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White House Press Briefing. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 1, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Front lines against the fight against ISIS and other forms of terror through calls with the president of the Philippines, the prime minister of Singapore and the prime minister of Thailand.

Today is another - a start of another big week here. After signing a proclamation on law day, he stopped by the Kennedy Garden where around 100 members of the Independent Community Bankers of America kicked off their capital summit. Smaller banks are one of the driving forces behind economic investment and development in our communities, but they have been disproportionately harmed by the dramatic increase in regulation since 2008, declining in number by 30 percent since 2008.

The president's pro-growth agenda includes instituting what he's called a 21st century Glass-Steagall will allow these banks to spend less time complying with unnecessary requirements, many of which were designed to police much larger entities and more time infusing their communities and local small businesses with capital.

It's also the start of Small Business Week. Today, Ivanka Trump will be participating in a conversation at the United States Institute of Peace with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, and the vice president will deliver remarks at the National Small Business Week Awards Program later this afternoon.

Back to the president's schedule. After speaking with the community bankers members, the president had lunch with Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense Mattis, as well as National Security Adviser McMaster before meeting separately with Secretary Tillerson.

I also want to mention this morning that FEMA held a severe weather coordination call to discuss impacts on the remaining threat for continued severe weather across portions of the southwest to the Mississippi Valley, which has already killed five people in Texas. Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly participated on the call and the White House is in contact with local governments in these affected areas. We'll have those communities in our thoughts and prayers and encourage everyone to follow the directions of their state, tribal and local officials to stay safe.

Finally, let me run down what we're expecting for the president's schedule this week. Tomorrow he'll present the Commander in Chief Trophy to the United States Air Force Academy. Wednesday the president will host the president of the Palestinian Authority for an official visit. And on Thursday he'll host a national day of prayer event. And as I mentioned last week, he will then attend an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Coral Sea aboard the USS Intrepid and meet with the prime minister of Australia. I'll continue to update you on the schedule throughout the week. And with that, your questions.

Jill.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

To go back to the comments the president made this weekend on "Face the Nation" on health care regarding pre-existing conditions and specifically that the bill he wants to sign would, quote, "mandate " that pre-existing conditions be covered. Can you talk us through a little bit of what he meant there? Was he referring to something he wants to push to exclude in the bill? Was he talking about the language that's already in there?

SPICER: Well, I think both, in the sense that the MacArthur-Meadows amendment ensures that pre-existing conditions are - continue to be covered. But then, obviously, as this bill hopefully passes the House this week, or whenever it does, and then goes through the Senate and the House, this is an issue that is important to him.

QUESTION: How does he insure, though, that those people actually are treated affordably? I mean there was an estimate from AARP the if you were looking just at the high risk pool, the premiums could be as high as over $25,000 for somebody. What is he doing to ensure that that - that that doesn't happen?

SPICER: So there's two things. And I think he mentioned in the same interview, just to be clear, right now under Obamacare, as it collapses on its own weight, people who have pre-existing conditions are really the most vulnerable because if you have an insurance system that no longer is able to provide care to those who need it, then I think we've talked about this before, you have a card without coverage. So what the president is doing is ensuring going forward as we attempt to repeal and replace it, that pre-exist - coverage of pre- existing conditions is at the core of that. So that is something that he has ensured is in the current bill and will continue to push for to make sure that coming out of the Senate and going to conference is there as well.

John.

SPICER: A couple of things for you, Sean, if I could.

First of all, what do you say to conservatives who feel like they didn't get a whole lot out of this spending bill. There's no money for the wall, no cuts to sanctuary cities, funding for Planned Parenthood was maintained. What do you say to those conservatives?

SPICER: Well, I'll take them in order.

But I think the president got a lot on this bill, most specifically $21 billion for the - to help rebuild the military. I think that is something that he was very proud to campaign on and is delivering on. That's probably the biggest thing.

