure out what it takes to get to 218. And we’ll see where we go from there.
Q The tax question, to follow up on the — the healthcare bill would have repealed those Obamacare taxes?
MR. SPICER: And I think that’s part and parcel of that discussion, is how we look at both the taxes and some of the phase one stuff. But we’re not ready to announce anything now.
Q Yeah, as far as Jared Kushner’s offer to meet with Chairman Burr and talk with the Senate Intelligence Committee, is there any particular reason why the White House would not be opposed to the idea of Jared Kushner testifying, under oath, before that committee?
MR. SPICER: Again, Jared volunteered to meet with the committee. They haven’t even confirmed having a meeting yet, so to get ahead of what they’ve even asked for would be a little silly.
Q But does it set, in the White House’s view, a dangerous precedent in having a senior aide to the President going up? Ordinarily, we see, sometimes, the White House invoking executive privilege. Why haven’t you done this in this particular case?
MR. SPICER: Because I think Jared did a job during the transition in the campaign where he was a conduit to leaders, and that’s until we had a State Department — a functioning place for people to go. Remember, we had a delay in some of these things, and that was his role. And he wants to make sure that he’s very clear about the role that he played, who he talked to, and that’s it.
Q Is Obamacare repeal dead?
MR. SPICER: I don’t think it’s dead in the sense —
Q Or it would have to be dead if you’re going to have Democrats working with you to address the Affordable Care Act.
MR. SPICER: Why? No, no, no, I don’t know that that’s true because I think it’s —
Q Why would they work with you if —
MR. SPICER: Because it’s dying.
Q — you’re still trying to repeal it?
MR. SPICER: Because I think part of it is, is there’s a recognition that it is failing. It’s dying on its own. It will be dead soon.
Q A lot of Democrats say it’s not dying.
MR. SPICER: Okay, well, then a lot of Democrats need to get more money, because —
Q There are repairs that need to be made, they say, but to kill the whole thing might not be the route they want to go.
MR. SPICER: I understand what they want, but I think there’s a difference. I think that we recognize that premiums continue to go sky-high, deductibles are going sky-high, choices are going down. By Leader Pelosi’s own metric, this is dying. She’s the one who crafted the metric. She said that there was a three-pronged system to determining its success. It is an abysmal failure. If they want to come back to the table and recognize how we can do it in a more responsible way to achieve the goals that Obamacare set out to do — but do so in a way that is going to do the opposite of what Obamacare actually did, which is to increase choice, drive down cost — we’re willing to have that discussion. But right now —
Q They say repeal has to be put to the side.
MR. SPICER: Right. But, Jim, one of the things that I mentioned — I just want to be clear on this — is we have to figure out how we get to 216, 218, depending on where the number is that given day. That doesn’t mean we need the entire Democratic Caucus. That means we need some responsible Democrats who want to sit down and have a discussion about how to do that. And I think that there may be enough of them that are willing to do that, but I understand where the Democratic leadership is, and that’s one thing.
I mean, they continue to stake out a very, very far-left position. That’s not where all their members are. And I think that we can — based on the calls that have come in over the last 50, 60 hours, I think that there might be some room to have a conversation with people who want to engage in a constructive conversation on how to move forward.
So let’s see how that evolves. I don’t know that we’re ready to jump into this today, but I think as the calls come forward, the President’s view is, if you all want to get together and start coming to a way that we can come to resolution, we’re willing to listen. But right now, we’ve got an agenda to continue to pursue.
Q There might be a middle ground there you think?
MR. SPICER: I’m not going to jump ahead, but I will say that we believe that there is something that could still be done at some point, and I think the further along we go, where premiums continue to go up, more and more people will be drawn into this discussion because there is going to be a continued cry from people in terms of the impact that it’s having on their pocketbook and on their ability to see people that — a doctor of their choice or a plan that’s just not seeing them anymore.
Q A real quick follow-up on Chairman Nunes. Do you reject that there is any kind of perception problem whatsoever in having the Chairman over here the day before he comes out publicly and says, by the way, there’s this information that’s helpful to the President?
MR. SPICER: Well, I think the Chairman has made very clear through his public comments what his goal was, and I think anyone who wants to — I mean, you can’t ask someone to do a review of the situation, and then sort of create inferences because they’re reviewing a situation that there’s something that’s not right about that. He is reviewing a situation. He did exactly — and I think he’s been fairly open with the press as far as what he was doing, who he spoke to, and why. And I think, you know, from our standpoint, that’s what we had asked to do, is a review.
