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Audio-Only White House Daily Briefing. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired June 26, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUESTION: And let me ask you about health care.
John Cornyn said over the weekend that August 1st is the real drop- dead deadline. Does -- does the White House see it that way as well?
SPICER: You mean for final passage?
SPICER: I think we'd like to see whenever they leave for their August break, their August recess -- it done by then. So I don't have at the tip of my fingertips the -- then they -- when they plan to leave town, but whenever that date is, whether it's August 1st or 2nd or 3rd or whenever.
QUESTION: What was the president's involvement over the weekend? How would you characterize that?
SPICER: He made several calls to multiple senators to hear their concerns and get their ideas and understand where they're at and what -- what needs to get done.
QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.
Does the president still see this version of the travel ban as watered down and politically correct?
SPICER: Again -- well, remember, the -- they're looking at the totality of it. So I think part of it, as I mentioned to Blake a second ago, will be dependent on what the lawyers believe its impact will be, in terms of how it goes forward and what we can do.
So I'm going to punt on that for a moment and let the lawyers take a look at that and -- and give an update.
QUESTION: (inaudible) critical of the way the Department of Justice has handled the roll-out of it?
SPICER: Well, I think -- like I said, right now we're just pleased with what the Supreme Court has done. And once we have a better idea of its full impact, we'll be able to have a better analysis of that.
QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.
Can you characterize how the president thinks the Kushner- Greenblatt meetings went in Israel? And specifically is there any truth to reports out of Israel that relations are strained between the U.S. and the Palestinians due to these demands that they stop sending payments to terrorists?
SPICER: Well, first, I think the meetings were extremely productive. They're going to make incremental movements forward. But it's going to be a process. It's not going to get solved in a night. And I think they -- they made good progress overall and also continuing to build trust between all the parties.
It's no secret, I know, that when President Abbas was here, we discussed the payments as an issue then, so it should be no surprise it came up. But I would argue that the relationship continues to be very strong and move forward in a -- in a positive way.
QUESTION: Sean, thank you.
At several occasions the president has suggested he wanted the Senate bill improved, he said he was looking forward to making it really special, and he said he -- in Iowa, put more money into it, make it more generous, it should have heart.
Does he believe that the Senate has done that or is he looking for more improvements in the bill?
SPICER: He's very pleased with the developments that have come. He's been impressed with the work.
He obviously -- as you mentioned, he wants a bill that has heart. He wants a bill that does what it's supposed to do.
He -- when you look at what happened with Obamacare, he doesn't -- he wants to make sure that we think through this. As I mentioned to Blake, he had several calls over the weekend hearing ideas and opinions about how to strengthen it, and will continue to support ways to make the bill stronger.
QUESTION: But are these criteria still the (inaudible), as he said in the past, cover everyone with lower premiums and lower deductibles?
QUESTION: So that's his bar and...
SPICER: Well, there's a lot. I mean, obviously he wants to make sure that people have access and that it's affordable.
And that -- so, I mean, coverage is obviously key, but -- but as I've mentioned multiple times here before, when you have a card and no coverage, that's not good. It doesn't get you the care that you need, and it doesn't do so within means that you can afford.
So we're going to continue to figure out a way to make that work.
QUESTION: Does he still...
QUESTION: Sean, Sean, can you answer whether the president still believes the...
QUESTION: ... to Israel.
SPICER: There's no camera on, Jim.
QUESTION: Maybe we should turn the cameras on, Sean. Why don't we turn the cameras on?
QUESTION: Why don't we turn the cameras on?
SPICER: I'm sorry that you have to do -- Jen, go ahead.
QUESTION: Why not turn the cameras on, Sean? They're in the room, the lights are on.
QUESTION: Is it not true that there were tensions and some strain between the U.S. negotiators, which are Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, and the Palestinians? Is it not true that there were tensions?
SPICER: I'm not aware of any, no.
QUESTION: OK. So no.
SPICER: I -- I -- when I talked to them about the trip, it was very positive. I'm not aware of any.