With respect to border security, he got $1.52 billion in the current language that's posted. I think that's significant. And, remember, I think people have to keep in context. We're talking about 2017 funding, right? So this is something that most presidents would walk into office and that would have been done. Because the last Congress didn't do this under president Obama, we have an opportunity to get some of the president's priorities infused for the last five months of 2017. That's a big step forward and something that he'll continue to fight for in 2018.

[14:05:12] When the fiscal year starts, the end of September, we will have an opportunity to really infuse the president's priorities. But I think there's a lot there. And there's also - D.C. school choice was something that we felt very strongly about making sure was back in. There's no Obamacare bail out. There's the coal miners is something the president felt very strong on, making sure they got taken care of. That happened. So there's a lot in this bill that I think of the priorities that he put forward on.

QUESTION: But clearly he had to give up on some things.

SPICER: No. I mean I think on the Planned Parenthood thing in particular, you know -

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

SPICER: But, again, remember, this is 2017 funding. This is something that he wouldn't normally even have had a shot at because it should have been done. So infusing his priorities in the 2017 budget cycle is actually something that he's been able to have a say in, which is a big deal, for the remaining five months. The 2018 budget will address those things. But this is a down payment on border security. It's a down payment on his ability to rebuild the military. And repealing and replacing Obamacare will address a lot of the other health care issues.

QUESTION: And the other (INAUDIBLE), on the pending visit of Duterte from the Philippines, Chris Coons said that the president is giving his stamp of approval to human rights abuses. Governor John Sununu, on the other hand, said this is part of the unpleasant things that presidents have to do. What's the White House's perspective on Duterte and him coming here?

SPICER: Well, I think it is an opportunity for us to work with countries in that region that can help play a role in diplomatically and economically isolating North Korea. And, frankly, the national interests of the United States, the safety of our people and the safety of people in the region are the number one priorities of the president.

Mike.

QUESTION: I was going to ask you about the tax deductions. The White House has talked a little bit about that as a way to curb big tax breaks for the rich. Are you looking at any other policy changes when it comes to limiting breaks for the top 1 percent?

SPICER: Well, I - we're - at the beginning of this process. What I think you saw from the briefing that was given the other day, the focus on this is really lower and middle income Americans. The doubling of the standard deduction means that a family of four that is making, you know, right now they're getting a $24,000 deduction, which means, in a lot of cases, you're going to see a family pay zero taxes at the lower end of the economic scale. That's a big deal for them to really help put more money back in their pocket and help them take care of their family.

Trey (ph).

SPICER: Thank you, Sean.

On health care, there seems to be a new optimism from the White House. How confident is the president that he will get a health care bill passed the House this week?

SPICER: I think the president has made it clear that he's not instituting a timeline. I've said this before and I'll continue to say that we feel confident the direction this is going. We see more and more members come on board. A lot of the changes were made make the bill not only better but garner greater support. So we feel very good about it.

QUESTION: On North Korea, today the president told Bloomberg he was open to meeting with Kim Jong-un if the conditions were right. How does the president define the right condition to have this meeting?

SPICER: There's a lot of things that go along with that, and I think that's the key thing, under the right - under the right circumstances was I believe the phrase he used. And I think that is something in keeping with - with our - with - consistent with the policy expressed by Secretary Tillerson as well. We've got to see their provocative behavior ratchet down immediately. That - those are - t here's a lot of conditions that I think would have to happen with respect to its behavior and it's - and to show signs of good faith. Clearly the conditions are not there right now, but I think the president's made it clear, as Secretary Tillerson did the other day, that, you know, if the conditions - if the circumstances are - present themselves, we would be prepared to. But they're clearly not at this time.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.

Picking up on health care. It's believed possibly that you might be down - Republicans down to maybe just a handful of votes away. Here we are at 2:00 Monday afternoon. Is this the closest that you think you've gotten? I know you don't want to talk about timelines, but is this as close to maybe getting to that magic 216 number that you've talked about?

