Fwd: WH Travel Pool #5b: Gaggle

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From: "Memoli, Michael" >
Date: June 2, 2016 at 6:56:38 PM EDT
To: Jessica Allen >
Subject: WH Travel Pool #5b: Gaggle

Earnest opened with the Thunderbird crash, offering this statement:

"As you know, it is not uncommon for local military and law enforcement assets to be used in support of Secret Service operations during a presidential visit. This afternoon, after learning of the crash, a military helicopter that was operating in support of the Secret Service mission responded to crash site just a few miles away from Peterson Air Force Base. This helicopter is part of a search and rescue unit that's based here in Colorado. The helicopter, in close coordination with the Air Force and the Secret Service, identified the site of the crash and landed to retrieve the pilot. The Secret Service agent on board the helicopter is an EMT, and was able to quickly evaluate the pilot's condition."

"After rescuing the pilot the helicopter returned to Peterson Air Force Base and landed near local first responders who were able to evaluate the pilot further. Fortunately the pilot did not sustain serious injury. The helicopter, after delivering the pilot, took off and resumed its mission in support of the president's drive from the United States Air Force Academy back to Peterson Air Force Base. This is a good illustration of the skill, professionalism and judgment that our men and women in the military and the Secret Service display every day. The president benefits from that service every day and is deeply appreciative of what our men and women in the military and the Secret Service do. Obviously we don't frequently have the opportunity to tell that story. Today I'm pleased to have the opportunity to do so."

Many aspects of the crash are still under investigation, and Earnest referred questions to the Air Force and Pentagon.

On POTUS' interaction with the pilot, Earnest said he was up walking around. POTUS was pleased to have the opportunity to both express his relief that the pilot was not seriously injured. The president did thank him for his service to the country. And the president advised the pilot that this might be a good time for him to contact his wife and let him know that he's OK. Earnest later said POTUS also thanked the first responders.

Earnest did not have the pilot's name or the ability to say how he survived the crash, referring again those questions to the Air Force.

POTUS had not yet left the Air Force Academy when the crash occurred, which allowed the helicopter to participate in the search and rescue.

There was an extensive discussion of POTUS' comments on Social Security benefits from his speech in Elkhart, worth a close look in the transcript.

Earnest said POTUS has discussed ways to strengthen Social Security since 2007, both its solvency and "strengthening the assistance that it provides to Americans across the country." There area  lot of ideas about how to do that, and one POTUS has discussed before is raising the cap of income subject to the Social Security tax. He noted that POTUS also promised in 2007 not to raise taxes on individuals or couples making $250,000 a year or less. So one proposal on Social Security would be to raise that cap over $250,000.

"So the president essentially yesterday was indicating that proposals to increase the solvency of the Social Security trust fund, enhance benefits, and do so without adding a burden to the middle class is consistent with his vision of expanding economic opportunity for the middle class and ensuring everybody in America gets a fair shake."

Earnest went on to say POTUS had never ruled out proposals to increase benefits. Asked about the chained CPI proposal, Earnest insisted that while it was in the administration's budget it was in the context of a potential grand bargain - it was something Republicans were asking for. "That's never been something that we've proposed or supported," he said.

Earnest said he would not expect a more detailed "white paper" on Social Security. In response to a question that noted Sanders has called for enhanced benefits, Earnest said that "despite the longer than expected" primary, this was an example of how the differences in the party were more stylistic than policy-based. "When it comes to the core values that Democrats are fighting for, there's a lot of overlap among the proposals that have been floated by the two candidates and by the current Democratic president."

On Puerto Rico, Earnest had no comment on an alternate proposal offered by Sen. Sanders, but said the bill worked out between the administration and the House is one that is not perfect but would help the island with its finances.

On the video deleted from a State Department briefing, Earnest said that "I don't know a whole lot about this particular situation. It's an unusual one, to say the least." But he noted that the State Department had put out a full, written transcript with no deletions and that DOD has for a long time hosted the full video as well. He said he is "quite confident that no one would make a decision like that about a briefing i was part of without telling me."

Earnest had no comment on Paul Ryan endorsing Trump.

Asked about Hillary Clinton's speech and her comment that Trump is unfit to wield the nuclear codes, Earnest directed us back to comments POTUS has made before about Trump on a similar subject.

Earnest said the nuclear codes are a "vivid" example of the importance of the upcoming election.

On Iran sanctions and Democratic lawmakers who have a bill to reestablish sanctions, Earnest said the administration will continue to talk to lawmakers but said the focus is on implementing JCPOA.

Asked about POTUS listing several people he's killed in the Air Force Academy speech, Earnest said that the president wanted to show how effective the Air Force has been, with manned and unmanned aircraft, at helping to protect the country. But he stressed that POTUS also wanted to show that the threat of force, backed up by diplomacy, can also be effective.

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