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Protesters Rally Across Country; White House Briefing; U.S. Intelligence Contradicts Trump, Says North Korea Maintaining Nuclear Program. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired July 2, 2018 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Jake.

And we're expecting to hear from the White House at any moment, this amid key questions about who's topping the president's list to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, new signs that North Korea is not ready or willing to denuclearize, and signals from President Trump's longtime personal lawyer. Is he ready to cooperate with federal authorities?


CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us.

Kaitlan, President Trump this afternoon saying he met with four potential justices. What more do we know about those meetings?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's the first we know that the president has actually sat down and done interviews with nominees since less than a week ago, when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he is going to retire.

But the president confirming he interviewed four of them this morning. He declined to say who it was that he interviewed, but he did say he does expect to interview two or three more in the coming days and teasing that big announcement on Monday, which will happen just barely weeks after Kennedy announced he is going to retire in the first place.

The White House moving this process along very quickly, but we do have sources telling CNN that the president is increasingly interested in selecting a woman to take Anthony Kennedy's seat. He's telling aides, can you imagine, remarking on how he also picked Gina Haspel to be the CIA director.

He believes that picking a woman could do two things, one, bring out women voters in the midterms and also appeal to those two key Republican votes, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Susan Collins.

Now, those are two who are going to be very crucial here. There's a razor-thin margin here for the president to make this pick. And we heard from Susan Collins yesterday on "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" saying that she would not vote to confirm a nominee that she believed showed hostility toward that Roe vs. Wade decision.

Now, we have heard from the president before on that landmark case saying he was going to be putting pro-life judges on the court. That was back when he was a candidate. Now he's saying he won't ask during these interviews with candidates what their position on that is.

Of course, most of them are seen as very conservative judges, likely with their opinions on Roe vs. Wade known. So, we're seeing the White House move this process along very quickly. And, of course, the president, a former television host, is really building the anticipation ahead of that Monday announcement -- Erica.

HILL: And as we wait for more on that, Kaitlan, of course, over the weekend, the issue among Democrats, the question about abolishing ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, really getting a lot of play.

Republicans, including the president, really seem to be seeing an opening here.

COLLINS: Yes. Conservatives seem to say that the president could not have gotten a better gift ahead of the midterms. I think we are near 160 or so days out, and the president is really seizing on that language that we have seen from Democrats in recent days, some Democrats, that they believe ICE should be abolished.

The president tweeting about it several times over the last few days, saying that next they are going to want to get rid of all police officers, certainly something he's going to seize on, that language ahead of the midterms, because he believes that immigration is really going to be something that will get his base motivated to come out during the midterms and stave off what the White House fears could be a blue wave.

So, certainly going to be using that language here, Erica.

HILL: We will be looking to hear more on that. Again, there's that podium.

Kaitlan, we know you will be there at the briefing, as we wait for Sarah Sanders to come out, a number of questions. We will see how many she takes.

As we wait for that, I want to bring in our panel now, Symone Sanders, Bill Kristol, Phil Mudd all with us.

Symone, as we look at what Kaitlan was just mentioning, Republicans and the president really seizing on this messaging from Democrats, this conversation about abolishing ICE. How's that not a gift to Republicans at this point, Symone?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I think, you know, all this hubbub and concern around the -- quote, unquote -- "abolish ICE" is a tactic by Republicans that's trying to get Democrats to play their game.

The fact of the matter is, the thousands of people that came, hundreds of thousands that came out over the weekend came out for the immigration rallies, if you will, to protest what the administration is doing is a good thing for Democrats.

And, you know, there's a diversity under the big tent, Erica. So, I think that folks should be excited about this energy that's on the left, but not try to squelch it down. We need those folks in the midterm.

HILL: In terms of those rallies, though, there were people there who were chanting abolish ICE. There are lawmakers who have come out who have said, yes, I think we should get rid of ICE and others have been more measured in their tone.

