tv White House Not Aware of Taped Comey Conversations CSPAN May 12, 2017 11:56pm-12:50am EDT
mcmaster started off today's white house briefings by answering questions about president trump's upcoming overseas trip. press secretary sean spicer took russians, mostly centered on -- took questions, mostly centered on the firing of fbi director james comey. toeping changes communications strategy and staff, including possibly replacing sean spicer. this is 50 minutes. >> full house today. good afternoon. it is good to be back with you. apparently i was a little missed. we are one week out from the president's forced foreign trip.
-- first foreign trip. i would want to bring general mcmaster to preview what we are doing for the president's trip. we will next week brings 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 with highlights from the trip. i will obviously additionally have background briefings for you as well, to give the team from the press corps some additional updates. without further ado, general mcmaster. yes, i will be glad to take your questions. in fact, if you would like, you get to go first today. >> happy mother's day weekend. as you know, in one week, the president will embark on his first trip abroad since taking office. today i would like to spend the president's objectives for his visit to the middle east and europe and also preview a bit of the schedule. the trip has three core purposes.
first, to reaffirm america's global leadership. second, to continue building key relationships with leaders. and third, to broadcast a message of unity to america's friends and to the faithful of three of the world's greatest religions. the president prioritizes building strong relationships as you see here every day. with world leaders as a way to , strengthen our alliances. he has been successful. you can see that in his diplomacy with a range of readers from prime minister may to president xi. president trump understand 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 improve the security of the american people. this trip is truly historic.
no president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the jewish, christian and muslim faiths all on one trip. and what president trump is seeking is to unite the peoples of all faiths from around the common vision of peace, progress and prosperity. he will bring a message of tolerance and 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 to the two holiest sites of islam. he will encourage our arab and muslim partners to take bold, new steps to promote peace and to confront those from isis to al qaeda to iran to the assad regime who perpetuate chaos and violence that has inflicted so much suffering throughout the
muslim world and beyond. he will lead the first steps toward the stronger, more capable and more robust security and 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 against radical islamist ideology and ideology that uses a perverted interpretation of religion to justify crimes against all humanity. he will call for muslim leaders to promote a peaceful vision of islam. the president will travel to israel. with prime minister netanyahu, he will reaffirm america's unshakable bond to the jewish faith.
with president abbas, he will express his desire for dignity and self-determination for the palestinians. and to the leaders and people 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 missions 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 the most important american treaty allies. and he will also see the prime minister who is hosting the g7 conference in sicily. the president will continue to brussels for the nato leaders meeting. there, 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 g7 meeting where he will promote american economic leadership and will 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 security from north korea to afghanistan to the broader middle east, before -- the broader middle east. before leaving, the president will visit the naval air station where he will thank i were and -- where he will thank our courageous servicemen and women, allied personnel and family members for their sacrifices to keep us safe. and across the trip, he will meet our diplomats and the staff at our embassies who represent us so well across the world.
just a few words on how this came together. the impetus for this trip 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 our staff on the national security side of the economic side as well. the president has already met in person most of the leaders or by phone. the relationships are off to a very strong start. and this trip is an opportunity to broaden and deepen those relationships. the administration continues to be in close contact and consultation with congress. and we are drawing on the expertise across the senate and the house in preparation for the trip as well. and finally this really is a , team effort. the white house and national security council staffs, the national economic council they , continue to work closely with our departments of state, treasury, defense and others to fulfill the president's objectives and to ensure smooth execution.
on behalf of the president, i express the whole administration's thanks for the hard work it takes to organize a trip of this scope and importance. so the president and all of us are looking forward to the journey. i will take a couple of questions. reporter: how is this president viewed among our arab allies? general mcmaster: there is a perception that america's largely disengaged from the middle east, in particular. and that disengagement coincided with this humanitarian and political catastrophe in the region. so now there is a broad recognition among all of our partners in the region that american leadership is necessary to help address this catastrophe , and to begin to move the region toward the peace, security and stability that the people there deserve.
so what you are seeing is a galvanizing effect of the president's leadership in bringing those leaders together across the region. and bringing them together for a positive agenda. who is against ending this catastrophe? who is confronting these enemies? confronting iran, who is participating in this cycle of violence? and to bring prosperity and peace to the region for the people who so richly deserve it. reporter: it was crucial in the intelligence community -- and ask you, this week in particular there have been a lot of reports over how james comey was fired. do you believe that is a threat to national security? mcmaster: i told sean i would pass all those questions to him. i would like to focus on the trip. i will come back next week more details on the trip.
