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Sean Spicer press conference - live updates

White House spokesman Sean Spicer holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017. 

REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTSZOOZ

Last Updated Feb 21, 2017 2:22 PM EST

At today’s White House briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer fielded a number of questions on topics including the president’s anti-Semitism remarks, his coming travel ban and immigration enforcement guidelines released by DHS earlier today.

Here’s the live blog below.


The president looks forward to working with partners in NATO to achieve our shared objectives, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in remarks before taking questions from the White House press.

President and the press

Asked about the president’s comments slamming the press as the enemy of the people, Spicer said that he thought the president was very clear that certain outlets have “gone out of their way to not be completely accurate and fair in their coverage of what’s going on.” 

On the president’s recent discussion about the North Korean missile test with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and the appropriateness of the discussion in the dining area at Mar-a-Lago, Spicer said that to see people jump to that conclusion that it was classified materal is “disheartening.”

Travel Ban 

We’re confident we’ll prevail in the courts, Spicer said. Until that occurs, though, we’ll have a dual track and have been consulting with DOS and DHS. Later in the briefing, Spicer said that the White House would not rescind the existing executive order. 

1:57 p.m. Margaret Brennan asks about the Anne Frank Center’s comment that Mr. Trump’s remarks on anti-Semitism today merely provided a “bandaid on the cancer of anti-Semitism” within the Trump administration.

The president has made clear that he’s the one who seeks to unite this country, Spicer said. He has been very forceful with his denunciation of people who attack because of their hate of people based on their skin color, race, gender.  

He’s been very clear previous to this that he wants to bring this country together and not divide people. 

Trade

2:04 p.m. We’re going to look throughout the trade agreements that we have with countries to make sure they’re up to date. He wants to review every trade deal. 

NSC

NSC meeting today -- Is this the first meeting? 

No, it’s just a routine meeting with the staff, Spicer said. When will the first meeting of the NSC be? Gen. McMaster just got here around noon today, so we’ll give him a few days, Spicer said.

Joint address

President Trump will talk about what he promised during the campaign and what he’s done, Spicer said. He’ll address the challenges in cities, health care, education -- where he’s taking this country and why he’s going to enact the policies he’s going to enact.

Gendered bathrooms

2:08 p.m. The president believes this is a states’ rights issue, not the federal government. not something the federal government should be involved in.

DHS memos

What the order sets out today deals with the million or so people who have been adjudicated by ICE -- the people who threaten public safety or have a criminal record will be dealt with first. These people have already gone through due process.

The president has said we have to look at this in a holistic way, Spicer said. ICE and CVP have been handcuffed. The last administration had so many carveouts, it was hard for them to do their jobs, Spicer explained. 

DACA / Dreamers

2:13 p.m. The president has made clear when you have 12-14 million undocumented people in the country. DACA, DAPA recipients are not the subject of what is being dealt with now. Anyone here illegally is subject to removal, but the priority through DHS guidance is to make sure people who are criminals are removed first. 

The priority is to make sure law enforcement has the resources they need to carry this out.

John Kasich’s dinner with the president

Gov. Kasich has reached out to the president, and the president has shown he wants to meet with anyone who can help move the country forward. If there’s common ground, great. So many of the president’s issues are issues that Ohio is dealing with. Kasich asked for the meeting, Spicer said. The two are scheduled to have dinner later this week. 

African American History Museum

It was a very eye-opening and powerful tour for the president. He wanted to come back, Spicer said, because you can’t do it justice in just one visit. Spicer also talked about the unique experience for the president of seeing the exhibit about Dr. Carson with Ben Carson and his wife. 

The president looks forward to his upcoming meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, Spicer also said, in response to a question from American Urban Radio’s April Ryan.

DHS memos

Are you preparing for the legal battle brewing over today’s immigration-related orders? We have done  a phenomenal job of working with DHS and DOS to work through any concerns the courts may have, Spicer told reporters. A dual track is something we want to pursue to keep the country safe.

Q: OMB preparing budget that eliminates EX-IM Bank?

I can confirm that he’s working on a budget, talking with Congress, but we’re not at a position to go yet. 

DACA

What it means is that this particular enforcement - implementation of order tasking agencies under DHS to address specific problem of those who have been adjudicated. This order does not address DACA, said Spicer.

Undocumented who have been here for 10-15 years

The president has said before he’s got a big heart. He understands the plight of some of those individuals. He understands the impact it has on many families and communities. 

Russia

Q: doesn’t talk tough enough on Russia. What different tenor should be expected? There is widespread praise for McMaster, the new national security adviser. But the president will be the decider. If he can get a deal with Russia, he’ll try to do it. He understands if he can find common ground on fighting ISIS, growing the economy, he’ll try. If it’s in the interest of the United States, he’ll get a deal, Spicer said. 

He’ll have whatever he needs to implement a successful team. Adm. Harward wanted this job, but during the course of discussions, he said he had to address financial and family concerns. I talked to him again Saturday night. I would urge people to actually talk with him. We gave out his contact information. All of the rumors about the discretion he would have over the staff are “a hundred percent false,” Spicer said. 

I’ve talked to him several times. The president was ultimately very impressed with Gen. McMaster. 

He’s got full authority to structure the team the way he wants, the president said. He will have 100 percent control over the National Security Committee, and he will stay on active duty.