Mike Pence Defends White House Banning CNN Reporter From Press Event

Vice President Mike Pence stood by the White House’s decision to ban a CNN reporter from a press event last week, citing the need to maintain “decorum.”

“This administration believes in the freedom of the press,” Pence told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo in an interview airing Sunday. “But maintaining the decorum that is due at the White House… is an issue that we’ll continue to work forward.”

The White House was hit with intense backlash from dozens of journalists and media outlets on Wednesday after it disinvited CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, representing five television networks as the day’s chosen pool reporter, from a press event.

Collins was told by the White House that at a brief gathering earlier in the day, she had asked President Donald Trump “inappropriate” questions and had refused to leave the Oval Office, according to CNN. Collins and other reporters present at the time disputed the White House’s claim.

Several cable news networks, including Fox News, issued statements expressing solidarity with CNN and calling for reporters’ full access to press events.

Despite Trump’s repeated attacks on the press, including falsely accusing outlets of publishing “fake news” and calling journalists the “enemy of the people,” Pence told Bartiromo that the administration has provided “extraordinary access to the media.”

“The president answers so many questions in so many different settings, and I can assure that we’ll continue to do that,” Pence said.

While Trump occasionally takes impromptu questions from reporters at various gatherings, he hasn’t held a solo press conference since February 2017.

Pence deflected when asked by Bartiromo whether shutting out Collins was like shutting out “everybody” from the press event.

“I would leave that decision to the White House staff,” he said. “We’ll make sure that every network, every major news organization, continues to have access because we stand for the freedom of the press in this White House.”

Trump and New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, meanwhile, found themselves offering vastly different takes on a meeting they had earlier this month at the White House that focused on journalistic matters.

The president tweeted on Sunday that they spent “much time” discussing “the vast amount of Fake News being put out,” his erroneous phrase for stories that displease him.

But Sulzberger, in a statement to HuffPost, said his “main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.” He said he told Trump “directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.”

[Huffington Post]

Reality

Here is a list of over 300 times Trump has not held the same decorum he wants the press to be held to:

http://www.stopthedonaldtrump.com/category/unpresidential/attack-the-press/

Pence calls on Mueller to wrap up’ Russia probe

US Vice-President Mike Pence has urged special counsel Robert Mueller to “wrap up” his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

He said the White House has “fully co-operated” with the probe, which is looking at whether US President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Mr Trump and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied the allegations.

His remarks came as he and Mr Trump greeted three Americans returning from North Korea after being held there.

“In the interests of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up,” he told NBC News early on Thursday morning at Joint Base Andrews.

The vice-president added the administration had provided more than a million documents to Mr Mueller’s investigation team.

“And I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.”

Mr Pence dismissed reports about Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, receiving millions of dollars in payments from companies as a “private matter” and “something I don’t have any knowledge about”.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Mr Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants LLC, last year received half a million dollars from Columbus Nova, a New York-based investment company affiliated with a firm controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

It was one of several businesses – including major corporations like AT&T – which paid a shell company set up by Mr Cohen after the 2016 election.

Following the vice-president’s comments, top Democrat Adam Schiff tweeted that Mr Pence “has now brought his sycophancy to a whole new level”.

Mr Schiff’s tweet centers around lingering concerns over Michael Flynn, the former US national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia last December.

Mr Trump sacked Mr Flynn last February, saying he had lied to Mr Pence about meeting the Russian envoy to the US.

Per a list of questions leaked to US media, it appeared that special counsel Robert Mueller will look into Mr Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and what exactly the president knew about the situation.

[BBC]

Pence’s doctor resigns after reports of concerns about Jackson’s conduct

The White House physician assigned to Vice President Mike Pence, Jennifer Pena, has resigned, his office told CNN in a statement Friday. Pena worked in the White House Medical Unit.

“The vice president’s office was informed today by the White House Medical Unit of the resignation. Physicians assigned to the vice president report to the White House Medical Unit and thus any resignation would go entirely through the Medical Unit, not the vice president’s office,” Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, said in a statement to CNN.

This comes after CNN reported Tuesday that Pence’s doctor privately raised alarms within the White House last fall that President Donald Trump’s doctor Ronny Jackson may have violated federal privacy protections for a key patient — Pence’s wife, Karen — and intimidated the vice president’s doctor during angry confrontations over the episode.

A White House official later told CNN they felt Pence’s doctor had misrepresented the extent of Jackson’s actions.

Trump nominated Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, but Jackson withdrew his nomination last week amid burgeoning allegations of professional misconduct.

“The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated,” Jackson said in a statement. “If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years.”

Though he returned to the White House Medical Unit, Jackson is no longer Trump’s attending physician.