Are the Democrats doing a good enough job though of putting that message out, Symone, your point about, look, this is a big tent, we can have different ideas, we should be focusing on rallies? That's not what we're hearing.

SANDERS: Well, first of all, Erica, there are valid reasons and folks are calling to abolish ICE. There's been a DHS I.G. report that came out that talked about just the horrible things that ICE is doing against protocol from the government, everything on down the line.

They haven't listened to Secretary James Mattis. They bucked something that Secretary Mattis, directives he gave that way. So ICE has been doing some very nefarious things. And, to be frank, it wasn't just during the Trump administration. And so those are valid claims.

But to say that the left or people in the left should not be calling to abolish ICE because it's going to gin up the Republican base I think is crazy.

Look,we have demonstrated over the last I think year-and-a-half that our base is fired up, that people want to come out, that people are rallying and organizing around different things. And midterm elections will be very district-specific.


But I think the best thing lawmakers can do is not wave their finger at young grassroots activists, but bring that base in and help turn them out for the midterms, which we will need if we really want to take back the House and maybe even the Senate.

HILL: Phil, put that in perspective for us, especially based on your years in government here. Based on what Sarah's saying -- Symone, rather, is saying there, is there reason to talk about actually getting rid of ICE altogether? What would that look like?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Zero reason, as someone who was a former government official.

Look, if people out there protesting saying we want to be in favor of reuniting families and we oppose separating families, I think that's an honorable cause. But let's be clear here. And I can tell you how I would view this. I was at the CIA and FBI, not at ICE, but I'm guessing they would view it the same way. A president open on the campaign trail is about what he thinks about immigrants in terms of his references to Mexicans as rapists and murderers, in terms of his references to what is now referred to as the Muslim ban, people voted for him, including an increasing number of white working-class voters who left Democrats.

And now people who didn't vote or weren't energized by a Democratic candidate are saying the man who promised us tough immigration policy actually delivered, we didn't show up, and now we're angry at the executive agency that's responding to the president?

Protest the president's policy. Don't protest the people who are serving at the will of the president. I don't get it.

HILL: Bill, in terms of those policies, listen, the abolish ICE may be a talking point for Republicans. For Democrats, though, we saw how many did, how many people did turn up at those rallies.

There are real questions that need answers, 2,047 answers, to be exact here, in terms of what is happening with those children who have yet to be reunited with their parents. Is the administration, are Republicans missing the mark on this one?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes. But Democrats in my opinion should keep the focus on those children, on the families, on a policy change the president ordered that was irresponsible and I think, you know, wrong, and then also incompetently executed.

And they still haven't fixed the problem. That's what the Democrats should be talking about every day. The problem is not fixed. These parents have been not -- a lot of threat children have not been reunited. This is totally irresponsible and reckless governance by the president.

I think the left -- I don't agree with Symone. The Democratic base is all ginned up. The Trump base is ginned up. The voters -- there's a lot of voters in between though who are winnable for the Democrats, a lot of moderate Republicans, a lot of independents who are not thrilled with Trump, would like him to be checked, would Congress to do more than the Republican Party in Congress has done.

But I think Phil Mudd is right. It just makes it look like the Democratic Party is just in favor of abolishing this large institution that helps with all kinds of law enforcement tasks. It is an easy thing for Trump to demagogue.

It is demagoguery to say the Democrats are simply for open borders, but it makes it much easier for Trump. The Democrats would be much better to keep the focus on Trump's failed policy than on an executive branch institution.

HILL: It's one thing to keep the focus, Bill, on a failed policy. It is another thing to also offer solutions and ideas to move forward. We are seeing increasingly both parties, the most vocal, which is

often the case, are really moving to the extremes here. In terms of those moderates that you're saying are up for grabs, what more do Democrats need to do beyond just be the opposition?


