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White House Press Briefing; Travel Ban in Court; Trump's Attack on the Media; Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 7, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But I think Kellyanne is a very trusted aide of the president. I think to -- for any characterization otherwise is -- is insulting.

[14:00:04] I don't think -- if they choose not to work with someone, that's up to them.

But I think we're going to continue to put out key leaders in this administration, including Kellyanne, that can articulate the president's policies and agenda.

Katie? (inaudible)?

QUESTION: President Trump plans to ask the Senate to expedite legislation allowing for the swift firing of bad V.A. employees?

SPICER: I think the president's commitment, as you heard both during the campaign and as he's talked to Dr. Shulkin, is to make sure that we're providing the best care, and if there's things that are an impediment to that care being offered up or reformed, then he is going to make sure that we enact policies internally that make sure that people who are not doing their job, not servicing veterans, we can figure out how to expedite that process.

But the idea that we're sitting around having a discussion about personnel inhibiting the care that veterans deserve really does not bode well for the reflection that we want in this country. I mean, people who have served this nation -- we should be bending over backwards to make sure that the benefits and the care and the services that they frankly earned is something that is given the highest priority and something that the president remains highly committed to.

Miriam (inaudible)?

QUESTION: Hi (inaudible). The president (ph) is going to -- to speak later today with (inaudible) and I would like to know how President Trump sees the relations with Spain? And which are the main issues they are going to -- to be (inaudible)?

SPICER: So, I'm not going to -- we'll have a readout after the call, but I imagine that they're going to talk about shared commitment to defeating ISIS and that they'll discuss our bilateral relationship and reaffirm our commitment to our two countries.

I think -- we will have a readout on that call with Spain, as we will with all the countries and all the other leaders that we'll talk to and we have in the past. So I don't want to get too far ahead of it, but I would -- I would imagine that the current relationship that we have with Spain and our commitment to ISIS will be at the forefront of that. Maria Pena?

QUESTION: Yes, here. Thank you. Kind of loud in here. So it's a two- part question. One, can you confirm whether or not the White House has accepted the credentials of the New Mexican ambassador, Geronimo Gutierrez? And also, Representative Mike Rogers, I believe, this morning said that he plans to introduce a bill to impose a two percent tax on all remittances that Mexicans send to their country to pay for the wall. Would the president rally behind that bill?

SPICER: So first, I -- I'd have to get back to you on the ambassador's credentials. I don't know. We can check with the Department of State and figure that out. I don't know that right off the top of my head and I'm not gonna comment. We don't put out statements of administration policy until the bill has gone through the process.

Allie (ph)?

QUESTION: Two questions for you. One, following up on healthcare, the president, as you know, campaigned for 18 months on replacing the Affordable Care Act. Where is his plan?

SPICER: He's working with Congress. I just answered that question. But he's working with Speaker Ryan -- I mean, you're acting...

QUESTION: Specifics of it, though. I mean, does he owe the American people something now...

SPICER: And I think he's been very clear that he owes the American people a result that's gonna lower costs and provide more access. That's what he continues to work with Speaker Ryan on. I think the speaker was very clear on it, that they are having meetings both legislatively and at the principle level to make sure this gets done.

And I think as you heard Speaker Ryan, we continue to be optimistic about getting this thing completed by this year. It's a mammoth bill what they passed and did it -- and I think we've got to make sure that we do this right. We don't want to end up with the same result the Democrats did. They rushed it through. No one was able to read the bill. And premiums have sky rocketed, access and options have gone down. We need to make sure that we don't do this in a way that's gonna, you know, end up with the same result.

John Roberts?

QUESTION: I had a question for you, Sean, though on Yemen.

SPICER: Yeah.

QUESTION: I did say two. One of the world's most wanted terrorists is now taunting President Trump, calling him a fool after that raid.

SPICER: Right. QUESTION: Any response from the White House? And do you still stand by your characterization that (inaudible)?

SPICER: Absolutely. That -- he was not -- that was -- the raid that was conducted in Yemen was an intelligence gathering raid. That's what it was. It was highly successful. It achieved the purpose it was going to get, save the loss of life that we suffered and the injuries that occurred. The goal...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... that he was he is target?

SPICER: Absolutely. He was not -- that -- the goal of the raid was intelligence gathering, and that's what we received and that's what we got. That's why we can deem it a success.

