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White House press briefing

Brian Ries, CNN
updated 2:19 PM ET, Tue March 27, 2018
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4:30 p.m. ET, March 27, 2018

White House: President 'still has plans to look at potential ways' for Mexico to pay for the wall

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to respond to reports that the President has privately floated the idea of the Department of Defense paying for the wall, saying that the wall’s construction is “ongoing.”

“I can’t get into the specifics of that at this point but I can tell you that the continuation of building the wall is ongoing and we’re going to continue moving forward in that process,” she said.

Asked again whether he wants the military to pay for the border wall, she said, “Again, I’m not going to get into the specifics of that but I can tell you that the wall is continuing to be built currently and we’re going to keep pushing forward until it’s fully completed in the way that the President feels is necessary to defend the country.”

She did say that the President is still looking into ways to get Mexico to pay for the wall. 

“I’m not going to go beyond what the President’s already said, I think he still has plans to look at potential ways for that to happen,” she said.

3:31 p.m. ET, March 27, 2018

Sanders on Trump's silence on affair allegations

From CNN's Allie Malloy

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny pressed White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on why President Trump has been silent following the allegations of affairs in recent weeks.

Sanders claimed, unjustly, that the president had addressed the controversy and said, “I don’t think it’s silent when the president has addressed this.”

Sanders said, “We’ve addressed it extensively. There’s just nothing else to add. Just because you guys continue to ask the same question over and over and over again doesn't mean we need to keep coming up with new things to say. We've addressed it. We’ve addressed it significantly and there's nothing new to add to this conversation.”

Zeleny said:

I still don't know that I understand why the President's response has been so different in this case. On October 13, 2016, he said these claims were all fabricated. The next day he said I have no idea who these women are, they’re lying. Mrs. Trump has said he would push back ten times as hard, no matter if you're a man or a woman. He treats everyone equal. Why the silence? Is someone advising him to be silent or is he following his own advice here?

Sanders responded:

"I don't think it's silent when the President has addressed this. We’ve addressed it extensively. There's just nothing else to add. Just because you guys continue to ask the same question over and over and over again doesn't mean we need to keep coming up with new things to say. We've addressed it. We’ve addressed it significantly and there's nothing new to add to this conversation."
2:51 p.m. ET, March 27, 2018

White House won't confirm or deny Kim Jong Un travel to China

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at the briefing that President Trump is “being kept up to speed on a number of fronts” regarding North Korea ahead of his upcoming meeting.

Asked about Kim Jong Un’s potential trip to China, Sanders said she is “not in a position to confirm or deny those reports from the podium.”

2:50 p.m. ET, March 27, 2018

White House: President Trump isn't going to counter punch on everything

From CNN's Dan Merica

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders dodges a series of questions about the $130,000 payoff his lawyer made to Stormy Daniels and argued that President Donald Trump can’t punch back at every story out there.

Sanders and other White House aides and Trump friends have routinely described the President as a counter puncher, a view belied by his lack of comment on Stormy Daniels.

“The president, I didn’t say he punches back on every single topic, if he did he would probably be addressing a lot of the stories that most of you write every single minute of every single day,” Sanders said. “He also has a country to run. And he is doing a great job with that. … Sometimes he chooses to specifically engage and punch back and sometimes he doesn’t.”

When asked about the payoff to Daniels, Sanders punted.

“That is a question you would have to ask the president’s attorney. I certainly cannot speak for him. I can only speak on behalf of the White House,” Sanders said.

Sanders reiterated that Trump has denied the allegations leveled by Daniels.

“The president has denied the allegations,” Sanders said. “Anything beyond that I would refer you to the outside counsel and his attorney.”

2:49 p.m. ET, March 27, 2018

White House defends Census decision to reinstate the question of citizenship

From CNN's Betsy Klein

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the Commerce Department’s decision to reinstate the question of citizenship in the 2020 census, saying the question “has been included in every census since 1965 with the exception of 2010 when it was removed.”

The question, Sanders told reporters at Monday’s briefing, provides data that is “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters, specifically to help us better comply with the voting rights act, which is something that’s important and a part of this process.”

Pressed on whether this would disproportionately impact blue states, Sanders said, “I think that it is going to determine the individuals in our country and provide information that allows us to provide with our own laws, our own procedures.”

Asked whether it would affect resource allocation to immigrant communities, Sanders said no, referring additional questions to the Department of Commerce.

2:47 p.m. ET, March 27, 2018

President Trump "incredibly engaged" despite staying quiet on Twitter

From CNN's Dan Merica

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump, even while he has been quiet on Twitter, has been “incredibly engaged” in recent days.

Trump has so far stayed silent on his administration’s new actions against Russia and Stormy Daniels.

“The president has still been incredibly engaged,” Sanders said.

“He gives us messages to come out and deliver on his behalf on a regular basis. But he has also put out a number of tweets over the last week and you can expect he will continue to do that," she said.

2:47 p.m. ET, March 27, 2018

"No plans" for Rob Porter to come back to the White House, Sanders says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Asked about reports that the President has spoken with former aide Rob Porter, press secretary Sarah Sanders said there are “no plans” for Porter to come back to the White House, adding that the two have spoken “one time” that she is aware of. 

She said, “There are no plans for him to come back, they have spoken one time. I’m not aware of any other conversations beyond that one time since his departure – that I’m aware of.”

2:46 p.m. ET, March 27, 2018

White House: “We’re certainly applying pressure on Russia"

From CNN's From Allie Malloy

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, facing a number of questions on Russia, repeated that the administration is “certainly applying pressure on Russia” and will continue to work with allies in response to Russia’s aggressions.

On the US relationship with Russia Sanders said, “an improved relationship will only be possible if Russia changes its behavior.”

Sanders touted the administration and its allies decisions to expel Russian diplomats/intelligence officers and said she expects to see a “number of other countries follow our lead” on pressuring Russia.

“We’re certainly applying pressure on Russia,” Sanders said.