I know that there was one story -- I believe that story's been updated -- out of -- that came out of there, but I know that that -- that's been updated.
QUESTION: The president said two weeks ago that he would have a press conference in two weeks on ISIS. An update to that?
SPICER: As soon as I have an update on that, I will let you know. QUESTION: (inaudible) out of the European Union, they're expected to levy a fine against Google for over a billion dollars. Do you have any reaction to that?
SPICER: I don't. Not yet.
QUESTION: Do we have cameras when the president holds a press conference, Sean? Sean?
QUESTION: ... Senator Corker says he will use his authority as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman to block arms sales to Saudi and Qatar until that crisis is resolved. Is that -- is that a constructive step in your view?
SPICER: I think we share Senator Corker's goal on two fronts.
One, obviously we want to resolve this situation. I know that the -- the states that are involved are viewing this as a family matter. And Secretary Tillerson is helping to facilitate some of that. We believe that's positive. We share that concern.
And we also share the concern about terror financing that Senator Corker has.
And I think we can work together on both of those goals.
QUESTION: And one more for you.
In -- in one of your answers on the Russia meddling, you said -- and you said other countries either were equally involved or involved.
QUESTION: What -- what other countries...
SPICER: I -- I don't -- I'm just -- the statement that the president gave -- and I didn't have it off the top of my head -- in January, said, "I believe that Russia was probably involved and there could be" -- I think he said -- "and there could be others as well." Whatever that statement was, I just...
QUESTION: (inaudible) an intelligence finding? Is that just a hypothetical...
SPICER: Again, I -- it's the same statement that he's had since January.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) President Trump (inaudible) that previous -- previous list of potential conservative Supreme Court justices for future picks?
SPICER: What's that?
QUESTION: Will President Trump rely on that previous list of 21 potential Supreme Court justices for...
SPICER: I'm sure that that'll definitely be a strong part of it. I can't say there won't be someone added on or not. But, you know, that proved to be a very, very helpful list the first time.
So, he -- he feels very comfortable about the list, but I can't say for certain that there's no one that couldn't get added to a future list.
Earlier, in your response to the Russian question, you -- you used the conditional "if the story is true." I was hoping you can provide some clarity as to whether or not the president (inaudible) on -- on what President Obama knew. (inaudible) that he was briefed along that same timetable by the intelligence community.
And then separately, on that, does the president have a (inaudible) retaliatory measures if he believes Russia was -- was behind this?
SPICER: In -- as -- so, I'm sorry. I'm trying to figure out where the -- what part of...
QUESTION: I'm asking, does the president believe that Russia was involved in -- in -- in an attempt to influence the 2016 election? And then if so, what is he going to do in response to Russia's doing it?
SPICER: Well, I think -- I mentioned this to Kristen (ph), and I'll say it again. I mean, he -- he's answered this question since January that he said Russia is probably involved in this.
And then secondly, he's been taking steps...
QUESTION: No, he hasn't said that since January, Sean.
SPICER: He's taking steps to ensure that our cyber-security network... QUESTION: (Inaudible) never give a response?
SPICER: I -- I understand that. Well, I'm not going to get into specific details. But I will just say...
SPICER: ... he's taken steps on both of those (inaudible) on the election (inaudible).
QUESTION: Just a separate question.
Yesterday, in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu reversed on his (inaudible) deal to create a third, sort of, gender-neutral prayer space at the Western Wall. A number of American Jewish groups are blasting the Israeli prime minister.
Does the White House have any statement (inaudible) on this sensitive issue? And does the White House take any position on that (inaudible)?
SPICER: I -- I don't -- I don't have anything for you on that right now. I would probably refer you to the State Department.
QUESTION: I have a couple questions about the Supreme Court decision. I don't really understand the practicality of it. I understand they're going to take it up in the fall.
But one, is -- do you still need a 90-day review now? Or is that -- as that 90 days has already passed,
And secondly, in the fall when they take it up, I think the court also addressed, won't the point be moot by then? I mean, you'll have a number of months to implement this and have the review process, so what's the point?
SPICER: Well, again, I'm going to let the Department of Justice fully analyze this.
