Watch live: White House press briefing with Sarah Sanders

Associated Press Updated 11:57 am, Wednesday, January 3, 2018 Watch the White House press briefing with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. President Donald Trump returned fire with both barrels Wednesday against criticism leveled at him in a new book that says he never expected — or wanted — to win the White House, his victory left his wife in tears and a senior adviser thought his son's contact with a Russian lawyer during the campaign was "treasonous." Trump released a formal statement railing against his former chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, insisting Bannon had little to do with his victorious campaign and "has nothing to do with me or my Presidency." LATEST SFGATE VIDEOS Now Playing: Now Playing NWS Forecast for the Bay Area sfgate Man sought in early-morning sexual assault and robbery sfgate Santa Clara cardboard factory fire sfgate 300 people plunge into Ocean Beach sfgate A beginner's guide to recreational marijuana sfgate Opening day for legal marijuana sales in Humboldt sfgate Recreational+cannabis SFGate Where is recreational marijuana available in California? sfgate Beautiful Yosemite sfgate Randy+Bennett+discusses+St.+Mary%E2%80%99s+rout+of+LMU+in+the+WCC+opener. SFGate "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Trump said. The statement came in response to an unflattering new book by writer Michael Wolff that paints Trump as a juvenile in many ways who doesn't understand the weight of the presidency and spends his evenings eating cheeseburgers in bed, watching television and talking on the phone to his old friends. Trump seemed most angry at comments made by Bannon and first reported by The Guardian, which obtained an early copy of the book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House." According to The Guardian, Bannon described a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer as "treasonous" and Continue Reading

White House press release says Trump wants ‘lasting peach’ between Israel and Palestine

President Trump wants to give peach a chance. A typo-tinged White House press release about Trump’s trip to Israel on Monday listed “lasting peach” in the Middle East as one of his highest priorities. “Promote the possibility of lasting peach,” the release listed in bold as one of Trump’s major goals for the visit. The bullet points for that section had another typo, with one item describing this plan: “A new approach, couple with changes (sic) in the Arab World — including growing recognition of the common threat from Iran — might be creating an environment more conducive to peace.” Trump said upon his arrival in Tel Aviv Monday that he saw “a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people,” but he has yet to outline specific plans for brokering peace between Israel and Palestine, an arrangement he has previously called the “ultimate deal.” Monday's press release was the latest public spelling error from the White House of the "unpresidented" President. Continue Reading

Trump hints he may stop holding daily White House press briefings in Fox interview

President Trump suggested Friday he was prepared to cancel the White House's daily press briefings unless he did them himself, and only if they occurred "every two weeks." In a bizarre interview taped hours after introducing the idea of scrapping the briefing altogether, Trump said he was serious about the possibility to "just don't have them." "Unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself, we don't have them," he told Fox News Channel's "Justice with Judge Jeanine" in an interview slated to air in full on Saturday. "I think it's a good idea … you have a level of hostility that's incredible and it's very unfair," Trump said. Excerpts of the interview, taped Friday, were released just hours after a morning Twitter rant in which the erratic executive said he might cancel the White House daily press briefing and indicated the information his press office was providing to reporters wasn't necessarily true. "As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!.......Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???" he wrote in a pair of posts. Daily White House press briefings have existed in some shape or form for more than 100 years, after first being introduced during the Woodrow Wilson administration. At the briefing Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer — whose job Trump told Fox News Channel was safe amid reports that it might not be — avoided directly discussing Trump's threat to cancel the custom, saying only that Trump was "dismayed" with the news media. "We see time and time again an attempt to parse every little word and make it a game of gotcha as opposed to trying to figure out what the policies are," Spicer said. "I think we come out here every day and try to do the best job we can communicating Continue Reading

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer apologizes for ‘inexcusable’ Hitler comment: ‘I let the President down’