John Roberts?

QUESTION: I know that you believe that you have a good case on the merits to lift the temporary restraining order. If the president does not prevail at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, will he take this to the Supreme Court?

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Let's see where we go. I mean, I think he's made it very clear...

QUESTION: Could I just finish?

SPICER: Yes, you can. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: And is he concerned that if this does go to the Supreme Court with this current 4-4 makeup that this temporary restraining order may become a little more permanent?

SPICER: Well, remember, tonight is about just a restraining order. We're not...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SPICER: Right. I understand, but I think that it's important to explain this to everyone, John, because I know you get it and so many -- but I just want to make sure.

[14:05:01] Tonight is about the restraining order. It has nothing to do with the merits of the case, and that's why I think we feel confident. The question is, does the restraining order get lifted or not? But regardless of what happens tonight, the merits of the case still need to be discussed and I think the merits of the case, as they were in Boston, are ones that we feel very confident on because the law is crystal clear on this.

The president has the authority to do this, it was done so in an interagency process that ensured that all the appropriate people were consulted, we went through that with flying colors. I have zero concern that at the end of the day we'll be fine. It's just a question of going through the process.

QUESTION: And I get all that, as you pointed out. But, if he does not prevail at the 9th Circuit, will he take this decision further (ph)?

SPICER: I'm not going to get - let's see where it goes first. I think our goal right now is to get to a point where we can argue it on the merits. We feel confident based on how the court has reacted in Massachusetts that we're - we're going to be good on the merits.

QUESTION: Does President Trump still plan to immediately terminate President Obama's executive annexes (ph)?

SPICER: With respect to what? DACA and DAPA? As I've said this before, we'll have further updates on that. I - go ahead.

QUESTION: But just in the - I think I said immediately to enact some sort of law...

SPICER: ...I understand that and I - and I - and I've said before, the president will have further updates on both DACA and DAPA very shortly. We've been very clear on immigration what the president's priorities would be. As you heard Secretary Kelly testify in front of Congress today, there's going to be continued progress on the wall and on immigration as a whole.

So we're going to have plenty of time to distress - address this. Right now he's trying to do it in a very systematic way in accordance to where we find the biggest problems. And so, he's been very clear in the past that those who are in this country that pose a threat to us or with a criminal record are where his priorities are going to be first and foremost and we're going to move through the rest of folks that are in this country illegally. QUESTION: Back to Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei said today that Trump has, quote, "helped Iran reveal the true face of America." He said "Iran doesn't fear Trump" and he encouraged Iranians to march in the street against America later this week. Does the president have a response to those very aggressive comments and does he plan to take additional action against Iran as its leaders seem to need to escalate tensions?

I think the president - or the Ayatollah is going to realize that there is a new president in office. This president's not going to sit by and let Iran flout its - its violations or its apparent violations to the joint agreement. But he will continue to take action as he sees fit. The president's also made clear time and time again that he's not going to project what those actions will be and he will not take anything off the table.

But I think Iran is kidding itself if they don't realize that there is a new president in town.

QUESTION: On Thursday, weather permitting, the president is going to meet with airline executives from throughout the country. Two complaints from airline executives as well as the Pilots Association have been, one, that Norwegian Airlines got a special advantage, a foreign carrier permit from the Obama administration. And also, that the airlines of the Emirates, the Arab Emirates are state subsidized and both cases are violations of the Blue Skies Act between the U.S. and the E.U.

Is this something he's going to address and is he considering upending President Obama's foreign carrier permit?

SPICER: Well, again, that would be something that - that that'll be decided when they - when they meet, what they'll talk about. Obviously the president's going to want to talk about economic growth and job creation, how he's enacting orders to make sure the country's safe. On the case of Norwegian, my understanding if I'm correct that they - there is a deal in which they're having 50 percent of the crews and the pilots are American based.

They're flying Boeing planes, there is a, you know, a huge economic interest that America has in that deal right now. I don't want to get ahead of the president on that but just to be clear, we are talking about U.S. jobs both in terms of the people who are serving those planes and the - and the person who is building those planes. That's a very big difference.

QUESTION: A few minutes ago you said that the president wanted to remind the American people of how prevalent tariffs and taxes are and that the Earth is a dangerous place. That kind of breaks with the rhetoric we've seen in bipartisan administrations used when it comes to tariffs and tax. By encouraging the American people to go about their daily lives, does this president have a different message to the American people...

SPICER: ...That's not the point - no, no, I - I think yes, his message to the American people is that he's fully committed to doing everything that he can to keep the country safe and I think that there's a big difference between what you're saying and what the point that he was making yesterday. And I think that what he's getting at is making - he was making a point to the exposure that attacks get.

And I think that's what he was getting at, is that we see these things and it's - and they're becoming too prevalent. And that's why I think he wants to become ever vigilant to make sure that we don't ever get lax, that we need to be reminded that places and groups like ISIS continue to seek to do us harm and that it is his job as commander in chief to do everything he can to get ahead of the curve and keep this country safe.

I think when you look at the poll that came out last week, I think 67 percent of the American people agreed with - with his proposition to put further restrictions on people, to make sure that we have countries who are sending people to our country, that they are coming here for peaceful purposes. And that if we can't guarantee those countries have the proper vetting and systems in place when they are out bound of the United States, then we need to do what we can, and he will do what he has to as president, to make sure this country is safe. And so I think the point that he was making was not -- was not to put

fear into anybody, but to rather reassure them that as president of the United States, he is taking every single step to do what - to do what he has, to get ahead of the threat, to get ahead of the concern so we're not looking in the rear view mirror and thinking what should we have done, what could we have done? That we're preventing lives -- whether it's the raid in Yemen, the laws that he's enacting. He's going to do whatever he can to make sure this homeland and our people are protected and safe. Laura (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you. I just have two questions; one on his tweet and one on healthcare. When the president tweeted "If something happens blame the judge and the court systems," did he mean if a terror attack is committed by somebody from these seven countries or any terrorist attack, he blames on the judge?

SPICER: Well, I think the point -- the tweet is pretty clear. But I think point is, is that kind of dove tails what I was just saying to Aziz (ph). He's doing everything he can. He walks into office, there are seven countries that the Obama administration has already identified as not having the proper systems in place to guarantee our safety. His immediate reaction is to do what he has to do to make sure that we're not looking back and saying do you know what we should have been done? We should have made sure we had stricter vetting in place for those seven countries.

So he took immediate and decisive action to make sure this country and our people are protected. That's what he's talking about. It's making sure that we don't have a regret a month from now, two months from now, a year from now, we haven't done something to protect people. And so he acted as quick and decisively as possible to make sure that we put the systems in place to protect our people. I don't think there's any other way to read that.

QUESTION: I'm up here (ph), can I get my second question?

SPICER: Of course.

QUESTION: You just said he'll negotiate prices, and that's something...

SPICER: (Inaudible).

QUESTION: He ran on negotiating prices for Medicare drug prices. And I just want you to clarify where he is on that, because when he met with big pharma the other day, he -- before the meeting, he said we have no choice, we have to get prices down. After the meeting he said he would oppose anything that makes it harder for these companies to bring their drugs to market including price fixing by Medicare. So is he for Medicare negotiating drug prices or not?

SPICER: He's for it, yes. He wants to make -- absolutely. The president's clear - I mean when you look at the cost -- not just drug cost. The U.S. government has not done -- I mean, you look at what other --frankly, the easier way to look at this is what other countries have done -- negotiating costs to keep those down. As drug prices continue to escalate, that drives up health care costs

for every American. But particularly, it's a burden on America's seniors who are so much more reliant on drug prices, and I think in many cases, you have people living on a fixed income. And health care costs -- rising healthcare costs and prescription drugs continue to be a burden on their ability to live out their lives in a much more enjoyable manner. And so his commitment is to make sure that he does what he can, and I think rather successfully uses his skills as a business man to drive them down. Margo (ph)?

QUESTION: Sean, can you clarify two things?

SPICER: Sure.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry - Kelly, excuse me -- when he was on the hill today, said that the administration right now is not looking at adding other countries to this temporary travel ban list. Is the white House still giving itself room to add some countries to that list?

SPICER: Well, I think what - what he -- what his point was is that right now he's not doing it. You have to look at his testimony in context. I think he went through the fact that we're still in this review process, that he is committed to making sure that we look at all other countries. But as of this moment, there is no immediate desire to add to that. But he is looking at all of the other countries, the procedures that we have with them, the systems that we have in place to check them. And so nothing is final until the end of the review period.

