talking points
December 12, 2018

After Tuesday's madcap Oval Office meeting between President Trump and the top two congressional Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), there unanimous agreement that Trump had in fact taken ownership of any partial government shutdown due to his demand for $5 billion for a border wall. The Democrats emphasized their willingness to extend existing funding to avoid the "Trump shutdown." Trump leaned heavily on the phrase "border security."

"We gave the president two ways" to "avoid a shutdown," Schumer told reporters outside the White House. "We hope he'll take it, because a shutdown hurts too many innocent people. And this Trump shutdown, this temper tantrum that he seems to show, will not get him his wall, and it will hurt a lot of people because he will cause a shutdown — he admitted he wanted a shutdown."

"We're telling him we'll keep government open with the proposal Mr. Schumer suggested, why doesn't he just think about it," Pelosi added. "In fact, I asked him to pray over it."

"I thought it was a very good meeting," Trump told reporters, a group of priests behind him. "If we have to close down the country over border security, I actually like that in terms of an issue." Schumer "doesn't want to own it," he added. "If we close down the country, I will take it, because we're closing it down for border security, and I think I win that every single time."

And Trump isn't wrong, as long as we're just talking about Republicans. In a Marist poll for NPR and PBS released Tuesday, 56 percent of U.S. voters said Trump should compromise on the border wall and 69 percent said the wall isn't a priority, but 65 percent of Republicans said Trump should not compromise and 63 percent said building a wall should be a top priority. Marist conducted the poll Nov. 28 to Dec. 4 among 835 registered voters, a sample statistically significant within ±4.2 percentage points. Peter Weber

August 22, 2018

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has made the president's talking points loud and clear.

At Wednesday's press briefing, Sanders repeatedly insisted that President Trump "has done nothing wrong," despite the fact that Trump essentially admitted to violating campaign finance laws just hours earlier. She repeated the same line of defense numerous times, saying he "did nothing wrong" regarding hush payments during the 2016 campaign and asserting he's "done nothing wrong" with his past conflicting statements about the payments.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen on Tuesday pleaded guilty to committing campaign finance violations, saying he did so at the "direction" of Trump. But Sanders argued that Cohen's plea didn't mean Trump was implicated in any crime. "There are no charges against him," she said of Trump, again repeating his lack of wrongdoing. When asked whether Trump lied when he previously said he had known nothing about the payments, Sanders called it a "ridiculous accusation."

A few minutes later, Sanders echoed the defense almost verbatim when answering a question about Trump claiming he found out about the payments "later on," despite verifiably discussing them with Cohen in advance. "What I can tell you is that the president did nothing wrong," said Sanders. "There are no charges against him, there is no collusion." Watch the moment below, via CBS News. Summer Meza

April 16, 2018

The morning after former FBI Director James Comey's interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on the network to dispute some of Comey's claims.

Conway slammed Comey's credibility on Good Morning America on Monday, calling him an "admitted leaker" and suggesting that he was an opportunist looking for future memoir fodder. Stephanopoulos interviewed Comey on Sunday, in the former FBI official's first major press appearance following his firing last year and ahead of his forthcoming book, A Higher Loyalty.

Conway suggested that Comey's allegations were disingenuous because he had waited nearly a year to take them public, prompting Stephanopoulos to remind her that Comey had in fact told the Senate Judiciary Committee much of the same last year. The ABC anchor prodded Conway to actually prove her assertions. "Does the president have any evidence to back up his side of the story?" Stephanopoulos asked, questioning Conway's denials that Trump ever asked Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Conway insisted that Comey testified that nobody ever asked him to drop an investigation, but Stephanopoulos cut in: "I have to stop you there, because that is not correct either." Comey had only ever testified that no one in the Department of Justice had made such a request, Stephanopoulos said, but he has always maintained his claims about Trump.

Comey just loves "being in the proximity of power," Conway shot back. Watch the exchange below, via ABC. Summer Meza

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