KRISTOL: Dianne Feinstein had a bill to reunite the parents and the children. Mitch McConnell -- it hasn't come to the floor. There hasn't been a hearing for it.

Every day, they should be saying we need legislation now to fix what Trump has done and to stop him from doing it again. Every Democrat is on board that. A lot of moderate Republicans and a lot of conservative Republicans. Ted Cruz came out for a bill. It's a different from Feinstein's.

I think this is a case where being a little boring and talking about legislation and talking about fixing the problem, let the Democrats be the party of responsibly addressing this, not the party that seems to hate people who work for a large law enforcement organization.

SANDERS: You know, Erica, in -- I remember back then, the Tea Party days, when everyone said the Tea Party so extreme, and it didn't seem to hurt the Republicans' chances in the midterms in 2014.

And so I would just caution the idea that folks that are calling for abolishing ICE, any lawmakers or any grassroots folks that are on the left that have come out for abolishing ICE or even being critical of ICE are folks that hate people that work in this agency of the government or people that are just so extreme.

Again, I think there are valid criticisms to around of ICE, criticisms that the DHS inspector general lobbed themselves in a 2017 report. But we can talk about abolishing ICE. We can also talk about finding out where are these kids?

We can also talk about making sure and asking and demanding that the administration have a plan for bringing the families back together. We can talk about all of it.

And to these moderate voters that folks are talking about, the swing voters that, yes, folks need in some of these districts in the midterms, to be clear, Obama-Trump voters, folks that voted for Obama and then voted for Trump in 2016 only accounted for 8 percent of the electorate in 2016.

That's about 56 million voted for Donald Trump. So, that is a lot. But I don't think -- it would be a mistake for Democrats to simply pander to these swing voters and forget about energizing their base.


To be frank, one could argue a lot of that happened in 2016, and look who sits in the White House. So I would just encourage Democrats to run true to their districts. Talk about the issues that are for them. That's overwhelmingly the

economy and health care and where are these kids?

HILL: The question though becomes how much do you drill down on that district if you're being true to the district?

Here's part of what Senator Tammy Duckworth actually had said to Jake in terms of not forgetting the middle of the country. Take a listen.


SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: You can't win the White House without the Midwest. And I don't think that you can go too far to the left and still win the Midwest.

Coming from a Midwestern state, I think you need to be able to talk to the Industrial Midwest. You need to listen to the people there in order to win an election nationwide.


HILL: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responding on Twitter to those comments from Tammy Duckworth, saying, with respect to the senator, "Strong, clear advocacy for working-class Americans is not just for the Bronx," pointing out where Bernie Sanders of course won and then several of those states were lost in the general.

So I get your point to a point, Symone. But looking at this, what is the plan now to prevent a repeat there? I mean, as she asked, but also in terms of making this more of a big tent party, how do you go about that?

SANDERS: Look, Erica, I'm from Nebraska.

I don't know if people know. Omaha, Nebraska. Go, Big Red. There are black and brown people all over this country. There are progressive working people all over this country. And I think when you talk about the economy, when you talk about a real plan for hardworking, everyday people in this country, that cuts across the board.

And so I think it's a little overblown for folks to be concerned about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's race in New York.


HILL: Symone, I'm going to stop you there.

We're going to listen in now to Sarah Sanders at the White House.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... Joint Terrorism Task Force announced the arrest of an Ohio man for providing material support to al Qaeda. On Sunday, the suspect explained to an undercover FBI agent that he

was planning to conduct an attack in Cleveland on Independence Day in a future terrorist attack in Philadelphia.

President Trump commends the work of the DOJ and FBI for helping stop this would-be attacker.

To continue the ongoing and important work of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, Secretary Pompeo will be leaving for North Korea on July 5 to meet with the North Korean leader and his team. The State Department will release more details about his upcoming trip.