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer apologized Wednesday for suggesting a day earlier that Syria's Bashar Assad was worse than Adolf Hitler and for inaccurately claiming the Nazi dictator had not used chemical weapons during World War II, calling his high-profile gaffe "inexcusable" and "reprehensible." "On both a personal and professional level, that will go down as not a very good day in my history," Spicer said during a question-and-answer session on a panel at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. "This was my mistake, my bad, that I needed to fix," Spicer added. "I let the President down," he said, calling his comments a day earlier "reprehensible." Spicer has been at the center of a growing firestorm since he at his daily press briefing Tuesday made series of jaw-dropping comments in an attempt to compare Assad and Hitler regarding their use of chemical weapons. Spicer first told reporters that even "someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons" — clearly forgetting about the millions of people the Nazi dictator gassed in death camps. Asked to clarify those remarks a few minutes later by another reporter, Spicer dug himself deeper. "I think when you come to sarin gas ... (Hitler) was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing," Spicer said. "I mean, there was clearly, I understand your point, thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that." Spicer then went on to compound the insult — referring to a concentration camp as a "Holocaust center." "(Hitler) brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that. What I am saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought — so the use of it. And I appreciate the clarification there. That was not the intent." In a statement issued after the briefing, Spicer then failed to acknowledge the atrocities Continue Reading

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer: Hitler ‘didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons’

WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer, speaking from a White House podium, suggested Tuesday that Syria’s Bashar Assad was worse than Adolf Hitler — saying the Nazi dictator had not used chemical weapons during World War II. He clearly forgot about millions gassed in death camps. In comparing Hitler to Assad and trying to justify the U.S.’s air strikes last week on Syria, Spicer told reporters at the daily briefing that even “someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” Asked to clarify those remarks a few minutes later by another reporter, Spicer dug himself deeper. “I think when you come to sarin gas ... (Hitler) was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Spicer said. “I mean, there was clearly, I understand your point, thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that.” Spicer then went on to compound the insult — referring to a concentration camp as a “Holocaust center.” “(Hitler) brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that. What I am saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought — so the use of it. And I appreciate the clarification there. That was not the intent.” President Trump remained silent while ordering Spicer to publicly apologize and privately to GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. In a statement issued after the briefing, Spicer then failed to acknowledge the atrocities Hitler had committed. “In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust,” he said in the statement. “I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.” Minutes after Continue Reading

White House press secretary insists $400M to Iran was not ‘ransom payment’ for freeing U.S. hostages, but offers no more details on secret payout

WASHINGTON — How else were we going to pay a rogue nation like Iran? The Obama administration was in full spin mode Wednesday as it tried to defend its controversial decision to send an unmarked cargo plane loaded with $400 million in foreign cash to Iran just as four Americans held hostage in Tehran were released. Justice Department officials were also reportedly wary of the questionably-timed payment, the Wall Street Journal reported. While refusing to discuss the details of the clandestine cash drop, White House press secretary Josh Earnest insisted the money was not “a ransom payment.” “We have not, we will not, pay ransom to secure the release of U.S. citizens,” he added. During a testy, 20-minute exchange with reporters, Earnest’s daily White House briefing degenerated into a stonewalling session. The performance flew in the face of a briefing in January when he just about conceded a connection between the release and the payment. “I think we’ve made pretty clear that this is not a coincidence,” Earnest said two days after the actions. “People knew what it was going to look like, and there was concern the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment,” a person close to the negotiations told the Journal. At one point, Earnest even tried to justify the method of payment, which included loading pallets of cash in the middle of the night. “Why is that relevant? Why is that relevant? Particularly when we all know there is no banking relationship between the United States and Iran,” he said. The Obama administration secretly arranged the Jan. 17 airlift in the dark of night after negotiating a $1.7 billion settlement with Iran relating to the sale of military equipment dating back to 1979, the Journal reported Tuesday. The White House refused to give any information about how Continue Reading

Henry: Many in White House Press Corps Believe Benghazi Is a “Fox Story”

Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry went head-to-head with Press Secretary Jay Carney today over newly released Benghazi documents. Chaffetz Reacts to Carney Calling Possible Benghazi Cover-Up a 'Bogus GOP Conspiracy' Retired General: 'We'll Never Know' If We Could Have Saved Americans in Benghazi An email sent by top adviser Ben Rhodes directed then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice to “underscore that protests are rooted in an Internet video.” Carney maintained that the email wasn’t speaking directly about Benghazi, but rather the overall environment in the region. However, the email was released as part of a FOIA request from Judicial Watch that specifically asked for documents on Benghazi. Tonight on The Factor, Bill O’Reilly asked Henry if the White House Press Corps ever discusses why the national media will not cover the Benghazi story. Henry said other reporters tease him about the idea that this is a “Fox story” and that Fox News reporters will shout “what about Benghazi” randomly at President Obama. O’Reilly was shocked that other reporters don’t find it important that the military didn’t mobilize to save Americans and that the Obama administration misled the world by blaming a video for the attack. Henry noted that in the last two days Major Garrett of CBS, Jonathan Karl of ABC News and Jim Acosta of CNN asked similar questions. “And yet, what did Jay Carney do?” Henry said, “He went after me and Fox and said, ‘you and your bosses haven’t been able to prove a conspiracy theory,’ as if I’m personally pushing this, which I take offense at because I’m not.” He surmised that Carney’s attacks on him may make other correspondents not want to follow up with the story. “I don’t know where this story leads and I certainly don’t believe in conspiracy theories,” Henry said. More on Benghazi from Fox News: Judge Continue Reading

White House press secretary Jay Carney promotes wife’s book during briefing

Late night talk shows are not the only way to promote a book. During a press briefing, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, on Wednesday was conveniently able to slip in a plug about his wife Claire Shipman's book, "Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success," when answering a reporter's question about whether President Obama's push for overtime pay will help women. "What the assessments that have been done relating to the minimum wage is that women would be affected more than men because women tend to have minimum wage jobs, as I understand it [I'M] not an economist, in greater numbers than men do," Carney said just before mentioning his wife's book. Carney said that he only brought up the book since it helped him know more about the subject. Journalists in the room laughed when the reference came up, asking Carney if the book is available on Amazon, which he confirmed. Carney said that there are “bottom line benefits” to making sure that the economy works for women. “Doing that is not just the right thing to do, it’s economically beneficial,” he said. While "Womenomics" came out in 2009, Shipman has a new book on the way that's co-authored with Katty Kay. It's called "The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self Assurance -What Women Should Know," set for release April 15, according to Amazon. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Dozens of media organizations protest White House press access limits

Dozens of leading news organizations are protesting to the White House against restrictions that sometimes keep journalists from taking pictures and video of President Barack Obama performing official duties. At the same time, two press groups urged their members to stop using official photos and video handed out by the White House, dismissing them as little more than “government propaganda.” The news organizations’ letter to White House press secretary Jay Carney detailed a number of recent examples in which photographers weren’t allowed to cover presidential events that were deemed “private” by administration officials — even though the White House indicated their newsworthiness by releasing its own photos of the same events. “As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the executive branch of government,” the letter states, adding that the restrictions imposed by the Obama White House represent a major break from the practices of past administrations. The news organizations said Thursday that the White House limits on access raise constitutional concerns about infringement on First Amendment press freedoms and have “a direct and adverse impact on the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing.” The press coalition, which included The Associated Press, major broadcast and cable networks, wire services, online services and newspapers, said the access limits also undercut Obama’s pledge to create a more transparent government, and impose “an arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities.” The groups requested an immediate meeting with Carney on how to restore full press access. Simultaneously, the presidents of the American Continue Reading

McDonald’s hires former White House press secretary as global communications chief

McDonald’s has hired former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs as its executive vice president and global communications chief, the struggling company announced Tuesday. They also hired Silvia Lagnado, former chief chief marketing officer of Bacardi, as a chief marketing officer. “Robert and Silvia are both highly-respected, talented leaders who will bring a wealth of experience and outside perspective to McDonald’s as we build a more modern, progressive burger company,” McDonald’s President and CEO Steve Easterbrook said, according to a release. Easterbrook said the two will play critical roles in turning around the company after six consecutive quarters of same-store sales declines in the U.S. The appointments are the latest in a series of changes since Easterbrook took over as company CEO in March. McDonald’s has also simplified store menus, limited the use of antibiotics in chicken, extended breakfast hours and started offering premium burgers in the last few months. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading