WSJ: “The Right Move on Monuments”

“The Trump Administration’s order not only ends federal overreach but restores power to local people. That’s a monumental and welcome change.”

The Right Move on Monuments

Editorial

The Wall Street Journal

December 5, 2017

President Trump announced Monday that he will dramatically reduce the acreage of two national monuments. The order ends excessive federal control of Utah land, allowing residents to protect their own territory and conserve their cultural relics.

Without public comment, the federal government unilaterally seized control of more than 3.2 million acres of southeastern Utah that together constitute the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments. Residents and their elected representatives had minimal influence on the draconian land-use restrictions imposed by Washington bureaucrats.

Last spring Mr. Trump ordered a review of 27 supersized monuments. The Interior Department made recommendations only after accepting formal public comment. Mr. Trump announced Monday that he would shrink Bears Ears by about 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly 46%.

Most of the two million newly undesignated acres are still public lands, subject to rigorous federal and state protections. The Trump Administration increased Native American representation on the advisory Bears Ears Commission.

In other words, the Trump Administration’s order not only ends federal overreach but restores power to local people. That’s a monumental and welcome change.

Read the full editorial here.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 12/5/2017, #37

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

3:18 P.M. EST

MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. As you saw, the President just wrapped up a meeting in the Oval Office with four families from different parts of the country. They are veterans, small-business owners, workers, moms, dads, and students. And they all had one thing in common: The President's plan to cut taxes and reform our broken tax code will help them thrive and build a better life and a better future for themselves and their children.

This event was an important reminder that while Washington focuses on the politics of the day, the President is focused on the forgotten men and women around our nation. These are the families who deserve a tax cut for Christmas, and that's exactly what we're going to deliver.

Looking ahead, the President will visit Mississippi on Saturday, where they are celebrating the state’s bicentennial, 200 years of statehood. To mark the occasion, the President will participate in the grand openings of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Tomorrow, First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence will travel to Texas to continue their efforts in assisting those affected by this year’s devastating hurricane season. They will participate in a meet-and-great with first responders in Corpus Christi and then travel to Rockport to meet with a family whose home was destroyed in the hurricane.

Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Pence will also visit a local elementary school to speak with faculty and students about the hurricane. And their last stop will be at a local food bank to meet with volunteers and help sort boxes for donations.

Finally, I know there have been a lot of questions surrounding the President’s decision on Jerusalem. Tomorrow, the President will deliver remarks regarding this action.

At 5:30 this evening, senior administration officials will hold a background briefing here to explain the President’s decision.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.

Major.

Q Sarah, one issue that you may have seen this morning: Is the White House, or the President, at any level, considering creating a global or regional spy network that would circumvent the U.S. intelligence apparatus and serve the President outside of the normal and legally defined intelligence-gathering mechanisms?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware of any plans for something of that definition or anything similar to that at this time.

Q The President would be opposed to that?

MS. SANDERS: I haven’t had that conversation with him, but I'm not aware of any plans for anything like that moving forward.

Q Do you know if any senior official has been briefed on that idea, or has it been discussed at any level in this administration?

MS. SANDERS: I haven’t done a full survey of every member of the administration, but I can tell you, as of right now, that's not something that's currently being planned, and not something that I'm aware is moving forward in any capacity.

Q Is it possible —

MS. SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to answer every hypothetical for every single member. Did some random person off the street come in and say something? I don’t know, Major.

Q No, but is it possible it's something the President might consider?

MS. SANDERS: I'm sorry?

Q Is it something the President might consider?

MS. SANDERS: Again, I haven’t asked him, but it's not something that's currently in the works.

John.

Q World leaders have spoken out, Sarah, in the last 24 hours about the possible move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas says that it would have great consequences for peace and stability in the region. King Abdullah said much the same thing. Saudi Arabia, at least publicly, saying the same thing; though, I'm told privately, they're saying something different than that. French President Macron said that he thought it was a bad idea.

In the face of all of that, would the President ignore that advice from world leaders and go ahead and make the move at this time?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not going to get ahead of the President's remarks that he'll make tomorrow. He did speak with a number of leaders this morning, and he's going to continue to have conversations with relevant stakeholders. But, ultimately, he'll make what he feels is the best decision for the United States.

Q Is it safe to say, other than Israel, which thinks that this move is 22 years overdue, that all of the feedback that he's been getting from world leaders is overwhelmingly negative about this idea?

MS. SANDERS: No. Again, he spoke with five leaders. That's hardly indicative of everybody across the globe. But certainly he's going to continue to have conversations with different leaders from across the world, and we'll keep you posted as those calls take place, and we'll let you know when the President has made a decision.

Cecilia.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Yesterday, the President said that he felt very badly for General Flynn. Would he consider pardoning him?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware that that has come up or any process or decision on that front.

Q So you haven't talked to him about it or he said he wouldn’t consider it?