reporter: you said the impetus for the trip came from the president himself. was it the president to decided to begin the trip in saudi arabia? the birthplace of islam? is there symbolic significance to that? and how many of our muslim countries,allies, muslim majority allies will be represented at the meetings in saudi arabia? general mcmaster: it is the president's initiative to begin the trip in the night -- in the middle east. this will bring together partners across the region. the king will bring together partners from across the region. i can answer in more detail next week because we still have final attendees. he will meet with a broad range of leaders in the middle east, most of these people he has met with here or by phone, certainly. we have the crown prince coming,
for example, on monday as well. reporter: general mcmaster, at the beginning of this week, we heard that there could be thousands of more troops to afghanistan. when he goes to brussels, what is the message to nato partners to respect their commitment in this long fight? general mcmaster: the key is that all of us have to be committed to achieving our fundamental objectives in afghanistan. americans know that better than anybody because the mass murder against our own country on september 11, 2001 originated with a terrorist safe haven based in afghanistan. recently, we have been engaged against isis with highly successful operations there. you will hear more about that in the press conference with the department of defense in the near future. but what has happened in afghanistan is the afghan army is taking the brunt of the fight against these transnational terrorists and the taliban.
so we are working with our allies to figure out what more we can do to have an effective strategy in afghanistan. what are options we can bring to the president to be more effective in our objectives in afghanistan, and what more can we ask our allies to do? so this is going to be consistent with the president's guidelines to us. reporter: thousands more troops? general mcmaster: the president has not made a decision yet on a course of action. what we have done is that we have consulted across our government and with allies. the president wants to hear from our allies. this is a president who listens to his allies and partners. he will have an opportunity to do so at the nato summit. we will have an opportunity to do so at the g7. so what we will have at the end of the next few weeks is an opportunity for a much more effective strategy for the
problems in afghanistan, pakistan, and the region. reporter: could you talk first about the evolution of the president's campaign with a unilateral foreign policy to the multilateral engagement that you emphasizing, and the way you are explaining this trip. and could you talk about the decision to send a delegate to the one belt, one road for them in china and what you hope to get out of that? general mcmaster: america first didn't mean america alone, ever. what we've done is advanced the president's agenda and national security by strengthening alliances and by burden sharing. americans don't have to do everything. our allies and partners are grateful for the president's leadership in asking them to do more. so this is an alliance in which each of the members are doing their fair share. it is stronger or weaker? it is stronger. the president has done a great deal to strengthen our alliances. america first did not mean
america not leading. for americans to advance our interests, it requires american leadership. so the president's leadership has been welcomed in all the places that he will be visiting on this trip. and his agenda that he laid out in the campaign is being operationalized and implemented by his cabinet, primarily. with the assistance of our team here in the white house. reporter: two questions. first, -- president trump may try to get president netanyahu in the same room while he is there. ? that the case and in the news yesterday, the president said that general mattis would be announcing something on isis next week. can you talk to that? is there an announcement coming next week? general mcmaster: whatever the president wants to do. so the security council tries to keep up with the president. the final plans are not set yet.
