President-elect Trump's transition team is holding daily media calls to update the press on how the transition is progressing. We will be posting the transcripts from these calls after they happen. Here is the transcript from Tuesday's call.
On the call were Sean Spicer, incoming press secretary for Donald Trump, and Jason Miller, Trump's communications director.
OPERATOR: Good day and welcome to the transition daily briefing call. Today's call is being recorded.
At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Sean Spicer and Jason Miller. Please go ahead.
SPICER: Hey, good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining the call. We're now 72 hours out from the inauguration -- three days for those who are math-challenged.
I'd like to start by highlighting the president-elect has nominated 20 of 21 of the Cabinet-level positions. We've now held 39 mock hearings to prep the nominees that we've selected. In total, 4,830 questions have been asked during these mock hearings, with an average of 123 questions being asked per hearing. The team anticipates more than 15 additional mock hearings to occur in the upcoming week to ensure that our nominees are ready for the hearings.
Eighty-four thousand Americans have now applied to serve in the administration and 220,000 Americans have shared their ideas for making America great.
In addition to our great accomplishments throughout this transition, just a quick overview of the upcoming Senate hearings occurring today. Montana Democrat John Tester will introduce Ryan Zinke to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at 2:30. Congressman Zinke is a former Navy SEAL and current representative of Montana's at-large district.
He's a life-long hunter and fisher, who grew up outside of Glacier National Park. He's got a strong appreciation of the importance of public land and its conservation for future generations. He understands how to paraphrase his hero Teddy Roosevelt that, quote, "Conservation means development as much as it does protection."
Representing Montanans in Congress, he saw first-hand the need for responsible development of public lands. And he understands the importance of our public resources to job creation and the growth of our economy. That's why he has the enthusiastic backing from sportsmen's groups, conservationists, ranchers, the energy industry, Native American tribes, and of course, so many in Congress, some of whom liked him so much they wanted him to actually stick around and run for the Senate.
Environmentalists are shamelessly trying to impugn Ryan's character by flinging political mud. The bottom line is that Ryan's military and public service record is unbelievably laudable. He was a lieutenant commander of SEAL Team 6, awarded two Bronze Stars for combat, and four Meritorious Service Medals.
He is a leader in Congress on conservation issues. He has supported measures to manage America's public lands for hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts. In Congress, he negotiated a historic water compact between the federal government and a tribal community in the state of Montana. He's got a reputation for taking on tough issues, cutting through the bureaucracy, and we look forward to his confirmation. Today, Betsy DeVos will meet with the Senate HELP Committee at 5 p.m. She will be introduced by former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
When the president-elect unveiled his decision to nominate Betsy, he said that she would, quote, "reform the education system and break the bureaucracy that's holding our children back," end quote.
SPICER: Betsy is not just a critic who points out problems. She's a leader who's been fixing them. Her efforts to improve every school is critical to the administration's urban renewal plan. She'll be a stalwart advocate for students, especially low-income and special needs children, and a strong supporter of greater schools in all forums and dedicated teachers who strive every day to help students achieve.
Betsy has been endorsed by over 20 former governors, former secretaries of education, Barbara Bush, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and many others. They praised her compassion for children, her impressive record of championing education reform. And she has incredible broad support from local leaders, who worked with her to improve access to education for families in Michigan.
Washington Examiner columnist Byron York noted in the first week of hearings, quote, "Ended up being far less adversarial than expected, either because Democratic attacks lacked energy and focus or the nominee was able to deftly handle the situation or both. Democrats are clearly desperately trying to politicize this process and it's not working."
We reported to you last week that this is a Cabinet of rivals -- this is not Cabinet of rivals, rather, but a Cabinet of disrupters and doers. These are people who know how to break the status quo and that's their job and their focus.
Several stories last week noted divisions in point of view between the nominees and the president-elect. I just want to make sure that everyone saw the president-elect's tweet. He said, quote, "I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not be mine."
This week, the Senate will hear from eight individuals who will each play a critical role in advancing a Trump agenda, including repealing and replacing Obamacare, improving (ph) every school, rolling back job killing regulations, putting American workers first by improving trade deals, ensuring America continues to be an energy leader and that U.S. consumers are protected.
