Follow the White House press briefing

Meg Wagner and Brian Ries, CNN
updated 2:54 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018
2:54 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

Our live coverage has ended. Read the posts below top see how the briefing unfolded.

2:13 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

"Absolutely outrageous" if Trump's secretary of state pick isn't quickly approved, Sanders says

President Donald Trump's pick to be secretary of state faces a key committee vote Monday evening. 

Mike Pompeo is not expected to have enough support for a favorable recommendation, a distinction never before seen in recorded US history for a nominee to be the nation's top diplomat.

Sarah Sanders said Pompeo is "extremely qualified" and should be approved quickly.

"It is absolutely outrageous that he would not move through quickly," Sarah Sanders said. She added that senators should "get that done today."

2:05 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

White House is "reviewing" allegations about EPA chief Scott Pruitt

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the White House is "reviewing some of the allegations" raised about its EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

The administrator has been at the center of a growing number of news reports about ethically questionable actions, including such things as the size and cost of his 24-hour security detail, and a meeting he held with a lobbyist while renting a $50-a-night Capitol Hill room from the lobbyist's wife.

Pruitt is facing scrutiny in Congress over these stories, and continues to stoke criticism from environmentalists over his efforts to undo pillars of the Obama administration's efforts in the area.

Sanders said that Pruitt "has done a good job of implementing the president's policies, particularly on deregulation, making the United States less energy dependent, and becoming more energy independent," which she says "are good things."

"However, the other things certainly are something that we're monitoring and looking at and I'll keep you posted," she added.

Additional reporting by Eli Watkins

2:00 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

White House: "No intention" of firing Mueller

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Asked to explain President Trump's weekend tweet about Special Counsel Robert Mueller — Trump tweeted: "the Special Council was established based on an illegal act? Really, does everybody know what that means?" — Sarah Sanders said Monday there is still no intention of firing Mueller.

"As we’ve said, we have no intention of firing the special counsel," Sanders said.

She said the White House had been "beyond cooperative" with Mueller's office and described the investigation as having started under a "false premise."

"We continue to repeat that we think that the idea that the Trump campaign was involved in any collusion with Russia is it a total witch hunt, our position has been very clear since the beginning of the process. The president is echoing exactly what that position is," she said.

2:03 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

White House: "We have no intention of firing the special counsel"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Asked to explain President Trump's weekend tweet about Special Counsel Robert Mueller, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said there is still no intention of firing Mueller.

Trump said in the tweet, “the Special Council was established based on an illegal act? Really, does everybody know what that means?"

"As we’ve said, we have no intention of firing the special counsel," Sanders said.

She said the White House had been "beyond cooperative" with Mueller's office and described the investigation as having started under a "false premise."

"We continue to repeat that we think that the idea that the Trump campaign was involved in any collusion with Russia is it a total witch hunt, our position has been very clear since the beginning of the process. The president is echoing exactly what that position is," she said.

Watch more:

1:58 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

The White House's message to the caravan of migrants headed to the southern border

President Trump earlier today tweeted that he had "instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country," referring to the large group of migrants headed to the southern border who are hoping to be granted asylum.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about that tweet.

Here's what she said:

The Trump administration is committed to enforcing our immigration laws, whether people are part of the caravan or not. If you enter the United States illegally, let me be clear, you have broken the law. And we will enforce the law through prosecution of illegal borders. While we're committed to doing everything we can on the border to secure our nation, we need congress to do their job as well and to pass legislation to close the legal loopholes and prevent us from securing our borders and protecting Americans.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen also issued a statement that read in part, "If members of the ‘caravan’ enter the country illegally, they will be referred for prosecution for illegal entry in accordance with existing law. For those seeking asylum, all individuals may be detained while their claims are adjudicated efficiently and expeditiously, and those found not to have a claim will be promptly removed from the United States."

1:53 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

White House: No sanctions will be lifted on North Korea "until we see concrete action toward complete denuclearization"

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the US's goal is the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

"We're going to continue the maximum pressure campaign that has been ongoing to North Korea until we see concrete actions taken towards complete and total denuclearization," she said. "No sanctions lifted until we see concrete actions taken by North Korea to denuclearize."

Watch more:

1:50 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

Will President Trump pardon Michael Cohen?

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked if President Trump is considering pardoning his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who is under investigation in New York.

"It's hard to close a door on something that hasn't taken place," Sanders said. "I don't like to discuss or comment on hypothetical situations that may or may not ever happen."

She then referred the press to Trump's "personal attorneys" for further comment.

1:06 p.m. ET, April 23, 2018

9 questions that could come up in today's White House press briefing

President Trump is back at the White House, with a major week of diplomacy - pomp and policy – ahead. It begins Monday evening with the arrival French President Macron and First Lady Brigitte Macron.

But first, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will take questions at a 1:15 p.m. ET briefing.

The President spent the past week in Florida, and then sent a flurry of tweets over the weekend, so there will be lots to talk about.

Here are some questions we think reporters could ask:

  • What has North Korea agreed to do? North Korea says its quest for nuclear weapons is "complete" and it "no longer needs" to test its weapons capability, and Trump has claimed credit, though he wrongly said they "agreed to denuclearization."
  • Does the President still support Pompeo for secretary of state? CIA Director Mike Pompeo faces a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination for Secretary of State late this afternoon, and he is expected to receive a rare unfavorable report from the Committee. His nomination goes to the full Senate on Thursday.
  • Is Trump concerned about his nomination of Dr. Ronny Jackson as VA Secretary? Another Trump nominee faces a rocky road as well… some Senators are skeptical about the nomination of Dr. Ronny Jackson as VA Secretary. The White House, according to Axios, is becoming increasingly concerned.
  • Does Trump believe the special counsel was created "based on an illegal act"? President Trump seemed to go the furthest he’s gone yet in questioning the validity of the special counsel investigation. In a tweet shortly before midnight Friday night, he wrote “James Comey illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a Special Council (sic)? Therefore the Special Council (sic) was established based on an illegal act? Really, does everybody know what that means?”
  • If Trump has done nothing wrong, why did he tweet Michael Cohen wouldn't "flip"? Trump criticized the New York Times, accusing the paper for using "non-existent 'sources' and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael [Cohen]," and claimed he didn't think his personal lawyer would "flip" -- leading critics to ask if Trump has done nothing wrong, why would Cohen flipping be a concern at all?
  • Also, who is the "drunk" and "drugged up loser" Trump tweeted about? People have their theories, but the President hasn't said.
  • Does Trump want to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and/or special counsel Robert Mueller? It's an ongoing question, and it's unresolved.
  • Does the President still have confidence in EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt? Pruitt has been under fire in recent weeks for a number of damaging stories about his spending habits and actions with industry lobbyists.
  • Will Trump grant a posthumous full pardon for boxer Jack Johnson? Trump tweeted he is considering one after a phone call from actor Sylvester Stallone.