But obviously, there's certain things that were enjoined when both the Fourth and the Ninth Circuits in -- in -- issued their opinions on this. And I think part of what the Department of Justice, among the other -- some of the other agencies that are involved, have to look at the full...
QUESTION: Do you know when they'll get back, though? Like what timing? Days, years?
SPICER: I -- I -- it's the -- the decision is hours old. So...
QUESTION: And then...
SPICER: ... hopefully it's sooner rather than later.
QUESTION: ... just a quick question about today. They'll be delivering statements in the...
QUESTION: ... Rose Garden this afternoon. I'm just wondering why that ended up being statements and not -- the last couple times that the prime minister came for whatever reason, President Obama and the prime minister did not have statements, nor did they have -- take questions. Today, you have statements, no questions.
Whose decision was that? Did he not want -- did the prime minister not want questions?
SPICER: I'm going to say we -- we obviously -- on each visit, there are discussions at the diplomatic level back and forth about whether it's a -- you know, what will go into that visit, what issues will be discussed. All of those kind of things get worked out by the two teams. And I'll leave it at that.
QUESTION: Two quick questions.
First, back to the Russian thing, because I know you never tire of talking about it, one of the things in the president's tweets that -- that I noticed is he doesn't reference the conclusion that the intelligence agencies have made, that Russia intervened on his behalf, or perhaps to put a finer point on it, against Hillary Clinton.
Does the president accept that aspect of what the intelligence agencies have said?
SPICER: Honestly, I've never asked him that specific question. I'd be glad to follow up.
QUESTION: And the second thing is, just to dig the hole a little bit deeper on the -- on his comments in January, have you ever discussed with him -- he -- he has said this in debates, he's talked about 400- pound kid sitting on edges of beds. Can we cite anything, or if you can't provide it today, can you provide it in a subsequent briefing, that gives us some sense that other countries may have been involved (inaudible) Russia?
SPICER: I'll try -- yeah, look, to the extent that it's not classified, I can at least ask the intelligence community for an update on that.
QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sean.
Do you happen to know if the White House has made any progress with those five Republican senators who have already stated they're opposed to the Senate health care bill?
SPICER: I can tell you, as I mentioned, that the president talked extensively with several Republican members over the weekend. And he felt very positive about those discussions, but they're ongoing.
QUESTION: Can you tell us who they were?
QUESTION: Were those phone calls with those particular individuals...
SPICER: With that -- I know -- for example, I know he's talked to Senator Cruz. He's talked to Senator Paul. I believe he's talked to Senator Capito, Senator Johnson. I don't have the -- but I know those individuals in particular, and I think several others.
QUESTION: And one thing that you mentioned at the top in your statement, the president also put in his tweet, mentioned that the Supreme Court ruling, which came out today, as it relates to the travel ban, was unanimous, 9-0.
Where are you getting that particular number from? Because it was a pro curia ruling by the Supreme Court, meaning we don't know the actual breakdown of the court in voting for this particular decision. SPICER: I would have to -- I'm going to get back with counsel and ask. That was on them. So I'll find out where they got that from, (inaudible).
QUESTION: Sean, thank you.
Could you walk me through what Secretary Kelly is going to do to immediately implement the travel ban now that it -- parts of it have been restored?
As I mentioned -- I mean, this is -- first and foremost, the Department of Justice needs to review the ruling. Then they're going to coordinate with both DHS and other federal government departments and agencies to figure out how to implement that going forward.
QUESTION: The San Diego Tribune reported that prototypes from the president's wall has been delayed. Is that true?
SPICER: I'm not -- I'm not aware that that's true. I would contact DHS on that one. They're -- they're the lead on that.
QUESTION: So the wall is going ahead as scheduled?
SPICER: Nothing that I've -- that I understand. I know that there are pieces of it. DHS has been actively involved in both repairing, working on some new sections. So, you know, you can check with DHS. But my understanding is it's been -- it's been -- the work to repair sections that needed to be repaired is being done, and then there are some new sections that they're actually already starting on.
