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White House Press Briefing; Rex Tillerson on the Way Out?. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 30, 2017 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:04]

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Though the actor never publicly announced he was gay, he says he never kept it a secret.

JIM NABORS, ACTOR: I wasn't -- not ashamed of people knowing. It's just that it was such a personal thing. I wanted to -- I didn't tell anybody.

Nabors retired in Hawaii and quietly lived out the rest of his life as a macadamia nut farmer. But he will always be remembered by fans for his sweet voice and goofy charm.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We continue on, hour two.

You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

That White House briefing set to begin any minute now. There is a hefty collection of controversies that officials there will certainly be asked about.

Here's a short list for you this major potential shakeup in the Cabinets in the works. The British backlash against the president's retweets from earlier this week. The North Korea nuclear threat involving this new kind of missile. Sexual harassment scandals. Now top Democrats are calling for Congressman John Conyers to resign.

And this Republican march toward historic tax reform, that vote could make it law. That could happen this week as well.

So let's set this all up with our man in the Briefing Room, Jim Acosta, senior correspondent.

You all have a lot to ask Sarah Sanders about, but I'm going to guess that she begins with the good news for them, touting the economy and the fact that the Dow just crossed 24000.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke.

It's an unfortunate day today. There is absolutely nothing to ask the White House today. No, I'm kidding.

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: I actually got a little laughter in the Briefing Room.

BALDWIN: I heard that.

ACOSTA: No.

Yes, we are once again probably going to ask Sarah Sanders about the fate of Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state. That is obviously a subject that has come up time and again for the last several weeks, since early October, when Tillerson was quoted as calling the president a moron.

And then the president the next day challenged Tillerson to an I.Q. test. The sense has been in Washington that secretary of state has been on thin ice and he's trying to do his job ever since, with the president sort of undermining him as he traveled around the world.

You will recall when he was in Asia, the president was tweeting, we don't need to do diplomacy with North Korea, it's not working, and so on. And so that's obviously going to be a subject to tackle here at the briefing.

My guess is, is that will be handled right at the top, if not in the statement, opening statement from Sarah Sanders, then shortly thereafter he will probably -- or she will probably get the first question on that.

And then, of course, there's the situation in Britain, which has been roiling over the last 48 hours, 24 to 48 hours, ever since the president posted those retweets of anti-Muslim videos from the far- right group Britain First.

As you know, the prime minister of the U.K., Theresa May, has slammed this, publicly saying -- and you don't see this every day, the prime minister of Britain questioning and criticizing the United States -- Prime Minister May saying that, yes, we may work together, but I'm not going to refrain from calling the president, the United States wrong when they do something.

And then there are obviously going to be questions, Brooke, about the veracity of those videos. Remember, yesterday, Sarah Sanders, she didn't hold a briefing. The president had that speech in Missouri. And so she talked to reporters the driveway here at the White House.

And she said the videos may not be real, but the threat is real. That is obviously going to be something I think that reporters will want to ask about here in the Briefing Room. For all of the talk of fake news, yesterday, the president retweeted some fake news.

He retweeted a video that shows a boy in crutches being beaten by somebody who was identified in those videos as being a Muslim migrant, when we have been told by Dutch authorities that that was not the case, that the an attacker was somebody who was born and raised in Netherlands. So it raises the question, is it not fake news when the president tweets it?

And I suppose you might hear some of that here in the Briefing Room when Sarah Sanders comes out here -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: You have a long list.

ACOSTA: We do.

BALDWIN: Jim Acosta, I hope you get a question in today. We will be listening for you and watching momentarily. Thank you so much, my friend.

ACOSTA: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Let's lead, though, next with the top note from Jim there on Rex Tillerson, this possible shakeup in the Cabinet. This is what President Trump said when he was asked about this very issue earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Mr. President, should Rex -- do you want Rex Tillerson on the job, Mr. President?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is here. Rex is here.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) stay in his job?

TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: With me now, CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski, so Michelle, play this out for me.

I mean, if this reporting is correct, and that Secretary Tillerson is out, tell me about when that departure may be and who might replace him.