Q Sean, several topics. One —
MR. SPICER: Shocker. (Laughter.)
Q Don’t be. You heard the question that I lobbed at the Attorney General about the hate crime that happened in New York — the white supremacist who went to New York and targeted a black man. Hate crimes are on the rise. What do you say? What is this White House saying about this obvious apparent hate crime?
MR. SPICER: I’m not going to — I mean, you yelled at the Attorney General a specific case, if I’m —
Q The White House in the past had talked about this. And you talked about issues of hate crimes —
MR. SPICER: I’m glad to talk about the issues. I just want to be very clear that I am not going to reference any specific case before the DOJ right now. I will say that the President has recognized that we need to bring the country together. He wants to unite this country. He wants to bring people together. He had a very long conversation with respect to race in itself, which I think is somewhat — if I’m not correct in your question —
MR. SPICER: Okay, I just want to be clear. Thank you. And I think that was one of the topics that he talked about with the CBC. Some of the issues, with respect to crime and education, and some of the solutions that they suggested that could be done during their meeting. And I think those are the kind of things that I think we can continue that conversation.
Q Sean, unfortunately there has been a rise in hate crimes when it comes to different groups, to include anti-Semitic crimes. You’ve commented from that podium — this is clear — this gentleman, in his jailhouse, gave a statement to a reporter talking about he wishes the man were younger and he was a thug that killed. So what do you say to this? This is clear — it’s racism at its ugliest.
MR. SPICER: Two issues. Number one, I think hate crimes, anti-Semitic crimes of any nature should be called out in the most reprehensible way. There is no room for that in our country, and I think the President noted that in the Joint Address, that there is one issue that, despite policy, should unite us — and that is calling out hate, that is calling out divisiveness based on the color of one’s skin, one’s religion, one’s gender.
The President has been very clear on that, and he’s called it out before. With respect to certain particular situations, he made it very clear. At the opening of his Joint Address, that’s what he led with — is a call to denounce hate no matter where we come from politically. He’s also talked about it the night that he took the stage on that Wednesday morning around 2:40 a.m., about how one of the things that he needed to do and wanted to do as President was unite all Americans.
But I think that there’s one other piece to this, April, that I just want to be clear on. While we unequivocally — no question about it — need to call out hate, anti-Semitism where it exists, there is another thing that we have to do, and, in your case in particular, while I don’t know all of the details, and I don’t want to reference any specific case — but I think we saw this the other day with some of the anti-Semitic behavior that was going out with respect to people of the Jewish faith, is that we saw these threats coming into Jewish community centers, and there was an immediate jump to criticize folks on the right and to denounce people on the right and ask them to condemn them. And it turns out that, in fact, it wasn’t someone on the right. And it was — and the President, from the get-go, had said, I bet you it’s not someone — and he was right. And yet —
Q I’m not calling this —
MR. SPICER: Hold on, I understand that. And that’s —
Q — saying he’s a white supremacist.
MR. SPICER: I understand that. And I think, in those cases, there’s no question — black and white — we need to call out all instances of this.
That being said, while we’re on the topic, I do think that there has been a rush to judgement in a lot of other cases when it comes to — in particular, some of the anti-Semitic discussion — where people have jumped to the conclusion about denouncing people on the right and asking for this. And in that particular case, we saw that the President was right and that this rush to judgment by a lot of folks on the left was wrong, and none of them have been held to account on that. And that is something that equally needs to be called out.
When people are charging something of someone that is not true, there has been nothing to go back to those individuals — nothing — on the left who came and asked for everyone on the right to denounce something that they weren’t guilty of. And I think that there needs to be an equal — go back in time and call out those individuals for rushing to judgment and calling out those individuals.
Q And my second topic, and I’m done. Someone who was in the room — you like talking about the CBC meeting that happened last week. Someone who was actually in the room, at that meeting, said that the issue of HBCUs came up — and that’s a very sensitive subject right now in the black community and here at the White House. The issue of HBCUs came up, and Omarosa said that she would be the one heading the HBCU Office at the White House, and the President did not make a response confirming or denying. Will this be the case? Is this the case?
MR. SPICER: We don’t have any announcements to make. I assume that you’re referring to the executive order, and we don’t have anything to announce on that subject at this time.
Q Sean, thank you. Given that the Freedom Caucus blocked the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, does the President still believe he can work with the Freedom Caucus on future pieces of legislation?
MR. SPICER: I think it’s going to depend on what legislation —
Q So not necessarily?
