Sean Spicer photo

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Sean Spicer

May 17, 2017

Aboard Air Force One
En Route Washington, D.C.

2:45 P.M. EDT

MR. SPICER: Hi, guys. How are you? I hope you all enjoyed your time in New London. I think the President is getting some pretty wide acclaim for the speech at the Coast Guard Academy today.

I think just to kind of recap a couple of the points, he made it very clear in the speech, the advice that he gave to students, to not only defend the American security, but you protect American prosperity. It's a mission that goes back to the earliest days of the Revenue Cutter Service.

"Today, the Coast Guard helps keep our waters open for Americans to do business, it keeps our rivers flowing with commerce, and it keeps our ports churning with American exports. You help billions of dollars of goods to navigate our country every day. You're the only federal presence in our inland waterways. You police the arteries we need to rebuild this country and to bring prosperity back to our heartland."

He talked about the fact, as you heard, that together, they have the same mission -- "Your devotion and dedication makes me proud to be your Commander-in-Chief." And then lastly, he basically made it clear and highlighted, as you heard, the speech trip he's about to take when he said, "In a few days I will make my first trip abroad as your President, with the safety, security and the interests of the American people as my priority. I will strengthen our old friendships and seek new partners. I will ask them to unite for a future of peace and opportunity for our peoples and for the world. First, in Saudi Arabia where I'll speak to Muslim leaders and challenge them to fight hatred and extreme -- and embrace a peaceful future for their faith. Then in Israel, I'll reaffirm our unbreakable alliance with the Jewish state. In Rome, I'll talk with Pope Francis about the contributions of Christian teachings to the world. Finally, I'll attend the NATO Summit in Brussels and the G7 in Sicily to promote security, prosperity and peace."

Tonight, after the President returns, he's going to spend a good chunk of today preparing for the visit of the President of Colombia tomorrow.

This evening, the Vice President will deliver remarks on behalf of the First Family at an Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month reception in his ceremonial office. He'll be joined by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao; Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, Seema Verma; and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Acting Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton. The Vice President will discuss his recent trip to the Asia Pacific, the many contributions that Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have made around the country.

And lastly, the President will continue to meet with candidates for FBI director this afternoon. He'll meet with four more -- Andrew McCabe, Frank Keating, Richard McFeely, and Joe Lieberman. So those will all happen upon return to the White House this afternoon.

And then, again, obviously, I mentioned yesterday that there will be some additional logistical guidance that will be given to the press, both to the pool and to the traveling members of the

-- the traveling journalists, as far as logistics and questions later tonight. I think the time has been provided on the guidance. If it hasn't, it will be updated. But we're looking -- I'm sorry, I've been out with you guys -- but there will be an opportunity I think to make sure that both with the pool and with members that are planning on traveling, just some off-the-record guidance in terms of timing and other movements that will occur, and events.

So with that, I'll take a few.

Q Sean, does the President support former Director Comey testifying before Congress about his recollection of their conversations and the investigation, and would he be willing to waive executive privilege about their conversations to allow them to discuss fully the nature of those conversations?

MR. SPICER: The President wants the -- is confident that the -- in the events that he has maintained, and the truth will

-- he wants the truth and these investigations to get to the bottom of the situation.

Q Does he support --

MR. SPICER: There's two investigations going on in the House and Senate, and he wants to get to the bottom of this.

Q Have you gotten a chance to look into a little bit more what took place in the meeting between the President and Comey in February? What's the President's side of this? We know that he says he did not ask about the Flynn investigation. Can you tell us more about what the President says took place at that meeting?

MR. SPICER: I'm not going to get into -- the President has been very clear that the account that was published is not an accurate description of his -- of how the event occurred.

Q I guess can you confirm, though --

MR. SPICER: I think that we've made it very clear. I'm not going to give any further comment on that.

Q So do you have any evidence to back up, like, what -- is it just that the President says that this didn't happen, this conversation didn't happen? Or is there any recording or --

MR. SPICER: This is not -- the President has been very clear that this is not an accurate representation of that meeting.

Q Are we just corroborating that based on his words, though? I mean, he said in a tweet about tapes last week -- are there records, transcripts of those conversations?

MR. SPICER: I think we've been clear about that. I think we've been very -- we put out a statement regarding that.

Q Two quick questions. Is the President considering having personal lawyers, like outside of White House counsel, in light of these kinds of allegations and things that have come up?

MR. SPICER: If I have any updates for that at some point I'll let you know.

Q The White House disputed some of the characterizations of the conversation the President had with the Russian Foreign Minister. It sounds like the Russian President said that their side is willing to release a transcript of the conversation. Do you support the Russians releasing a transcript of that conversation to Congress? And were you aware that they were recording the conversation?

MR. SPICER: I think each side -- I am not aware of anything on that, I don't have any update on that. But I think we put out a statement very clearly about the President does not believe that is an accurate representation of that --

Q If the Russians have some sort of transcript, are you willing -- would you like it made public?

MR. SPICER: The Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and the Deputy National Security Advisor have been very clear with their recollection of that meeting, with their account of that meeting.

Q -- that the President spoke to Bibi Netanyahu yesterday. Can you discuss a little bit more about what they talked about? And were the specific allegations that Israel intelligence was behind the -- what he told the Russians -- was that -- did that have anything to do with it?

MR. SPICER: That phone call was purely a logistical and trip preparation.

Q Did they discuss the fact that the source of the intelligence that was told to the Russians --

MR. SPICER: That was preparation.

Q Okay. Also it seems that the President has been a bit quiet in the last 24 hours, at least on Twitter and making any public remarks outside the official events. Is there an effort to scale back events until -- or any kind of other comments about the issues that have been going on in the White House right now until he takes off on this trip?

MR. SPICER: I think that we put out a statement last night very clear what our position was. I think there's been a lot of questions that other people have -- that are out there talking about this or that in terms of what was appropriate with respect to some of the stuff that Director Comey did or did not do. But the White House has put out a statement very clearly with our account.

Q How concerned are you by the comments that some of the Republicans in Congress are making, saying that this is starting to approach Watergate proportions and will affect the agenda?

MR. SPICER: -- very clear that -- the President is obviously focused on his speech that he gave today, winning widespread praise for what he talked about -- the role of the Coast Guard and the future of these young ensigns that will go out there and help defend our homeland, and obviously he's going to continue to prepare for the meeting with the President of Colombia tomorrow and looking forward to taking off on this trip.

Thank you, guys. Enjoy.

Q Can you comment about --

Q Can I --

Q Can you just comment on the video --

Q Do you have a date for the budget?

MR. SPICER: The State Department put out a statement on that.

Q Was the President aware of that? Did he see the video and did he --

MR. SPICER: I don't know. I know the State Department has put out a statement on that.

Thanks, guys.

END 2:53 P.M. EDT

Sean Spicer, Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Sean Spicer Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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