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Travel Pool Report #10 - gaggle
Michael Shear • The New York Times
May 27, 2017: 08:58 PM

A Senior Administration Official gaggled on background on AF1 about 20 minutes into the flight from Sicily to JBA. The official spent about 24 minutes talking with reporters, largely about the just-concluded foreign trip.

You are likely to have the full transcript of the gaggle by the time you read this, so your pooler is going to do a very brief description of the subjects covered with a few quotes.

Anyone who has further questions should refer to the transcript. In the event of an issue with the WH transcript, I will also post the audio.

1. The official started by noting that the US got what he called a major "policy victory" by getting migration language in the G7 communique saying that countries should look to dealing with migration issues within their own borders, and that they have the right to control their own borders. The official said the US "fought really hard for" the language, though he declined to describe the opposition from other nations. "This kind of policy actually puts more pressure on sending countries and the larger broader regions to deal with their own crises and take a greater role in managing those crises because other countries won't be able to provide as much of a relief valve."

2. Asked about the relations with the other leaders, the official said the president had "built an extraordinary rapport with the other leaders" and said the US goals and interests were reflected in "profound ways that will shape, I think, history for generations to come."

3. Asked about the Article 5 issue, the official noted (with 95 percent certainty) that German chancellor Merkel did not reaffirm her commitment to Article 5 in her speech "because I think everybody agreed that it went without saying." He said "you have to believe me when I tell you . That the first time any of us ever thought about the issue of putting in a reaffirmation was when we got inquiries about it after the speech. It was just not ever something that we even consider would be asked about because it goes without saying."

4. Talked about renewing alliances and compared POTUS relations with foreign countries to the previous administration. "People didn't feel like they knew where America stood, they didn't feel like they knew who America's friends were, who America's foes were." He added that "this trip has left no one with any doubt about who America's friends are."

5. On climate, he declined to say anything, but said the president would announce a decision in the coming week.

6. He talked about America First and the fact that a strong America and a prosperous America is good for the world. And he talked about America establishing "a signpost for the world."

7. He said POTUS's leadership on fighting terrorism has been a hallmark of his early presidency. Asked about whether the president sees an endless war on terrorism, the official referred to passage in the Saudi speech about "principled realism" and said that the goal is to get other nations more involved in the fight against terrorism.

8. He criticized past administration's focus on humanitarian issues, which he said "invoked humanitarian goals but taken actions which produced tragically unhumanitarian results."

9. Closed with an enthusiastic praise of the foreign trip, calling it "historic" and "unprecedented" and saying it deepened friendships and bonds with allies.

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