MS. SANDERS: I haven't asked the President whether or not he would do that.

Q You have not —

MS. SANDERS: I think before we start discussing the pardons for individuals, we should see what happens in specific cases, too.

Q So is it fair to say that it's on the table?

MS. SANDERS: No. I just said I haven't had the conversation with him because I don't feel that it's necessary until, you know, you get further down the road and determine whether or not that's even something needed.

Steve.

Q Back on the embassy. Has the President made up his mind about this, or is the decision still in flux a bit?

MS. SANDERS: The President, I would say, is pretty solid in his thinking at this point.

April.

Q Sarah, a couple questions. One, there are comments from people from the NAACP, black ministers, who plan on protesting and boycotting this weekend for the President's visit to the Civil Rights Museum. What say you?

MS. SANDERS: I think that would be, honestly, very sad. I think this is something that should bring the country together to celebrate the opening of this museum and highlighting Civil Rights Movement and the progress that we've made. And would I hope that those individuals would join in that celebration instead of protesting it. However, they have every right to protest it.

Q They feel it's an insult that he's coming as we've had issues of Charlottesville, the back and forth — the President couldn't get his statement straight on Charlottesville.

MS. SANDERS: I think he got his statement very clear when he condemned all forms of racism, bigotry, and violence. There's no gray area there, and I think he made it very clear what his position is.

Jordan.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Did the President know that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI at the time that he fired him in February?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President knew that he lied to the Vice President, and that was the reason for his firing.

Q I have a follow-up. So your predecessor said on June 6th, “…is the President of the United States, so they're considered official statements by the President of the United States in regards to his tweets.” Does that still — does that standard still apply for the President's tweets?

MS. SANDERS: It does. And I know that you're probably referencing the tweet that was written by the President's attorney, and he since clarified that, and I would refer you back to the attorney's clarification on that.

Matthew.

MS. SANDERS: Thanks, Sarah. The White House originally said that if the accusations against Roy Moore were true, then Moore should step aside. I'm wondering how the President reached the conclusion that all of Moore's accusers — including those who have put forward evidence — are lying.

MS. SANDERS: Didn't say they were lying. The President's position hasn't changed; still finds those concerning. But as we've also said, the President feels that he would rather have a person that supports his agenda versus somebody who opposes his agenda every step of the way. And until the rest of that process plays out, you have a choice between two individuals, and the President has chosen to support Moore.

Q Even if that person who would support his agenda has done what Roy Moore's accusers have said he's done?

MS. SANDERS: Again, we've said that the allegations are concerning, and, if true, he should step aside. But we don’t have a way to validate that, and that's something for the people of Alabama to decide, which we've also said, and we maintain that. And ultimately, it will come down to the people of Alabama to make that decision.

David.

Q Sarah, can you tell me a little bit about the process and timing as how the President got to the potential Jerusalem announcement tomorrow? Do you have somewhat of a backstory on that to the degree that you can at this point?

MS. SANDERS: I can tell you that it was a very thoughtful interagency process. In terms of specifics, that's something that will be addressed in greater detail later this evening at the background briefing and then further by the President in his remarks tomorrow.

Q And just a quick follow-up. An evangelical's role in this, how crucial is that being in terms of the Faith Advisory Council?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President wanted to make the decision that was the best decision for the United States. And I'm not going to get ahead of anything beyond the events later today and tomorrow.

John.

Q Thanks a lot, Sarah. I have a question for you about the special counsel's office. Does the President believe that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or anybody on his staff, is biased in any way against the President?

MS. SANDERS: I think we've seen some reports that certainly caused a great deal of concern, and we hope that those are fully looked at and investigated.

Q Just a follow-up for you, if I may, Sarah. I think it was about five or six weeks ago that you indicated from that podium, on a few occasions, that you believe and the White House believes that Mr. Mueller's investigation will be wrapping up shortly.

Since that time, we've seen that a very high-level aide to the President — former aide to the President — former national security advisor has entered a plea deal with the special counsel's office. Do you still believe that this investigation is wrapping up soon?

MS. SANDERS: We do. And I'd refer you to the comments that were made by Ty Cobb, where he indicated as such, over the last few days.

Blake.

Q Sarah, thank you. Let me ask you two questions on so-called “red lines.” If Robert Mueller ends up looking into the President's finances, or if he has already looked into the President's finances, does the President, does this White House believe that is a red line? And, if so, why?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think it's important to note — and hopefully you guys have seen the statement that Jay Sekulow, a member of the President's legal team, has put out within the last hour — that they confirmed that the news reports that the special counsel had subpoenaed financial records relating to the President are completely false. No subpoena has been issued or received. We've confirmed this with the bank and other sources.

I think that this is another example of the media going too far, too fast. And we don't see it going in that direction.

Q Let me ask you — a second red line. This White House has consistently said there are two red lines on tax reform — middle class relief and then a 20 percent corporate rate. But the President, over the weekend, seemed to suggest that he would be amenable for a corporate rate up to 22 percent. Why would he be willing to step over his own red line on that issue?