SPICER: Well, sure. I mean we're not going to - once we get 216, we'll stop counting and I think the speaker - the speaker gets that. But as I mentioned to Trey (ph), I mean we're getting closer and closer every day. So I would assume that today we are closer than we were a week ago. But we're not there yet. And that decision is going to be wholly within the speaker and the majority leader and the whip to let us know when they're going to open that vote up.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about Dodd-Frank. The president just gave an interview in which he said, "I am looking at that right now." He goes on to say, "there's some people that want to go back to the old system, right, so we're going to look at that meaning, potentially breaking up the banks." So, breaking up the banks going back to Glass- Stiegel, is that something that he is just looking at or is that something that is a preference of his at this point?

[14:10:05] SPICER: I think I mentioned it in the opening, he's looking at a 21st century Glass-Stiegel, but it's something that we've talked about at the beginning. He mentioned this on the campaign trail. It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. But it is something that is currently being looked at.

Sarah (ph).

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.

So you're saying that you're not confident that the votes are lined up behind the health care bill. So this morning when Gary Cohn said that the bill was ready to be brought to the floor, did Gary Cohn misspeak?

SPICER: No, I just - I would never want to get in front of the speaker. That's - that's up to them. I mean we have a good whip count. I think we feel very good about where we are and where it's headed. But, ultimately, the speaker and the House leadership determine when to call a vote. I think that we know that when the vote gets called, we'll feel confident that it's going to be able to pass.

Zeke (ph).

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.

The president, on the campaign trail, raised alarm about federal deficits. This spending bill (INAUDIBLE) get us through the end of the fiscal year, doesn't include any of the offsets really that the president requested in this year's budget. Is the president - you know, will the president sign this agreement that does increase the federal deficit?

SPICER: I think we got a number of the president's priorities included in the CR. When we are at the final point, the president will make a decision. But right now he's pleased to see the plus up for the military. He's pleased to see a down payment on border security. He's pleased about the D.C. opportunity scholarships. There's a lot that he's pleased in. And I think, again, as I mentioned to John, we're getting a shot at the 2017 funding, which should have been done last year. So -

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) you called for keeping that balance (INAUDIBLE) keeping (INAUDIBLE) -

SPICER: I understand that and I think that, obviously, you know, this is something that required 60 votes in the Senate. We couldn't have our entire way on this but theirs - we're five months away from having a 2018 budget and I think the president's priorities will be reflected much more in that.

Annie (ph).

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) he made comments when asked about (INAUDIBLE) that the journalists are not (INAUDIBLE) assassination. Did the president know about those comments and about his record of human rights (INAUDIBLE) when he extended the invitation for him to visit the White House?

SPICER: I mean the president gets fully briefed on the leaders that he's speaking to, obviously, but the number one concern of this president is to make sure that we do everything we can to protect our people, and specifically to economically and diplomatically isolate North Korea. And I think when you look at what he is doing in terms of building that coalition of countries in that region to do it, I think this is hopefully going to have -

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

SPICER: Well, he knows - yes, I mean, I'm not going to tell you every single thing that's in his brief, but he's well aware of when he - when he speaks with a leader, he gets briefed on - on a lot about their - what they're doing, what they've done. That's all part of the brief.

Mara (ph).

QUESTION: A question -

SPICER: Yes, hold on.

QUESTION: Just about the future of Sebastian Gorka. Is he - can you tell us why he's leaving the White House?

SPICER: I have no - there's no personnel announcement at the time. I have no belief that he is currently leaving the White House. So there's nothing to update you on with respect to that and we wouldn't comment on personnel matters at this time.

Mara.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.

(INAUDIBLE) on health care when the president talks about a guarantee for pre-existing conditions, current law says you have to - insurance companies have to sell to people with pre-existing conditions and they can't charge them more than someone else in that area. Is that the guarantee that the president wants?

SPICER: So the bill does not remove Obamacare's guaranteed issue requirement.