we can comment more about that next week, but it will be up to the president and those leaders with how he wants to engage with them. against of the campaign transnational terrorist organizations and isis in particular the president has , asked us to do everything we can to defeat isis and to ensure that we defeat isis in the caliphate and the terrain that they are endeavoring to hold onto in syria and iraq and afghanistan and in other areas. and what the president has also told us to set he doesn't want to telegraph what he is doing. tactically, day-to-day. he wants military commanders to keep those campaigns consistent with his guidance and strategies that he has approved. , it will be an opportunity for our military out how they lay
are executing the president's guidance. the products they have made in the campaign and what remains to be done. that is the emphasis of the press conference next week. reporter: can we hear about russia and the agreements that were made this week with russia's top diplomat? you're going to the region to speak with arab allies. how are you going to explain the deals you bid with russia saying it is now a priority point? general mcmaster: i characterize the engagements with russia with the secretary of state. the brief meeting that the president had with foreign minister lavrov and the phone comes nations we have had with russian leadership has been engagements. not decisions, or specific engagements. but the president has made clear is that he will confront russian disruptive behavior, such as the support for the murderous assad regime in syria, and it's enabling of iran and it's
strategy.e what it has continued to do in ukraine. he will confront the disruptive behavior. but the president requires cooperation. there are a lot of significant security problems across the world. all of them would get easier if russia were to come to the conclusion that it could best fit its interests through cooperating with united states and others to resolve those conflicts, rather than perpetuate them. reporter: are we party to those conflicts in syria? the president spoke in very positive terms, saying there was progress made. are you saying there were no agreement? general mcmaster: the president spoke in strong terms in his engagements with russian leaders. i will take one more. reporter: can you tell us more
about the america first policy, about how it has changed over time? it hasn't been clear on what that means. and how other people would want to sign up for it. general mcmaster: what that means is that the president is prioritizing the security and the interests of american people. you can see that with what economic policy has done. looking for ways to advance the american prosperity. every theme of this trip is consistent with the approach to prioritize the american people. american security. american jobs. american prosperity. so you will see that with a refreshing 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 has taken over as president. and this trip will be a tremendous weight to have been
solidified. thank you very much. sean spicer: thank you. i will go through a couple updates. the 10 commitments that secretary ross announced yesterday are the initial response to the action plan of the united states and china comprehensive economic dialogue , which began with trump and the xi's meeting in mar-a-lago. under secretary rock and secretary minh newton, the united states has negotiated to reach consensus in areas including our ultra trade and financial and investment in energy. one of the actions i want to point out sets the stage for
china to allow imports of american beef beginning no later than july 16 of this year. it has been 13 years since we have been locked out of the chinese market. china is the second-largest beef importer in the world. buying roughly $2.6 billion worth of beef every year. in a statement last night, the national cattlemen's beef association, the largest association of cattle farmers said, "it is 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." this came on the same day that secretary perdue visited a barge in the river and noticed that he -- announced that he will appoint the first ever undersecretary for trade at the u.s. armed of agriculture. you up -- u.s. department of agriculture. this is further proof of the seriousness of which the
administration is approaching the promotion of the u.s. agriculture products abroad. and that is just one part of the deal that was reached. here are other highlights. eight pending biotech patents will be violated at a meeting of chinese national safety committee by the end of may. welcome china to receive imported, liquefied natural gas with companies allowed to proceed at any time to negotiate short contracts. china will allow armed services firms in china to provide credit rating and credit investigations. by china will issue further july 16, guidance to allow american-owned suppliers electronic payment services to operate in china. and china will allow to american financial institutions to allow underwriting and government licenses no later than july 16. as we continue to make process -- make progress in the 100 day framework to solidify action that will benefit both of the countries. moving on, attorney general sessions issued a memo that restores flexibility to
prosecutors so that they can most effectively combat the crisis of illegal drug trafficking that is destroying our communities and families. this policy was formulated after extensive consultation with the prosecutors that handle these cases each and every day around the country. with these additional options available to them, they 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 nations prosecutors, and if i can add, it puts the handcuffs on the drug traffickers who threaten the safety of our families. the trump administration is signaling to the worst of the ,orst that drug traffickers that the united states department of justice will no longer look the other way. this week, the administration has been engaging with senators and staff, now that the american health care act and the relief and promises for the american
people is in the senate's hands. sarah talked to yesterday about how aetna has pulled out of the obamacare exchanges completely. that leaves one in sure in several markets. another report yesterday showed that the average premium for individual plans could spike 39% since 2014. in some cases, insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses have become a family's most significant expense. with each new report, it becomes clearer and clearer that we can't wait any longer to replace this system. until we enact serious reforms of the health care system the , american people will continue to suffer under the consequences. tomorrow the president will , deliver his first commencement address at liberty. he is greatly looking forward to visiting with liberty students and faculty who gave him such a warm welcome last year. he can be expected to note to the graduates his own change in status since they were locked -- last together. liberty is the largest christian school in the nation and has
made many remarkable strides in its academics, extracurricular, and athletic endeavors. the president will be congratulating them on their compliments and encourage them to be a force for good for standing up -- by standing up for their values. he will be offering congratulations, thanks and praise and encouragement on a day of optimism and new beginnings for the graduates and the nation. in terms of the rundown for next week, the president has a packed schedule before he departs on the first foreign trip. on monday, he hosts the crown prince of the united arab emirates arab emirates. on tuesday, the president of turkey. wednesday, he will travel to connecticut to deliver the commencement address at the united states coast guard academy. thursday, the president of colombia will be at the white house for a visit. and then they set off for the trip to saudi arabia.