MS. SANDERS: Look, the President said just, I guess, maybe a couple of hours ago, that we're firm and we feel strongly about the 20 percent. And we're very excited about the progress we've made on that front, and think that we'll get there on both sides, in the House and the Senate.

Michael.

Q So two quick things. One, does the President believe, as the lawyer from the solicitor general's office said at the court today, that a baker could put a sign in his window saying “We don't bake cakes for gay weddings” and that that would be legal?

MS. SANDERS: I'm sorry, could you say the first part of that question again? My cough kind of drowned you out.

Q Yeah, so the solicitor general — the lawyer from the solicitor general's office for the administration said today in court, at the Supreme Court, that it would be legal, it would be possible for a baker to put a sign in his window saying, “We don't bake cakes for gay weddings.” Does the President agree that that would be okay?

MS. SANDERS: The President certainly supports religious liberty. And that's something that he talked about during the campaign and since upheld since taking office.

Q And that would be, that would —

MS. SANDERS: I believe that would include that.

Q And one other question just on Russia, but not one that you would expect. What does the President think of the decision to ban Russian athletes from the Olympics in 2018?

MS. SANDERS: I haven't had the ability to speak with him directly about that decision since it was made here earlier today. But I'll certainly be happy to talk to him and follow up with you on that.

Catherine.

Q Sarah, House Republican leaders had to push back a vote on a short-term budget bill this week to avert a shutdown. Does the White House think that a shutdown is a possibility?

MS. SANDERS: You know, it's always a possibility, but it's certainly not what we hope for. And we have both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer coming later this week. And the President hopes to be able to have conversations with them to make sure that doesn't happen.

Q And one follow-up. Then, the President doesn't think that it would be politically advantageous?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I said that we don’t — that's not what we would like to see happen, and we're going to have meetings and try to make sure that it doesn't.

Hallie.

Q Two quick ones for you. And just a statement of fact: When did the President know that Mike Flynn lied to the FBI?

MS. SANDERS: As I said earlier, I referred you back to John Dowd's clarification, and I would —

Q I'm asking for a date. I'm asking for a date. When did he find out? Was it when the announcement was made Friday? Was it prior to that?

MS. SANDERS: Again, I'm not aware of those specifics, but I would refer you to John Dowd for that specific question.

Q Would you mind following up with the President since Dowd has been unresponsive to that?

MS. SANDERS: I would actually refer you to John Dowd on that specific question. Since it's a legal matter, I'm not allowed to weigh in to it.

Q No problem. A point to you, you have weighed in on other special counsel matters before. It's just a statement of fact of when, during the administration, what day the President discovered this lie issue.

MS. SANDERS: And I'm telling you, as a statement of fact, that you should contact John Dowd. Doesn't seem that hard.

Q My second question is on Roy Moore, Sarah. You said, just a minute ago, that the President would want somebody in the Senate who supports his agenda versus one who does not. And I just want to clarify here that, is it the White House's position then — sort of formally here — that it is worse to have a Democrat in that Senate seat than somebody who is accused of sexually abusing a teen girl?

MS. SANDERS: Look, as I said, we find the allegations to be troubling.

Q Then why did the President endorse?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think that those are different things in terms of we aren't going to be the ones to determine that process. That's for the people of Alabama to determine what those things come down on. He does want people that support his agenda. He's not going to, obviously, support a Democrat. And I think, if that's our standard, then we need to look at a number of members of Congress that have had allegations brought against them that are still in office.

Steven.

Q Thanks, Sarah. I do want to nail something down with respect to John Dowd and what he's been telling us in the last couple of days. He's argued that the President cannot be charged with obstruction of justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer in the country. That's his opinion. Does the White House share that opinion? Has the White House Counsel's Office looked into this question? Does it share that perspective?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth on legal theories. But I can tell you, as the President has said, there's no collusion, there's no obstruction, and that we're confident that the facts will show that when this is wrapped up.

Q What do you make of the whole notion of obstruction of justice, though? It's been discussed in the last couple of days. A lot of people have been talking about it. What do you think about it?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not an attorney. And as far as I know, only Jon Decker in the room is. (Laughter.) And so if you want to ask him legal questions, you certainly can. I don't know if he'll answer them. But that's as far as I'm going to go on that.

Jim.

Q I'm not an attorney either. Let me ask you about —

MS. SANDERS: I know, that's why I didn't call you out.

Q Thank you, I appreciate that. This decision on Jerusalem — is the President concerned that there could a violence as a result of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Has that been looked at by this White House?

MS. SANDERS: A number of things have been looked at that have been weighed into the President's decision. But as I said a few minutes ago, I'm not going to get ahead of his remarks. And we'll be certainly happy to address those at a later time.