QUESTION: I have a second question.

SPICER: I'm sorry. QUESTION: You said still leaving room to do that. Something that the president continues to say as a phrase, and I'm hoping you can define it for us. Is that this is about testing who truly loves America and making sure those entering the country are those who truly love America. How do you quantify that? What's the president thinking of? Is that a specific test? What does that mean?

I think there's a - I think the president's goal is to make sure that people aren't coming here to do us harm. That they're going through the proper extreme vetting in cases where we don't have the information required to make a good judgment on them based on what their country is willing to provide, that we are taking the proper and necessary steps to protect our people.

But he doesn't -- if someone's coming here to do us harm or to espouse things that would give us a good indication that they're not coming here for the right reasons, then we need to do everything we can to, a, vet them and, b, unless we're 100 percent certain, keep them out of the country. I -- but...

QUESTION: It's a background check?

SPICER: It's a background -- but again, I wouldn't just -- it's not. I mean it is -- to the extent that we can, it's gonna be extreme vetting is what he's talked about, that it's not gonna be just letting someone in on a quick check. If there's any cause for concern, he wants to go to every step possible to make sure that people who are entering this country are doing so because they want to come here for the right reasons and for peaceful reasons.

Yeah?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. On Korea, the South Korean (inaudible).

SPICER: What, please (ph)?

QUESTION: What was most important (inaudible)?

QUESTION: Most important part of the policy (ph).

SPICER: Thank you. He had a conversation the other day and we look forward to fulfilling that conversation. I think obviously, the threat of North Korea is the most prominent issue that faces South Korea and our alliance right now. He wants to reassure the South Korean government (inaudible) that we are gonna do what we can to make sure that we stand with South Korea and that we prevent any further hostile actions from North Korea.

So I think that -- the safety of our country, of South Korea, of the region are gonna be clearly the greatest focus of this.

Yeah?

QUESTION: Chris (inaudible) news. When the president submits his budget, is he committed to pushing Congress to approve sufficient funding for all American students to have either an outstanding public school education or the public funding for them to reach an outstanding private school education?

SPICER: Look, I think the president's talked extensively about education during the primary. Whether it's an Associate's degree, a Bachelor's degree or PhD or vo-technical education, that we've got to give students these days the options they need for the work force. A vo-tech education, in some cases, is what's in the interest of students in terms of their success and giving them the skills to work on cars or become a computer engineer or whatever.

But as we head into -- as we look towards the future, we've got to make sure that we're preparing our students to have the skill set that they need. And it's also the re-training aspect of that, that as people get older and certain industries start to turn the corner because of technology, that we're allowing people the opportunity for retraining, to give them the skill set that they need to re-enter the work force and continue to be productive.

So I think as you will see -- look, we literally will swear in the secretary of Education hopefully later this evening, which we will let you all know, probably around the five or six o'clock hour. But that will be something that's he's gonna continue to have a conversation with Secretary DeVos about. Something that she's made clear, and it's unfortunate that we haven't been able to have this conversation sooner because it was held up for so long, but I think that's something that -- that Secretary DeVos will be speaking a lot about, about the education funding and skill set and opportunities that we give not just our children but people older in life who are looking to get back into the work force through another avenue.

QUESTION: I understand. How about the K through 12? How about the youngsters?

[14:18:30] SPICER: Right. I think we'll have plenty of time to discuss the president's budget as we get closer - as - as he sort of develops that. Today we're excited that Secretary DeVos will get sworn in. We can begin to formulate that.

Thanks a lot, guys. Have a great one. Take care.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there it is, about a half an hour briefing. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, answering lots of questions.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We, once again, want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

The press secretary spent a lot of time answering questions about this critically important Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing that takes place 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 3:00 p.m. on the West Coast in San Francisco. Both sides will be arguing for and against the president's travel ban. The press secretary also blasting the Democrats for what he accused them of engaging in childish tactics in trying to hold up various cabinet nominees and he also strongly defended what the president said that the news media had not spent enough time dealing with various terror incidents. H said the - the - the terror attacks have been going on and they deserve a lot more attention because of this threat.

We're here with our panel to access what we've just heard.