MR. SPICER: Well, again, I’m not going to — it’s not a question of — we’re going to work with anybody who wants to work with us on achieving the goals the President set out. I don’t think — we’re not putting anyone and saying, “We’ll never work with you again.” It is that balance —
Q Has he written them off?
MR. SPICER: No, I don’t think he’s written — no, I think, as he mentioned, he learned a lot through this process about loyalty. And it’s not just a bloc, it’s certain individuals. And again, I’m not going to get into naming names, but I think the President learned a lot through this process.
And one of the things that’s interesting is, when you look back — and I know there’s been a lot to make of this — the President also recognizes when there’s not a deal to be made, when to walk away. That’s one of the traits — it’s not just about making deals, it’s knowing when to walk away from deals, and knowing when there’s a bad deal that’s the only solution.
And I think the President understood that while you can get a deal at the time, that sometimes a bad deal is worse than getting a deal. And I think he smartly recognized that what was on the table was not going to be keeping with the vision that he had, and so he decided that this was not the time and that a deal was not at hand.
Q Let me ask you about this tweet over the weekend. Does he regret tweeting to his followers that they should tune in to Judge Jeanine only to tune in, and then have her call for House Speaker Paul Ryan to step down?
MR. SPICER: He’s a fan of the show. That’s it, plain and simple. I mean —
Q But does he owe Speaker Ryan an apology then?
MR. SPICER: He and Speaker Ryan talked extensively over the weekend.
Q Did they talk today?
MR. SPICER: I don’t know if they talked today. I think they talked both Saturday and Sunday at length. But again, he is a fan of the show. He tweeted out support of it. That’s it, plain and simple.
Q A lot of people say it’s a lot more than coincidence.
MR. SPICER: I know what a lot of people say, Kristen. I just said it.
Q So does he owe the House Speaker an apology?
MR. SPICER: No. He doesn’t — he has spoken — for what? For supporting a show on Fox? No.
Q And does he still have confidence they can work together, Sean?
MR. SPICER: Dave.
Q Two questions. One on the President choosing Jared Kushner for this new Office of American Innovation to reform government across the government. Obviously, Jared Kushner has 60-some days of experience in Washington — never had a prior government job. Does the President view that, somehow, as an advantage in this case?
MR. SPICER: In some cases, when you look at the individuals that he’s bringing in. Again, I think one of the things that Jared — and again, they may talk more about this later — but one of the things that Jared is looking at is some of the procurement — the technology aspects. And if you’ve ever really dealt with the government and recognized how outdated and un-modernized some of this is, it is not serving the American people, it is not serving the constituents that many departments have. And I think looking at how we procure different things and procure technology in particular is important.
It’s an important way — I mean, I think when you look at the VA, in particular, and recognize how it handles certain things — there are certain things it does really well, by the way. It buys prescription drugs really well. It buys them in bulk — gets the job done. But there’s certain things that it may not do as well in terms of how it keeps its records and how it serves veterans, how it lends money, et cetera — that we can look at and figure out is there a better way.
Government is not business, right? We recognize that there are certain things that business would never do in terms of what government has to do, because we serve all of our people. But there are certain practices that we can put in place that can help us deliver a better product, a better service to the American people in some of these key areas. And I think that when you look at some of the business acumen that Jared and some of the other individuals who he is bringing into this process can really — I think it is a great service to this country. \
There are so many individuals that Jared has talked that have done so well and been so blessed by our nation that have wanted to give back in some way, shape, or form, and are using this opportunity to help our country and serve our country in ways that they believe they can use their expertise to do.
Q On healthcare, this review that you’ve talked about — what went right, what went wrong — I know you don’t want to name names, but would it be fair to say, at this point, that the President has written off some people?
MR. SPICER: I just — I think I answered that question. It’s not a question of written them off, it’s a question of understanding — there’s sort of an understanding of how you deal with certain people and how they dealt with you. But it’s not a question of writing them off. We’re going to need to get to — as time goes on, we’ll get to — I’m just going to keep saying 218, it’s easier. I won’t screw that one up down the line.
But I think that we recognize that as we go down this path of a big, bold agenda that the President has, that we’re going to need every vote we can, and hopefully grow the vote in some cases to well beyond that. But we’re not writing off anybody, but we do recognize there are some lessons learned form this process, and the President made it very clear on Friday.
Thank you, guys, very much. I’ll see you tomorrow. Enjoy the day.
2:38 P.M. EDT