Q Following up on Roy Moore, just very quickly — other folks got a couple of questions — isn't there a moral decision that you're making here? And I’m sure you've heard this talked about in the news the last couple of days as the President has decided to endorse Roy Moore. This is somebody who has been accused of child abuse, of molesting children. How can that vote in the Senate be that important that you would take a gamble on somebody who has been accused of molesting kids, of harming somebody who's underage?

MS. SANDERS: As I've said, that's something for the people of Alabama to decide. And that's up for them —

Q Is that something the President has wrestled with in any way? Has he wrestled with that question?

MS. SANDERS: As I've said, we find the allegations very troubling. And, again, this is up to the people of Alabama to make that decision. I'm not a voter in Alabama and can't make that decision.

Brian.

Q Sarah, thank you. The President said that the tax plan will hurt him individually. Will the President release his taxes to prove that?

MS. SANDERS: I'm not aware of any plan to do that, but if it changes, I'll certainly let you know.

Q Why not? I mean, he can release it — even if it's under audit, he could release his tax returns if he wanted.

MS. SANDERS: As he said, as long as it's under audit, he's not going to do that. And I'm not aware of any plans to change that policy at this time.

John.

Q Yeah. Thank you, Sarah. A matter of procedure on the Roy Moore endorsement. Did the President have any conversations with Chairman McDaniel of the RNC after he made his position known? Or did he talk to state Chairman Lathan in Alabama or any of the players involved in the Republican National Committee before they decided to get back in the race and support Roy Moore?

MS. SANDERS: I know there have been conversations between administration officials and the RNC, and supported that move. But, legally, I can't — because of the Hatch Act — go much further beyond that.

Q You can't say who the officials are?

MS. SANDERS: I know that there were multiple conversations. I'm not aware if the President spoke specifically with the chairwoman. I'd have to check on that and let you know. But I do know the administration supported the RNC's decision. However, I can't go any further than that at this time.

Hunter.

Q Thank you, Sarah. Given the President's endorsement, does he agree with Roy Moore that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress?

MS. SANDERS: I haven't asked him about a past statement from Roy Moore.

Q But, I mean, you're saying that their agendas are kind of in lockstep. Does that go both ways?

MS. SANDERS: I'm saying he supports the President's agenda. The President doesn't necessarily support everything of Moore's agenda.

Eamon.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Does the President expect Deutsche Bank or any financial institutions to cooperate with requests for documents from U.S. law enforcement if they get them?

MS. SANDERS: As I said a few minutes ago, Jay Sekulow, a member of the President's legal team, put out that —

Q What's the President's message to the financial institutions themselves? If they get a request, should they comply with that?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to get into hypothetical situations and try to determine and project everything that could happen. We know that it hasn't happened up until this point and that the reports out were totally false.

And, again, the media got ahead of their skis a little bit on pushing and driving that story that wasn't true.

Brian.

Q Just to follow up on Roy Moore a bit. Are you saying that — you're saying let the people decide, but this administration has endorsed Roy Moore. Why endorse him if you want the people to decide? You're influencing the decision by endorsing him. And secondly, are you saying that no matter who runs as a member of the GOP, it's okay as long as you are in lockstep with the President and vote the way he wants?

MS. SANDERS: Once again, I'm not going to get into every person that could or couldn't run for office down the line.

Q For this person. This person.

MS. SANDERS: Hold on. I'm going to finish answering the question, if you allow me to. But I'm not going to address — you asked — the end of your question was, every person that runs for office. One, I'm not going to weigh in, because I don't know who may run for office.

But what I can say, the President made that decision, and he decided that it was better to have somebody that supports his agenda than a Democrat that doesn't. Again, it's still up to the people of Alabama to decide. They're ultimately the only ones that can vote in that election. We'll see what happens.

Last question. Dave.

Q Thanks, Sarah. The administration reported today that illegal border crossings have dropped to a 45-year low. Does that lessen the urgency, as we're getting down to spending decisions here, about whether to go forward with building the wall in this budget?

MS. SANDERS: I think it shows, probably, the effectiveness of the Trump presidency and another success story as we wrap up the year and certainly something that could be looked at.

But I think the need for the border wall and border security, as well as responsible immigration reform, still stands. And we still need to look at all the ways that we can protect our national security, and we still feel strongly that that's one of them.

Thanks so much, guys.

END

3:39 P.M. EST

Remarks by President Trump at Taxpayer Family Event

Oval Office

2:12 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. We have four great families — middle class. I guess at a certain point, you're going to be making so much money you don't really — not going to know what to do with it, perhaps — I hope — Brian.

But we have four terrific families. Some of them have had difficulty. Taxes are too high. Frankly, their healthcare is terrible. The healthcare plan is terrible — Obamacare. And that will be next. We're a long way toward getting rid of that and getting something very good and very much more affordable — very big problem.