Gloria, on this issue of the travel ban, they're pretty confident - you just heard it from Sean Spicer - that the arguments are in the president's favor and this earlier decision to stay that ban will be reversed.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he went out of his way today to say, and rightly, that tonight's decision is really much more about the process than it is about the virtue and the constitutionality of the ban itself. So that will be decided another day.

[14:20:12] He went out of his way to say that they are sure they are on firm constitutional ground. I didn't hear the same firmness from him about whether they are going to - are going to prevail on the - on the process side of it this evening. We're just going to have to wait and see how the arguments go on that.

BLITZER: Do you -

BORGER: But I - overall, I don't know if you guys agree with me, I - I - it was a little more subdued. NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Uh-huh. It's the

post Melissa McCarthy (INAUDIBLE), right?

BORGER: Exactly. It really - it really was.

HENDERSON: Yes.

BORGER: He seemed a little bit - very clear that the McCarthy improvisation on "Saturday Night Live" really affected Sean. And I think he was trying to kind of tone it down today to a great degree.

HENDERSON: Yes.

BLITZER: I'm anxious to get Jim Acosta. He - you were in the Briefing Room, Jim, our senior White House correspondent. You were there. What emerged of significance in your mind?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well you heard White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying that they hope to have the new education secretary, Betsy DeVos, sworn in this evening.

On this extreme vetting, travel ban, executive order, you know, I think the White House is playing their cards pretty close to the vest, Wolf, in terms of their expectations as to whether or not this is going to make it all the way to the Supreme Court. But I think you heard from the president himself earlier today. You don't have to take it from the press secretary. You heard from the president himself earlier today that that is - that is a possibility, although you heard Sean Spicer say during the briefing that what's at - what at issue before the Ninth Circuit later on this evening, they hope to have a decision later on this evening, is on the temporary restraining order itself.

But the point was made to Sean Spicer that if this does go all the way to the Supreme Court, there is a four to four split right now and so the possibility does exist that if this executive order gets all the way to the Supreme Court, that it could be frozen there or not really decided on definitively. That this temporary restraining order may stay in place for some time and that is something that - that the president may have to get used to.

He was also asked about that tweet, Wolf, where he said over the weekend that if there's a terrorist attack, in not so many words, that this judge out in Washington state may be somehow responsible for it. You didn't hear - really hear Sean Spicer weigh in on that.

And I think what was also telling, I think, Wolf, was when the White House press secretary was asked about the president's comments yesterday at MacDill Air Force Base where he talked about how the media doesn't want to report on terrorist attacks and so forth and what you heard from Sean Spicer is a little bit of a walking back of that comment and saying, well, they just would like to see that - that coverage be where the president thinks it should be.

So not - not a whole lot of information coming out of this White House press briefing today. I think it's interesting to note to our viewers, these - these briefings are a lot shorter than we are accustomed to. Not everybody is getting their question asked, obviously. And that - I think that is just a sign of things to come, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let me play a little clip. This is the comments that Sean Spicer, the press secretary, said about the judge. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The tweet is pretty clear, but I think his point is, is that - kind of dovetails what I was just saying to Zeke (ph), he's doing everything he can and he walks into office. There are seven country that the Obama administration has already identified as not having the proper systems in place to guarantee our safety and is making sure that we don't have no (ph) regret that a month from now, two months from now or a year from now we hadn't done something to protect people. And so he acted as quick and decisively as possible to make sure that we put the systems in place to protect our people. And that - I don't think there's any other way to read that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: David Chalian, is there any other way to read it?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I just want to be clear about the tweet that he thinks is very clear. The tweet is very clear. This was Donald Trump's tweet on Sunday. "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens, blame him and the court system. People pouring in. Bad."

So Sean Spicer said the tweet is very clear. Well, if it's so clear, it's crystal clear that Donald Trump is indeed setting up potential blame on this judge in Washington if some terrorist attack happens here.

HENDERSON: Right.

BLITZER: How extraordinary, Jeffrey Toobin, is this, the comments, the tweets, the other comments that the president personally has made about this federal judge?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No president, in my memory has ever spoken with this sort of contempt for federal judges. It's often the case that judges rule against what presidents would prefer. It happens to every president and none of them like it. But you never hear the kind of rhetoric that you heard from President Trump. You don't - you didn't hear President Obama or either President Bush refer to so-called judges. I mean I don't even know what that means, a so- called judge. I mean he is a judge, whether you disagree or agree with what he said. But, you know, I think we're now used to how Donald Trump talks and he just talks differently from other presidents.

