From: Lee, Carol
Sent: Friday, November 4, 2016 3:13 PM
To: Rutherford, Sarah D. EOP/WHO
Subject: Travel pool report #2a
Josh Earnest gaggle, check quotes:
New Yorker editor David Remnick joined us for the gaggle. He arrived with Josh Earnest and is not seated in the press cabin.
Mr. Earnest began the gaggle by praising the jobs report. He said overall the numbers underscore that it's an "extreme" risk to elect Donald Trump.
Jordan: He said the president sends his condolences to the families of the three U.S. service members who were killed. He said the U.S. is "quite interested in getting to the bottom of what happened." He said The U.S. is committed to the relationship with Turkey.
Al Qaeda: He said he had no intelligence assessment to give about the potential threat of an attack around Election Day. POTUS and his national security team are particularly mindful of the kinds of risks that come with major events, such as holidays, and Election Day is one of those types of events.
Bridgegate: He had no specific reaction to the conviction of two aides to Chris Christie. He said given the fact that there's potential for appeal he's not going to weigh in. He said there's been no impact on the transition. Administration's transition team has been able to work effectively with the Trump team.
FBI: Asked about reports of partisanship among FBI officials, he said he wouldn't comment on specific leaks. He reiterated previous comments about the importance of adhering to longtime norms, rules and guidelines. He said POTUS certainly wouldn't want to see anything that would undermine that. POTUS has confidence that "the vast majority" of those at the FBI "are acting consistent with their responsibilities." He said the FBI and DOJ are instrumental in protecting Americans. Asked why he wouldn't comment on the reports of partisanship, he said because he doesn't have independent knowledge about what's happening, particularly in NY; and because he's aware of institutional norms in which White House officials can't seem as if they are interfering with the justice Department. But he noted "there certainly are mechanisms in place" for serious independent looks, such as the Inspector General and Congress, which don't report to the White House. This was in response to a question about whether the president thinks these reports should be looked into.
South Korea/President Park: He said it's a close, strong alliance between U.S. and South Korea that endures regardless of who is president. "Obviously she's facing a difficult domestic situation" but POTUS hasn't spoken with her since September after a North Korea test.
Turkey: He had sharp words about Turkey's arrest of lawmakers from the Kurdish Party. He said the U.S. is "deeply concerned" about Turkey's detention of opposition. He said it comes on the heels of a crackdown on media, including the arrest of the editor-in-chief of one of Turkey's major newspapers. "Our Turkish ally has a special obligation as a democracy to reinforce rule of law." He condemned the bombing in southeastern Turkey and called on the PKK to cease its "senseless, brutal attacks."
Re whether the president is concerned about lagging African-American turnout:
The president is watching the situation carefully and I think the president has delivered a series of impassioned speeches encouraging people to participate in our democracy and try to mobilize support for the candidate that is vowing to build on the progress that our country has made under President Obama’s leadership. And the president is warning against complacency. He certainly wants people to understand the stakes in this election, and he’s confident that people do understand the stakes in this election and takes seriously the responsibility they have as citizens to shape the future of the country that people will be mobilize and people will participate. But the reports differ in states all across the country. I think the president’s view is that the country would be better off if more people in every state are participating and casting a vote, no matter who they’re voting for.
Re what the president thinks the closeness of the race in the final stretch says about the country, given the risks the White House has been warning about, Trump’s endorsement by the KKK newspaper, chants to “execute her” and the like:
“We’ll know on Tuesday exactly what percentage of the country offered up that kind of support. I think that there’s no hiding the fact that the president has been deeply disturbed by some of the rhetoric that we’ve seen put forward by the Republican nominee and his team. And that’s not just been true in the last couple of weeks, that’s been true of the last several months, even the better part of the year. And the president’s been concerned that some of that rhetoric has been entirely inconsistent with the founding principles of this country. He has found much of that rhetoric to be destructive and damaging. The president’s not alone. There are people in both parties across the country who have been deeply concerned about the rhetoric and language and tactics employed by the Republican nominee, and it only serves to motivate the president even more to be supportive of the candidate who is campaigning consistent with the kinds of values that have animated his time in public life.”
Re whether the president is concerned it’s resonating:
“What we have seen is a Republican candidate that has been successful in as the president himself has said playing on anxieties, economic and otherwise of a large swath of the American electorate. The president in his stump speech sort of mocks this a little bit, raises this question a little bit, “why would you expect a billionaire who’s made a bunch of his money by stiffing working people, why would you expect that person to be a champion for working people if he enters the oval office?” That’s sort of a good example of the president raising doubts about whether or not the republican nominee actually will make good on the promise to address the concerns that have been raised Some of this goes to the kind of tactics that are being used by the other side that are breathtakingly cynical. Some of this goes to the mood of a country that’s anxious about some of the changes that we’ve seen in our country, and the president has tried to make the case, and Secretary Clinton has too, that our country is going to be more effective in confronting the challenges we face if we stand together and we draw on the kind of example that has been instrumental to the founding of the country. The Republican nominee is offering a different approach that suggests that we divide ourselves up and consider some tactics that frankly violate some of those norms and principles that we hold dear in this country, at least that we have for a long time.”
Thanks to Dovere with two first names and Gardner Harris for the assist.
Pool waiting for POTUS remarks at campaign event, which is open press.
The Wall Street Journal