But for the taxes: They want to see tax cuts. They want to see jobs. They want to have choice. You know, in education we talk about choice. Well, we want choice in jobs also. So you can look for five jobs or six jobs, not just take one because that's all you could get. And that's happening more and more.

have companies moving back into our country. We're doing fantastic — look at the stock market. Hit another all-time high. I think I heard today was 81 times — I was saying 60, yesterday — it's 81 times since the election that we hit a record on the stock market. So we're very proud of that. And that's because of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm levels for business and for the economy are the highest they've been.

So I just want to thank all of you for being here. You're in the Oval Office, and someday you might be President, you never know. (Laughter.) That's a good-looking President. (Laughter.)

But it's an honor to have you all, and thank you very much. And if you'd like to say something, perhaps we'll start with you.

MR. STEORTS: Sure. First, Mr. President, I just want to say it's an honor to be here for our family and I. We come from a — you know, we're a small military family. I spent 15 years in the military, and I launched the company two years ago. And we're a veteran-owned, operated company — veteran company.

And, you know, anything that's less complex, with lower rates — I can't tell you what page 391 of a 500-page tax document says. But what I can tell you is, those funds we can reinvest into our people and into our company, which will enable our mission to continue to hire veterans and to continue to manufacture in America. So that's greatly beneficial to us.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Brian. That's very nice. I appreciate it. That's really good.

Well, we're going to get the rates down much lower, and many things are happening. But we're getting those rates way down, way down.

And that's for companies also. We're the highest-taxed industrialized country in the world. Of the major countries, we're the highest taxed, period. And we're bringing that rate down from 35 percent — which is the highest — down to 20 percent — which is among the lower. It's not the lowest, but it's among the lower.

And we'll compete much better with China, where they have a 15-percent rate, and with other countries. We're going to compete much better and it's going to mean a lot more jobs. And a lot of companies are pouring in already, just on the thought of it.

So we're in conference right now, and — all Republican votes. And we're going to do a — I call it the “massive tax cut.” But it really is tax cuts and tax reforms. Because part of it is simplification, as you said.

MR. STEORTS: Thank you. And I wanted to offer you this. We make everything — like, at the time when I launched the company, we couldn't find a wooden American flag made in America. We could only find one from China, and that upset me.

THE PRESIDENT: It upsets me too.

MR. STEORTS: So I started woodworking the next day. And when I retired, I launched the company Flags of Valor. And this is made from all of our combat veterans right down the road here in Ashburn, Virginia. And we want to present this to you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Let me see that. Wow, that's beautiful. Thank you. I know where I'm going to put that. (Laughter.) Thank you very much.

Would you like to say something?

MR. BEARDSLEY: Yeah, Mr. President, thank you very much again. And Merry Christmas, by the way. Thanks for having the families come here. Coming out here to talk about tax reform means a lot to us. I'm a veteran also — a Green Beret with over 22 years of military service — a family man, and a small-business owner. We're in textiles, and we celebrate the stories that made this country the greatest country in the world. We love America.

It means a lot to us in seeing the reform. The resurgence in the economy will allow those companies to onshore their business. Like Ryan said, too many things are done offshore.

So having that tax reform, putting the energy back in the consumer is where it belongs. The American enterprise, or the entrepreneur — those are the ones who built this country. And everything that you do to make taxes easier for us informs and strengthens the rest of America. And we're proud to be part of that this morning.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. That's really well-stated. We're also working on trade deals. We've had people sitting in this position that have made some of the worst deals I've ever seen in trade. And we're going to be fixing them. We are fixing them. We're negotiating many of them right now. But we're fixing them, and they'll be much more fair to the United States because the United States has not been treated well with our trade deals. We have some very, very bad deals. They're good for everyone but us. And that's changing rapidly, and I know you see that too. Well, you see that with the enthusiasm, you see that with the jobs coming back. So we're getting it all fixed.

Thank you very much.

MR. BEARDSLEY: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

Yes.

MS. UNRUH: Thank you so much for allowing our families to come and share our thoughts with you today. I'm from North Dakota. I'm a state senator there, and I just wanted to let you know, North Dakotans are known for being hard workers.

THE PRESIDENT: It's true.

MS. UNRUH: And we don't want a handout, we just want relief. We want tax relief. And that is what this plan will give us. Between the state and local tax deduction elimination, we've — I work very hard as state senator to make sure that our tax burden at the local level is a low one. And so that will level the playing field. We're really excited about that.

I also am a coal miner — a proud one. I'm an environmental manager for North American Coal. And we are really excited about the corporate-tax reduction. It will allow us to invest more of our company's dollars in domestic energy production, something that we think is very valuable.

Also, the House version of the bill includes an immediate reduction of the renewable wind energy production tax credit. That's also something important to us. The production tax credit has destroyed the energy market, especially in the Midwest. We don't have a lot of electricity produced from natural gas in North Dakota. So wind production has really eroded our state tax base and replaced coal production when it comes to electricity production.

