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Sarah Sanders addresses Russia sanctions, China tariffs, Scott Pruitt

White House on Russia sanctions, China tariffs
White House on Russia sanctions, China tariff... 06:40

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Friday said she doesn't necessarily expect the new sanctions announced against some in Russian President Vladimir Putin to change Mr. Trump's intent to meet with Putin at the White House soon. On Friday, the Trump administration announced sanctions targeting Russian elites, including Putin's son-in-law and body guard. 

"No, not at all," Sanders said, in response to a question from chief White House correspondent Major Garrett about whether the White House expects the summit to change. "We'll continue, as the president has said, he wants to have a good relationship with Russia, but that's going to depend on some of the actions by the Russians."

Sanders, pressed by Garrett, did not specify what about Russia's behavior most aggravates Mr. Trump. 

Sanders also addressed the U.S. trade dispute with China, after Mr. Trump Thursday night asked the U.S. Trade Office to consider $100 billion in new tariffs against China. That's after China announced $50 billion in tariffs against the U.S., in response to $50 billion in U.S. tariffs on China. Moments before Friday's briefing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on CBNC said there might be a trade war, prompting the Dow to drop more than 600 points. Sanders blamed China for any trade issues. 

"We are again, this is something that China has created and President Trump is trying to fix it," she told reporters.

Asked if Mr. Trump still thinks trade wars are easy to win, as he has said on Twitter, Sanders said that, if he is in charge of negotiations, "absolutely."  

In a radio interview Friday morning, the president insisted there is no trade war because it is "already lost."

Sanders would not give many details about the president's relationship with Scott Pruitt, the embattled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head who is under fire for renting a condo from the wife of a Washington lobbyist, for large raises his top aides were slated to receive, and for the job changes some EPA employees allegedly received after voicing concerns about his actions. CBS News' Jacqueline Alemany reports Mr. Trump met with Pruitt Friday morning. 

"No one other than the president has the authority to hire and fire," Sanders said Friday. "The president feels that the administrator has done a good job at EPA."

On Thursday, Mr. Trump praised Pruitt, but said he would have to look into the reports about the EPA administrator himself. 

"I think he's done a fantastic job," Mr. Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One during his trip back from West Virginia. "I think he's done an incredible job. He's been very courageous. It hasn't been easy, but I think he's done a fantastic job."

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