From: David Smith [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:59 PM
To: Gabriel, Brian A. EOP/WHO
Subject: WH pool report 1
Press secretary Josh Earnest's 354th and final briefing is open press and currently ongoing, but in summary:
At 12.26pm, as Earnest was about to take questions, the door slid open and POTUS walked in and took the lectern, with Earnest standing to his right. POTUS recalled: "When I first met Josh Earnest, he was in Iowa; I think he was wearing jeans. He looked even younger than he was. Since my entire campaign depended on communications in Iowa, I gave him a pretty good once over. There are a couple of things I learned about him right way."
POTUS recalled observing Earnest's "all American" good looks: "A face made for television." He added: "Then the guy's name is Josh Earnest", a good name to have.
Above all, POTUS said, Earnest had "integrity". He commented: "There are people you meet who, you have a pretty good inkling off the bat, are straight shooters." POTUS said he had known Earnest for almost 10 years and "he's never disappointed".
POTUS noted that Earnest had won a vote as the most popular White House press secretary. "The fact is, he was worthy of that admiration... He is a really, really good man."
As POTUS left the press room, someone shouted a question about where he will be flying to after the inauguration on Friday. POTUS replied only: "I'm gonna be here tomorrow," - a reference to his final press conference on Wednesday.
But when the same question was asked at the start of the briefing, Earnest said the destination will be Palm Springs, California.
There is a big turn out in the press briefing room with current and former White House communications staff and press wranglers standing in the back and the aisles. They include Jennifer Palmieri, former White House communications director and ex-Hillary Clinton campaign communications director: https://twitter.com/jmpalmieri/status/821405335089020928
Earlier, at 12.15pm, deputy press secretary Eric Schultz entered with Earnest behind. Earnest said: "As I prepare to stand here at this podium for the last time, I thought about the first time."
He recalled a west wing tour where he witnessed tired staff moving boxes out of buildings. "I'd been in DC for a grand total of two weeks. I was sleeping on the floor of a college buddy's apartment." He said he posed for a photo behind the lectern, as tourists do.
Earnest said this was the 354th daily briefing he has led. "Not every briefing started exactly on time... But you have to admit we had a lot to discuss." He ran through some of the ups and downs, including President-elect Donald Trump describing him as a "foolish guy" who makes even good news sound bad.
Earnest said he was thinking of all "the incredible people" he's worked with. He mentioned Palmieri in his thanks. "I've only been able to do this job because I have an incredible team around me." Eric Schultz is the "best deputy" anyone could ask for, he said.
He said of POTUS: "He never second guessed me, not once. He didn't just give me the opportunity of a lifetime. He had my back every day."
He became emotional as he paid tribute to his wife, who had supported him while also becoming a mother. "Thank you sweetheart... I will never be able to make it up to you", he said while looking directly into the cameras at the back of the room.
Earnest, drinking from a Kansas City Royals mug, told reporters: "Even though it's my last day, you'd better not let up now."
Thanks to Philip Crowther of France 24 for chipping in.
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