[WHCA Print] [WH Pool] In-town pool report #2

From: Haberman, Maggie [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, June 23, 2017 12:53 PM
Subject: [WHCA Print] [WH Pool] In-town pool report #2

Bill-signing event began at 11:46 AM with remarks from VA secretary David Shulkin. In the room I spotted Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, and Dan Scavino, who darted to the back of the room midway through the event.

Your pooler was seated behind the attendees and away from the photo riser, and visibility was tough. Here are some highlights from the various remarks.

Shulkin:

“It’s a full house that’s great. On behalf of the president I want to welcome everybody here today."

"I have the great privilege of introducing one of the nation’s heroes. Let me tell you about Sergeant Michael Verardo."

He said that the sergeant was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, and in 2010 was severely injured in an IED blast, losing an arm and a leg. He wasn't expected to survive the medical flight but he did. He had 110 surgeries, per Shulkin. But also had to wait 57 to get one piece of paper signed, wait 3.5 years to have his home adapted properly to his condition.

"The VA had failed Michael. He had to jump through one bureaucratic hoop after another just to get" the help he had earned. "I'm pleased to say that he's waiting no longer. Unfortunately Michael's story isn't unique."

The sergeant, who has a prosthetic left arm and left leg, stood at the microphone and said that on returning home he hadn't expected to face a "broken VA system."

Shulkin took over the microphone again, praising the president's leadership.

POTUS began speaking at 11:57. He thanked Shulkin "for that introduction and for your really tireless efforts, David, to protect those who really have been protecting all of us for so long."

"They represent the very best of us," he said.  "Now we must fulfill our duty to them. So to every veteran who is here with us today, I just want to say two very simple words – thank you, thank you."

"You are warriors and heroes who won our freedom. And we will never forget what you have done for all of us, ever."

"We all remember the nightmares that veterans surrendered during the VA scandals a few years ago."

"Many veterans died waiting for a simple doctor’s appointment."

"What happened was a national disgrace and yet some of the employees involved in the scandals remained on the payrolls."

"Outdated laws" made it hard to get rid of those people. "Today we are finally changing those laws and it wasn’t easy."

He acknowledged the sergeant, who I couldn't see but who apparently stood up, prompting the president to joke, "He gets up better than I do."

"What happened to Michael is happening to many but it’s rarely happening under our leadership and David’s leadership."

"VA accountability is essential to making sure … this law will finally give the VA secretary who is by the way doing some job … he’s doing it with this (points to head) and with the heart (points to heart)." The audience claps.

"I just want to thank the members of congress. They have been really dedicated to getting this done. It was not easy for them either."

Then POTUS made a "you're fired" joke.

“Right David, it better be David…we will never use those words on you….” (makes a gun shooting motion with his hand )

“that one never fails, does it”

POTUS finished at 12:10. Finished bill signing at 12:13. Another note from a quick presser with Shulkin to follow.

--

Maggie Haberman

New York Times

@maggienyt

xxx-xxx-xxxx

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