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VP pool report #3
Ashley Parker • The Washington Post
February 20, 2017: 05:14 PM


Vice President Pence's last meeting of the trip was with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, here in Brussels. The two men shook hands and both gave a statement, before taking four questions from the press. The event was open press, and live-streamed on the NATO website. Your pool has also been told that NATO will have audio, video, and, we think, a transcript later today.

That said, here are some quick highlights — again, thanks to CNN's Kevin Liptak for help — that your pooler was able to quickly transcribe:

ON NATO:

"America — therefore, I can say with confidence —America will do our part. But Europe's defense requires Europe's commitment as much as ours. At the Wales Summit in 2014, all 28 members of the NATO alliance declared their intention to move towards a minimum security investment of two percent of their gross domestic product within a decade. As a candidate for office, President Trump actually called attention repeatedly to the fact that for too long, for too many, this burden has not been shared fairy among our NATO allies, and that must come to an end. At this moment, the United States and only four other NATO members meet this basic standard and while we commend the few nations that are on track, and have met the obligation, the truth is that many others, including some of our largest allies, still lack a clear and credible path to meet this minimum goal. So let me say again what I said this last weekend in Munich: The president of the United States and the American people expect our allies to keep their word and to do more in our common defense. And the president expects real progress by the end of 2017. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis said here in Belgium just a few shorts days ago, if you're a nation that meets the two percent target, we need your help encouraging other nations to do likewise. If you have a plan to get there, as he said, our alliance needs you to accelerate it. And if you don't yet have a plan — and these are my words, not his — get one. It is time for actions, not words."

ON GEN. FLYNN, in response to a question — and apologies for the ALL CAPS (a short, and not v interesting, story):

"LET ME SAY, I'M VERY GRATEFUL FOR THE CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP I HAVE WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND, UM, AM, UM — I WOULD TELL YOU THAT I WAS DISAPPOINTED TO LEARN THAT — DISAPPOINTED TO LEARN THAT THE, UM, THE FACTS THAT HAD BEEN CONVEYED TO ME BY GENERAL FLYNN WERE INACCURATE, UM. BUT WE HONOR GENERAL FLYNN'S LONG SERVICE TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND I FULLY SUPPORT THE PRESIDENT'S DECISION TO ASK FOR HIS RESIGNATION.

IT WAS THE PROPER DECISION, UH, IT WAS HANDLED PROPERLY AND IN A TIMELY WAY. AND I HAVE GREAT CONFIDENCE IN THE NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM OF THIS ADMINISTRATION GOING FORWARD. UH, THE COMBINATION OF OUR —OF SECRETARY MATTIS, OF DIRECTOR POMPEO AT THE CIA, OF SECRETARY KELLY AT HOMELAND SECURITY — I THINK GIVES THE AMERICAN PEOPLE GREAT CONFIDENCE THAT THE TEAM IN THIS ADMINISTRATION, UH, IS PROVIDING THE LEADERSHIP, UH< AND THE DIRECTION, UH, TO THOSE AGENCIES AND ALSO, UH, TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO ADVANCE THE SECURITY OF OUR PEOPLE."

ON THE MEDIA, also in response to a question:

"Rest assured, both the president and I strongly support a free and independent press. But you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when play fast and loose with the facts. The truth is that we have in President Trump someone who has a unique ability to speak directly to the American people, and when the media gets it wrong, I promise you, President Trump will take his case straight to the American people to set the record straight."

—He was also asked about the "or else" (consequences) for NATO members that don't keep their financial commitments, but your pooler didn't have time to transcribe.

We will be wheels up shortly, back to Washington, D.C.



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