and on mother's day, the first lady will host a reception in honor of military mothers in the residence, followed by a performance by the marine band. beyond all of the activities here, this is the official reminder to everyone to get your flowers and cards before it is too late. and with that, jeff. reporter: thank you for that reminder, sean. moving on to the news of the week and the day, does president trump record his conversations with the former fbi director james comey? sean spicer: i see you are referring to the tweet at the -- and the president has nothing further to add on that. reporter: why did he say that? what should we interpret from that? sean spicer: the president has nothing further to add on that. reporter: are the recording devices in the oval office? sean spicer for the third time, : nothing further to comment on
that. reporter: does he mean to threat -- threaten james comey if he speaks? sean spicer: i'm moving on. reporter: he said "russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching the u.s. tear itself apart over the democratic excuse for losing the election." what did the president mean by that? sean spicer: i think the president's comments about russia and collusion have been very clear. he has been very clear that it is one thing that he believes that the notion that there is collusion is a hoax, and that has been reaffirmed by several people, including senator grassley and others who have spoken to him. and he wants to make sure that he is focused every day on doing what is best for the american people. reporter: i understand that, you have said that many times. but how is the u.s. tearing itself apart? sean spicer: this is a subject that comes up over and over again when it has been stated on
multiple occasions that there is no collusion that occurred and yet the narrative continues to be perpetuated. reporter: do you think this is what russia wanted all along? sean spicer: i have no idea. we have made it clear at this podium several times and the president made it clear what his feelings are on this. reporter: in the dinner that the president had with james comey earlier in january, did the imploret in floor -- him to pledge his loyalty? sean spicer: no. reporter: how important is it that the fbi director be loyal to him? sean spicer: the president wants loyalty to the country. and to the role of law. reporter: in the dinner with james comey, does anyone have an audio recording of what unfolded uring the january 27 dinner?
sean spicer: i am not aware of that. reporter: a follow-up question -- what can the administration do better when it comes to communication? today, the president tweeted out that he felt from behind the podium, it is not always possible to present the information with perfect accuracy. sean spicer: so, look. we come out here every day and we try to do the best job we can to communicate what the president has done and it -- and what he is doing for the american people. we get here early and we work beyond being here at the podium. we get here early and we work late. we do what we can but the president keeps a robust schedule. you are very well aware. and as you can tell by the activities of next week alone. and sometimes we don't have an opportunity to get his full thinking. in those cases, we do our best to follow up with you. but there are times when you read a story when someone is trying to pull apart a word or sentence and say "a-ha."
and make it a gotcha thing. we work hard to give you the most up-to-date information through the day but we don't always have the opportunity to see the president. in those cases, we do a pretty good job of following up and getting to the information after the briefing or in a subsequent time. so that is exactly what he meant. reporter: he is considering canceling the daily press briefing? sean spicer: he is dismayed that we come out here and try to do everything we can to provide you at the american people with what -- and the american people with what he is doing on their behalf and keep the nation safe and what he's doing to grow jobs and yet, we see time and time again an attempt to parse every single word and make it a game of gotcha. i think that is why there is a lot of dismay and i don't think , it is something that just the president feels. reporter: one final question. on the original question about
the dinner on january 27 with james comey. the president wasn't clear in the interview about who invited the fbi director to the white house at the time. how many invitations did the white house send to james comey after january 20 him before he and before he was fired? sean spicer: i don't know. i will try to find out. reporter: president erdogan called for a rush on the mound. what is the response to that? sean spicer: i think what you have seen with the presidents -- the president's meetings with these leaders is he engages privately in a lot of these things and to a large degree, he has achieved great success. whether in that case, working behind the scenes, the progress he has made with china. the president's behind the
scenes diplomacy is paying dividends for the united states, and that is what -- that is how he is continuing to operate. and as general mcmaster noted, it is that diplomacy that is reasserting our position in the world and that trust is being rebuilt. again, i think there is a difference. if we can get out here, what the president believes is that behind-the-scenes diplomacy pays dividends in terms of behavior and outcomes in furthering the goals of the united states. that is as much as i will say there. reporter: my other question is, is the discussion about the refugee crisis being a problem in europe and the united states, terrorists hiding refugees -- or refugees hiding -- terrorists hiding as refugees, when we talk -- will he talk with arab leaders about that specifically when visiting saudi arabia, or will he not bring it up? sean spicer: he talked about safe zones. he has brought it up in phone
calls. i will not get ahead of the conversations he will have, but i think the president has been very publicly clear that there is a lot of desire to address the situation. in a lot of the readouts, that is part of it. he believes that has to be part of the solution. john? reporter: in the president's interview with nbc, he confirmed that on three separate occasions, he asked the director of the fbi and was assured by the director of the of the eye that he was not under investigation by the fbi. why was the president consumed with this issue to ask the question on three separate occasions? sean spicer: i think because the narrative continues to be perpetuated and he wanted , clarity. i have not spoken with him, but i think he articulated it clearly. reporter: i would appreciate you getting back to me.