One item that some of you may have missed last Wednesday in the midst of a busy news day was the confirmation for VA secretary nominee Robert Wilkie. Mr. Wilkie has been twice confirmed by the Senate, most recently last fall by unanimous consent for his current position as undersecretary for personnel and readiness at the Department of Defense.

During the hearing, Mr. Wilkie not only demonstrated that he has the leadership and experience to lead the VA. He also spoke in-depth about how he shares the president's vision to put veterans first.

Senators Isakson and Tester, the committee chairman and ranking member respectively, have expressed their support. The White House expects the Senate to move quickly to confirm Robert Wilkie as the next VA secretary upon its return.

And with that, I will take your questions.


QUESTION: Sarah, did you just call on me before my husband?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: So, that -- it's a tough battle, yes.


QUESTION: Did you just call on me before my husband?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I did, for the record, yes, let the record show.


QUESTION: ... do "GMA" live instead of "FOX & Friends."


HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm not going to commit to that, but I will say I will take a question.

QUESTION: Yes, you got it.


HUCKABEE SANDERS: Yes. I think this is a big moment. So I had to give it to the...


QUESTION: Understood.


QUESTION: Now, if the president would tweet about it, then it just changes the whole dynamic.

All right, I digress.

During the campaign, the president said, I'm pro-life and I will be anointing pro-life judges.

Is the president still committed to appointing pro-life judges?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: As the president said last week, he is not going to talk to judges about specific cases. He's looking for individuals that have the right intellect, the right temperament, and that will uphold the Constitution.

QUESTION: Senator Susan Collins says that she wants a nominee to respect precedent and that Roe vs. Wade is settled law. Does the president agree that Roe vs. Wade settled law?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Again, the president's not going to get into asking the candidates about specific cases. But he's looking for somebody that meets those qualifications that I just outlined.

QUESTION: Is it important to him to overturn Roe vs. Wade?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Go ahead, Major.

QUESTION: Sarah, is there any concern the president, based on over the weekend reports out of North Korea, that is either continuing on with its nuclear program, making efforts to enhance it, and in any way seeking to deceive this administration about its denuclearization intentions?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: We are not going to confirm or deny any intelligence reports.

What I can tell you is that we are continuing to make progress. Ambassador Kim had a meeting just yesterday with members of the North Korean delegation.

And Secretary Pompeo, as I just mentioned, will be headed to North Korea later this week. And we are going to continue those conversations.

QUESTION: When you say you're continuing to make progress, how can the public evaluate that progress? What has happened?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Well, I think a number of things.

One, in the last eight months, you haven't seen missile launches.


You haven't seen nuclear -- you haven't seen the nuclear detonations. And again, these conversations are continuing to evolve. I'm not going to get into the details, but I can tell you that progress continues to be made.

Dave (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

Who are the four judicial candidates that the president (inaudible)?


SANDERS: Well, it wasn't me. So I can clear that up. I know you were really curious about that. Again, the president is being very thoughtful about this process. He's looking for certain characteristics which we've outlined.

And beyond that, I can tell you, he met with four people today. The meetings lasted roughly 45 minutes, and he's going to continue -- yes. And he's going to continue meetings through the rest of this week with a few other candidates.


SANDERS: Matthew?

QUESTION: Can you comment on the CBS report today, that Judges Kavanaugh and Barrett are now at the top of his list?

SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to get into any more of the process, other than what the president stated.


QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah. The president, last Thursday, wrote on Twitter, "House Republicans should pass the strong but fair immigration bill known as Goodlatte II, in their afternoon vote today."

Then on Sunday, he wrote on Twitter, "I never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the immigration bill, either Goodlatte I or II." Why would the president lie about something like that?

SANDERS: He didn't. The president has talked all along. We've laid out the priorities and the principles that we support, that we wanted to see reflected in legislation.

At the same time, the president wasn't aggressively lobbying members because he knew that Democrats in the Senate still were unwilling to actually come to the table and focus on solutions rather than playing political games. We could have gotten it through the House, but that doesn't work if we

can't get it through the Senate. And Democrats have made it abundantly clear that they don't actually want to fix problems; they just want to talk about this all the way.

