Sanders doubles down on Trump's MS-13 remarks

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she believes that Trump's "These are animals" comment is justified.
13:01 | 05/17/18

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Transcript for Sanders doubles down on Trump's MS-13 remarks
Congratulations America you're watching the briefing room here on the one year anniversary of the fall Voller. Probe his meeting at the special counsel to president tweeting his congratulations. I'll welcome the briefing room on ABC news political director reclined joined here by Katherine folders and Charlotte signs and we're gonna get Cecilia Vega on for the White House in just a moment but let's start with that. That anniversary the president has been on a Twitter care eyes obviously on his mind when you're in. You can you can judge that the Muller probe by the guilty pleas and indictments or the mean tweets from President Obama today alone he is calling the probe disgusting. A legal. Unwarranted and and adding a new twist to it guys an unfounded one. I support we can tell that the Obama the Obama FBI according to him may have been spying on his campaign with a bold White House coming back on their today. Yes Aaron Sanders us that's she seen the reports I hadn't spoken to the president about that but the president as saying that if that's true that it would be the biggest scandal. Since Watergate but you did today he returned to his favorite phrase it seems. For the Russian investigation and calling it a witch hunt that's something that he has been doing since the day after and this announcement was made. Just one year ago and you've really seen this evolution and how the president has been approaching. This entire investigation. When it was launched one year ago we had a senior White House official telling us that he was restrained in his response but now it's almost a full on war on Robert. No restraint a lot about witch hunt they have because this on the wish outline they've been very consistent on the timeline he has since the beginning but you're right he has seen as evolution. Not only from his response but an evolution in how the legal team approaches to dealing with Robert Mueller you had in the beginning you have is New York hardliner. Lawyers who were out there taking a more aggressive approach then you move to. Ty Cobb who is no longer there who. Was kind of the good cop with with Bob Mueller and I have Rudy Giuliani that the president's gonna come out swinging he's mentioning Lawler by name so our let mentions. And the president's evolution honest there's also been a big evolution in the legal strategy as well. And Rudy dropping some news if it's true we don't know there's another team hasn't told us that the Muller team has told the White House according to Giuliani. That the president cannot and will not be indicted by Mueller that seem like an interest in little tidbit to drop in the that's the negotiations. It's it is because that's been one big question is whether the president is actually going to sit for this interview about something that's he's vacillated. Over since last June when he said that she would actually sit down under oh if you have his team suggesting maybe you shouldn't. A duet but there has been that big question of whether Mueller would be able to compel the president a to do so. Yeah I and in this the question cooperation still out there as well. The White House got some questions today about Michael call in the president's attorney of course this is more to do with the stormy Daniels affair than anything with Bob Mueller but it is a lingering issue. And the latest twist is that the view the president's financial disclosure forms made public just yesterday. A show that he did in fact meet this reimbursement that that Rudy Giuliani and others have talked about to Michael Holland. But intriguingly it is a little bit of an odd footnote in there where the White House as we have to mention this but we did it because we're all the interest of transparency. The office of of government ethics as. Actually you did need to say it. And mystical the Justice Department that it needed beset last year the right they they said that need to be said last year and Jeanne Office of Government Ethics as they determine the payment is required. To be reported as a liability and figures was asked why. The president didn't disclose that or explain that on his last filing not really answering the questions she's and that's determined by white house council on and indeed it really. To get into it begins with air but Heatley was required to any put in that little footnote on page 45. And didn't specify what it was for. On the the payments were to Michael Cohen but we know that Michael Cullen remembers store meeting house and from reimburse that the third parties we assume. And I don't know if you've ever had a presidents ever heard by the Office of Government Ethics to the DOJ over their financial disclosure forms so we'll see these are official government not. It's a big deal to not mention things in the whole reason that these exists is that. The American public has a right to know what will who owes what movement if the president. Has debts to certain private individuals or corporations that passed the B disclose whether to mortgage company or your personal attorney. It is an odd little piece of its attempt to find out now it to my mind when I saw it pop up on the on the form. That must be what Rudy was why everybody in front a couple weeks ago because they knew this is gonna come out there any need to get this on the public record fourth president was saying. Off the last month you know anything about this payment. Yeah yeah houses and Rudy did try and get ahead of it Giuliani then he could muddied the potter is a little bit they pursue its. It's clear now a little bit when he was doing they knew this was going to come out they knew that they needed to get ahead of it. And in need this information and but then the president kind of mess it up a little bit it is saying Giuliani isn't what he's talking about but now the information came out and really it was the first. Acknowledgment. He such a payment that was made to Michael come on paper. One of greens is leading our White House correspondence is yes you raise your hand their descendants and the problems and it would happen to think that I got a good arm work out what it well. Well all minutes were the questions I. Well well yeah minutes but it is happening. Now of course not I want to ask when I ask you about one of those questions were first I want to. Plate flee the sound from yesterday when the president hot had a forum on immigration on Sanctuary Cities over the White House. And he was asked the one point about gang members MS thirteen take a lot. We had people coming into the country tried to come it was stopping. But we're taking people out of the country who would believe please. These are people. These are animals. And we're taking him out of the country at a level at a rate that's never happened before. So the White House today the Sicilian saying Sarah Sander saying very clearly he's referring to and to MS thirteen gang members in and seized recited some awful things that MS thirteen gang members. Have been accused of doing what what do you make of that explanation has a square looking out of the president's mouth yesterday. While