QUESTION: Right. SPICER: That's it.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

SPICER: And on the community ratings, the bill would allow states to wave Obamacare's community rating requirement if certain conditions designated to preserve access to coverage from people with pre- existing conditions are met and there are reduced average premiums, increased enrollment, stabilized the market, stabilized premiums for those with pre-existing. The bottom line is to try to give the states flexibility to actually get that premium down.

QUESTION: Right, but can people with pre-existing conditions continue to get access, but not at the same price as other people?

SPICER: Well, the idea is actually they would create a high risk pool. The idea is actually to create a system where it gets the premium down for them as well.

QUESTION: Right. And (INAUDIBLE) could still charge you much more.

SPICER: No, no, but you can't - you're right when I say the whole goal of this is to give the states the flexibility to get lower premiums. That's the goal all around is to make sure that the system that we employ gets it down.

John Gizzy (ph).

QUESTION: So, wait, my -

SPICER: I'm sorry. (INAUDIBLE).

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) sorry about that, Sean.

SPICER: No problem.

QUESTION: The president turns to Bibi Netanyahu at that press conference and famously said, settlements are not helpful. Israel is going to build 15,000 new homes in east Jerusalem. Does he think that Netanyahu is snubbing him?

SPICER: We're going to have - have a conversation - I'm sure that we'll continue to have conversations with the prime minister and - and so what -

QUESTION: Is he aware of that or (INAUDIBLE) -

SPICER: I'm not going to - that will be something that the president will continue to discuss.

John.

QUESTION: Thank you.

SPICER: We'll do one - two Johns.

QUESTION: All right. Let me go first, John.

QUESTION: All right, I guess.

SPICER: Quite a negotiation. We may - we may need you.

[14:15:02] QUESTION: On the art of the deal.

SPICER: John.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Sean.

I wanted to ask you about some news the president made this morning in an interview that he conducted with Bloomberg. In that interview he talked about the possibility of raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure spending. And, of course, the president has put forward the idea of a trillion dollar infrastructure spending plan. Can you talk a little bit more about this possibility of raising gas taxes?

SPICER: Yes. And what the president said during that interview was is that folks from the industry had come to him and expressed to him how the deteriorating roads were affecting their ability to deliver goods and services throughout this country and that they had expressed a willingness to see something like that as a way to help pay for and repair the roads and bridges and that he said that he - out of respect, would definitely listen to them and consider it. That's -

QUESTION: As it relates to this idea that their - gas tax in America hasn't been raised for some time, what makes the president believe that now is the time that Republicans who have been opposed d to this idea would be open to this idea?

SPICER: I think you're missing the - he did not express support for it. He expressed that a group that had met with him expressed support with it and that he, out of respect, would consider their request. That's it. There was no endorsement of it or support for it. He was just relaying what another industry group had shared with him about how to pay for the roads and bridges that need to be repaired and the impact that deteriorating roads and bridges are having on their ability to operate and to deliver goods and services. And, frankly, the cost that it is having on their trucks, on their infrastructure.

John Gizzy.

QUESTION: So to my understanding you've not foreclosed this possibility of raising it?

SPICER: No, I - and people ask the president all the time, please consider the following policy. And he has an open mind. I mean there are people on both sides of the aisle, different backgrounds, that come in to see the president and ask him, could you please consider this, will you keep an open mind on it? And I think that's, frankly, what the president was doing.

John Gizzy.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sean. Thank you, John. QUESTION: And thank you, John.

QUESTION: I have two questions, one on foreign policy and one on domestic politics. First, last Wednesday the Kremlin outlawed the open Russia movement, the premier opposition group to the ruling regime in Russia, and the following day security forces were forcibly closing down to open Russia's office in Moscow and other places. Does the administration have a statement on this?

SPICER: I do not. I would refer you to the State Department.