as far as asking that question, did the president ask the white house counsel whether it would be appropriate to ask such a question, given that it was against generally justice department guidelines to indicate whether an investigation is ongoing against any individual, let alone one at the white house? sean spicer: i don't know, but several legal scholars have said there was nothing inappropriate about that. reporter: how about the white house counsel? sean spicer: i don't know. reporter: on the trip, the president will mention religious persecution. i wanted to ask you about the case in indonesia where a christian governor in the state of jakarta was imprisoned for two years for blaspheming the koran. does the president find that case troubling? does he plan to say anything? sean spicer: did john give you
this question? reporter: i'm sorry. sean spicer: i do not have any updates on that particular case. i would ask you to check with the state department. reporter: to go with jeff's question, please answer in a yes or no fashion, is the president currently recording conversations taking place in the oval office? sean spicer: i think the point i've made is that the president has no further comment on that. reporter: can you -- why did you come out with information that was later contradicted by the president? could you explain when you were brought in, who else was involved, why the american people were given incorrect information that night? sean spicer: i do not believe that was true. it was a decision-making process. the president explained it in the interview process. the bottom-line is the director of the fbi serves at the pleasure of the president. the president made the decision to replace him, as he has stated
very clearly now publicly. the president is now focused on making sure he finds a replacement that has the leadership qualities to lead the fbi. that is it. reporter: a follow-up on that. about whatid tuesday the president was laying out yesterday can you walk through , why the discrepancy in terms of his decision? sean spicer: it is always the president's decision. that's it, final. as i mentioned to seek, -- as i mentioned to zeke, this is ultimately always going to be the president's decision. it will be his decision to hire or fire someone. he made the decision in part based on a recommendation, and now he is making sure they have a replacement to instill the proper leadership they need. reporter where does the process
: stand right now? how many people have been interviewed? does the president hope to wrap this up before he goes overseas? sean spicer: on the timing, as soon as he finds the candidate that has the qualities he feels are necessary to lead the fbi, that is the timeline on that. i know the department of justice has begun to create that list, and i believe if they have not already, they will start the process of interviewing people either today or through the weekend. obviously, the president wants to make sure we have the right person, and that process is being headed by the department of justice. reporter: if somebody has been a member of congress, passed or nt, does thatese count as an automatic disqualifier? sean spicer: i have not asked the president, but i do not believe he has stated -- the justice department is screening candidates, and if they have a list of finalists, they will
share it with the president, and he will make a decision. reporter: someone asked if the president has the confidence of andrew mccabe after the testimony on the hill. is that still the case? he is the acting director. sean spicer: i have not asked him. i have not asked him -- generally i do not go through , the list of government employees and ask him. i have not asked him specifically about that. reporter: yesterday, sarah told us the president expects the fbi investigation will be wrapped up with integrity. today, the president tweeted and called it a witch hunt. how does that help it wrap up with integrity? sean spicer: no one wants this done -- he wants to know, there are two pieces to this. what was russia's involvement? the president is very concerned about any entities influencing the u.s. election. the second is this false
narrative that we continue to fight every day that has been debunked by intelligence individuals, members of congress who have been briefed over and over again. that is where i think he is growing concerned, as well as the american people, that there is a perpetuated pulse narrative -- perpetuated false narrative out there. that is the nut of this. reporter: i talked to a former fbi official today who said that the president's tweet implicit threat indicates that the president is, in his words, out of control. i would like to give you a response to it. sean spicer: that is, frankly, offenses. -- offensive. reporter: thank you, sean. two questions about the selection process. you said the names were coming from the justice department right now. is the president consulting with democratic congressional leaders as well, or republican congressional leaders on this? or is he getting names out of