So I don't -- I'm not aware of any delays that may or may not exist.
QUESTION: (inaudible) prototype?
SPICER: Again, all of that would be a DHS issue.
QUESTION: Thank you.
When asked about what actions President Trump might take against Russia in retaliation for meddling in the election, you cited the cyber-security executive order.
Can you be more specific, though? Does he support, for example, the new bill for a fresh round of sanctions against Russia? SPICER: I -- well, the new bill that the Senate parliamentarian ruled didn't follow proper procedures -- so, I mean, there is no new bill at this time. The House is looking at taking up legislation.
QUESTION: Would he support a new round of sanctions?
SPICER: It depends -- obviously, let's see what the bill looks like. I'm not going to comment on a hypothetical.
QUESTION: Does he support some type of punitive actions directed at Russia?
SPICER: You know, when it comes to how the president works, he doesn't telegraph what he's going to do on a lot of these things. He does a lot of quiet diplomacy. He enacts things.
And so, until we're ready to announce something, we're not going to telegraph it through here.
QUESTION: And can you clarify what he meant in his tweet? He accused former President Obama of colluding or obstructing? What evidence does he have?
SPICER: I think -- again, I -- what I will just leave it at is that clearly they, according to this report, knew back in August. If they were so concerned, why didn't they stop it? What did they do?
QUESTION: ... goes into all of those details: that they were blocked in a number of different measures, that they were concerned about looking like they were intervening in the election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, that President Obama did talk to...
SPICER: I mean, they seem to throw...
QUESTION: So what evidence does he have that President Obama was colluding or obstructing?
SPICER: Well, again, I think it comes back to this idea that if they -- they've been very clear they've been playing this card about blaming Trump and Russia, and yet at the same time they were the ones who, according to this report, knew about it and didn't take any action. So the question is, were they -- if they didn't take any action, does that make them complicit?
I -- I think that there's a lot of questions that have to get answered about who did know what and when.
QUESTION: Was there an element of hypocrisy here, Sean? Because this was President Trump on the campaign trail: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by"...
QUESTION: How can he accuse of President Obama of obstructing when he was egging Russia on?
SPICER: He was joking at the time. We all know that.
QUESTION: He was joking? He said that as a candidate and he was pressed during that press conference over and over again.
SPICER: I understand.
And -- and I think the idea was that you had Hillary Clinton with a secret server that was very clear about what she had done to evade it. And -- and I think that that -- that's probably a bigger concern right now in terms of what -- what they were doing and -- and the lack of security that they had.
QUESTION: Sean, thank you.
Jeff Mason sent an account out of the meeting that he had with you to the members of the White House Correspondents Association about the future of the press briefing. Would you say that his account of that meeting was accurate?
SPICER: I have -- I was not provided -- of -- of that. I had the...
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) meeting? Could you give us an account from your perspective of what happened in that meeting, and what we...
SPICER: We've had two since then -- we had another one since then.
Jeff had stated the position of the board that he believes, and I've shared with him where we are in that, that we have been consistent since December and January, when we addressed this issue with them, specifically and publicly. And that we would continue to have a mix of -- of opportunities to stay in touch with the media.
QUESTION: Well, there does seem to have been a drastic shift, starting from maybe the week before the president took his first trip abroad. But now we see you on camera about once a week. Is that a new normal that we would expect?
SPICER: We'll see. We're just -- we'll continue to mix things up.
QUESTION: Why are the cameras off, Sean?
QUESTION: Why are they -- why did you turn them off?
QUESTION: Can you just give us an answer to that?
QUESTION: Can you tell us why you turned the cameras off? Why are they off, Sean?
QUESTION: It is a legitimate question...
QUESTION: It's a legitimate question.
QUESTION: You are a taxpayer-funded spokesman...
SPICER: Trey? Trey? Trey?
QUESTION: ... for the United States government.
QUESTION: Can you at least give us an explanation as to why the cameras are off?
QUESTION: Can we get this out of the way? Can we address the cameras issue? Do you think that...
SPICER: Yeah. Some days we'll have them, some days we won't.