QUESTION: All right. My second question is, on Sunday Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a 14-term veteran of the House, past chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced her retirement. Her statement comes on the heels of a similar announcement by Congressman Chaffetz. And before that, only a few weeks ago, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas. That's three respected Republican House members all calling it quits. Is the president concerned about the number of Republican House members who do not want to be on the ballot next time and are leaving Congress?

SPICER: No. And I - respectfully, I would say that there are two groups of folks. I mean in the case of Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, I think she's been here 35 years and she -

QUESTION: Twenty-eight.

SPICER: Twenty-eight. And so she's just decided that it's time to retire. In the case of Congressman Chaffetz, he announced that, you know - that doesn't - I don't think that there's any - any belief that you have to stay here for, you know, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. There's always going to be churn between election cycles between members of both parties who have decided for a number of reasons, you know, to go back home. And I think that's a healthy part that's - of the democracy and that's frankly something that our framers sought, is citizen legislature. So, to some degree, that's a healthy part of it. But we feel very confident about where we stand.

Jennifer.

QUESTION: Sean, the president opted not to continue Obama's tradition of holding an Easter Prayer Breakfast, but he is holding a National Day of Prayer event. Was that a scheduling issue or did he think - what was the thought process there?

SPICER: I don't - I think - I really don't know. I know that we wanted to do this National Prayer Breakfast this Sunday. And I think you're going to see a lot of folks represented. It's - I don't know - I don't know enough about Obama's thing (ph), how far back it went, but, you know, the - each president's going to have their own traditions and I think this is one that the president, you know, you - that morning after you've got the Easter Egg Roll and there's a lot going on. This is his way of starting a tradition here at this White House to bring faith leaders from a variety of backgrounds here to the White House.

QUESTION: Sean. SPICER: Danny (ph).

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

Back to Glass-Stiegel for a second.

SPICER: Sure.

QUESTION: As you can imagine, the president's comments today are getting a lot of attention on Wall Street. So can we be just very clear about this. Does the president favor breaking up the big banks?

SPICER: I think he talked about it on the campaign trail and he's mentioned it before, this idea of a 21st century Glass-Stiegel, modernization of it, and we're not at a point we're ready to roll out details of that yet. This is something, as the president said in that interview, he is actively looking at options and considering things. We're not - we're not in a position to make an announcements on this at this time.

[14:20:15] QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) take any steps toward that behind the scenes that we're not aware of?

SPICER: Well, I mean, he's obviously been briefed by his advisers. Secretary Mnuchin and others have given him ideas and thoughts to ponder. We have nothing to announce at this time.

Todd.

QUESTION: Sean -

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

So the lack of border wall funding raises a question of just how serious the president is about getting the border wall constructed. Is it not urgent, is it not an emergency anymore to build this barrier? What is the timetable and deadline that he has in mind?

SPICER: Well, make no mistake, the wall is going to be built. The president has made it very clear. We have five months left in the fiscal year. We're getting $1.52 billion for border security. There's a lot that can be done with that. We've got a lot of things that happen before the wall is built in terms of planning, technology, gates. There's a lot of things they can - they can do to prepare for that wall being constructed. Our big - this was a down payment on - for 2017 and as we get ready for fiscal year 2018 that will start in the beginning of October, this will be a major priority.

QUESTION: So it will be built. It there a time certain? Is there a deadline by the end of 2018, by the -

SPICER: That it will be completed?

QUESTION: Yes.

SPICER: I know the president wants it done as quick as possible. There have been bids that have been put out. Part of what the Homeland Security Department is reviewing now are not just the costs but the timetable for a lot of that. So as we move through the planning phase, that's definitely going to be part of the consideration. But obviously the president wants this done as soon as possible.

Jonathan.

(CROSS TALK)

SPICER: Jonathan.

QUESTION: Coming back to North Korea. The president didn't just say that he would be open to meeting with Kim Jong-un under the right circumstances. He said he would be honored to meet with him. This is somebody who has starved his own people, somebody that has threatened to destroy the United States. Just last week he put out a video showing the Capitol getting destroyed by North Korean fighters. How could he be honored to meet with Kim Jong-un?