[15:05:01]

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard those words. "Rex is here." That's in response to the questions.

I think, if your employer was asked that of you, and that's how they responded, I don't think I would feel so great about that. But let's talk about the sources. Now, we have been, of course, hearing the buzz that, first of all, the secretary of state is unhappy in Washington for sometime.

We know that there have been these instances of the president undermining his efforts or the secretary not speaking exactly in alignment with the president for sometime. So that's added to the tensions and to the buzz. But never since then, in the last couple of days, have we heard such

definition from sources saying that this is happening, that there is this plan to, first of all, by some means, which are still unclear, have Rex Tillerson leave the State Department, whether that's on his own, and that's been agreed, or the White House is planning on forcing that to happen. We just don't know.

Replacing him with the current CIA director, Mike Pompeo, and then having him be replaced by Senator Tom Cotton, who is at the CIA, and his views are very much in alignment with the president.

And that's part of what we are hearing at least one source that is close to the White House, that there is a feeling that Tillerson and the small circle of people that he's surrounded himself with are not considered to be staunch Trump supporters. Certainly, we have seen that in times.

Sometimes, it's been way more blatant than others, but there's definitely a sense boiling in and around the White House that they would rather have someone else in the State Department. I am told by multiple sources that this is happening.

But with all of these, there is always the caveat with this administration that is anything really definite until that moment you hear it from the president himself?

BALDWIN: As we have been talking, Michael, I just want to fold in some more sound. They were just asked about this at the State Department briefing and they now have just responded. Let's you and I listen to this together.

KOSINSKI: Great.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: OK. So here's what I can tell you. You saw the White House statement earlier today. The White House statement confirmed that there will be no personnel changes.

It is a fact that Secretary Tillerson serves at the pleasure of the president, as we all do, as does every political appointee and Cabinet member. Secretary Tillerson enjoys this job. He has a lot of work to do.

We started out this morning together, and he had a series of meetings. In addition to his regularly scheduled meetings with Washington officials and phone calls, he had a meeting with the foreign minister, Foreign Minister Gabriel of Germany.

The secretary and I spoke at that time. We talked a little bit about Burma. We talked a little bit about the DPRK. The secretary had a successful meeting, which I would like to get to a little bit later and tell you a little bit about what came out of that bilateral meeting. And then he was off to the White House. We heard about the news. He went off to the White House with the regularly scheduled meeting with Bahrain and the president, returned here for a short while. And then he headed back to the White House for an additional meeting, which was a preset meeting, a small principals group meeting. The topic of that is Syria.

The reason I'm telling you about sort of all these comings and goings of the secretary is that he remains, as I have been told, committed to doing this job. He does serve at the pleasure of the president. This is a job that he enjoys.

He is continuing with his meetings. He is continuing with his calls. He's spoken, not only with Foreign minister Gabriel, but also with the -- pardon me -- with the U.N. secretary-general earlier today. And so he's continuing with the full schedule.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: OK, cutting through that, Michelle Kosinski, what I heard, she mentioned twice Rex Tillerson serves at the pleasure of the president, meaning he's there until the president says otherwise.

(CROSSTALK)

KOSINSKI: Yes. It's basically saying, he is still there. He's still doing his job.

But she did say one thing, that he's committed to doing his job. That doesn't necessarily mean that he is not ready to leave, that he's not unhappy, that he doesn't want to leave.

I mean, he hasn't come out and said that at all. But no one is denying any of that either. No one is denying any that there is a Rexit pending.

Again, it's not going to be definite until we hear the president say it. Things do change. Who knows what is going to happen in the next couple of days? But we're hearing from multiple sources throughout the government now that this is at least a plan, that there is a replacement plan there. How this all comes about, of course, we're all waiting to see.

BALDWIN: OK.

Michelle, thank you so much, Michelle Kosinski covering all things State Department.

Let's have a bigger conversation.

So, with me, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd, and CNN military and diplomatic analyst retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, who used to have that job as the spokesperson over at the State Department.

And so thank you, thank you for all of just being with me.