The president's going to speak today in the Rose Garden. I want the president's voice to carry the day, you know. And I -- if I got (ph) -- you know -- so -- is -- I -- look, this is nothing inconsistent with what we've said since day one.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about health care?
QUESTION: What -- where does the...
QUESTION: ... where does the responsibility lie in the success or failure of the Senate health care bill?
Obviously, the president and this administration have been directly involved. There's a chance that it may go to the Senate floor and not pass.
SPICER: Well, obviously, the Senate -- I mean, look, the president's made it clear, he wants a bill with heart. He understands -- he tweeted earlier that Obamacare's dying, and, you know, if we don't take action -- the Democrats own Obamacare. They're the ones who gave it to us, they're the ones who championed it, and they own that result.
And the president's been the one who's been trying to fix it, trying to give people accessible and affordable health care.
But make no mistake about it, that Obamacare is dying. And the reality, as I mentioned last week, is that, when you look at the majority of House Democrats, they support a single-payer $32 trillion bill backed by Bernie Sanders.
That's what the alternative is. It's not a question of Obamacare versus the American Health Care Act. It's a question between we can -- we need to accept that Obamacare is dead. We need to understand that the reality is that what the choice is is between putting in a system that is affordable and accessible, or a single-payer $32 trillion health care plan that the majority of House Democrats support.
QUESTION: Once the CBO score is released, do you envision the president going back to the drawing board?
There's a high number of people expected to be uninsured as a result of the Senate health care bill. What steps will the president take once he has those numbers?
SPICER: I think we've addressed CBO scores in the past.
I mean, we -- we feel very confident that -- that we're -- with where the bill is. And he's going to continue to listen to senators who have ideas, and -- about how to strengthen it. But that's -- it's going to follow the same plan as we have.
QUESTION: Sean, if I could ask you about the...
SPICER: No, I'm sorry. The gentleman in the back?
QUESTION: OK. Could I ask you, Sean, about the -- the goal of U.S. energy dominance, which is being highlighted this week?
QUESTION: How is that defined in terms of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East? SPICER: In terms of what?
QUESTION: What does "dominance" -- what does "energy dominance" mean?
SPICER: Well, I think we'll -- we'll continue to talk about that throughout the week.
But I think we have gone -- we -- we have now -- you take LNG, for example. I think our ability to now export it is a big -- is a big issue.
The idea of using additional power supplies and be able to find ways not only to be self-sufficient, but to figure out how to grow businesses from it, create jobs from energy, use our natural resources -- but you're going to hear more and more throughout the week about what the president's doing.
As I mentioned, he'll have more action on this later in the week, where he'll have some action that he's going to be taking on behalf of the administration to -- to move forward our -- our dominance, our independence, our ability to -- to maximize our natural resources and create jobs.
QUESTION: Does that mean trying to put pressure -- downward pressure on world oil prices to impact the Persian Gulf supply?
SPICER: I -- I think it means a lot of things. I mean, just the ability to now be a -- an exporter helps us in -- in economic ways. But then obviously there is a political aspect to this.
QUESTION: Yeah, thank you, Sean.
Two brief questions. It was widely reported on Sunday that the president is the first person in the White House since Thomas Jefferson not to have the traditional dinner to mark the end of Ramadan. Was there any reason for this or was it just an oversight?
SPICER: I -- I don't know, John.
QUESTION: The other thing I wanted to ask, I was a little taken aback by the question on the Supreme Court list.
On May the 3rd, I asked Sarah if the president would stick to the list of 21 he had at the campaign from which Judge Gorsuch came, and she said that was her understanding, that he would stay with it, and that there was no reason to expand it.
Has there been any discussion or change of policy in the month between her statement and what you've just said?
SPICER: Well, look, I -- I just -- my only point is that, you know, as we fill a lot of vacancies at the circuit court level, all the way up and down the judiciary, there may be people that -- that come into contact that are highly qualified for one reason or another, and -- and that the president may choose, at some point down the road, if there's ever a vacancy, to consider someone else.
