‘I Don’t Have Any Problem Stating Facts’; Sanders Throws Down with Acosta, Jiang, Ryan

For the first time since September 10, the White House held a press briefing Wednesday featuring not only Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but also National Security Adviser John Bolton and neither disappointed as scores of liberal journalists came ready to rumble.

Bolton set the tone in an exchange with CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang, who seemed insulted that Bolton wasn’t giving more respect to the Palestinians by not referring to their land as a state. Turns out, Bolton had the facts on his side.

 

 

Jiang expressed dismay that Bolton had “just addressed Palestine and said that it is a so-called state” and wondered if “that language” is “productive” in President Trump’s “goal to achieving a two state solution” between the Israelis and Palestinians.

“It’s accurate. It is not a state,” Bolton initially replied.

Jiang doubled down and, unfortunately for her, so did Bolton (click “expand”):

JIANG: So is using that sort of language productive in his goal? 

BOLTON: Yeah, sure. Of course. It’s not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn't control defined boundaries. It doesn't fulfill the normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s not a state. It could become a state as the President said, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others. So calling it the so-called state of Palestine defines exactly what it has been, a position that the United States government has pursued uniformly since 1988 when the Palestinian Authority declared itself to be the state of Palestine. We don't recognize it as a state of Palestinian. We have consistently across Democratic and Republican administrations opposed the admission of “Palestine” to the United Nations as a state because it is not a state. 

When Sanders got her turn, NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe suggested that Trump supports due process for people like Brett Kavanaugh but doesn’t for the Central Park Five and when Sanders turned it around to Kavanaugh deserving the presumption of innocence, CNN political analyst April Ryan jumped at the chance to make a scene (click “expand”):

APRIL RYAN: He said the Central Park Five was guilty. 

RASCOE: Yeah.

RYAN: He said the Central Park Five was guilty.

RASCOE: Yes.

RYAN: Does he feel that now?

SANDERS: I'd have to look back at the specific comments. Dave?

RYAN: But there’s a real question in the midst of this. The president has taken this moment — 

SANDERS: Sorry, Dave, go ahead. 

RYAN: — the President has taken this moment to say that he has been affected personally by all of these allegations and he’s picking and choosing just as that question was. He said Central Park Five was guilty and then he has made Bill Clinton guilty. Has he decided to change his line on the central park five as they have been exhonerated? 

SANDERS: It is interesting that you bring up Bill Clinton. Nobody wants to hear those accusers voices be heard, but you’re certainly happy to hear all the others. Dave, go ahead. 

RYAN: No, but the President had them at the debate.

SANDERS: I’ve addressed this. I don't have anything else to add. 

RYAN: The President had them at the debate.

SANDERS: Dave, go ahead.

RYAN: Is he still talking to them?

Of course, the real reason anyone comes to read a blog on the press briefing is whatever nonsense emanates from CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Acosta started by invoking the President’s comments Tuesday night about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, asking in part: “Is there something wrong with the President of the United States mocking somebody that said she was sexually assaulted?”

Sanders replied that Trump “was stating facts laid out in the testimony” and the press only seem interested in checking out Kavanaugh’s statements but not anything offered by the accusers besides the presumption that Ford, Ramirez, Swetnick, and their supporters are, by and large, correct.

Acosta’s second question concerned whether the President views Kavanaugh as “the victim in this,” but Sanders swatted it down by opining that “both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh are victims at the hands of the Democrats.” 

When Acosta wanted to keep fighting and Sanders had enough, the latter fired off some a-grade sass (click “expand”):

ACOSTA: Do you have any problem at all with the President’s comments last night?

SANDERS: John, go ahead. 

ACOSTA: Don't have any problem defending the President’s comments?

SANDERS: I don't have any problem stating facts, no. John. 

JON DECKER: Thank you, Sarah. Just five days ago —

SANDERS: I know that's something you probably do have a problem with but I don't. 

DECKER: Thank you, Sarah.

ACOSTA: Actually, Sarah, we do state the facts and I think there have been many occasions when you don't state the facts if I may respond. 

SANDERS: John, go ahead. 

Jiang closed out the briefing with the asinine assertion that the President has been saddened by decades-old allegations brought to light against the Catholic Church but not those against Kavanaugh.

“Why does the President seem to assume men who are claiming abuse but wait to come forward are telling the truth but not women,” Jiang added. 

If Jiang had watched the fabulous work by her own CBS colleague Nikki Battiste, she would know that men and women are alleging abuse by male priests at the Catholic Church.

To see the relevant transcript from October 3's White House press briefing, click “expand.”

White House press briefing
October 3, 2018
1:22 p.m. Eastern

WEIJIA JIANG: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. You just addressed Palestine and said that it is a so-called state. Is that language productive in achieving the President’s —

JOHN BOLTON: It’s accurate. 

JIANG: But is the President recommitted — 

BOLTON: It is not a state. 

JIANG: — but the President in New York City, as you know, recommitted his goal to achieving a two state solution. 

BOLTON: That's right. 

JIANG: So is using that sort of language productive in his goal? 

BOLTON: Yeah, sure. Of course. It’s not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn't control defined boundaries. It doesn't fulfill the normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s not a state. It could become a state as the President said, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others. So calling it the so-called state of Palestine defines exactly what it has been, a position that the United States government has pursued uniformly since 1988 when the Palestinian Authority declared itself to be the state of Palestine. We don't recognize it as a state of Palestinian. We have consistently across Democratic and Republican administrations opposed the admission of “Palestine” to the United Nations as a state because it is not a state. 

(....)