Following a meeting last week between president-elect and the CEOs of Monsanto and Bayer, the CEO of Bayer, which is the company buying Monsanto, committed to $8 billion in new U.S. research and development and investment. And more -- and more important, committed to retain 100 percent of Monsanto's 9,000-plus U.S. workforce and to create at least 3,000 new U.S. high-tech jobs which span from (inaudible) to robotics, to satellite imagery specialist, engineers, data scientists, advanced readers and statisticians.
Monsanto's headquarters will remain in St. Louis. With the acquisition effort already public, this new domestic expansion has not been broadcasted anywhere previously, and is not something -- and it is something that has been in the works with Bayer and Monsanto previously. The reason for this commitment and expansion is because of the president-elect's focus on creating better business climate here in the United States, which is already increased consumer and small business confidence since the election.
Just to recap on the schedule yesterday, the president-elect remained in New York, where he held meetings with Martin Luther King III, Reverend James Ford, Scott Rechlor and William Wachtel. He then met with David Gelernter, G-E-L-E-R-N-T-E-R, who's the candidate for science adviser. After that meeting, he met with Joshua Wright, W-R- I-G-H-T, who is a former Federal Trade Commissioner chairman. His last meeting of the day was with Agit Pai, A-G-I-T, last name P-A-I, who is the current FCC chairman.
Today, the president (sic) began his day receiving the PDB here in New York. He will then meet with Ainsley Earhardt of "Fox & Friends" for an interview that will air later. He will meet with Judge Andrew Napolitano and then he will meet with the CEO of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg, and his first name is D-E-N-N-I-S, last name M-U- I-L-E-N-B-U-R-G. Then he will meet with Sheri Dillon, S-H-R-I (sic) D-I-L-L-I-O-N, his attorney who many of you recall, who spoke at the press conference last week. And after that, he will sit down with Mike Allen of the new site Axios.
And then he has a photo shoot with The Washington Post. The president-elect will then travel to Washington D.C. from LaGuardia for a dinner honoring the chairman of the presidential inaugural committee, Mr. Tom Barrack. The president-elect will return to New York this evening.
SPICER: The vice president-elect will be in Washington all day. He received his presidential daily briefing this morning, is currently holding a series of bipartisan meetings on Capitol Hill. He'll then address the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. That's at 2:30 and it's open press.
In his last event of the evening, he will address the chairman's global dinner at 8:00 p.m. tonight which is closed press. And for the remainder of the week, we will hold -- I think just logistically we've talked about this. Tomorrow, Wednesday, we will hold an off camera gaggle at the PTT offices -- transition offices. Confirmations have already gone out to individuals who are able to fit into the space. And that e-mail just for what it's worth is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The press gaggle tomorrow will be at 10:30. For those of you who can't make it or weren't able to make it for space reasons, you will still be able to dial in to this number and we will just have a phone on the podium. And we will make sure that folks on the phone have an opportunity to ask questions as well as those in person for those who are concerned about that.
On Thursday, the press conference -- press briefing, rather, will be at 9:15 in person at the PTT. Again, we will have a phone option, but it'll be in a listen mode only and we will take questions from -- on camera from individuals there.
There will be a pool camera providing a live feed for those folks interested. Details on this will be available shortly. And on Friday, obviously there's a wide range of events celebrating the inauguration that is available from the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
One other small matter that I just wanted to touch on, there's been some misreporting about the status of the nominee paperwork. To be clear, all of our nominees have completed the necessary paperwork and submitted it to both the OGE and the FBI. With regard to the OGE, all three of our nominees have cleared the OGE agreement process.
On the FBI paperwork, by the end of this week we will only have five nominees left to clear the FBI review and as a reminder, the timing's out of our hands when we hand stuff to OGE and FBI to clear the paperwork. But we're working with both agencies in an expeditious manner.
Particularly on Betsy DeVos' OGE paperwork, it was submitted 36 days ago on December 12. She has responded to all follow up questions in a timely way including over weekends and the holiday. This process is typical, it's a back and forth that occurs to clarify questions that come up on the process.
So, with that, let me get to any questions that you might have.
OPERATOR: Thank you.
To signal for a question, please press "star one" on your touchtone telephone. Also, if you are using a speakerphone, please make sure your mute button is disengaged to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Once again, it is "star one" at this time for questions and we'll pause to give everyone the opportunity to signal.