[15:10:01]

And, Dana Bash, can we just big-picture this? We are in the middle of a nuclear standoff with North Korea, right? We have seen pictures of this missile. It flew higher than ever before.

And we are hearing from the White House they are going to take care of that. So, given all of that, there could be a major reshuffling at the State Department.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's true.

I mean, North Korea obviously is the threat that is most in our face and potentially the most imminent. But there are threats all over the globe that continue to go on. And the fact that the man at the State Department is clearly and rightly unsure of his job, as we just heard Heather make very, very clear, you got the nuance I thought right on, Brooke, he serves at the pleasure of the president, because he has no idea.

He has no idea if he's going to get fired. And, by the way, this is not the first round of very public discussions about Rex Tillerson, about whether or not he is going to stay in his job. This is, as Michelle was saying, feels a little bit more real and potentially imminent.

But the president didn't give a big boost of approval, saying he's here. And that's it, he's here. And, also, this comes on the heels of, really, for months, questions stirring, some of those questions the president himself put into the either about Rex Tillerson.

BALDWIN: The word Rexit was coined all the way back in July.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Look, he survived until now. So who knows.

BALDWIN: Admiral John Kirby, you have stood at that podium where we saw just Heather Nauert. You know the deal.

You know when major stories drop in your lap and suddenly the State Department is in the spotlight and you know what you have to say to the press. You also know that other things are happening behind the scenes.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Right.

BALDWIN: Lift the curtain for us. What is going on at the State Department right now?

KIRBY: One of the things the I noticed about she said when I listened to that clip was, she said at one point in terms of his propensity to stay, as I have been told, he's committed to keep working at the State Department. And that is what we call in my profession the parachute. That gives

you a little bit of wiggle room in case things change, you can jump out of the plane and say, look, as I was told, this is what I was told that day. So she gave herself a little wiggle room there.

I have great respect for Heather actually. I think she does a fine job at the podium there at the State Department. She's in a tough spot, because it is true that the secretary serves at the pleasure of the president.

It is true there is great tension between the State Department and the White House institutionally, not just to mention tension between Tillerson and Trump. And so she has to walk a fine line. She has to preserve the secretary a little bit of maneuver space here. And I think to the best of her ability, she did that.

BALDWIN: Let me bring Sam into the conversation and also fold in former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called Tillerson out in this powerful opinion piece in "The Washington Post" this morning.

She's writing about, this is my word, the gutting of the State Department. There are a lot of positions hasn't been filled over there, acting so-and-so's in these jobs who can only do so much in these roles.

So she says, change at the State Department isn't necessarily unusual, but she says, "But there is however a big difference between a transfusion and an open wound. There is nothing normal about the current exodus. President Trump is it aware of the situation and has made clear that he doesn't care. 'I'm the only one that matters,' he told FOX News."

"I'm the only one that matters." Is that, according to the former secretary of state, part of the problem?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's definitely part of the problem. And as Dana mentioned, this latest thread is part of series of efforts and stories of the president and the administration undercutting the State Department.

The truth is even if this latest story is just a rumor, it has national security implications.

BALDWIN: Why?

VINOGRAD: It sends a message that Secretary Tillerson is not fully empowered and perhaps it's just a matter of time before he's pushed out.

This is going to lead foreign counterparts to doubt whether they should waste their time negotiating with him on tough issues like Syria or North Korea or Iran. And I think could lead them to stay we shouldn't work with the State Department anymore and just sidestep the State Department and go directly to the White House.

KIRBY: Well, I would go one more, Brooke. BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

KIRBY: I agree with everything Sam said, but I would also say it sends this message that there is no cohesive foreign policy agenda out of the United States right now, and that we are more than comfortable retrenching from our traditional role as a global leader.

I spoke to a couple of colleagues of mine, former colleagues serving overseas in Muslim nations, and it was striking to me that both of them said -- I asked them about the reaction to this Britain First retreat. And they both said independently there was no surprise.