1:38 p.m. Eastern

AYESHA RASCOE: Thank you, so President Trump talked a lot yesterday about this issue of being concerned about men being guilty before — being thought guilty before proven innocent and the idea of due process. But in the past with the Central Park Five, he put out an ad basically calling for the death penalty before they had been found convicted and even after they were exonerated, he still basically said that they may be guilty and even as President, he has talked about — presided over rallies where people say lock her up, talking about Hillary Clinton. So I guess is there is a disconnect between when the president is interested in due process for some but not for others? 

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Not at all. The President actually encouraged the Senate to hear Dr. Ford's testimony in the same way that he encouraged them to hear Judge Kavanaugh's. He is simply stating the fact that we are a country of law and order. We are a country of that still believes that you are innocent until approach guilty and we want to see that process go through in its entirety on a fair playing field. That’s simply the only point he was making.

RASCOE: Does he feel that —

APRIL RYAN: He said the Central Park Five was guilty. 

RASCOE: Yeah.

RYAN: He said the Central Park Five was guilty.

RASCOE: Yes.

RYAN: Does he feel that now?

SANDERS: I'd have to look back at the specific comments. Dave?

RYAN: But there’s a real question in the midst of this. The president has taken this moment — 

SANDERS: Sorry, Dave, go ahead. 

RYAN: — the President has taken this moment to say that he has been affected personally by all of these allegations and he’s picking and choosing just as that question was. He said Central Park Five was guilty and then he has made Bill Clinton guilty. Has he decided to change his line on the central park five as they have been exhonerated? 

SANDERS: It is interesting that you bring up Bill Clinton. Nobody wants to hear those accusers voices be heard, but you’re certainly happy to hear all the others. Dave, go ahead. 

RYAN: No, but the President had them at the debate.

SANDERS: I’ve addressed this. I don't have anything else to add. 

RYAN: The President had them at the debate.

SANDERS: Dave, go ahead.

RYAN: Is he still talking to them?

(....)

1:40 p.m. Eastern

JIM ACOSTA: Go back to this — I mean, it was pretty obvious that the president was mocking Christine blasey Ford last night. He said how did you get home? I don't remember. How did you get there? I don't remember. Where is this place? I don't remember. He seemed to be, to the delight of the crowd there in Mississippi, mocking her repeatedly. Is there something wrong with the President of the United States mocking somebody that said she was sexually assaulted? 

SANDERS: It seemed to me he was stating facts laid out in the testimony. Once again, every single word that Judge Kavanaugh has said has been looked at, examined, picked apart by most of you in this room, but not — no one is looking at whether or not the accusations made are corroborated, whether there's evidence to support them. Every person that she named said they don't recall or weren't there. Every single bit of evidence and facts that we have seen in this moment have supported Judge Kavanaugh's case and the President simply pointing out the facts of the matter and that is what the Senate will have to use to determine whether or not they vote to support him or not. 

ACOSTA: Are you saying Judge Kavanaugh — are you saying Judge Kavanaugh is the victim in this? 

SANDERS: I think both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh are victims at the hands of the Democrats. I think it is absolutely disgraceful what they’ve done and exploited this process. They exploited Dr. Ford. They're exploiting all of the women that have come out to make any type of accusation. This isn't the process that should have done and everybody deserves to be heard and includes Judge Kavanaugh and should be part of the process and the facts have to be looked at and you have to look at the prosecutor's memo. Those are where you see all of those facts laid out and I think she makes a very compelling case. 

ACOSTA: Do you have any problem at all with the President’s comments last night?

SANDERS: John, go ahead. 

ACOSTA: Don't have any problem defending the President’s comments?

SANDERS: I don't have any problem stating facts, no. John. 

JON DECKER: Thank you, Sarah. Just five days ago —

SANDERS: I know that's something you probably do have a problem with but I don't. 

DECKER: Thank you, Sarah.

ACOSTA: Actually, Sarah, we do state the facts and I think there have been many occasions when you don't state the facts if I may respond. 

SANDERS: John, go ahead. 

(....)

1:44 p.m. Eastern

JIANG: Thank you, Sarah. A couple questions. President Trump seemed to link the credibility of a claim with how much time has passed since the individual made it. President Trump has also called the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church “very sad” but many of those victims waited decades before coming forward. Why does the President seem to assume men who are claiming abuse but wait to come forward are telling the truth but not women? 

SANDERS: That's just completely untrue. The President has supported, again, throughout this entire process Dr. Ford's ability to come forward and tell her story. He's the one that ordered the FBI to do a background — further supplemental background check to look into the allegations that the Senate deems necessary before making a vote. He's also been more than happy to give a platform to the accusers that have come out against then-President Bill Clinton. To say that he's never sided with women is just ridiculous. 

JIANG: No, but he has implied that they're coming out of the woodwork all of a sudden and cited that as a reason why even though he has called for an investigation even though — 

SANDERS: He's saying that because after Judge Kavanaugh is in public service and in the public eye for over 26 years, been through six background investigations, now part of a seventh, that this is the first time you're ever hearing of any of these allegations. The fact that through all of those background checks, not even an inkling of any of those things came up despite the fact that he was one of the top prosecutors for Ken Starr in a major public position. None of these things came up when he was nominated to be on the federal bench, none of these came up. He's been a public figure and a lot of opportunity for the people to raise this issue and it never has and now, at the 11th hour, the Democrats have exploited this process and done so publicly and it's a shame and he's simply calling that out.

NB Daily Judiciary Kavanaugh Nomination Israel/Palestine Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals CBS CNN NPR Video Government & Press White House Press Briefing Jim Acosta April Ryan Weijia Jiang Donald Trump Sarah Huckabee Sanders Brett Kavanaugh Christine Blasey Ford John Bolton
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