doj? sean spicer: that is a good question. he will take input from them, i do not know what specific conversations he had, so i would be glad to check on who he has spoken to. reporter: follow-up question. sean spicer: sorry, i got confused. reporter: i know you said you were not disqualifying anyone on this. you also know there has been considerable mention in the last housers of former intelligence committee chairman mike rogers as the next fbi director. does the president have a meeting scheduled with him? sean spicer: i am not aware of anything of that nature on his schedule. but we will put out if there is a meeting. right now, there is nothing i am aware of on the schedule, but generally we put out the next day's schedule out later in the evening. reporter: i had a couple questions about his remarks
about general flynn. he said he did not think it was an emergency, and that is why the dismissal did not happen right away. a couple questions about that. why did he not think it was an emergency, and was it because of the messenger? because the information came from sally yates, who has been called a napoleon, a political opponent of the president? can you explain what he meant by that? sean spicer: i cannot specifically say what he meant by that, but what i can tell you -- look at the timeline that happen. we went over this the other day, and it has been asked and answered several times. the acting attorney general said he wanted to give a heads up on something. the counsel's office informed the president. they asked for the documents or materials that she had referred to. they had five or six days to get them. they reviewed them and he was
, asked to resign shortly after. there was a difference. that was the review process in this case. as the president noted yesterday during his interview, he had been thinking about this for a long time. the justice department had done a review. i am not really sure in both cases -- reporter: justice, though. is that what you're talking about? sean spicer: you are asking why it wasn't an emergency. but it was not a question of not being an emergency. he took the time to do due process. if someone comes to you with an allegation, you give it due process. we did exactly what was necessary, and the president made the right decision, and continues to stand by it. reporter: and a follow-up. it is unclear, why did it take so long for the white house to get those documents? sean spicer: i don't know. reporter: the white house could not get those documents? sean spicer that makes it sound
: -- with all due respect, that is not how it works. once the documents are in their possession, they asked for them. i believe it took a while -- some of these things do not happen as easily -- i don't know the answer, but i think in the course of action in the intervening days, that is a question you should ask the department of justice. reporter: i have a follow-up. explain to us a little bit when you compare these two situations with general flynn and director comey. the memo came one day, and he was fired that day. general flynn took 18 days. that is a huge difference. why was one so fast and one was 18 days? sean spicer: they both had a review. the president looked at the reviews and he made the decision. that is his job, he is the decider. he felt the had the information necessary in both cases to act, and he did.
tweet about the director comey, the president says that he had better be careful. yesterday on nbc news, the president called him a showboat and a grandstander. does the white house acknowledged that comey has a first amendment right to speak about any of this, instead of just leaking? sean spicer: of course everyone in this country has a first amendment right. sharing information that he is -- that is not authorized to be in the public domain is concerning. the president has been very clear of his concern with respect to information that gets put in the public domain when it is not meant to be. but i do not think -- everyone in this country has every right to speak their mind and express themselves in accordance with the constitution. reporter: is he concerned that this could jeopardize the fbi
-- the morale at the fbi, instead of correcting a problem that he observed? sean spicer: i think one of the reasons he wants to go through the process of finding an individual who can lead the fbi and the men and women who serve there so bravely and ably is to make sure that there is a leader who can do that. as he mentioned it is the crown , jewel of law enforcement. the reason that he wants to go through this process and choose a leader who can restore leadership and ensure morale stays where it is, that is why he is conducting the process that he has. jessica. reporter: [inaudible] sean spicer: what's that? reporter: you called on her first, so i wanted to give her the question that you promised her before, and i will pick up from there.
reporter: when president trump tweeted this morning that there was no collusion. james clapper himself told andrea mitchell, i don't know if there was collusion or not. i do not know if there's evidence of collusion or not, nor should i. when he was asked a similar college, he said not to my , knowledge. sean spicer: i think that is a great question that you should ask director clapper. reporter: why is he leaning on clapper when he said i have no knowledge? sean spicer: i think clapper has said he has no knowledge of collusion. that is it. reporter: he said he would not know because he is not been briefed. sean spicer: he would not have been until january 20.
