WASHINGTON — Sean Spicer held the press briefing from the White House Monday. The press secretary answered questions on why Donald Trump’s son-in-law is in Iraq right now and reports that Susan Rice requested the unmasking of Trump transition officials.
On why Jared Kushner is in Iraq
Donald Trump’s son-in-law is visiting Iraq currently with Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who serves as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I don’t think it’s a binary choice in this case,” Spicer said when asked why Kushner is there and not Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Both Kushner and [Tom] Bossert are on the trip at the request and invitation of Gen. Dunford. He believed it was an opportunity for both of them. He was invited by Dunford to see the work being done there firsthand. I don’t think that translates to, ‘He’s overseeing Iraq.'”
Spicer said Kushner will be briefed on our military effort there and will express the commitment of the U.S. government to Iraq.
On reports that Susan Rice requested the unmasking of names of Trump transition officials
“I will say there is a troubling direction some of this is going in. We are going to let this review go on before we jump to [conclusions]..I think it is interesting in the lack of developments we’ve seen.”
“Me getting to the motives assumes certain things as fact.”
On the H1-B visa program
“The White House acknowledges that there are issues with the program as it stands. Several laws on the books went unenforced in the last administration. As the Department of Justice made clear, the Trump administration will enforce laws protecting American workers from discriminating hiring practices.”
On where the president’s paycheck is going
As a candidate, Trump said he would not accept a paycheck if elected. Because he is legally obligated to get paid, Spicer announced that Trump will donate his first quarter paycheck — some $78,000 — to the National Parks Services.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke made an appearance to accept the paycheck.
On the explosion at a Russian metro station
Spicer called it “reprehensible” and said the United States is prepared to offer assistance if needed.
On the ‘nuclear option’ for Neil Gorsuch
“The president said a week ago that this is something he would support. It’s up to Mitch McConnell. Make no mistake, Neil Gorsuch will be voted as the next Supreme Court justice.”