From: Eilperin, Juliet [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 11:11 AM
To: Allen, Jessica
Subject: Travel pool report #3: Gaggle highlights
Here are gaggle highlights, with thanks to Edward-Issac Dovere for helping with the transcription. Please check all quotes against the official transcript.
White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz began the gaggle aboard Air Force One by saying the Obamas were headed to Boston to “celebrate the life and legacy of Senator Ted. Kennedy and highlight the importance of the Senate in the lives of all Americans.”
He also announced that on Thursday Obama will travel to Louisville, KY “for an event on the economy,” and then will travel Friday to Hill Air Force Base in Utah “for an event on the economy as well.”
The government of Kenya willco- host the Global Entrepreneur Summit in July. Organized first in 2009, Schultz said, “this event has emerged as a global platform connecting emergent entrepreneurs with global leaders from business, international organizations and governments looking to support them.”
The president will travel to Kenya “where he will hold bilateral meetings and participate in the summit.”
“This will be president’s fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa during his presidency.”
Asked if Obama will meet with family members in Kenya, Schultz replied, “I don’t have any updates to the president’s schedule since we just announced the trip.”
On the Iran talks, he said, “The president has been briefed regularly and frequently, and also is providing guidance as necessary.”
Referring to The New York Times story that Iran has now backtracked on an agreement to ship nuclear material out of the country as part of a broader deal, Schultz said, “Unfortunately some of the details in that story were not correct. The idea that there had been an agreement that Iran had backed away from in the last 24 hours is not true. In terms of what’s going to happen with that stockpile, that is something our negotiators are working through, but it’s not accurate to say there had been an agreement that was then backtracked. As we’ve said all along, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. I don’t want to get ahead of what our negotiators are working on in the room. Beyond that I don’t have much to say.”
On whether the president is prepared to walk away if there’s not a deal: “The president has made clear that he’s not going to take a bad deal… It’s going to be up to the Iranians in order to make some tough decisions as the deadline approaches.”
“I’m not going to presuppose failure. Those decisions are going to go down to the wire… Our folks are working around the clock, in earnest.”
Asked what sort of input Congress would have on a deal, Schultz would not say whether the administration opposes any effort for a congressional review or up-or-down vote on a deal. He did say the president would veto the Corker-Menendez bill on the subject, which would allow Congress to disapprove any agreement and determine whether or not sanctions could be lifted.
“We’ve been working very hard to keep Congress briefed and up to date on this,” adding these consultations now number “in the hundreds.”
“We believe there is a role” for Congress, he added. “We want a robust, consultative role, and I believe we’ve put our money where our mouth is.”
Noting that the deal has yet to come into play, he said, “I’m not going to go ahead and hypothetically engage in, if and when that deal comes into play, how
we’re going to consult with Congress.”
On why the White House opposes the Corker-Menendez bill, Schultz said, “This is a purview that’s been part of the executive branch for decades and the president retains the authority to conduct foreign policy.”
Asked who would sign the Iran deal, Schultz said, “That’s a good technical question I don’t know the answer to,” and referred questions to State.
Re Boehner and McConnell in Israel
Schultz said he knew the trip was happening, haven’t seen any comments.
“Lawmakers from both parties visit the state of Israel all the time, and we think that’s entirely appropriate.”
Reiterated previous statements on Yemen – said that this has been an issue John Kerry has discussed on the sidelines of the Iran nuclear talks
Re Sen. Lee’s proposed investigation into FTC
“The FTC’s an independent organization, which makes decisions independently. … We meet with business leaders all the time.”
Re failure to pass trafficking bill:
“A sign of Senate dysfunction”
“We’re troubled that Congress in this day and age, especially as we head to the Edward Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate both struggles to fund the Department of Homeland Security and now cannot pass a bill discouraging human sex trafficking.”
Re passport reports:
“Can’t confirm at this time. We’re looking into them, and we’ll take all appropriate steps necessary to ensure the privacy and security of the president’s personal information.
Q: Does the president actually use a passport when he travels?
“You’re asking a good technical question that I don’t know the answer to, but I’m happy to look into it.”
White House Bureau Chief