Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders (Excerpts)

July 23, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

MS. SANDERS:  Good afternoon.  In the two weeks since President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh, he has met with 23 senators.  Unfortunately, all of them are Republicans.  That’s because Senator Schumer is encouraging his members to not even meet with the Judge.

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Q    Sarah, we saw the President’s tweet on Iran last night.  What prompted him to use such strong language on them?

MS. SANDERS:  The President has been, I think, pretty strong, since day one, in his language towards Iran.  He was responding to comments made from them, and he’s going to continue to focus on the safety and security of American people.

Go ahead, Steve.

Q    What would it take to have direct negotiations between the President and President Rouhani?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not going to get into specifics, and certainly not negotiate with the press.  That would be a determination that the President would make on what that looks like.

But the ultimate goal and the focus of the President is making sure that we keep nuclear weapons out of their hands and that we focus on the protection of Americans.

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Q    I have a follow-up question to Steve first.  When the President pulled out of the JCPOA, he did not reveal an alternate plan to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  He seemed to bank on economic sanctions being enough to get them back to the table.  Is that still his plan B?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, as we have said, the President’s number-one goal is to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.  We have similar and shared interests with our European allies.  We’re continuing to have discussions with them.  And when we have specifics on that front, we’ll let you know.

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Q    Sarah, so does President Trump plan on ordering to move any carriers or additional military resources to the region, should Iran continue to pose the threat that he alluded to in his tweet?  And I also have a follow-up.

MS. SANDERS:  I don’t have any specific announcements on that at this point.

Q    Just to follow up, then — Secretary of State Pompeo yesterday talked a lot about corruption and human rights abuses in Iran.  Why is he zeroing in — why is the administration zeroing in on Iran when a number of other states are guilty of the same transgressions, including Russia, which we are now warming up to?

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Q    Thanks a lot, Sarah.  The language the President used in the tweet that he sent out last night was very similar to the language he used last August in New Jersey, when he spoke of fire and fury being rained down on North Korea.  And, of course, that led to a one-on-one meeting the President ultimately had with Kim Jong Un.  Is the President open to diplomacy with Iran, meeting perhaps one-on-one with President Rouhani?

MS. SANDERS:  I’m not going to negotiate what the specifics that the President or the administration will be looking at.  Again, our goal is to stop Iran from nuclear weapons, and we’ll keep you posted as we move through that process.

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Q    Yes, Sarah.  Flipping around Jon’s question about Iran, considering the comments that we’ve heard in the past day from the President’s tweet, Ambassador Bolton’s statement, which you put out, and Secretary Pompeo’s speech last night, what is stopping this administration from just openly advocating regime change in Iran?

MS. SANDERS:  Again, our focus is on stopping Iran from having nuclear weapons, regardless of who is there.  That’s what our priority is.  And if we have any further announcements on that front, I’ll let you know.  But the President and his administration are going to continue pushing and advocating for that.

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