So we're excited about that provision in the House as well. And we're also very thankful for all the regulatory reform we've seen come from your office. We would hope there's more, and look forward to working with you on that. And I think regulatory reform, coupled with tax reform, is exactly what we need to help make America great again.

And, on that note, we have some caps that we've been passing around — (laughter) — and I'd be happy if you would take one.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I still — we've done that. If you look at what's happened in West Virginia and so many different places, we're sending clean coal. We're sending it out to different places — China. A lot of coal ordered in China right now. So a lot of things are changing, and they're changing very rapidly.

And West Virginia, actually — different from your state, but your state is doing very well — but West Virginia was the second largest increase, percentage-wise, in the country, after Texas on GDP. And, you know, people say, wow, how did that happen? But they're starting to do well in West Virginia, and it's a great state. And they're having a lot of problems. And now, think of that, percentage-wise, the second biggest bump.

That's pretty good in this nation. You wouldn't have believed it, but they're doing great. We're very proud of West Virginia. So, good, thank you very much. That's a very interesting hat. (Laughter.)

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. President, thank you so much for being here. We bring you greetings from the great state of Indiana where you took one of our finest —

THE PRESIDENT: That's true. That's true.

MR. WILLIAMS: We appreciate that. I work in technology for a tech firm, and we've seen so many jobs that have left and went overseas, and we've seen some of the best talent in the world that's left.

So this tax reform is a huge win for our company. It's significant. It's going to allow us once again to get that top-tier talent; keep them here in the United States working, number one. And number two, we're going to be able to give them, you know, the ability to be able to take that hard-earned income and reinvest it right back into our economy — it's here to make America great again. So we thank you so much for that opportunity.

THE PRESIDENT: That is so good. Thank you. It's a great state. It's a great, great state too. We appreciate it.

Well, thank you all very much. We appreciate it. And these are great families that are doing well and now they're doing much better, and maybe much better than ever before. A lot of changes have taken place over the last 10 months, and we're very happy to have all of you here.

But seeing what we've been able to do for the country in a short period of time — because this is nothing compared to what it will be over a period of years. It's all happening, and it's happening a lot faster than anybody projected.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

END

2:21 P.M. EST

First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence to Visit Texas for Continued Hurricane Relief

First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence will travel to Texas tomorrow, December 6, to continue their efforts in assisting those affected by this year’s devastating hurricane season.

Upon arrival to Corpus Christi, the two will participate in a meet-and-greet with first responders who are part of the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort. Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Pence will then travel to Rockport, Texas to meet with a family whose home was destroyed in the hurricane, and tour the home’s remains. They will also see the family’s new Manufactured Housing Unit, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will serve as the family’s temporary residence until they can move into a new, rebuilt home.

Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Pence will also visit a local elementary school, touring classrooms and speaking with faculty and students about the hurricane. The two women will conclude their day in Texas with a stop at a local food bank to meet with volunteers and help sort boxes of donations.

“The effects of the hurricane season are still being felt throughout southern portions of the United States and in Puerto Rico, and residents still need our help,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “While I am heartened by the strength and resilience of those impacted by the storms, I will continue doing all that I can to lend a voice and shine a spotlight on those who need assistance to rebuild and start new family traditions. As Christmas and the New Year approach, I encourage people to lend their time volunteering or providing financial support to those still reeling from the hurricanes.”

“Our hearts are encouraged by the people of Texas and their continued enthusiasm to help each other pick up the pieces and rebuild after Hurricane Harvey,” said Mrs. Karen Pence. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to accompany the First Lady in Texas and to visit with families and their children in the communities most impacted by the storm. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the people of Texas.”

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Calls with Leaders in the Middle East

President Donald J. Trump spoke separately today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt, and His Majesty King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. The President reaffirmed his commitment to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the importance of supporting those talks. He underscored the importance of bilateral cooperation with each partner to advance peace efforts throughout the region. The leaders also discussed potential decisions regarding Jerusalem.

Remarks by President Trump at Lunch with Republican Members of the Senate

Roosevelt Room

12:33 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate everybody coming in.

We had some very late nights getting the tax-cut bill to conference. Last was very smooth, and I think we're going to make it so that it comes out very beautifully. I call it “the mixer.” It's a conference where everyone gets together and they pick all the good things and get rid of the things they don't like.

But it's a fantastic bill for the middle class. It's a fantastic bill for jobs and for companies wanting to bring back massive amounts of money into our country. It's really — I view it more than anything else, is it's a tremendous bill for jobs and for the middle class.

And I think people see that, and they're seeing it more and more. And the more they learn about it, the more popular it becomes. And I think the end result will be even better. We had a choice — we could have gone directly for a vote, and we decided, though, let's put it into the conference and let's come out with something where everything is perfecto. And that's what we're going to do.

