The following were responses to questions during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One with White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah:
On chemical weapons attack on a former Russian spy
The U.S. shares Britain’s conclusion that Russia was responsible for the attack, but no specific actions against Russia by America are ready to be announced yet and Shah is not aware of any independent U.S. assessment of the evidence.
Response to Russian meddling in 2016 election
The National Security Strategy lays out ways to counteract Russian cyberthreats and election meddling and noted that the NSC has had a meeting on the subject.
This president is taking this matter very seriously. There will be more things that we can make public about his actions but we take the integrity of our elections extremely seriously and are treating it with the utmost forethought. And frankly, we don’t want to see the mistakes and the failure to act from the last administration plague our elections in 2018.
Pennsylvania special election
The president’s engagement in the race turned what was a deficit for the Republican candidate to what is essentially a tie. Also, the Democrat in the race really embraced the president’s policies and his vision whereas he didn’t really embrace Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader.
There are steps that Im talking about that we can talk about. Then there are steps that we cant talk about publicly but that our adversaries know that we are engaged in.
On 3-for-3 DACA deal
The president opposes three-for-three short-term DACA deal. The 3-for-3 deal gives the president 3 years worth of border security funding (specifics on the wall are shakey) in exchange for a 3 year extension of the DACA program.
On China tariffs
There may be action on China tariffs.
On administration changes
Trump talked with Kudlow yesterday and will announce a decision soon. Shah had no comment on Shulkin, McMaster or other possible personnel moves.
The president thinks very highly of Larry Kudlow. They had a great conversation on the phone yesterday. Many people do want the job of director of the NEC.
As we’ve said, the White House did inform Secretary Tillerson about the president’s decision on Friday.
Did the secretary not believe it? I wouldn’t speculate on what Secretary Tillerson’s perspective was but I would just say he was informed of the president’s decision on Friday.
The president shares the students’ concerns about school safety. That is why he supports measures like Fix NICS and mental health provisions. There’s a series of proposals that the president has rolled out as part of an ongoing conversation to address school violence.
On Senator Pauls opposition to Pompeo and Haspel:
We think that Director Pompeo will make a fabulous secretary of state. He’ll receive broad bipartisan support.
Haspel already has the support of Democrats like Leon Panetta and James Clapper. She’d be a fantastic CIA director. She’d be the first female CIA director in American history which would be an important milestone.
As for her history with torture: Her background will be evaluated like all peoples backgrounds are during the confirmation process.