there's zero question that this is among B most. Horrific. Disgusting vile gangs have been brutal gangs that are out there all of those stories that Sarah recited from the podium I have no doubt. Are are are true it have happened sadly to say. It is not clear it was not clear in that meeting that the president was referring to MS thirteen you were left to. Suppose to hypothesize to a single that that's what the president was was saying now now the person who spoke for the president. Was talking about MS thirteen but the president you heard that statement there. Did not make it clear he sat people who cross the border and I'm paraphrasing it shortened. Jurors here are are illegally are those have been deported are animal. If you opt if he was talking at thirteen. He didn't make it crystal clear there and those. Matter their Herbert reverberations geek and because of what he is at a particularly immigrant community the Spanish language media which I've been monitoring for the last days and this came out. You know is making a big deal of it because he did not used ever the word MS thirteen patsy and it had people scared. And so then you're left hours later trying to interpret. What the president may or may not have and it wasn't until. The first reaction response we got an outrage in response to questions came in the form of a tweet from his son Don juniors at. Of course this was about MS thirteen gang members and finally. 24 hours later cirrus matters addressed it from the podium today but you know they they're turning this into an attack on in her words. Liberals and the media all lumped in as a wine and and really that's unfair because this was the president's that was unclear if this incident. And it when I. The other point to consider Cecilia is that this doesn't come at a vacuum the president just over the weekend suggested shutting down the federal government this fall if there isn't a border wall we got a candidate for governor to says he's the profile candidate. Driving around him he's going to deportation bus in the state of Georgia meanwhile moderate Republicans are trying to get at taco bells immigration is very much front center splitting the Republican Party. That's the context for the meeting yesterday on Sanctuary Cities in the context for the president's comments now. Yeah this was in a meeting here at the White House about California in particular Sanctuary Cities with a number of Republican lawmakers and you can bet within minutes of of this video that you're looking at right there came out at governor Jerry Brown in California fired back at president trump calling him a liar. On immigration. Yet the list is long Rick on the rhetoric the anti immigrant rhetoric out from this president in this administration in particular I mean that's what he ran on dateline at one among the comments he said you know rent Mexicans. Our rapists some of them are good people that out that was de wine. So so there have been ugly comments. Many many times before which I think is why. And some people assumes that he was not just talking about MS thirteen gang members in this. And it's that sense. And Charlotte you're pointing out that that's our citizens accident doesn't go far enough. That's comment animals and a couple of them ascertain she said that that there needs to be a stronger term. I use for that the president has used this word before at a campaign rally. The last summer referee deferring to criminal aliens who slice and dice young girls. Calling them animals you've heard rhetoric like us from the president in the past I don't think it's going to change it's its. You before we let you going to the other the headline this popping up there now North Korea. Of course of a comments from the north Koreans that they may not actually sit down for the summit if the goal is to permanently and the nuclear program. I I've noticed the president hasn't between about little rocket man so that would suggest that that the summit salon and adding your artists was sleepers are Sanders today. If the north Koreans want to meet we will be there so it doesn't seem like. Any of this is changing plans forcing a four month. No I mean for what we're hearing and talking to sources there in the planning is still very much going on it be that. Question and the issues at the White House doesn't want to confront how is this perception that it looks as if North Korea is the one in the driver's seat honest passer Sanders really pushed back on that. That implication but you know it it but but look North Korea freed detainees it I think many would say is an act of goodwill. Aunts and they are the ones who are saying they may or may not pull out of this summit now I mean they really do seem debt that we we also know in talking to sources here that there are no preconditions by the Americans being sat. On the north Koreans ahead of this and eating so they certainly have an upper hand in this I don't know that there necessarily driving but they certainly. Ari command in terms of whether this meeting happens or not I was really struck. By the last question one last question this here's Anderson was asked on the topic of North Korea went she was asked if the chances of that summit are less likely now. And she wouldn't answer that Seoul you know. A tell you this we have booked our tickets yet. I. All right so you only get back in their good luck in your questions answered next time ago we see it but that in order yeah. What do you think that's an the president let expectations get away from salt already a North Korea mean he has been talking about itself for the Nobel Peace Prize for his is that what else I guess I'll. The Nobel Peace Prize but it but I am struck by the Saber rattling from North Korea has not been met by anything can answer for president Tom. And what happened and I was struck by the by Sarah's comments where she said I'm you know world will move forward on this of North Korea wants to meet will be there. That. The president has met this meeting with a lot of caveats with what he said it's not going to be and I may walk out an airman not to use and Matt. So it's not like he hasn't brought up some caveats for the summit happening in in just from watching everything it seemed like she was more. Sure of it happening I'm of course when an answer the question if that was less likely now that I think you'll be interesting. To see the president's first reactions as he has an event coming up shortly maybe he'll be asked but yesterday and he said. And when he was asked to react to the front of the summit being canceled he said Woolsey which is what he says while it isn't. Adopting this Blase attitude we'll see if it happens at the north Koreans want to come to the table will be there but it's it's. Not the same as might use when he was really touting how important this meeting was going to be now it's just kind of the sweetened seat period. Go in for and about whether north Koreans actually you know pull the plot. Yeah seen stimulate a lot of things go lie so far in the interest of making this happen all right that does have a decision the briefing room. Our thanks to Cecilia Vega for Katherine folders Charlotte signs are recline download the ABC ABC news that we will weave back here next time. With the briefing.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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