[15:15:00]

And that was the saddest part of it all, was that local citizens were just kind of shrugging it off, like this is the United States that we are dealing with now, this is the president we have now, and we can't count on the United States for their friendship and partnership going forward.

And that's the real travesty here.

BALDWIN: Not to say anyone has ever in the history of presidents retweeted something so horrific, right, but the fact that in the wake of something like this, that there isn't this sort of diplomatic apparatus there to massage relations, I mean, I just talked to an M.P. last hour.

People are talking about rescinding the state invitation. I know that's up to the queen, but the back and forth between Theresa May.

You know what I'm saying?

KIRBY: Yes. I know it's hard for foreign diplomats when they pick up the phone and try to call Foggy Bottom to talk to anybody of any significance or gravitas. And that is it a real problem.

But the other thing -- you didn't mention this, but the other thing that has been interesting to see in the last couple of days is the silence from the Arab states about this retweet. And that's being noticed on the Arab street as well, that no Sunni Arab leaders are coming out and condemning what the president did.

BALDWIN: Hadn't heard that. Hadn't heard that.

Dana, what about the fact that all this reporting, and multiple news agencies are reporting this potential shuffle, and they're citing administration sources? And so I'm wondering is this a way for the White House and these White House sources to send like smoke singles through the media that -- to Rex Tillerson this is what president is thinking, that Tillerson's time is up?

BASH: Absolutely. It could be.

I mean, this seems to be the ultimate trial balloon. And sometimes a trial balloon is put out there to see how a story plays. This is a trial balloon put out to see how Tillerson responds or maybe if Tillerson actually gets it, that it's time to go.

You know, you never know in this White House. It is so, so, so different from every other White House we have covered in a lot of ways, but in this way in particular, because generally there is a very cohesive strategic plan to do something like this for one of the reasons I just mentioned.

Now, who knows? It could be faction A trying to do it before faction B does it. It could be faction A trying to influence the president's decision. You never know exactly what sort of is behind this. And that makes it difficult not just for us to read, but frankly for somebody for somebody like Rex Tillerson to read the tea leaves.

BALDWIN: Go ahead, John Kirby.

(CROSSTALK)

KIRBY: I was going to say, I don't know what more proof Mr. Tillerson needs that he's probably running out of airspeed and altitude with trust and confidence of this particular president.

And if I was advising him, I would say put your letter in now, because this is disgraceful for the way this has been rolled out publicly in a very specific, deliberate way. I don't think he needs to have any more signals. And if he wants to save any little bit of his dignity, he should resign now.

BASH: And I think what Sam said is really important and should be underscored, that this isn't just any run-of-the-mill Cabinet position. This is secretary of state. He is the person designated...

BALDWIN: Here she is, Dana, Sarah Sanders at the White House.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good afternoon.

We will let John Roberts finish his live shot and Hallie.

You guys wrapped up?

Good afternoon.

As you all know, the Constitution states that the president shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend their considerations such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

With that in mind, we are pleased to nouns that the president has accepted the speaker's invitation to deliver the State of the Union Address on January 30.

As you all know, the holiday season is in full swing here at the White House, with Thanksgiving having just passed and Christmas on the horizon. We've also just survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the biggest shopping days of the year.

But right in the middle of all this is another important day that deserves attention. Earlier this week was the sixth annual Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to celebrate and support philanthropy.

It's a great reminder each year that we have the opportunity and the duty to give back to the people, the institutions, to the country that has given us all so much.

As the Gospel of Luke says, from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. And from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Americans understand this. Year after year, the United States ranks at or near the top of the World Giving Index, which ranks countries according to how charitable their people are.

In a statement earlier this week, the president encouraged people all over the country to open up their hearts and their pocketbooks to support worthy causes.

This Giving Tuesday, he said: I thank those who have contributed to charitable organizations, including our houses of worship, and ask that we continue to come together to give and help others in need, especially to communities devastated by the recent natural disasters. Together, we can ensure that the blessings of this holiday season are shared around the world."

The president is leading by example on this. As you're aware, he donates his full presidential salary on a quarterly basis. He donated his first-quarter salary to fund restoration projects at the National Battlefield.

