Fwd: Travel pool report #5 - Gaggle part 1

Begin forwarded message:

From: Jordan Fabian >
Date: July 12, 2016 at 12:39:46 PM CDT
To: "Gabriel, Brian" >
Subject: Travel pool report #5 - Gaggle part 1

Here are the gaggle highlights. All quotes are attributable to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, but please check against transcript:

Earnest confirmed the following lawmakers traveled on AF1 with POTUS to Dallas:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) *please note corrected spelling from previous report, courtesy of DMN's Todd Gillman
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)

Earnest did not offer a detailed preview of POTUS' remarks, but he said the president "worked late into the night consulting scripture" to write the speech. Some of the material was written by his team of speechwriters but much of the speech "reflects his own writing."

Earnest did not say which verses of scripture POTUS consulted or other material he drew upon.

- On Cruz's invitation:

"Senator Cruz was invited by the White House to accompany the president on Air Force One as we travel to his home state for this solemn memorial service."

"At a time when our country is do divided, I think it is important that the country's leaders are coming together across party lines despite significant political differences to emphasize a shared desire to unify the country."

Earnest said both Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and former President George W. Bush will speak before President Obama at the service. He called it an indication that "our country is not as nearly as divided as it might seem."

"Unfortunately, it's in moments of tragedy that this unity is revealed," Earnest said, adding it's a theme Obama will touch on in his speech.

Earnest said Obama and Cruz would have a conversation on the plane, but declined offer details about what they planned to discuss.

- On invitations to other lawmakers, including Cornyn:

Earnest said "a number of Democratic and Republican members of Congress" were invited to fly with POTUS today.

Said Cornyn was among those invited, but is not on board. "I don't think his office intended it as a slight in any way" not to travel with the president and "we didn't interpret it that way."

- On POTUS' Monday meeting with law enforcement:

Earnest said it was "once again important to sit down with them and hear their perspective" on the debate about racial bias in policing.

"The president did have the opportunity to once again reaffirm his support for the outstanding work that is done by the vast majority" of law enforcement officers, but made the point it's "not at all inconsistent" to raise concerns about disparities in policing.

- On whether POTUS sees the Dallas police shootings as a hate crime:

The shooter's actions "were targeted at white police officers. His actions were motivated by racial hatred. The hate crime laws that we have on the books don't exist just to protect black people or minorities. They're there to protect all Americans."

"Given what we know about the racial motivation the shooter, in the president's mind, this fits the definition of a hate crime."

- Preview of tomorrow's meeting with civil rights leaders, academics, activists, community leaders and law enforcement:

Earnest said POTUS outlined his hopes for the meeting on his Facebook page last night.

"These are issues that the president both has a track record of working on as a public servant. He also has an intellectual interest in these issues because even a dispassionate analysis of the situation would recognize that there are legitimate interests and legitimate concerns raised by people of good faith ... on all sides of the issue."

Obama is hoping to "push the conversation in the direction of concrete actions and solutions. And that's hard."

"The president is hopeful while the country is focused on this issue, we can reprioritize and reenergize" the search for common ground. Earnest did not mention policy specifics.

- On criticism of POTUS' comments on Black Lives Matter and police:

"This is a question the president will confront quite directly during his speech in Dallas."

Earnest noted when the president spoke about the shootings in Warsaw, he expressed hope that people speaking publicly about this issue "do their best to resist the temptation to merely retreat into their partisan and ideological corners."

POTUS doesn't want participants in the debate to see each other as "antagonists" or "enemies."

"That is a significant obstacle, if not the most significant obstacle, that prevents us from making more progress to resolve these questions."

- On whether Obama should travel to Louisiana or Minnesota:

"My view is that as president of the United States, what the president has to say ... gets lots of attention. And the president's comments and thoughts and work on this issue will get significant scrutiny regardless of where he decides to go to say them."

Pointed out that POTUS made a Facebook post during his flight to Warsaw about the police shootings of black men in LA and MN, which "received a lot of attention."

"I think [to] many people of good faith who are fair-minded who are urging the president to travel to those places to shine a light on those situations, my observation would be: the president has shined a light on those situations. The president has raised the fact of these persistent racial disparities in our criminal justice system even without traveling directly to those communities."

Jordan Fabian | White House Correspondent | The Hill | 1625 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20006 | xxx@email.com | Desk: (202) xxx-xxx-xxxx | Mobile: (202) xxx-xxx-xxxx | Twitter: @Jordanfabian

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