[14:25:22] HENDERSON: Yes.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": I really think it's part and parcel of his attitude also for the news media where he's constantly raising questions about the credibility of news coverage, that you can't - it's the lying media, that we're not covering terrorist attacks by the president that I would dispute, that he's a so-called judge. So it's part of attacking or undermining, I think, trust in other institutions that may well challenge him because I don't think the White House is convinced or confident that they're going to win this court case in San Francisco.

BORGER: No, I don't -

PAGE: This is a liberal appeals court with two of the three judges appointed by Democratic presidents. And, by the way, the original judge was one appointed by George W. Bush.

HENDERSON: You know, it's also interesting, is the way in which he talks about fear and essentially I think we've seen most presidents, Roosevelt obviously saying the only thing to fear is fear itself. This president, this administration, seeming constantly to say, be afraid, be very afraid. He talked about the earth being a dangerous place and he talked about needing to remind the country of how prevalent these attacks are. And he also said that the terrorist attacks that they listed there often didn't get the spectacular attention that they deserved. I man some might say that in giving spectacular attention to some of these terrorist attacks actually feeds into what the terrorists want.

BLITZER: Let me bring Brian Stelter into this.

Brian, I want to play a clip. This is the president once again railing against the news media earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I happen to know how dishonest the media is. I happen to know that stories about me, that should be good, or bad, yo know, I don't mind a bad sorry if it's true, but I don't like bad stories but stories that should be a positive story when they make them totally negative. I understand the total dishonestly of the media better than anybody and I let people know it. I mean the media is a very, very dishonest arm and we'll see what happens. Not everybody. And I have to say that. I always preface it by saying, not everybody, but there's tremendous dishonesty. Pure outright dishonesty from the media.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: When he said, Brian, let's see what happens, I wasn't exactly clear what he was referring to, but maybe you have a better appreciation.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I'm also curious. You know, this is like a wave crashing on a beach. And every time it crashes on the beach, it erodes some of the sand. That's what Trump is trying to do with these attacks on the media. Journalists are by and large honest. There's a few - few that make mistakes here and there, but journalists are honest. But let's hone in on specifically what Spicer said. I thought the

point that Nia was making about fear was crucial. When Spicer is saying the earth is a very dangerous place and these attacks deserve more attention, it's coming awfully, awfully close to saying, you all should be more terrorized. Emphasis on the world awful. Now later Spicer did come back and say, it's not about sewing fear, it's actually about - it's actually about reassuring the public the president's doing all he can.

But I think the viewers at home can decide. Is this White House trying to fear monger? And, Wolf, one other point, it goes to credibility issues here. We heard a dialogue about Kellyanne Conway during the briefing, questions about whether CNN was going to have Kellyanne Conway on the air. CNN declined over the weekend a chance to interview her, partly out of concerns about her credibility. Spicer said, oh, no, I think CNN retracted that statement and walked it back, didn't mean it. Actually CNN reaffirming in the past few minutes there are concerns about Conway's credibility, partly because of that Bowling Green massacre comment she made last week that was non-existent. Doesn't mean she won't be on television, though. She will be on Jake Tapper's program later this afternoon. But there are concerns about Conway and other Trump officials' credibility given the pattern of some of the misstatements we've heard in the past.

I didn't notice any big surprises from this briefing though. As you panelists were saying, Spicer trying to be rather subdued in the wake of "SNL."

BLITZER: Let me play a clip from testimony earlier this morning, the secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary John Kelly, speaking about the news media. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday, President Trump suggested that the, quote, "very, very dishonest press doesn't adequately report terrorist attacks." Do you believe that statement?

JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think the press gets a - gets - does the best job - responsible press do the best job they can to get the facts straight. But, of course, they will go with the story. It's what they do. It's their job. They will go with the story and the best information they have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So, Brian, that was a pretty precise statement from Secretary Kelly.

STELTER: Yes.

BLITZER: He's a retired four star general. He dealt with the news media a lot. When he speaks about the "responsible press," he's referring to the mainstream news media.

[14:30:03] STELTER: Yes, he is. You know saying something quite different than what the president has said, his boss has said. A couple hours ago, President Trump said that the murder rate is higher in the United States than it's been in 45 to 47 years.