[15:20:05]

In the second quarter, he donated his salary to the Department of Education, so they could host science, technology, engineering and math camps for children.

And today I have acting Secretary Hargan from HHS to make an announcement regarding what the president will be doing with his third-quarter salary.

So with that, I would like to bring up the acting secretary.

And before I wrap up, I just want to say how much we look forward to hosting everybody tomorrow. And I will be back up after the acting secretary makes remarks about what the donation is for to take questions on other topics.

So, with that, I will turn it over to the acting secretary and be back up.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

ERIC HARGAN, ACTING HHS SECRETARY: Thank you. Appreciate it. Thanks, Sarah. So, thank you, Sarah, for that.

And good afternoon, everyone.

As Sarah said I'm the acting secretary of HHS. HHS is not home not just to programs and Medicare and Medicaid, but also to the National Institutes of Health, NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as CDC, Food and Drug Administration, FDA, and the Federal Government Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency known as SAMHSA.

That's a lot of acronyms. So, sorry about that. But I want you to know what HHS does, because I'm here to talk about the check that I was just given written by President Trump to HHS using his third- quarter salary.

His decision to donate his salary is a tribute to his compassion, to his patriotism and his sense of duty to the American people. But it's his compassion above all that drives his interests in the issue to which HHS is going to devote his donation, America's devastating opioid crisis.

Since day one of this administration, President Trump's leadership on this issue has driven action on it across the federal government. Speaking for HHS in particular, earlier this year, we unveiled a comprehensive strategy that attacks the opioid epidemic on five fronts.

The five points are better data on the epidemic, better research into pain and addiction, better pain management, better targeting of overdose-reversing drugs and better prevention, treatment and recovery services.

This strategy devotes HHS' unique resources and expertise to empowering heroes on the front lines of this crisis, because after all it's our local partners in community clinics, churches, law enforcement, schools and state and local and tribal governments who ultimately are going to turn the tide on this epidemic.

They are fighting each day face-to-face with a drug crisis that is killing more than 175 Americans every day. Now, just think about that a second. That means we will lose seven of our fellow Americans to drug overdoses during this press briefing alone.

That kind of urgency is why President Trump delivered a speech back in October calling for HHS to declare an unprecedented nationwide public health emergency regarding the crisis. After we did so, we have continued to take aggressive action at our department, including approving state waivers to expand addiction treatment and clarifying that doctors and hospitals can share information with a patient's loved ones in dangerous situations like drug overdoses.

I got to meet some of the local heroes that we're working to empower just a few weeks ago when I traveled to Kentucky the day after the president's speech. We visited a clinic in Lexington that treats young mothers struggling with opioid addiction and their babies who are sometimes born physically dependent on opioids themselves.

The stories we heard in Lexington hit close to home for me personally because I'm from a small down in Southern Illinois, the kind of rural community that has been hit hard by this epidemic. And it's also the kind of community that President Trump has spent a lot of time in over the past couple of years, where he's heard about how Americans are suffering.

Part of the way we aim to stop this crisis is by raising awareness of how devastating and deadly drug addiction can be. That's why we're so pleased that President Trump has chosen to donate his salary this quarter to the planning and design of a large-scale public awareness campaign about the dangers of opioid addiction.

HHS is proud to be working with the White House on this effort. And our team of public health experts bring us a great deal of experience and expertise to the table regarding how to make these campaigns effective.

At HHS, our goal is to create healthier lives, stronger communities and a safer country, and we're glad to have a president who recognizes that the opioid crisis is a huge threat to all three of these goals.

The president is personally dedicated to defeating this crisis, because addiction hits home for so many of us. You heard him share the story in his opioid speech about how he lost his own brother to alcoholism.

And speaking personally, opioid addiction has been a presence in my hometown and my family for years. It was years ago, in fact, that I lost a close relative who constantly struggled with opioids.

[15:25:01]

So, this Christmas and holiday season, all of us should consider following the president's example and think what we can do in our private lives to fight help back against a crisis that is tearing American families apart.

We all know people who are hurting this holiday season. And I know that we as Americans will rise to their aid.