reporter: he made the case that it was an fbi investigation. that is not his purview. : he is the director of national intelligence. on occasions prior to today, he made it clear that there was no evidence of collusion. reporter: the point is that he wouldn't know. there has been no final conclusion. sean spicer: i understand that, but the question i would ask is why he said what he did before? his testimony and comments on multiple occasions prior to today, was i have no evidence that there was any collusion. two suddenly shift his story i , believe the question should be asked to him. he was the director of national intelligence. he said multiple times, including in testimony in front of congress, that there was no collusion. that is a question for him. reporter: there is an ongoing investigation. he is not making that argument.
sean spicer: my point is that all we are able to do at this point is the people who are aware of the former director of national intelligence, the head of the nation's intelligence agencies, made multiple statements talking about the involvement, making it clear that there was none. we took them at their word then, and we continue to believe -- reporter: [inaudible] sean spicer: before you move on, the question is why did he make the statements he did when he did? to say months later, even though i made those statements on multiple occasions, i was not briefed? it sounds like the story has changed. i think in this case, it is
interesting how the story has changed. he made those comments several times, and to say the director of national intelligence who has stated multiple times is now saying he isn't sure about it, the burden seems to be on him, not us. reporter: moving on. sean spicer: i'm not a clapper spokesman. reporter: no, but i'd think there is a discrepancy. sean spicer: i think that is a great thing to ask him. reporter: in terms of the accuracy tweet, should we take that to mean that you don't have the full picture when you stand at the podium? sean spicer: as i said, we are here first thing in the morning to late at night every day answering your questions every -- on a variety of subjects. as most of you can attest, it is -- we worked day and night to make sure you have the most up-to-date accurate information at all times.
with respect to the president he , is an activist president. he keeps a busy and robust schedule. there are times we give you the information we have at the time, and we seek an update, and i believe you and others will attest to, if we don't have the answer we will update you , after-the-fact or get you the facts we did not have at the time. but we work hard every day to do that. the president's point that i made earlier is that there are times when we are asked the question, we do our best to give you an answer, and every word is picked apart to figure out how to make an issue out of it, as opposed to allowing us to get the president's current thinking and update if we had not had the opportunity at the time. jennifer. i'm sorry, jessica. reporter: i wanted to ask you about the one belt, one road summit in china.
secretary ross went out to say that you are sending a delegation to that summit. how did you come to that conclusion, that it is important for the u.s. to be represented at a major trade initiative by a foreign country? sean spicer: there are a lot of ports and infrastructure, and through those discussions that secretaries ross and mnuchin have had at mar-a-lago, that is something they have done. we will continue to work with them. trade is a major issue for us, and what they are looking to do is of great importance to our economic and national security. they have asked us to send people to that, and we have them attend things we are doing as well. i think as the president has shown with the relationship he has built with president xi, and the rest of the team else with their delegation, those relationships are clearly paying dividends pulled on the national security front and the economic front. jennifer. reporter: will the president
participate? sean spicer: we will have a readout. that is all we have on one belt, one road. reporter: this president does value loyalty. when you were hired, was there any request or hint that you pledge personal loyalty to him at all? sean spicer: no. i pledged my loyalty to the constitution and the american people, as does everyone who serves in this administration. we stand by that. reporter: is it true that the president was warned that he may not be well received at the fbi headquarters? sean spicer: not that i'm aware of. have a great weekend. thank you. [reporters shouting] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> tomorrow, president trump is in lynchburg, virginia to deliver the commencement address at liberty university. live coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span. >> sunday on "q&a," the comparisons between presidents donald trump and andrew jackson. our guest on his book. >> i do not think he represents the positive values that jackson represented. he certainly represents some of the negative values that jackson represented, but i think i would tell president trump that if he ,ants to be like andrew jackson he needs to put the nation ahead of his own personhood, a friend
-- ahead of his own family and interests, because that is what jackson did for most of his presidency. 8:00 easternht at on c-span's "q&a." >> the white house will interview candidates for directors,i including andrew mccabe, alice fisher, michael garcia, and senator john corrine -- john cornyn. today, senator -- general downs inannounced cut drug enforcement. this is 10 minutes.
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