Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dodged questions Monday on whether President Trump accepted Vladimir Putin's denial of Russian election interference, stating instead that Trump heard what Putin had to say, and "decided to move on from that part of the conversation."
Sanders also said that Trump had only learned about his eldest son's June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer "in the last couple of days," and described it as "very short" with "no follow up". She later added that "the only thing inappropriate" about the meeting is "the people who leaked" details, stating firmly that "Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election." Other highlights from the off-camera briefing:
- Mixed messaging: "There were sanctions specific to election meddling that were discussed but not beyond that," said Sanders. Trump tweeted yesterday: "Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin"
- On other meetings like the one with Don Jr.: Sanders said she isn't sure whether other meetings, like the one with the Russian lawyer, have taken place.
- On Ivanka taking Trump's seat at G20: "I think we should be proud to have Ivanka sitting in that seat."
- The latest job's report: "Sadly, there wasn't a lot of coverage of these numbers," said Sanders before rattling off the improving statistics.
Marc Short, White House Director of Legislative Affairs, joined the briefing to discuss the Democrats' "unprecedented" obstruction of Trump nominees, as outlined in a a one-pager that was handed out beforehand:
- On canceling August recess: "The president has every right to call Congress back" if key nominations affecting national security are not confirmed.
- Senate health bill: "We're confident that it's going to pass," said Short, noting that the administration expects to repeal and replace the ACA before the August recess.
- Tax reform: Short hopes to have the tax plan agreed upon by the House, Senate and WH before August recess.
- Democrats' approach on ACA repeal: "The left... has been more organized in their messaging on this than I think collectively Republicans have."
- Russia sanctions bill: "We support the sanctions in the bill on Russia and Iran... the administration is fully supportive of those sanctions."