I think, obviously, the -- the list that the president put down initially of 21 -- but now that Justice Gorsuch is off that list, we -- we -- you know, he may want to put one additional on.
But he always has the flexibility, as he encounters additional members -- potential members of the bench.
QUESTION: Sean, one, do you approve of the attacks on Senator Heller by allies of the president? And is there any danger of putting a Republican Senate seat at risk?
SPICER: Well, I -- I think we're -- we're going to work with all of the senators to try to get their support on -- on the American Health Care Act. It's something that -- as I mentioned, the president has been reaching out to all of them who have concerns and issues. And -- and we're going to continue to do that.
QUESTION: Do you have a message to those who are attacking Heller?
SPICER: I -- I have not seen the ad that you're talking about. But I would just suggest that obviously we want to do what we can to -- from -- from a White House perspective...
SPICER: ... to continue to reach out and work with them.
QUESTION: OK, thanks, Sean.
You mentioned that the president had been in touch with some of the senators who had concerns about this health care bill. I didn't hear you mention any Democrats. And Joe Manchin said yesterday that he had not been called by the president yet.
Has the president reached out to any Democrats?
SPICER: I -- I don't know the answer to that.
QUESTION: OK, and then a follow-up on that, going back to Joe Manchin, who you had brought up on Friday as somebody who you guys could potentially work with on this bill, he said in his interview that he would be willing to sit down with the White House if you guys were willing to call it a repair bill or repair effort, versus a repeal effort.
Is that something that you would be willing to do, the president would be willing to do, in order to get some Democrats on board in a working group?
SPICER: Well, I -- I think what we need to do is to -- we're going to continue to have a team that will reach out. I'll check with our Legislative Affairs team and see what they...
SPICER: ... and see what they've done.
That being said, you know, we've made it very clear for seven- plus years that we're going to repeal and replace this.
QUESTION: One question...
QUESTION: ... on India-U.S. relations.
This afternoon at the White House world's most two powerful leaders -- Prime -- Prime Minister Modi and President Trump -- of the world's largest and richest two democracies will be meeting and greeting and have number of discussions about U.S.-India relations. But Prime Minister Modi said that India will join U.S. to fight against terrorism.
At the same time yesterday, addressing (ph) the India-U.S. -- Indian- American Community Center's (inaudible), he said that India has been suffering of terrorism for the last 30 years. And telling the world that join us (ph), now time has come that -- entire world to join India to fight against terrorism. Before, it was Taliban or Al Qaida, and now ISIS.
And what is, do you think, going to happen, at -- them (ph) fighting -- fighting against terrorism?
SPICER: As you mentioned -- I mean, they're going to have a -- a long opportunity today to meet and then have dinner together. They'll talk about their ongoing cooperation, including areas like counterterrorism, our defense partnership in the region, global cooperation, et cetera.
But I -- I think that energy -- there's a lot of things that they're going to have an opportunity to discuss, but that will definitely be one that they have plenty of time to discuss.
And -- and I'm -- after they -- they're done, we'll have a readout for you. And -- and we'll make sure that you know what -- what areas they covered, and hopefully what ground we've -- we've made up.
Thank you, guys. See you later.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening into the White House press briefing.
I want to bring in our panel. We'll start with Jim Acosta.
Lots of questions on lots of topics, Jim. And we'll get to those throughout the hour.
But let's focus on some news the White House was happy to talk about today. They seemed to be taking a victory lap on the travel ban.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, during that off-camera briefing, emphasized that the administration is looking at what the Supreme Court set to understand the implications and what they are to be doing moving forward. He did not have any hard answers as to what the Justice Department, what the Department of Homeland Security will be doing to enforce this ban, which, apparently, will partly go into effect. So at this point, they're analyzing it, but they certainly are feeling good about that decision today.
[14:55:09] CABRERA: You had a couple of heated exchanges about the continuing refusal from the White House to do on-camera briefings. This, again, was off camera. We couldn't use the audio until the briefing was over. We did hear you try to ask additional questions and they -- it sounded like Sean Spicer ignored you.
