Trump Issues SOTU Response to Pelosi Hours After CNN Pressed Sarah Sanders About Not Responding


Hours before Donald Trump released a letter in response to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi‘s concerns about holding the State of the Union address during a government shutdown, CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns pressed Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the lack of a response from the White House.

Sanders, who has not held a press briefing in over a month, answered questions from reporters for four minutes Wednesday morning on the driveway leading to the West Wing. One of the five questions Sandrs took was from Johns, who asked Sanders about the fact that Trump had not responded to Pelosi’s letter.

“The Speaker’s office says that there has never been an acceptance of the invitation to give the State of the Union address next week, and there’s never even been a written response to Pelosi’s concerns about security, as in a letter,” Johns said.

Sanders responded by citing a statement from Trump Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and claimed that this response “satisfied those concerns.” Sanders made no mention of a forthcoming response from Trump.

But within hours, the White House released a response to Pelosi from Trump, a full seven days after her letter to Trump. In the letter, Trump accepts an invitation to deliver the SOTU address, which he says he received on January 3.

The timing of Trump’s response doesn’t necessarily prove that it was a direct result of Sanders being pressed by a reporter. It is entirely possible that Trump needed the full seven days to nail this button graf:

I look forward to seeing you on the evening on January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representatives. It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!

But the temporal proximity of Trump’s response to this exchange on the White House nevertheless highlights the White House Correspondents’ Association’s objection to the White House’s failure to hold regular briefings:

This retreat from transparency and accountability sets a terrible precedent. Being able to question the press secretary or other senior government officials publicly helps the news media tell Americans what their most powerful representatives are doing in their name.

While other avenues exists to obtain information, the robust, public back-and-forth we’ve come to expect in the James A. Brady briefing room helps highlight that no one in a healthy republic is above being questioned.

In a less-than-robust four minutes, the press manage to raise an issue of sufficient importance that Trump issued a response within hours, regardless of when it was formulated.

Watch the clip above, via C-Span.

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