I guess, for some reason, they think this is a good issue for them although it isn't. And, frankly, I -- I think it's outrageous that Democrats have not come to the table and tried to help fix this problem.


QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. There was a report that he'd been kind of maybe on the table, that President Trump...

SANDERS: Kind of, maybe?

QUESTION: ... would...

SANDERS: That sounds solid.


QUESTION: .... was invited by Chairman Kim to New York around the U.N. and I just wanted to get on the record, if you can put that in context for us.

Number one, is that in play? Number two, is that -- I mean, a number of conditions would have to be met. But is that really something you would consider doing...


SANDERS: We don't have any announcements or plans to roll out at this point...


QUESTION: And then -- so without getting into all of the fora where the president said that two of the five he's looking at for the Supreme Court, at least, are -- are women. Were any of the people you met with today women?

SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to get into those details.

John (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks a lot, Sarah. Following up on that question, is this a -- an important consideration for the president, getting a conservative woman on the U.S. Supreme Court?

SANDERS: Again, the president would like to see somebody who meets the qualifications that I've laid out. And that's what he's focused on.

QUESTION: (Inaudible), Sarah, if I may, on trade. Canada responded to the steel and aluminum tariffs that the president has imposed, already, on imported steel and aluminum.

What's the response from the White House, from the president to that action by Canada?

SANDERS: We've been very nice to Canada for many years, and they've taken advantage of that. Particularly, advantage of our farmers. And at the G7, the president actually proposed that they get rid of all tariffs and drop all barriers and have really great trade.

And they refused that. And escalating tariffs against the United States does nothing to help Canada, and it only hurts American workers. The president is working to fix the broken system, and he's going to continue pushing for that.


QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah. I -- the National Security adviser, John Bolton, appeared to leave the door open to the U.S. recognizing the Russian annexation of Crimea in his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Will you rule out the U.S. acknowledging that annexation, or is that on the table?

SANDERS: We do not recognize Russia's attempt to annex Crimea. We agree to disagree with Russia on that front. And our Crimea sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to the Ukraine.




QUESTION: ... a possibility in the future of Russian...

SANDERS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: I said, were the -- recognizing the annexation be on the table if Russia agrees to certain concessions?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get into any negotiations at this point.


QUESTION: Following up on North Korea, the -- the president had declared on Twitter that there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.

And even putting aside these reports about the -- the intelligence material, there's also commercial satellite imagery showing activity going on at these North Korean sites related to uranium processing as well as the missile facilities. So does this administration believe that there is no longer a nuclear threat? [16:20:00] Also John Bolton yesterday on Face The Nation said that the overwhelming bulk of the program could be dismantled within a year while experts are saying it could take 10 to 15 years, so could we get a little bit of clarity on that?

SANDERS: Again, we are continuing to make progress. We had good meetings yesterday, and as I said, the Secretary of State will be there later this week to continue to those discussions. I'm not going to confirm or deny any of the intelligence reporting that's out there.

And as far as the one-year timeline, Ambassador Bolton said if North Korea makes the decision to denuclearize, their ballistics programs could be dismantled in a year. There's great momentum right now for positive change, and we're moving together for further negations. Beyond that, I don't have anything for you. Right.

QUESTION: On Friday, the president said that one of the topics up for discussion with President Putin would be elections and that we don't want election meddling. Does that mean he intends to raise the possibility of Russian interference in the midterm elections and does he have any proposals or anything specific that he would like to hear from President Putin about that?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get ahead of the president's conversations, but we'll keep you guys posted and updated as things develop. Jill?

QUESTION: Thanks very much. I want to ask first the difference that you've spoken to the new president elect of Mexico. Do you - the president believe that Loprez Obrador election is going to have any impact on NAFTA negotiations and room for (ph) or change the terms?

