WASHINGTON – As President Trump forges toward the 100th day of his presidency, coming this weekend, the White House media continue to be captivated with claims of a Russian scandal.
Trump, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained at his Tuesday news briefing, has worked with Congress to pass more legislation in his first 100 days than any president since Truman, despite unprecedented Democrat obstructionism.
While the administration still is negotiating with the House to allocate funding for the border wall the president promised to build during the campaign, illegal-alien border crossings have plummeted more than 61 percent since January 2017, Spicer pointed out.
But the White House press pool, indifferent to the achievements of the Trump administration, hastily changed the subject to the controversy surrounding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
The House Oversight Committee Tuesday asserted Flynn may have broken the law by failing to disclose information on his security clearance application.
Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings claimed there was “no evidence” that Flynn made the appropriate disclosures about payments he accepted from foreign governments, which he is forbidden from accepting as a former military officer.
Cummings said Flynn failed to note the $45,000 he was paid by Russian state media outlet RT to give a speech in Moscow in 2015 on his January 2016 security clearance application.
The House Oversight Committee made six requests to the White House last month pertaining to documents regarding Flynn, but it did not get what members wanted.
Asked Tuesday if Flynn may have broken the law, Spicer deflected the question.
“That would be a question for him,” Spicer replied. “I don’t know what he filled out or what he did or did not do.”
The House Oversight Committee is requesting the White House provide lawmakers with information and documents related to the security clearance and payments from organizations tied to the Russian and Turkish governments.
CBS News’ Major Garrett asked Spicer if the Trump transition team had “no custodial possession of any of these documents” the House Oversight Committee requested.
Spicer pointed out that Flynn underwent his most recent security clearance in 2016, during the Obama administration.
The demand for the White House to produce documents that it doesn’t have in the first place, Spicer said, is “ridiculous.”
Pressed on whether the White House considers Flynn’s “payment from Russia Today to be a payment from a foreign government,” Spicer doubled down on the fact that Flynn’s actions took place “prior to him coming to [the Trump] White House.”
Everything we’re discussing here “occurred prior to his employment at the White House,” Spicer said.
“Why wasn’t he more closely vetted during the transition period?” a reporter from the Daily Caller asked.
“You fill out the forms and do a background check,” Spicer responded. “And they have a security clearance and fill it out, and that’s how everyone operates under the same guise.”
The press secretary characterized the congressional request for all of Flynn’s correspondence with foreign diplomats as “pretty outlandish.”
“They listed for every call and contact that he made, which is an extraordinary number,” Spicer said. “That’s a very unwieldy request.”
“To say we want the national security adviser, whose job it is to talk with foreign counterparts on a daily basis, to document every call he may or may not have made is not exactly a request that’s able to be filled,” he explained.
Amid the whirlwind of claims surrounding Flynn, Spicer confirmed that President Trump plans to unveil the outline of a tax-reform plan Wednesday, a week after this year’s tax deadline for most Americans.
But he didn’t release details.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to get economic growth going and job creation going. The president has made tremendous headway on the regulatory front, and he is going to do everything he can on the tax front,” Spicer said.
In an appearance during the briefing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pledged to simplify the tax code.
“We’ve been clear on what the president’s objectives are for tax reform. Middle-income tax cuts are a priority of the president. Simplification. The average American should be able to do their taxes on a large post card,” Mnuchin said. “Business tax reform – we need to make business taxes competitive, and we expect with doing that we will bring back trillions of dollars from offshore.”
Trump’s tax plan will reportedly reduce corporate taxes to 15 percent from its current 35 percent level.
Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report” on Monday night called the tax-reform efforts Trump’s “one chance. ”
“I think this is the single most important initiative – legislative initiative for the Trump presidency. I think health-care reform is a much more congressional deal, that preceded Trump,” Krauthammer said. “But Trump is the one who ran on this. He ran as a business man. Also this is his one chance, and I think it will be a good chance, to actually stimulate the economy to get to 3 percent or near 3 percent, and that would make his presidency.”