So, thanks again for having me here today and thanks once again to President Trump for his generous donation.

Thank you, Sarah.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Thank you.

HARGAN: Appreciate it.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Thank you, Acting Secretary Hargan. Appreciate you being here today on behalf of the department.

QUESTION: You got a cold there, Sarah?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I actually have strep throat. So, if you guys will bear with me a little bit, I may sneak a sip of water here. Thank you for your concern. And I may not stay as long as normal, but I'm going to do the best I can.

And, Steve, we will start with you on questions.

QUESTION: Thank you.

With all of these reports about Secretary Tillerson today, could you talk a little about the relationship between the president and the secretary? Does the president have confidence in him, and does the president agree with many, most, all of the positions that the secretary of state has taken regarding North Korea, the Gulf crisis, et cetera?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, as we have said many times before, as many of you love to write these type of stories, when the president loses confidence in someone, they will no longer serve in the capacity that they're in.

The president was here today with the secretary of state. They engaged in a foreign leader visit and are continuing to work together to close out what we have seen to be an incredible year.

Cecilia?

QUESTION: Can we deduce from that the president has confidence in the secretary of state?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think I addressed that pretty clearly just now.

QUESTION: Is that a yes?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: As I just said and as we have said many times before when it comes to questions like this of senior staff and Cabinet secretaries, when the president loses confidence in somebody, will no longer be here.

As the president said on the record, and several of you were in the room in the Oval today, the secretary of state is here and we're working hard to get big things accomplished and close out what's already been a very strong and positive year.

QUESTION: What's his future in the administration?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: What is his future in the administration?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Well, I think his future right now is to continue working hard as the secretary of state, continue working with the president to carry out his agenda.

Matthew?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

A question on taxes. The Joint Committee on Taxation says that by 2027, people making between $40,000 and $50,000 a year will pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes under the current bill, while those earning $1 million or will pay $5.8 billion less.

And coupled with that, the University of Chicago surveyed 38 economists. Only one said that the bill would lead to substantial economic growth, and all 38 said that the cut will increase the debt.

Is it the White House position that these analyses are wrong?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I can't speak to that specific report because I haven't had a chance to look at it and talk to the economic team here.

What I can tell you is what I have said every single day that we have been part of this process. The president laid out his priorities. We feel like the plans as of right now from the House and Senate meet those priorities of cutting taxes for the middle class, simplifying the tax code, bringing business back home. Those have been the big focus of the administration.

Those are going to be the things we continue to fight for as we go through this tax policy.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Steve?

QUESTION: The JCT, nonpartisan, their analysis seems to say middle- class taxes would actually go up in a lot of cases.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: There are several studies that say the opposite.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Treasury have data that would contradict that?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Yes. And there have been several studies that say that is a good thing for the middle class. I saw one just yesterday. We will send it to you after the briefing concludes.

But, again, we're going to continue fighting for this and making sure that the middle class does receive tax cuts that they deserve and frankly that they need, and we think that we're making a lot of progress on this front. And we think that we're going to get it done by end of the year.

Steve?

QUESTION: Based on Ambassador Haley's speech yesterday at the U.N. and the president's tweet this morning, does this administration now advocate regime change in North Korea? And, if not, why not?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: This administration is focused on one big thing when it comes to North Korea, and that's denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That's our number one priority.

That's what we're focused on. Anything beyond that is not the priority at this point.

Jill?

QUESTION: Sarah, I want to ask you about (OFF-MIKE) president tweeting (OFF-MIKE). Firstly, does the president feel that he has an obligation to ensure that the information that shares on his tweeter feed with millions of people is accurate?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think the president feels that bringing up important issues of our time, like extreme violence and terrorism, are important to do.

That was what he was doing in that process, and I think he's going to continue to do that in a number of venues, whether it's through speeches, whether it's through Twitter or other social media platforms.

John.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) sharing those videos might incite violence against Muslims? And does he understand that he's elevated a fringe political group that many people outside of Britain didn't even know about...

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I think what he's done is elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and a real threat.