SANDERS: They are very positive and constructive first call last call lasted about a half hour and they talked pretty extensively about trade and the willingness for both parties to come together to make a deal. We're going to continue focusing on making sure we get a good deal for the United States.

QUESTION: And then just one more topic, is the president worried after his comments this morning that Michael Cohen is going to flip, and is he considering at all paying Michael Cohen's fees?

SANDERS: As you know, I'm not going to answer questions on this topic and would refer you to the president's outside council. Blake?

QUESTION: Thank you. Picking back up on trade, the E.U. has responded with retaliatory tariffs. Canada did so over the weekend as well. Mexico has done so as well. China has put their tariffs on as well some of them, and some are expected to come $34 billion worth in the next few days. Is the United States winning this battle? And if so, how?

SANDERS: Again, the president is focused not on the short-term but on the long-term, and he wants to make sure that we're doing things that help protect American workers and protect American industry. And he is going to keep pushing to make sure that we have good trade deals. We have been in trade deficits with nearly every country across the globe for years, and the president wants to ensure that that doesn't continue.

QUESTION: How long is the long-term? Because if there's - for the folks who are actually impacted by this, and they just hear, "well, we're in it for the long-term," is the long-term weeks, months, years/ How long is the long-term?

SANDERS: Look, we're not setting a time table and there are a lot of different negotiations going on. We've made progress on a number of fronts, and the president, again, is committed to making sure we have good deals.

He'd be happy to get rid of all tariffs and all barriers. So if there's countries out there that want to do that, I'm sure he'd be happy to sit down and make that happen right now and move this process forward a whole lot quicker. Ally?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) with the $34 billion on Friday?

SANDERS: I don't have any changes right now. Ally?

QUESTION: There two clarifications just quickly here on two different topics. Number one, would the president like to see Roe v. Wade overturn?

SANDERS: Once again, I'm not going to get into any specifics, but we would be looking at...

QUESTION: (Inaudible) I'm just saying does he himself as just a matter of how he feels, his own policy, does he want to see Roe overturned?

SANDERS: Again, this is ongoing. I'm not going to weigh into anything specific on that front of this policy...

QUESTION: (Inaudible) policy question, I'm not asking about the conversation...

SANDERS: I understand and I'm telling you while I'm in the middle of this process I don't have an updated comment on that front.

QUESTION: So let me ask about North Korea. Does the president still tryst Kim? Does he believe he's a credible negotiator?

SANDERS: Again, we see progress and momentum in the process, and we've had good conversations as recently as yesterday. And we're going to continue those conversations later this week and push forward. Jeff?

QUESTION: Sarah, the president said today that the WTO treats the United States very badly and if that doesn't change he'll do something. Is he considering anything other than leaving the WTO and does he have a timetable for that decision?

SANDERS: As Secretary Mnuchin and the president have said that that is not accurate that the U.S. is leaving the WTO, but he's certainly voiced frustration and he's been clear that he has concerns that there are a number of aspects that he doesn't believe are fair. And China and other countries have used the WTO to their own advantage, and we're focused on fixing the system and that would include that.

OK (ph)?

QUESTION: So the president said (ph) today that if the WTO's treatment of the U.S. doesn't change that he'll do something. What was he referring to?


SANDERS: I don't have a specific announcement on what he'd do. Right now, he'd like to see the system get fixed and that's what he's focused on doing.

Katelyn (ph)?

QUESTION: Does the president feel that Senator John McCain should resign so the governor can pick a new senator who will then vote on his Supreme Court nominee?

SANDERS: I haven't asked him about that specifically.


QUESTION: One -- one more question. This is such a pivotal choice for the president. It's going to affect his legacy for decades to come. Why is the White House moving this so quickly?

When he announces on Monday, that will be just a little over two weeks, I think, since Kennedy announced he's retiring.

