Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders en route Kenosha, WI, 4/18/2017
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Kenosha, Wisconsin
12:54 P.M. EDT
SARAH SANDERS: I’ll give you guys a couple of quick updates real quick and then I’ll take questions. I’ll keep it short so we have more time for questions. Also, my apologies, I thought we were landing at 1:30, so I’m a little delayed today.
We obviously — we’re headed to Wisconsin where the President will sign a copy of an executive order that will make significant progress towards Buy American and Hire American, the cornerstone of President Trump’s vision for a government that answers to the American workers who built this country.
Instead of going into detail on that — and, frankly, during Q&A, if we can skip over that — I have copies of the executive order I’ll bring back — they’re printing right now — and give those to you guys. And then if you have questions after the event on that, I can come back and —
Q: Has it gone out on email already?
“the purpose of his call, obviously: one, to congratulate; but two — and I think the bigger point and priority — was to talk about shared interests as a NATO Ally and a partner there. And look, the Middle East is a pretty rough neighborhood, and sometimes you have to get together to help them beat the bullies, like Syria.”
SARAH SANDERS: I don’t think so. So you guys — as far as I know, it has not gone out, so I’ll give you guys a first — hard copies on that.
In terms of other announcements and a couple of things, I know we’ve had quite a few questions come in about the Paris climate meeting that is being rescheduled due to a lot of scheduling conflicts, including several of the people that wanted to participate in that meeting being here in Wisconsin, and part of this trip and a couple of other things. And so that date has not been set when it will be, but it will be scheduled at some point over the next couple of weeks.
And then, lastly, Sean mentioned yesterday that the Prime Minister of Italy will visit on Thursday, and there will be a joint press conference in conjunction with that visit. And so those are all the announcements I have.
With that, I’ll take you all’s questions.
Q: Following up on Paris, can you respond to the reports that the reason it was delayed is because there’s a lot of discord about how to proceed among the top advisors, whether or not to pull out?
SARAH SANDERS: No, the reason, like I said, that it was — they wanted to have that conversation. Since they haven’t had it, I don’t think they could say that there’s a lot of discord between where everyone is. And that’s the purpose of the meeting. And so it was, again, scheduling conflicts for today.
Q: What’s the President’s feeling about the Paris agreement? Would he like to pull out? I know he’s voiced skepticism in the past.
SARAH SANDERS: I haven’t had a chance to have that conversation. Again, I think that’s a lot of what this meeting will be about, is the conversation and an open discussion about that.
Q: On the Turkey situation, is there kind of a disagreement between what the State Department said and then what the President appears to have said in that readout that we got last night congratulating the Turkish President? And is there kind of a dissonance in that message?
SARAH SANDERS: Not at all. So the President — the purpose of his call, obviously: one, to congratulate; but two — and I think the bigger point and priority — was to talk about shared interests as a NATO Ally and a partner there. And look, the Middle East is a pretty rough neighborhood, and sometimes you have to get together to help them beat the bullies, like Syria. And that was something that certainly needed to be talked about.
Q: Is the President concerned about the future of democracy in Turkey as a result of this vote?
MS. SANDERS: I mean, we want to encourage democracy. And again, the purpose of the President’s call yesterday was not to discourage that but simply to talk about some of the things, like Syria, where they can work together.
Q: But doesn’t it send a message that he supports the fact that President Erdogan expanded his power with this very controversial vote?
MS. SANDERS: I don’t think that — again, that wasn’t the purpose of the call. And that’s certainly not the position of the President, and of course supports democracy and would hope for that. But at the same time, the President’s number-one priority is protecting Americans, keeping Americans safe, and sometimes we’re going to have to work with other countries and some of our NATO partners in order to do that.
Q: Should that be viewed as an acceptance of the results? I mean, the opposition party is —
MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry?
Q: The opposition party is questioning the results, calling for a recount. Should President Trump’s phone call be viewed as an acceptance that those are the official results of the referendum?
MS. SANDERS: No, I think we’ve encouraged — I think it’s — don’t quote me if I get this wrong — but OSCE, the election commission, to take a close look at those election results. They’re the gold standard when it comes to that. And we certainly want them to do everything that they would normally do in that process and make a determination and put out a full report.
Q: So did he not congratulate him?
Q: Sarah, just two questions. One on Turkey, one on the executive order. On Turkey, would it be okay for the President — is it okay for the President, acceptable, to have an undemocratic Turkey that is a strong ally against terrorism? Is that an acceptable result for the President?
MS. SANDERS: I don’t know that the focus, again, should be on whether or not it’s acceptable. I think the President’s number-one job is to keep Americans safe. That is his priority. That has been the focal point during the campaign as well as since he took office. And if he needs to work with countries like Turkey and others to do that, I think that’s his priority and that’s what his focus is.
Q: Second question, on the executive order. Is it explicitly intended to reduce the number of foreign workers in the United States?
MS. SANDERS: I’m not going to get too far ahead of the President’s comments and his remarks that he’ll make, but if you guys want to take a look at the executive order, which I’ll bring to you shortly, and then after the President speaks if you still have questions we’ll work on getting answers to that.
We’ll take one more. Let’s make this the last one. Because I don’t want to fall.
Q: On the event today, is the President trying to re-embrace a populist economic stance after a week when he did reverse some campaign positions, like on Chinese currency, for example, or the Ex-Im Bank?
MS. SANDERS: The President has never changed his economic message. It’s been pretty simple and pretty clear from the very beginning — that’s to grow our economy and create more jobs. That’s exactly what he’s going to talk about here today. That’s what he’s been talking about every day on the campaign and every day since he took office.
Q: Is that why Steve Bannon —
MS. SANDERS: Sorry, I’m going to take a question from Margaret before we land.
Q: I have a question, but I also want to clarify to a question. Is what you’re saying that the phone call was not an official acceptance of the results of the Turkish election? Or are you just not commenting on that? I just wanted to clarify that.
MS. SANDERS: That wasn’t — my point was that, again, we want the commission that looks at those to do their job and to do a report on the election results. But the purpose of the call was to congratulate him but also primarily to talk about some of their shared interests, like Syria, primarily.
Q: And can you just make this official — on taxes. Today is tax day.
MS. SANDERS: It is.
Q: It is, indeed. Will the President be willing to come back and at least talk with us in person a little bit today about his decision not to release those returns? And can you also on the record talk about why the President’s decision on staffing at Mar-a-Lago with foreign workers does not run afoul to the message he wants to send with the Buy American, Hire American EO?
MS. SANDERS: On the first part, I will certainly put your request in to the President and let him know that you guys would love to speak with him. And on the second part, can you say that again? I’m sorry.
Q: Yeah. On Buy American, Hire American, there were some questions in the background briefing yesterday but I was hoping you could address these on the record about why hiring practices at Mar-a-Lago with foreign workers don’t send a mixed signal with what he’s hoping to achieve with Buy American, Hire American policy. And I was just hoping you could address that on the record.
MS. SANDERS: Let me get some specifics on the transcript from yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to look at it, but I will and I’ll come back afterwards and give you something.
Q: Has he filed his taxes today, Sarah?
MS. SANDERS: Honestly, I haven’t had a conversation with him about that but I’ll ask.
Q: Can you check on that?
MS. SANDERS: I’ll ask. Did you guys all file your taxes today?
Q: Of course.
MS. SANDERS: Of course. We’ve only got one, come on. (Laughter.) All right. Thanks, guys.
1:02 P.M. EDT