SPICER: Well, the president understands the threat that North Korea poses. And he will do whatever is necessary under the right circumstances to protect our country from the threat that they pose. So -

QUESTION: How would that be an honor? I mean -

SPICER: Well, Jonathan, I guess because he's still the head of state. So it's - it is sort of - there is a diplomatic piece to this. But the bottom line is, the president is going to do what he has to do and right now he's building a coalition in the region to isolate North Korea, both economically and diplomatically, to get the threat - to take that threat down.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) -

SPICER: And so I - that is his number one priority right now is protecting this country and our people.

QUESTION: What did he mean when he call him one smart cookie or pretty smart cookie?

SPICER: Well, I think his point was, he went over this in the interview, that he assumed power at a young age when his father passed away and there was a lot of potential threats that could have come his way and he's obviously managed to lead a country forward despite the obvious concerns that we and so many other people have. The president - you know, he is a young person to be leading a country with nuclear weapons. And so that set aside, I think the president recognizes the threat that he posed and is doing everything he can to isolate that threat and to make sure that we bring stability to the region.

Margaret.

(CROSS TALK)

SPICER: Margaret. Margaret. QUESTION: The North - Sean, on North Korea, and then on the Philippians. On North Korea, both with the presidents' comments on Kim Jong-un and what Secretary Tillerson said, you seem to be making the offer that we could have direct talks with North Korea. Who's going to be doing those -

SPICER: No, no, please - yes, I just - again, I think -

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) at the White House?

SPICER: I think that you've - the key part of the president's statement was "under the right circumstances."

QUESTION: Right.

SPICER: And that is the key. And those circumstances do not exist now. This is consistent with what Secretary Tillerson said the other day. But I think that until - if North Korea continues down a degree of provocative behavior, then those circumstances will never be there. But we want to hold out the possibility that if North Korea were ever serious about completely dismantling its nuclear capability and taking away the threat that they pose both to the region and to us, that there's always going to be a possibility of that occurring. That possibility is not there at this time.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) believe that (INAUDIBLE) -

SPICER: Well, he - I mean we're not. We're so far away from that possibility existing to start identifying an individual would be highly premature.

(CROSS TALK)

SPICER: Hold on. Huh?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Philippians. On the Philippians. When you have been asked about President Duterte and his human rights record, you continue to say the effort here is to isolate the Philippines from North Korea, part of this coalition to isolate North Korea.

SPICER: Well, to also build a coalition. Yes.

QUESTION: Are you suggesting that the Philippines has some sort of inappropriate contact with North Korea? Are you suggesting that we are requesting greater access perhaps to their military bases? What is it exactly (INAUDIBLE) -

SPICER: Well, I think there's - there's an economic piece to this as well. And I'm not going to go into - that's part of the reason that I think the president wants to meet with him. And I'm not going to get ahead of their discussions. But I would suggest to you that there are multifaceted ways and areas in which not just the Philippines but other countries in the region can help play a role with economically, diplomatically and otherwise to help deter the threat that they pose.

(CROSS TALK) [14:25:14] QUESTION: Are you suggesting that, that they are trading or conducting some kind of (INAUDIBLE)?

SPICER: No, I'm not going to - like I said, I -

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) economic peace. That's what I just want to clarify.

SPICER: Right. And, again, I'm just going to let - the president will have an opportunity to speak with him about those objectives. At this time, I'm not going to get ahead of that discussion.

Glenn (ph).

QUESTION: Sean, to quick related questions. First of all, you just described Kim Jong-un as somebody who led his country forward at an early age. The president has invited Duterte, who, as Annie (ph) pointed out, has talked about assassinating journalists. The president put out a statement after Erdogan won his referendum, congratulating him. He said kind things about Putin during the campaign. He said kind things about Saddam Hussein. Does the president have a thing with these totalitarian leaders? Does he admire something about the way these guys conduct themselves?