This group of wonderful Republican senators is here to discuss the tax bill — very important. And we're also going to be talking about trade and NAFTA — what's going on with the NAFTA negotiations. We have tremendous losses with Mexico and losses with Canada, and covered by NAFTA. Last year, we lost approximately $71 billion in trade deficit; we have a trade deficit with Mexico of $71 billion. With Canada, it was about $17 billion.

We have trade deficits with everybody. Virtually every country in the world we have trade deficits with. And that's going to be changing — it's already changing — but it's going to be changing fast. We went to China; we brought back over $300 billion worth of contracts from Asia. It was a very successful trip.

But now we're going to look at NAFTA very seriously. We have Bob Lighthizer here, we have Gary Cohn, and we're already starting the negotiation. Not easy to have an election coming up, so we'll see how that plays. But it's going to be very successful.

So we're going to be talking about trade, we'll be talking about healthcare, we'll be talking about other subjects. The taxes, we're so thrilled about and so popular. And I think something is going to be coming out of conference pretty quickly, as opposed to long term. I think it's going to go pretty quickly. We're all on the same page. There's a great spirit in the Republican Party like I've never seen before — like a lot of people have said they've never seen before. They've never seen anything like this, the unity.

So I think a lot of very good things are going to happen and it's going to happen very fast. I want to thank you all for being here. And let's have a great lunch, and let's talk about trade. And let's make great trade deals instead of the horrible trade deals that we all got stuck with.

Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.

Q Mr. President, why did you decide to formally endorse Roy Moore?

THE PRESIDENT: I think he's going to do very well. We don't want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me. We want strong borders, we want stopping crime. We want to have the things that we represent, and we certainly don't want a liberal Democrat that's controlled by Nancy Pelosi and controlled by Chuck Schumer. We don't want to have that for Alabama.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

END

12:36 P.M. EST

Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of State

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority Under Sections 506(a)(2)(A) and 652 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, subject to the fulfillment of the requirements of section 652 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (Public Law 87-195)(the “Act”), and in order to provide assistance to Iraq, I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State:

(a) the authority under section 506(a)(2)(A)(i)(II) of the Act to direct the drawdown, for the purposes and under the authorities of Chapter 9 of part I of the Act, of up to a total of $22 million in articles and services from the inventory and resources of any agency of the United States Government and military education and training from the Department of Defense;

(b) the authority to make the determination required under section 506(a)(2)(A) of the Act to direct such drawdown; and

(c) the authority under section 652 of the Act to make, before any such drawdown, the required notifications to the Congress.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

Summer 2018 White House Internship Program

The Summer 2018 White House Internship Program application is now open.

The application portal will remain open until 11:59PM EST on January 12, 2018. Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

The Summer 2018 White House Internship Program term runs from May 30 to August 10, 2018. All applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the internship program start date, and must be able to commit to the full internship term to be eligible. Additionally, applicants must be U.S. citizens and meet at least one of the following criteria to apply:

– Are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to-four year institution).

– Have graduated from an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to-four year institution) no more than two years before the internship program start date.

– Are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces who possesses a high school diploma or its equivalent and has served on active duty—for any length of time—in the two years preceding the internship program start date.

The White House Internship Program is highly competitive. Applicants are selected based on their demonstrated commitment to public service, leadership in the community, and commitment to the Trump Administration. Questions about the White House Internship Program application can be directed to intern_application@who.eop.gov. More information, including details about placement in the White House Internship Program and frequently asked questions can be found on the White House website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/participate/internships.

Ethan Lane: “Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments”

“Every White House — especially over the last 30 years or so, has worked to expand the power of the Executive Branch. But today’s action seems more likely to restrict that power, giving it back to locals and their representatives in government.”

Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments

By Ethan Lane

The Hill

December 4, 2017

Every White House — especially over the last 30 years or so, has worked to expand the power of the Executive Branch. But today’s action seems more likely to restrict that power, giving it back to locals and their representatives in government.

When President Obama declared Bears Ears a national monument in the waning days of his administration, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. National monuments are a lot like national parks, but they differ in one very important aspect — the president can create a national monument with nothing more than the stroke of a pen. A small handful of very loud, very aggressive environmental groups and tribal interests had long been lobbying for just this designation, and they were thrilled at the breathtaking scope of the designation — more than 1.3 million acres.

Locals, though, weren’t so thrilled. Elected officials from Gov. Gary Herbert to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop — who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources — had been working for years to broker an agreement that would protect and preserve the culturally significant areas while allowing much-needed access and use to locals who depend on the land for their livelihoods and their way to life.

Then, with nearly no notice and without so much as a nod toward soliciting input, the Obama administration intervened and created a political maelstrom. With nothing more than a proclamation, all that work to build consensus and foster cooperation found itself swept into the dustbin of history. The narrative became entirely political.

With today’s pronouncement, the current administration made a strong statement — although the law may give presidents the right to unilaterally make such decisions without so much as consulting those who have a stake in them, maybe presidents ought to be more judicious with that power.

