For the first time in a week, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will take questions from the media on Tuesday afternoon. And what a week it’s been.
Since last Tuesday, the following things have happened:
- 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida
- Ronan Farrow reported in The New Yorker an alleged affair between former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal and President Donald Trump.
- Special counsel Robert Mueller issued indictments for 13 Russians for their roles in a massive election meddling plot.
- Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, acknowledged that he made a $130,000 personal payment to porn star Stormy Daniels as a way to keep her from going public with her story about an alleged affair with Trump.
- CNN reported that Mueller’s probe is now expanded to include Jared Kushner’s financial dealings during the presidential transition
- The fallout from Rob Porter’s resignation amid domestic abuse has continued, with the focus turning to the large number of administration officials who continue to work with temporary security clearances.
- The Washington Post published an extended interview with Rachel Crooks, who accuses Trump of forcibly kissing her in 2006. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the incident “Never happened!”
- An inspector general’s report shows that Veterans Affairs head David Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made a series of false statements in order to justify the use of government funds for Shulkin’s wife to accompany him on a trip to Europe in 2017.
- Rick Gates, a former senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign, has reportedly reached a plea deal with Mueller.
- Trump has been tweeting.
That’s, um, a lot.
Given the amount of news since Sanders last took questions, I thought it made sense to come up with 15 questions that I’d like to see asked and answered in Tuesday’s news conference. They’re below.
1. Trump has signaled support for legislation that would close some loopholes in the background check system. What specifically will he do to ensure Congress takes up this legislation and passes it? And what other specific measures does Trump believe are necessary to combat the mass casualty shootings in this country?
2. Over the weekend, Trump suggested in a tweet that the reason the FBI missed a tip on the man who killed 17 people ion Florida last week was because the bureau was too focused on the Russia investigation. Could you elaborate on what he meant?
3. CNN has reported that at least 100 members of the Trump administration – including Jared Kushner – were on interim security clearances as recently as November 2017. How concerning is that to the President, particularly given the fact that Mueller is now looking into Kushner’s financial dealing during the presidential transition?
4. Is Rachel Crooks lying about her alleged encounter with Mr. Trump in 2006?
5. Is Karen McDougal lying about having engaged in an affair with Trump in the mid-2000s?
6. Did the President ever directly or indirectly suggest, imply, infer or ask Michael Cohen to make the Stormy Daniels story go away?
7. Trump has described Mueller’s special counsel investigation as a “witch hunt” and a waste of time. How does he reconcile that with the fact that two former members of his campaign staff have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russia and two others have been charged with a variety of financial crimes tied to their dealings in Russia?
8. Does the President believe chief of staff John Kelly effectively handled the domestic abuse allegations against former White House staff secretary Rob Porter?
9. Given the allegations against him, should Porter have been fired rather than be given the chance to resign?
10. In light of the inspector general report regarding VA Secretary Shulkin, should he step aside? If not, why not?
11 In March 2016, Trump called Mitt Romney a “failed candidate” and said Romney was “begging for my endorsement. I could have said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees.’ He would have dropped to his knees.” On Monday night, Trump endorsed Romney’s Utah Senate bid. What changed?
12. For more than a year, the intelligence community has unanimously stated that Russia actively sought to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Last week, special counsel Mueller shed light on a vast strategy from the Russians to spread distrust and dissension about the election and its results. Can the President now say definitively and without equivocation that Russia sought to meddle in the 2016 election in hopes of electing him?
13. Over the weekend, Trump seemed to imply in a tweet that national security adviser H.R. McMaster had “forgot” to make clear that Russia didn’t impact the election at all. Has the President spoken to Mr. McMaster since then? Does he still have confidence in McMaster to do his job?
14. In October 2016, then-candidate Trump said he would sue all of the women who had come forward alleging that he had sexually assaulted or acted inappropriately with them. Why has he not done so?
15. The President tweeted Tuesday morning that he had been “much tougher” on Russia than President Barack Obama. He urged to “just look at the facts.” What facts, specifically, was the President referring to?