SPICER: No. The president - clearly, as I've said, understands the threat that North Korea poses. I think someone with the potential nuclear capability to strike another country, potentially our country at some point in the future, is something the president takes very seriously. And so the idea that he is doing everything diplomatically, economically and militarily to consider every way to prevent that threat from taking on the United States is something -

QUESTION: What about this whole package (ph) (INAUDIBLE) -

SPICER: I understand. So, fortunately, those are the neighbors. There are certain things - those are the countries in the region. Those are the countries that can be helpful as we move forward to try to prevent the threat that they - that they pose.

QUESTION: I got follow - one follow-up question. On - on Sunday, Chief of Staff Priebus talking to this gentleman right here said, with respect to the libel laws, and the First Amendment, quote, talking about news outlets that print the false articles, quote, "I think it's something that we've looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story." Is that a project that is currently being worked on by the council's office? Can you just tell me the status of that? Who is pursuing that?

SPICER: Well, I think the chief of staff made it very clear that that is something that is being looked into substantively and then both logistically how it would happen, but that's nothing new. It's something the president talked about on the campaign trail.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) is - is the council actually investigating (ph) this?

SPICER: I'm not - I will not go into it, but I'll just tell you that (INAUDIBLE) -

QUESTION: Sean.

QUESTION: Sean.

QUESTION: Sean.

SPICER: Yes.

QUESTION: Two questions. One on - just to clarify on North Korea. Were those conditions that you laid out early - to the earlier question with - are those conditions that would have to be met before there was any meeting, i.e. that North Korea would have to agree to totally disarm its nuclear program, stop threatening their neighbors, are those the conditions?

SPICER: I think those are some of the conditions. There's going to be a whole host of ones that we determine - that the State Department determines in consultation with the president that have to be met. As I mentioned, we are so early into this process that I don't see this happening any time soon. But I think that, as the president, like you said, under the right circumstances, those circumstances aren't present today and there would have to be significant change for that to even be a possibility.

QUESTION: Sean, on a separate subject, the chief executives of United Airlines will be on The Hill tomorrow. Is the president at all - does the president think that Congress should pass any laws after the incident last month where the passenger was dragged off? Should there be some - should there be more done to protect passengers on airplanes from those - from those types of incidents?

SPICER: I think there's two things. One is, I think the industry probably needs - you know and have said that they have taken a look at how they're handling a number of issues within that, but in terms of compensation, how they're handling passengers who are on planes. So there's an industrial component and then I'll leave it up to Congress to decide whether or not it's appropriate to address it legislatively. Once there was a - a piece of legislation, then we could, you know, we would have an opportunity to weigh in then.

Cecelia (ph).

QUESTION: Sean, I just want to ask you to clarify something else the president said. He said, I don't stand by anything. How was the American public supposed to digest that, supposed to trust what the president says when he himself says of his own comments, I don't stand by anything.

SPICER: What are you referring to?

QUESTION: It was in the CBS interview with John Dickerson in the Oval Office?

SPICER: I'm just - I need more context.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

QUESTION: It was about wiretapping. He was asked to - if he still believes President Obama is a bad or evil guy. Do you still stand by those comments? The president said, I don't stand by anything.

SPICER: No, he - that was a long back and forth exchange and that's why I'm asking for the context.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE).

SPICER: But I think the point is, he make - he clearly stands by that. That's something that he made very clear if you look at the entire back and forth.

QUESTION: Sean.

QUESTION: Sean.

QUESTION: Sean, I have a question about the Philippians. First, has President Trump come (INAUDIBLE) with the - either (ph) support of (INAUDIBLE) killing drug users in the country?

[14:29:52] SPICER: Obviously there's a human rights component that goes into all of this. And so it's a balance. We want to make sure that our country, our people are protected. This isn't a simple yes or no kind of situation. You've got a country in North Korea that possesses a nuclear weapon and is looking for the appropriate delivery system to potentially do harm. I think the president recognizes that the number one priority