SANDERS: The president put out his list nearly two years ago, of what those individuals would look like. And has continued -- he made updates to the list just last year, and these are all individuals that have been looked at and considered, not just for the last week but for the last two years.

And something that the president's been very thoughtful in, and is going to make the right decision when that moment comes.


SANDERS: On Monday.

Ayesha (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you. Just to follow up on the question that Jeff asked. So what exactly does the president want to see from the WTO? What actions does he expect them to take?

SANDERS: The president would like to see just an overall more fair trading system. And we're going to be continuing negotiations with individual countries as well as organizations, and we'll keep you posted on any details. Francesca (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. Two questions, one domestic and then one foreign.

Back on Michael Cohen, can you at least tell us whether the president watched the interview this morning? And potentially, how he feels about the idea that his former attorney said that he would put his wife, his son, his family and his country first but not the president?

SANDERS: Once again, I'm not going to weigh into this issue. And I would refer you to the president's outside counsel.

QUESTION: OK. Then the -- the other question, in response to Jordan (ph). You -- you made very clear that sanctions for Russia that pertains to Crimea are not on the table, going into this meeting with Vladimir Putin.

But what can you tell us about election meddling? Are sanctions for the election meddling on the table in this discussion?

SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to get ahead of the president's meeting but we'll keep you posted as it takes place.

John (ph)?

QUESTION: Yeah. Thank you, Sarah. Two questions please, one foreign and one domestic.

A week ago...

SANDERS: Starting a new trend.


QUESTION: A week ago, you told us that the president intended to call President Erdogan of Turkey, following his re-election, or his election, as president.

And we never got a readout on that call, or whether or not he congratulated him. Would you elucidate on the call that he made to President Erdogan?


SANDERS: You always have one of those zingers in there, John (ph).



SANDERS: I know that they spoke last week. I'll get back to you with details of the call.

QUESTION: Will you put out a readout?

SANDERS: Again, I'll check into it and get back to you with details of the call.

QUESTION: The other question I had was regarding the president's position on Roe v. Wade. In the third debate with Secretary Clinton, the open question was about this very subject.

And he did say the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, and the issue of abortion would be returned to the states. Is that still his position now?

SANDERS: The president is pro-life but in terms of the process of selecting a Supreme Court nominee, as the president said last week, he's not going to discuss specific cases with those nominees.


QUESTION: A quick question on China (inaudible). You said that a lot of negotiations are taking place right now. Is there any reason to assume or to see (ph) that there has been progress with the Chinese before the deadline to implement tariffs this week?

SANDERS: We're continuing those negotiations. I don't have anything further at this point for you.

Sayer (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. Now that Goodlatte I and Goodlatte II are both dead in the House, is the president open to any standalone bill which would stop family separation at the border permanently and reform the U.S. asylum process, which is led by GOP senators and some members in the House?

SANDERS: We'd have to see the specific legislation before we laid in directly, but certainly would be open to legislation that fixed the broken system. If Democrats would actually show up to do their jobs and participate in solutions, we would be happy to discuss those and, again, support things that help fix the broken system.

QUESTION: To -- to follow up on that, what is current U.S. policy at the border? Is it zero tolerance or is it catch-and-release?

SANDERS: The president's executive order has bought some time for Congress, but the -- the clock is ticking and Congress needs to act to fix this process because we're running out of time on what we have the ability to do, particularly with the district court that weighed in just last week.

Eamon (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. Going back to trade for a second. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which generally works very well with Republican presidents, launched a campaign today to oppose the president's tariff agenda.

They're saying that the administration is threatening to undermine the economic progress it worked so hard to achieve. What's the president make of that criticism? SANDERS: Again, the president is focused on helping protect American

workers and American industries, and create a fair playing field. That's what he wants to do, that's what he's hoping to achieve, and we're confident that he will.

Right here.

QUESTION: Two-part question, but before that, if I can make a quick -- quick comment.