According to copies of internal documents obtained by CNN, Pence’s doctor accused Jackson of overstepping his authority and inappropriately intervening in a medical situation involving the second lady as well as potentially violating federal privacy rights by briefing White House staff and disclosing details to other medical providers — but not appropriately consulting with the vice president’s physician.

The vice president’s physician later wrote in a memo of feeling intimidated by an irate Jackson during a confrontation over the physician’s concerns. The physician informed White House officials of being treated unprofessionally, describing a pattern of behavior from Jackson that made the physician “uncomfortable” and even consider resigning from the position.

Farah, press secretary for the vice president, said Pence’s physician “brought the issue to Mr. Ayers, who appropriately referred the matter to the proper channels.”

Current and former coworkers accused Jackson of abusive behavior and professional misconduct in interviews with Democratic staff on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which sources briefed on the matter say has investigated those episodes as well as the one involving Karen Pence. The Senate Armed Services Committee, which is considering Jackson’s promotion in the Navy to become a two-star admiral, is aware of the incidents, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Jackson and the vice president’s physician have long had a “strained relationship,” according to a former White House medical official.

[CNN]

With Vice President Pence breaking tie, Senate passes anti-Planned Parenthood bill

Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking Senate vote Thursday to pass legislation that will allow states to withhold federal funds from Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that perform abortions.

The measure, which now goes to President Trump for his signature, dismisses an Obama-era rule banning states from denying federal funds to such organizations.

Pence’s vote was needed to break a 50-50 tie. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska broke with their party, voting against the measure.

Republicans have said the Obama rule should be overturned to allow states the right to steer funds away from abortion providers, if they choose.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said the measure reverses a rule that “attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our states.”

Democrats condemned the measure throughout the day, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York calling it “another example of the Republican war on women.”

“It would let states treat women as second-class citizens who don’t deserve the same access to health care as men,” he said.

The House in February had voted 230-188 largely along party lines to reject the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn recently enacted regulations.

The rule prohibits states from withholding family-planning funding from providers for reasons other than their ability to offer family-planning services. It took effect Jan. 18, two days before President Obama left office.

Since 2011, 13 states have restricted access to such grants, disrupting or reducing services in several instances.

[USA Today]

Trump Reportedly Growing Suspicious of UN Amb Nikki Haley’s Ambitions, Possibly For His Job

President Trump may have a bone to pick with yet another member of his administration: UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

A new report from The New York Times alleges that the president “grew angry” at Haley’s Sunday show appearances, specifically when she stated that the U.S. would be placing fresh new sanctions against Russia. However, he supposedly is questioning her “political ambition, jealousy, resentment and loyalty.”

Since the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Haley has become the face of foreign policy, especially since the chemical attack that took place in Syria. However, the White House has been keeping her out of the loop, which led to the public dustup between her and WH economic advisor Larry Kudlow.

But according to administration officials and insiders, he has “grown exasperated by her outspokenness” about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Who wrote that for her?” Mr. Trump reported yelled at his television during a Sunday show appearance. “Who wrote that for her?”

Per the NYT:

Mr. Trump has grown suspicious of her ambition, convinced that she had been angling for Mr. Tillerson’s position and increasingly wondering whether she wants his own job.

Republicans close to the White House whisper about the prospect of an alliance between Ms. Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, possibly to run as a ticket in 2020.

Aides to both scoff at such suggestions, but the slightest hint of such a pairing would be likely to enrage Mr. Trump, who has made it clear that he plans to run for re-election. The talk was exacerbated in recent days when Mr. Pence named Jon Lerner, Ms. Haley’s deputy, as his new national security adviser, while allowing him to keep his job at the United Nations.

[Mediaite]

Trump sought to block Pence pick for key national security post

Donald Trump reportedly tried to prevent Vice President Pence from appointing his chosen national security adviser, citing the staffer’s past opposition to Trump’s candidacy.

Axios reported Sunday that Trump was upset when he learned Pence was hiring Jon Lerner to advise him on national security and foreign policy. Lerner currently serves as a deputy for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

The Washington Post reported last Thursday that Pence hired Lerner, and that Lerner would continue to work with Haley despite his new role advising the vice president.

Prior to joining Haley’s team in the Trump administration, Lerner advised the super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign.

He also worked as a pollster with the Club for Growth, a conservative group that ran anti-Trump ads during the 2016 campaign and has at times been critical of the president’s policies.

His past roles bothered Trump, Axios reported, citing three sources. He questioned why Pence would hire Lerner, and told chief of staff John Kellyto block the move.

The White House reportedly learned of the hire as Pence was traveling to Peru for the Summit of the Americas. After the vice president landed, he spoke to Trump and reassured him of Lerner’s qualifications, Axios reported.