ACOSTA: Well, a couple issues, Ana. And let's separate them. One is Sean Spicer has refused to take questions from CNN for weeks now. It has been going on for some time. You know, he may have taken a question here or there, but we've largely been just blackballed during these briefings. We're just not getting questions to the press secretary. That would not have happened with previous administrations. FOX News always got a question every day at the briefing under President Obama. So let's make sure that's perfectly clear to everybody watching out there. FOX News always got questions, MSNBC always got questions during the previous administrations. This is a new thing this White House is doing to us at CNN and to a couple other news outlets as well.
But as for the camera issue, as you know, Ana, and as you witnessed, that briefings was off camera once again today. So I asked a couple times during the briefing, why can't we turn these cameras on? People not accustomed to being in that briefing room need to understand it is set up like a TV studio. You can turn the cameras on. They can be on at any moment. There are TV. lights on all the time, because the cameras can be turned on at any moment. And let's make this clear. This is not a Trump campaign event. This is the United States government saying we can't have cameras on inside the White House briefing room for an event typically covered with cameras. I'll let the viewers decide why they're being kept off. But I tried a couple times during the briefings to get a question to Sean Spicer and ask why these cameras are not being turned on. Trey Yangst (ph), over at OANN (ph), which is a conservative outlet, to his credit, when Sean Spicer was not answering my question about why the cameras were being kept off, did ask the question and said, hey, let's get this out of the way, why are these cameras being kept off, and Spicer basically punted on that issue and said, well, there will be times they're on and times they're off. But, Ana, make no mistake, this is the gradual erosion of the expectations of the traditions that have been in place in this city for about a quarter of a century, that these briefings be held on camera.
Further, to that point, this openness and transparency point, the president will be making a statement in the Rose Garden this afternoon with Prime Minister Modi from India. Those head-of-state press conferences or statements are typically press conferences, where the American press gets two questions and the foreign press will get two questions. That is not happening today. The president is using the setting of the Rose Garden to talk about whatever he wants to talk about and, presumably, he may talk about the travel ban, but he's not going to be taking questions from the news media. Once again, he's getting the coverage without the accountability. I think that we just need to recognize what's happening here. That is, what we are typically accustomed to in this in terms of covering the White House, covering the United States government, that is being eroded away right in front of our eyes.
CABRERA: Let me bring in Brian Stelter, our CNN senior media correspondent, host of "Reliable Sources."
Brian, you hear Jim Acosta there, and the frustration you heard in his voice when he was trying to ask questions, specifically, about why isn't this on cameras? We have our cameras, we could put them right now. What are your thoughts?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: I think the word "erosion" Jim uses is spot on. This is erosion. It's gradual, kind of degradation in access to the White House. And not only to the White House, but access to information about what's going on inside the government. It's weird because we live in this world where if I reach over and grab my iPhone, it takes me three buttons to go live on my phone. I could be livestreaming everything. We live in a livestreaming video world. So to see the White House rolling back on access is strange. It's kind of like they want to go back in time to the pre-cable news, pre-TV news days, but that's not possibile.
I do think we should point out, this is not the behavior of a confident administration. A White House doesn't do this because they believe they have all the answers and they're proud of what is going on, they think they're winning every day and their agenda is being driven on. No, this is the behavior of an administration that's struggling to answer basic questions. A couple conviction examples today from this briefing, Spicer was asked, why didn't the White House hold a traditional dinner to end Ramadan. Spicer said, I don't know. Spicer was asked, what about the press conference Trump has been promising about fighting ISIS. He promised it five weeks ago and two weeks ago he said it will happen in two weeks. Spicer, I don't know. He was also asked, does Trump believe the intel community conclusion that Russia helped to help Trump get elected. The answer was, quote, "I've never asked him that specific question."
We can talk about whether the briefings are on live, on tape or accessible or not. More importantly, Spicer doesn't have answer to the questions the journalists are trying to get answers to.
CABRERA: Let me bring in Abby Phillip. She is our CNN political analyst, also a White House reporter.
And you are with the "Washington Post."