Fwd: Travel pool report 2 - Gaggle

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From: Andrew BEATTY >
Date: August 31, 2016 at 12:24:14 PM PDT
To: "Allen, Jessica (xxx@email.com)" >
Subject: Travel pool report 2 - Gaggle

Aboard Air Force One, Press Secretary Josh Earnest made a statement about the President's travel to Nevada and Hawaii and answered some questions.

Domestic travel
First stop on this 10 day odyssey is Lake Tahoe, where POTUS will appear at a conservation summit organized by Harry Reid.

"The President will spent some time talking about the legacy that Senator Reid leaves behind when it comes to conservation, but he will also talk about why conservation is a critical component of any of our efforts to fight climate change. Lake Tahoe is a fitting setting for a conversation like that."

Turning to Hawaii, where POTUS will this evening address a dinner marking the World Conservation Congress and the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders.

"This will be an opportunity for the President to identify the important role that the United States is playing in leading the international community's response to climate change and conservation."

We' will get more details about Midway Atoll travel tomorrow.

Earnest did not have more information on the strike yesterday targeting Adnani, whom he described as a "senior ISIL official."

Earnest said: "He is often described as a spokesperson for the group, but he also has played an active role in recruiting supporters for ISIL. He has also been a leading proponent of a strategy that encourages individuals to carry out lone wolf attacks around the world. His death would represent a significant blow to ISIL."

Unprompted, he pushed back strongly against Russian suggestions that they killed him: "There have been some reports of Russian officials indicating that Russia may have been involved in this effort. I am not aware of any facts that would substantiate a claim like that."

Trump en Mexico
"It is not uncommon of course for leading presidential candidates to make overseas trips," Earnest, noting President Obama's trip to Europe in 2008.

"One of the highlights was a trip to Germany, where the president spoke in Berlin to a crowd of about 100,000 Germans who warmly received him and enthusiastically cheered his speech. We'll see if Mr. Trump is similarly received."

Congressional primaries
"The president was quite pleased to see a couple of Democratic candidates that he had strongly endorsed emerge victorious in those contests and those contests didn't end up being particularly close."

"I think that might be one indication of the President's deep reservoir of support among Democrats "

Earnest tied the primary results to trade. "The other dynamic that is in play is that at least a couple of the individuals who were facing primary contests had been supporters of the President's trade agenda. So I think that might also be an indication, again because it’s the continuation of a theme that we have seen across the country, that the political vulnerability facing those candidates that are taking a smart approach to trade might also be overstated."

"I know that at least on the Democratic side there were some noise that some establishment figures in the Democratic Party were going to target supporters of the President's trade agenda in the Democratic primaries, those primaries didn't end up being all that competitive."

Asked about Rodrigo Duterte's reported comments (during their upcoming bilateral meeting  Obama needs to listen, then speak) Earnest said "the Philippines is a Treaty Ally of the United States and the president values the important relationships that we have not just maintained but strengthened with our treaty allies around the world."

"As the Philippines deals with some of the maritime security situations in the South China Sea, they benefit from a close relationship with the United States."

"I think the President is going to speak quite directly about our shared interests with the Philippines, both countries benefit from effective cooperation on a variety of issues, including maritime security. But the president is certainly not going to pull any punches in raising well documented and relevant concerns when it comes to human rights."

When Duterte was described as being unorthodox and unpredictable by a reporter, Earnest said: "that's putting it mildly."

Canada AIIB
Did Canada give the US a heads up they were joining the Chinese-backed AIIB? "I can tell you that the United States and Canadian officials have been in touch on this issue."

"We know that Canada shares our view about the importance of transparency and good governance when it comes to these kinds of international institutions. We are confident that as they join that organization and as they participate in those activities they'll continue to be a strong advocate for that kind of governance. Ultimately, you know, I think that's a good thing."

WH transparency
Asked about his letter to the NYT published this morning.

He argued that the administration does not get enough credit from the press for the steps they have taken. "Effective advocacy must remain credible and preserving that credibility involves giving credit where it is due. There are steps that the Obama administration has taken that are historic, that are unprecedented and that advance the cause of transparency."

Earnest said there was no significant political benefit associated with transparency -- people don't go out a vote only on that issue. "There is not a large built-in constituency for transparency." "The only constituency that exists for transparency in government are professional journalists."

Earnest said that as a public servant he was limited in what advice he could give the campaigns, but "the president certainly hopes that the high standard for transparency that he set is continued by his successor. The president is certainly hopeful that the next president will seek to build on the progress that we have made."

Earnest said that would include keeping some White House visitors' logs open to the public.

Israel's settlement announcement
"This is not the first time that we have heard an announcement like this from the Israeli government. This significant expansion of settlement activity poses a serious and growing threat to the viability of a two state solution. We are particularly troubled by a policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts and unauthorized settlements."

"We have been quite unambiguous about the concerns that we have, and in terms of considering a different kind of response, I don't think that is something that we would discuss publicly. I think that we would start by having that conversation privately."

-- Ends --

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