And we'll take our first question from Katherine Skiba with Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau.
QUESTION: Good morning, Sean.
About 40 members of Congress, including Democratic representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, have stated they will not attend the swearing in and my understanding is that in the wake of president- elect's criticism of Representative John Lewis, there are other lawmakers still deciding whether to attend.
So I have two questions, please. What's the president-elect's view of the no-shows and how does their absence impact his desire to be president for all Americans? Thank you.
SPICER: Thank you for the question.
I think that when you wake up on Friday and see the enormous crowds that are there, you're going to recognize that it is going to be an inauguration for all Americans. Obviously we'd love for every member of Congress to attend, but if they don't, that's some great seats that other folks can hopefully partake in.
SPICER: I think you're going to see an enormous outpouring of support and interest in coming to this. We've been overwhelmed by the number of people that want to attend -- attend this inauguration and be part of it in any of numerous ways.
So, you know, I -- obviously, it's a shame that these folks don't want to be part of the peaceful transfer of power, but it's within their right and I think that that frees up some great seats for the millions of people who are excited to see this president come to Washington and bring real change.
OPERATOR: And our next question will come from Anita Kumar with McClatchy Newspapers.
QUESTION: Hey, Sean. Thanks.
I'm just wondering if you can look ahead to the first few days, the first week and tell us what -- what to expect. I think you had said previously that he would sign some executive orders, executive actions on Friday. And in an interview that he recently did over the last few days, he said that he would get to work on things like that Monday. So can you just clarify that?
And what -- what can we expect over the weekend?
SPICER: Yeah, thanks, Anita.
I think that there are some things that he will do on Friday. There are executive actions. He may swear-in some members of the Cabinet that have been -- if and when they are confirmed by the Senate. But there's a lot of things that he's going to get right to action on.
And then I think on Monday, you're going to see a big flurry of activity. But over the weekend, there are some things that he is going to do with the staff and I think we're still working on the sequencing of that. But I think you're going to see activity starting on Friday. Some of it routine, meaning that there are certain things that have to happen protocol-wise and logistically to facilitate the next administration.
So he's going to get to work on Friday. And then over the weekend, I think you'll see a continued -- we'll continue to get that information out via the pool, and whether or not we have additional updates throughout the week, we can provide it to you. But I think you're going to see, you know, a lot of activity. He's eager to get to work and eager to start implementing change.
But Monday is where I'd see that the focus should be in terms of some of the bigger issues, but over the weekend he's got -- he definitely has some stuff that he's going to be rolling out. It's just a question of, from a sequencing standpoint, how much he wants to get done on Friday and Saturday. He's got the prayer breakfast, as you know, on Saturday morning and then we'll go from there.
But I -- we'll try to get further updates as we move closer to those days.
OPERATOR: And next we'll go to Michael Warren with the Weekly Standard.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you.
Sean, I just wanted to know what the president-elect's opinion is or what he thinks about Tom Price's proposal for Obamacare replacement? What -- what does he view that as? Does he view that as a starting place for Obamacare replacement? And how does he view some of those -- all of those reforms?
SPICER: Thank you, Michael.
I think there's a reason that he selected Dr. Price to be his HHS secretary, is because of a lot of the efforts, initiatives and legislation that Dr. Price has laid out. But he's continued to work with Dr. Price and the House and Senate leadership to figure out ways to sequence this thing, and ensure that the goals that he's setting out, which is both greater access and competition and negotiation to drive down costs are met.
So, we're going to have details as we go further, but part of the, as I say, I mean, I guess the best way to suggest it is that he was impressed with the work and plans that Dr. Price had put out early-on, and I think that that's going to be something that he -- that's, I don't know whether you want to call that a starting point, but it's definitely a lot of ideas we found helpful.
OPERATOR: And next we'll got to Michelle Caruso-Cabrera with CNBC.
QUESTION: Hi. Thanks for taking my question.
QUESTION: So, it's in the paper today that the president-elect finds the border adjustment provision in the House plan too complicated. Does that mean he's completely against it, that the bill can't go forward without it, or is there room for discussion? Because Paul Ryan's team is already on the record saying that they are very much committed to the border adjustment tax.
SPICER: Yeah, thanks, Michelle.