Pence is in South America for the gathering of leaders of the Western Hemisphere after Trump announced last week he would no longer attend. The White House said Trump would remain in the U.S. to coordinate a response to the recent suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Pence’s addition of Lerner to his national security team comes as Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, reshapes his team as well.

[The Hill]

Sarah Sanders Called Out For Tweeting Misleading Photo Celebrating Syria Strike

On Saturday evening, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out a photo of the Situation Room, stating that the president had put “our adversaries on notice” the previous night. The implication of the photo was that Trump and his staff were reacting to Friday night’s military strike on Syria.

Only one problem with the tweet — Vice President Mike Pence wasn’t in Washington on Friday evening. The photo shows Pence at the table thus highlighting that it was taken earlier in the week as the vice president was in Peru on Friday.

[Mediaite]

Pence casts tie-breaking vote to make it more difficult for consumers to sue banks and credit card companies

The Senate has voted to nullify a consumer-oriented rule that would let millions of Americans band together to sue their banks or credit card companies.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday night to stop the rule from going into effect – the fifth instance he has broken a 50-50 tie since taking office.

Many consumers must go through an arbitrator to resolve financial disputes, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized a rule that bans most types of mandatory arbitration clauses.

The rule exposed banks to large class-action lawsuits. Supporters say that possibility would help ensure banks, credit card companies and other lenders treat consumers appropriately.

The vote comes months after House action and reflects the effort of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans to undo regulations that the GOP argues harm the free market.

Democrats said before the vote that nullifying the rule would be a victory for Wall Street.

The resolution will now go to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

[Business Insider]

 

Trump says Pence’s trip to NFL game was ‘long planned’

President Donald Trump on Monday morning doubled down on Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the Indianapolis Colts game Sunday, saying it was “long planned.”

“The trip by @VP Pence was long planned. He is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Pence left an Indianapolis Colts game on Sunday after several players on the opposing San Francisco 49ers team kneeled in protest during the national anthem.

“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence wrote on Twitter on his official @VP account following his departure.

Trump also praised Pence’s decision to leave in a tweet Sunday, adding that if any players kneeled, he had asked Pence to leave the stadium.

The tweets, along with Pence’s subsequent trip to Los Angeles, have prompted some to speculate that the vice president’s departure was a pre-planned stunt.

Pence’s office put out a statement Sunday night, responding to critics: “The Vice President was not going to miss the Las Vegas memorial prayer walk on Saturday, which he was honored to attend on behalf of President Trump. If the Vice President did not go to Indiana for the Colts game, he would have flown back to D.C. for the evening – which means flying directly over Indiana. Instead, he made a shorter trip to Indiana for a game that was on his schedule for several weeks.”

The 49ers are the former team of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 started the protest of kneeling during the anthem as a way to bring attention to police mistreatment of African-Americans.

[Politico]

Reality

Vice President Mike Pence was shocked… shocked… that 49er players, who have protested racial injustice during the National Anthem for over a year now, protested the National Anthem. While the anthem was still playing, Pence performed a protest of his own and left the stadium, showing by his own standards a disrespect for soldiers, the Flag, and anthem.

Just last week both Trump and Pence were critical of NFL players, who were also protesting Trump calling Colin Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” and demanding free speech be stifled, for injecting politics into sports… but now Trump and Pence are injecting politics into sports?

And Trump admitted in a tweet that this was planned for a long time, proving it was nothing more than an expensive PR stunt and that Trump is more interested in running a reality show than a country.

Pence’s chief of staff suggested wealthy donors ‘purge’ anti-Trump Republicans

Vice President Mike Pence‘s chief of staff Nick Ayers on Tuesday encouraged wealthy Republican donors to “purge” GOP lawmakers who haven’t supported President Trump’s agenda by finding and supporting their primary challengers.

According to a new report by Politico, Ayers made the comments to donors during a closed-door Republican National Committee (RNC) event in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Ayers told the donors to hold anti-Trump Republicans’ feet to the fire, saying they must get items of Trump’s agenda complete or face primary challengers in 2018.

“I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this,” Ayers said, according to Politco. “But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, number one. And number two, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”

“Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass,” Ayers continued, “we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him… Because, look, if we’re going to be in the minority again we might as well have a minority who are with us as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority.”

Ayers, a longtime adviser to Pence, was appointed his chief of staff in June. The Georgia native was Pence’s chief political strategist during his time as governor of Indiana, and the two have a close friendship.

“During my years as governor, then as a candidate and serving as vice president, I have come to appreciate Nick’s friendship, keen intellect and integrity and I couldn’t be more excited to have him come to the White House as my chief of staff,” Pence said in July upon Ayers’ appointment to the White House.

[The Hill]

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