Obviously, the people who depend on public lands — which make up nearly 90 percent of some of Utah’s counties — are better off today than they were before this move.

To be sure, today’s announcement eases the burdens placed on local ranchers and their communities.

Read the full op-ed here.

WTAS: The President’s Speech in Salt Lake City, UT

Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT): “By acting on Secretary Zinke’s thoughtful recommendations, President Trump has restored balance to our public lands discussion. We are pleased that Utahns once again have a voice in the process of determining appropriate uses of these public lands that we love. By reducing these super-sized monuments to a size consistent with the intent of the law, new doors of dialogue have opened up that will allow thoughtful, long-term protection of these federal lands.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “I’m thrilled and grateful to President Trump and Secretary Zinke for giving [Utahans] a voice in the protection of Utah lands. The President’s proclamation represents a balanced solution and a win for everyone on all sides of this issue. It also represents a new beginning in the way national monuments are designated, paving the way for more local input, and taking into account the actual letter and intent of the Antiquities Act, which calls for the ‘smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.’”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): “President Trump did the people of Utah a great favor today by rolling back harmful land use restrictions in southern Utah. #utpol”

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT): “I applaud President Trump for recognizing the limitations of the law. Americans of all political stripes should commend him for reversing prior administrations’ abuses of the Antiquities Act and instead exercising his powers within the scope of authority granted by Congress. These new proclamations are a first step towards protecting identified antiquities without disenfranchising the local people who work and manage these areas. The next steps will be to move beyond symbolic gestures of protection and create substantive protections and enforcement and codify in law a meaningful management role for local governments, tribes and other stakeholders.”

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT): “The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument resides in my district. I have seen firsthand the damage that the monument has caused to the local economy. My constituents have been in a desperate need of change, and today President Trump delivered…He listened to local voices that had been left out of the decision-making process for too long. On behalf of the county commissioners, the state legislators who represent the area, and the entire federal delegation, we say thank you, Mr. President.”

Rep. John Curtis (R-UT): “I am grateful to the President for coming to Utah to help us resolve this important issue. Now that the President has created two new monuments in my congressional district, the time has come for congress to ensure that these sites are managed the right way.”

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ): “Today’s announcement by President Trump shows that he and Secretary Zinke are committed to smart, restrained and proper application of the Antiquities Act. His decision takes power from unaccountable Washington bureaucrats doing the dirty work of special-interest groups and gives it back to the people where it belongs… Thank you, President Trump, for keeping another promise and taking action to ensure past presidents’ abuse of a more than one hundred-year-old law doesn’t lock-up the west.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ): “The west has been negatively affected for decades, and government has not constrained its unlawful acquisition of these lands… I am glad that the two monuments will be significantly reduced, and I trust that the Trump administration will continue to relinquish the federal government’s grasp on these lands.”

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID): “I support President Trump’s decision to correct his predecessors’ overreach and scale back the monument designations to reflect local concerns and respect the right of ordinary Americans to make a living.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO): “I support the President’s decision. This rolls back harmful overreach by the previous administration. Instead of using the law to protect antiquities, it’s been wrongfully used to restrict development. It’s also made it more difficult to take care of our national lands.”

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN): “The President’s action today and the House’s action to pass the MINER Act last week demonstrate a renewed commitment of returning power from Washington bureaucrats back to the states. It’s high time the federal government allow local economies to flourish and trust the land to the people who live there.”

State Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (R-UT) & State Rep. Greg Hughes (R-UT): “We are grateful President Trump has listened to the people’s voice and the elected representatives of our state. We look forward to him following through on his promise to Utah voters by undoing much of President Obama’s Bears Ears National Monument designation. This is great news for the residents of southern Utah who depend on the use of public lands for their livelihoods and the Native Americans who depend on access to Bears Ears lands for their material and spiritual needs.”

San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally (D-UT): “Thank you President Trump. Thank you for not being a typical politician and passing us over. Thank you for caring about San Juan County. We may be only 15,000 strong, but we matter. We appreciate you willing to take the backlash from the special interest groups as you stand for the people and the economy of San Juan County.”

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke: “I thank President Trump for his leadership on the Monument Review and for keeping his promise to make sure the rural voice is heard once again. The people of Utah overwhelmingly voiced to us that public land should be protected not for the special interests, but for the citizens of our great country who use them, and this is what President Trump is doing today. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase will remain under federal protection, will adhere to the spirit and letter of the Antiquities Act, and — even after our modification — combined will still be nearly twice the size of Rhode Island.”

FreedomWorks Foundation President Adam Brandon: “Today we applaud President Trump, Interior Secretary Zinke, and their teams for arriving at this reasonable approach to these national monuments… Unilaterally declaring national monuments larger than some states is ridiculous on its face. We know our activists in Utah and across the country appreciate the Trump administration’s more humble approach to the power of his pen and phone.”