Again, I -- I'm not gonna get ahead of this. I think we're having some serious -- some discussions back and forth with key members of Congress, the House and Senate leadership. When we have something to announce, we will.
But as you know, I mean, there's always a back and forth between the executive and Congress as to how to get this right and it's something president's committed -- the president-elect's committed to getting done.
OPERATOR: And next, we'll go to Zeke Miller with Time.
QUESTION: (inaudible) could you provide some more details? Who's preparing them for the president-elect to sign once he's sworn in? And any update on the status of the -- of more White House hirings of key position like staff secretary, other hirings within the (inaudible)? When should we expect those?
And finally, for all the various inaugural events this week, will all of them be closed? This would be the -- the dinners in the evening. Will all of them be closed for the press or is there any way to allow pool access to those?
SPICER: So let me take that -- the -- before -- the first question you asked was on -- on executive orders, right? And so I think that he is working with the entire team, his (ph) legislative and policy shop. So you've got like, you know, everyone from Rick Dearborn and Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus and Stephen Miller, part of that leadership group, if you will.
And then some of the other folks on the policy, you know, team; Peter Navarro and some of the designees (inaudible) have been part of those discussions and they're laying out the sequencing. And obviously, Don McGahn, White House counsel's involved in that process. But there's a group that's leading the effort to lay them out both in terms of what the priorities are and what the scheduling of them. On the hiring front, we'll -- hope to have an announcement in the next couple days, you know, today, tomorrow or Thursday, obviously, on an additional couple batches of White House staff. So we -- we've got -- we should have some -- I anticipate those announcements going soon.
Once -- and I've mentioned it before, but the -- there has been a very active engagement as well at the under secretary -- deputy under secretary and assistant secretary level as well to get those slots filled, as well as some key ambassador slots. So there's a lot of work going on beneath the surface to have a lot of positions ready to go to as soon as possible. Not just the White House staff, but again, some of the key staff and appointments at the major departments and -- and agencies.
And so we'll try to get you updates as soon as possible. Believe me, I'd -- I would -- I'd like to get these out. And I think part of it is just finalizing some of the issues and paperwork in a lot of the cases. So we've got a robust group of people that I think we'll be getting out in -- either today or tomorrow.
And then on those other fronts, those will be ready to go, I think in a lot of cases, once we fill out the remaining spot in the Cabinet.
Last is -- I'll -- I'll take a look into whether or not some of these events can be pooled. But I would refer you to the presidential inaugural committee on that.
OPERATOR: And next, we'll go to Scott MacFarlane, NBC.
QUESTION: Hey, man (ph).
A big part of Friday's proceedings are gonna be getting people there by the D.C. Metro system, which has been having breakdowns and a series of problems. Is anybody concerned about how that's gonna function Friday? And is the president-elect concerned about the -- I guess the infrastructure of that system when he takes over?
SPICER: Well, again, I mean, there's two things -- two pieces to this, Scott.
One is, I think, I would refer you WMATA to make sure that they, you know, what they're status is and their capacity, obviously, that they've done a lot of planning and, you know, former Councilman Jack Evans of all people understands the demands that D.C. has on an event like this.
So, I -- I think that would be a good place to start. But I think the president-elect is humbled and honored by the people that are just coming from all over the country to be part of this historic and special day. Not just for him and his family, but for this country and the change that he's bringing.
So, I -- I think that we're going to see a just unbelievable tremendous outpouring of support for him. And I think that we have tried to the extent possible through the Presidential Inaugural Committee, I know that they've really been good about warning people about planning in advance to make sure both their travel plans and their arrival times at key events are within a level expectation and planning so that they understand that there's going to be potential delays because of security, traffic, you know, Metro.
So, on the Metro front I would -- again, I would ask you to go to WMATA and see if they're ready to -- what they're plans have been. But I think that the president has been a -- just overwhelmed by the amount of support and outpouring of people that want to participate in some way with this historic inauguration.
OPERATOR: And I'll turn it back to our presenter's for any additional or closing comments.
SPICER: Thank you guys.
Again, I look forward to seeing you -- so many of you in person tomorrow and I hope you have great day. We are down to the -- to the final few hours here. I know we're excited and look forward to -- to Friday.
So, thank you for joining us and being part of this historic process. Good bye.
OPERATOR: And that does conclude today's conference. We'd like to thank everyone for their participation. You may now disconnect.