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POTUS pool report #4 -- gaggle
Ted Mann • Wall Street Journal
March 3, 2017: 01:33 PM

Here are quotes from a quick gaggle with WH Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, aboard Air Force One just before landing in Orlando.

On administration reaction to arrest of a suspect in Jewish community center threats

"I know that's happened just within last few hours, we will get back to you. ... Right now it's still too early for us to say too much about it, but the process worked."

On why administration is ok with Keystone pipeline not being built with American steel:

"Well the way that executive order is written ... it's specific to new pipelines or those that are being repaired. And since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there, it would be hard to go back. But I know that everything moving forward would fall under that executive order."

On Indy Star's story on VPOTUS Pence's email account how is that different from Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account?

"There's light years of difference. Number one he was a governor, he wasn't a federal employee, which means the laws are different. It's subject to Indiana law not federal law. Second he's a governor which means he wasn't handling class info like she was, and third all of his emails he turned over specifically to be archived, which is why anybody even knows about the account. He did everything to the letter of the law in Indiana, turned all of his emails over, unlike Hillary Clinton who lost at least 30,000, who knows how many more, had a private server, classified information which he didn't have. That's apples to oranges comparison."

On Russia and Sessions, does the president believe recusal enough? And after so many revelations on the subject at what point is there a "there there" -- if there is so much out there on these interactions between campaign advisers and Russian ambassador.

"Is there really? Please explain to me how volunteers meeting at a conference where nearly 80 ambassadors attended is a story. I guess it's kind of lost on me where that would be newsworthy in any capacity. I mean Chuck Schumer sitting and having drinks with Putin and that's not a news story, but apparently a volunteer for a campaign bumping into one at a conference where there's again dozens of other ambassadors is newsworthy."

"As a senator he obviously in his official capacity met with the ambassador. Again, that was as a senator not as a campaign official, so again, to try to muddy the waters in that way is I think pretty unfair to the attorney general."

Why is the administration just now telling about the meeting with Kislyak at trump tower—seems a little late given all this stuff about whether Flynn had conversations with him.

"Look I think this again was a courtesy meeting, they were part of over a hundred different meetings during the transition. This wasn't a secret it was just. Frankly I didn't know about it and so I don't think anybody saw it as a big deal, there was no policy discussion. It was an introductory courtesy meeting which we did literally hundreds over the course of the transition."

Q How many other ambassadors?

"I would have to get a specific number, but there were dozens of other ambassadors."

On whether the Russian ambassador used a different entrance going into Trump tower, Sarah said she is not sure and will check.

On whether VPOTUS is still using a personal email account for public business, Sarah said she is not sure, but added: "I know that we've all had the training and security on ethics training. I know that the VP is following the law as its required."

On the education visit today: "The point of today is exactly what it says, it's a listening session. Its to talk about ideas and reforms that have worked. The number one priority for education with the president has been consistent since day one and it hasn't changed. That's to make the power and the central focus be on the parents and the local level and les on the federal level. Today is part of that process."

On whether Angela Merkel is planning to visit the WH, Sarah confirmed that she is planning to come on March 14, and said the WH plans to have a joint news conference.

On POTUS thoughts on climate change, and whether he will pull out of the Paris accords, she said she is "not going to get ahead of that."

On the fundraiser tonight, said it will be his first as POTUS. No access for the press, she said, calling that standard practice.

On the timing of the new travel ban EO, no guidance.

On whether POTUS has a grasp of all the interactions of his staff and Russia: "The big point here is the president himself knows what his involvement was and that's zero. And I think that he's the primary person that should be held responsibility and he had no interaction and I think that's what the story should be focused on."

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