Fw: Travel pool 2/arrival KL and gaggle

From: Nakamura, David [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 03:55 PM
To: Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO
Subject: Travel pool 2/arrival KL and gaggle

Air Force One touched down in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, under cloudy skies just before 3:30 p.m. after a smooth 3-hour flight. The tarmac was still damp from rain, which had stopped by the time Potus disembarked, jogging down the staircase to a red carpet, small receiving line and a military honor guard of soldiers in dress whites with green wraps around their waists, matching caps and rifles by their sides. Here, per the WH, are the greeters:

- Dato’ Kamilan bin Maksom, Chief of Protocol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia
- Ambassador Joseph Yun, U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia
- Ambassador Nina Hachigian, U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN
- Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Minister of Agriculture, Malaysia
- Datuk Dr. Awang Adek Hussin, Malaysian Ambassador to the United States
- Datuk Wan Hamidah Wan Ibrahim, Chief of Ceremony, Prime Minister’s Department
- Dato’ Ibrahim Abdullah, Deputy Secretary General 1, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Colonel Shamsudin bin Kassim, Subang Airbase Commander (RMAF)
- Mr. Shazryll Zahiran, Deputy Director General, Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counterterrorism
(SEARCCT), Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Potus quickly entered the limo and we were off at 2:45 p.m. to the site of his town hall with Young Southeast Asia Leadership Initiative.  Josh Earnest and Ben Rhodes gaggled on the flight. The pool was joined by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who was flying in a more forward cabin than the press corps cabin. Earnest declined to say whether Potus was conducting an interview with Mr. Goldberg or when it might be published.

Here are some highlights of the gaggle...


Earnest said Obama will sign the short-term highway bill extension by autopen to meet the Friday deadline. He said Obama there is precedent: Potus autopen to sign extension of Patriot Act a few years ago while he was overseas.


On bipartisan House refugee bill over WH objections, with Dem support, Earnest said: “Based on what Senator Reid said today it does seem unlikely this legislation will pass the Senate. He indicated it doesn’t have the votes.”

Earnest rejected a suggestion that the WH lobbying on the Hill didn’t help with Democrats. “I’m not sure the analysis holds that the efforts by the White House were counterproductive. They just weren’t as productive as we would have liked. Our position on this legislation has not changed.”

(House bill) “It requires a host of certifications that would only more deeply encumber and make more inefficient a process that already takes up to two years and it’s unclear what it does to enhance national security,” Earnest said

Rhodes said: “If you were to say some of these individuals we don’t have any information on. That’s not a reason not to allow them into the country. The United States is not going to have an intelligence file in a refugee camp. What we do have is intelligence on people who are of concern with us. We can check whether these people are in those data base or have association with people in those databases.”

Earnest said ongoing conversations between White House and Hill leaders on possible reforms to the visa waiver program is a “fruitful area” of bipartisan discussions. Asked about the Feinstein/Flake legislation, he said: “We’re having discussions with them about reform to the programs. I don’t  have specific reforms to float to you that’s under discussion right now.”

Earnest said that 2,000 refugees from Syria have entered the US since 1970s, since refugee resettlement program was established. None has been detained or deported because of links to terrorism.


Rhodes said the president will visit a refugee center in Malaysia that includes a significant portion of Rohingya Muslims from Burma and refugees from other countries too.  “He will underscore this is a global challenge. Different nations have to play their part… In the current context his message is all the more important that we recognized that there are populations that are forced to flee their homes, not necessarily because they want to but because they’re suffering violence or extreme poverty or they’re victims of human trafficking.”

(doesn’t debate in US undermine the message that other countries need to take in more refugees?) “Part of America’s leadership in getting other countries to do their part is that we do our own. And we set back our own leadership in the world if we’re not doing the very thing that we want other countries to do. We can’t say to other countries, ‘You need to take in refugees. You need to take your fair share, but we’re going to slam the door.’ That can create a dynamic, frankly, that is very dangerous if other countries say, ‘Okay, none of us are going to take refugees if the United States is not doing it,’ and suddenly you have masses of displaced people who are suddenly in limbo. That clearly is a recipe for greater instability. If you look at Malaysia, where we’re going, it was there that you had enormous surges of Vietnamese refugees, many of whom we took and made enormous contributions to American society and have been a very successful immigrant population today. … This is not something we just do out of charity. It’s something that in the long run, we benefit from.”


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