Pool report #13 - Oval Office remarks, color

From: John Bennett [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 8:09 PM
Subject: Re: pool report #13 - Oval Office remarks, color

A colleague asked a good question. The answer: Yes, POTUS was reading from prepared text in the Oval - not TelePrompTer, but printed - with some apparent ad-libbing.


John T. Bennett

White House Correspondent

CQ Roll Call


Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 1, 2017, at 7:52 PM, John Bennett  wrote:

POTUS, VPOTUS, Secretary Tillerson and his wife, Renda St. Clair, entered the Oval Office at 7:12 p.m., and President Trump soon took to a lectern set up just to the right (as pool was looking at it) from the polished and gleaming Resolute Desk. POTUS’s voice started out low as he recalled an “amazing visit” with the family of the first U.S. military trooper killed under his watch. He called the ceremony and time with the family “very sad” and “very beautiful.”

President Trump then moved immediately into his remarks about Sec. Tillerson, saying he has “really unique skills and insights” about global affairs. POTUS sees a world where stability is “cracked.”

“You understand the job of our diplomats, and the mission of the State Department, is to serve the interests of the United States of America to make our nation safer, our country more prosperous and all our people much more secure,” Trump said. “And in that mission, you also understand the importance of strengthening our alliances and forming new alliances to enhance our strategic interests and the safety of our people. Your whole life has prepared you for this moment.”

He noted Tillerson had led “one of the greatest companies in the world,” ExxonMobil, “and doing it magnificently.” Trump called Tillerson “a man who is respected around the world, before he even begins. … This is where you were meant to be today, at this crossroads in history.”

“It’s time to bring a clear-eyed focus to foreign policy, to take a fresh look at the world around us, and to seek new solutions grounded through very ancient truths,” Trump said. That list includes: “that nations have a right to protect their interests,” that all people have “a right” to seek their own destiny, “and that all of us are better off when we act in concert and not in conflict,” he added.

Notably, POTUS only pointed to the Middle East when saying Tillerson inherits “great challenges around the world. Despite those challenges, Trump said he believes “we can achieve peace and stability in these very, very troubled times.”

Pence then swore in Tillerson - ceremoniously - in front of the Resolute Desk as his wife held a Bible with a maroon or brown cover, some of the pages of which showed signs of wear and tear. Trump shook Tillerson’s hand, then kissed Mrs. SecState on the cheek as staff members applauded. POTUS invited the secretary of state to give remarks, during which he thanked Trump and the folks who guided him through the confirmation process. Tillerson thanked POTUS at the bottom of his remarks for “this extraordinary opportunity.”

The four moved across the Oval Office to a small table with the presidential seal, where Tillerson sat and signed a document while POTUS watched over his right shoulder. VPOTUS then stood and signed it, as well. “Thank you, everybody,” POTUS said, with Spicer adding, “Thank you, guys.” A few seconds later Spicer uttered those magical words at 7:18 p.m.: “This is a lid.”

Spotted in the Oval Office were White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus - who joked that the pool got “to go home early” with a smile and a laugh - and first daughter Ivanka Trump.

And, with that, a long pool day at 1600 Penn. came to a merciful end. Enjoy your evening, folks.


John T. Bennett

White House Correspondent

CQ Roll Call

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