Daily Press Briefing
Director, Press Office
Daily Press Briefing
August 24, 2016
Index for Today's Briefing
1:59 p.m. EDT
MS TRUDEAU: Good afternoon, everyone. I have a lot at the top, so just bear with me as I get through this.
I think we're all closely following the reports of an attack on the American University of Afghanistan. We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. An attack on a university is an attack on the future of Afghanistan. Our embassy in Kabul, as well as our NATO counterparts at the Resolute Support Mission, are closely monitoring the situation, as we are. We understand the situation is ongoing. We do understand there are a small number of Resolute Support advisers who are assisting their Afghan counterparts as Afghan forces are responding as the situation develops. These advisers are not taking a combat role but advising Afghan counterparts.
We are in the process of accounting for all chief of mission personnel and working to locate and assist any U.S. citizens affected by these attacks. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul did issue a security message warning U.S. citizens of the attack and advising them to avoid the area until further notice. Our Travel Warning for Afghanistan warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan because of the continued instability and threats by terror attacks against U.S. citizens. We don't have any additional information at this time; however, we will continue to update you as we can.
On the two earthquakes that happened today: We express our deepest condolences to all those affected by the earthquake that struck central Italy. Today, Secretary Kerry spoke to the Italian foreign minister and made clear the American people stand with the Italians in this difficult time. He offered any U.S. assistance Italy may require and pledged to stay in close contact as search, rescue, and recovery efforts continue.
We're also aware and have seen the reports of the earthquake that struck north-central Burma today. We offer our deepest condolences as well to the families who lost their loved ones. Again, we still are gathering information on the event and we're staying in close contact with the Government of Burma and humanitarian partners in the country to monitor the situation. The United States stands ready to provide assistance.
QUESTION: Just on that --
MS TRUDEAU: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: -- I mean both of those – are you aware, have they, either of the governments concerned, made any request for assistance?
MS TRUDEAU: At this stage we have no request. We have offered in both.
Moving on to the DPRK. The United States strongly condemns North Korea's latest submarine-launched ballistic missile launch. We call on the DPRK to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps towards fulfilling its commitments and international obligations. The U.S. commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats remains ironclad. We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies.
This launch is the latest in an accelerating campaign of missile tests which violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea's launches. Using ballistic missile technology imposed threats to civil aviation and maritime commerce in the region. These actions only serve to increase the international community's resolve to counter the DPRK's prohibited activities, including through implementing existing UN Security Council resolutions. North Korea's continued development of its UN-proscribed nuclear and ballistic missile programs threatens the United States, our allies – Japan, and the Republic of Korea – and our partners in the region. We continue to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional allies and partners. We will raise our concerns at the UN and in other fora to bolster international resolve to hold the DPRK accountable for its provocative actions.
And finally, and thank you for your patience, travel notes. As you know, Secretary Kerry is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia today and tomorrow to discuss the situation in Yemen. As we have noted before, the United States remains deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Yemen and is committed to working with the Yemenis and the rest of the international community to restore peace and stability. We strongly support the UN special envoy's efforts as he works tirelessly on all sides of this conflict. The United States, along with the international community, are ready to assist and will continue to engage until peace is restored in Yemen.
Secretary Kerry will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, from August 25th to August 27th, where his meetings will include Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoon bin – Zayed bin Nahyan to discuss issues, including Syria and Libya.
And finally, Secretary Kerry will travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh, on August 29th to highlight the longstanding and broad U.S.-Bangladesh relationship. Secretary Kerry will meet with government officials to discuss our growing cooperation on global issues. He'll focus on strengthening our longstanding bilateral partnership on democracy, development, security, and human rights.
On August 29th through 31st, Secretary Kerry will then travel to New Delhi, India, for meetings with senior Indian officials. On August 30th, the Secretary and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will co-chair the second U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. Secretaries Kerry and Pritzker will be joined by the respective Indian co-hosts, the minister of external affairs and the minister of state and commerce – minister of state for commence and industry, along with members of the U.S. delegation and their Indian counterparts. I'd note the S&CD is the signature mechanism for advancing the United States and India's shared priorities of generating sustainable economic growth, creating jobs, improving the business and investment climate, enhancing livelihoods, and sustaining the rule-based global order.
Thanks for your patience. And with that, Matt.
QUESTION: Yeah, before we got onto other things, I just want to go back to the --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- attack in Kabul. When you said you didn't have any – excuse me, when you said you didn't have any other information, does that mean that you're not aware of any Americans who were caught up in --
MS TRUDEAU: So we're still – we're still working to locate and assist any U.S. citizens impacted by the attacks.
QUESTION: Do you know roughly – do you know at all, like, how many --
MS TRUDEAU: I don't. As you know, as we don't require U.S. citizens to register overseas, on something like this, we would always encourage people to register with the STEP program, but no.
QUESTION: But as far as you know, there was no one from the embassy or no official Americans --
MS TRUDEAU: We're still doing chief-of-mission accountability right now.
QUESTION: Oh, so --
MS TRUDEAU: Exactly.
QUESTION: Are there any reports of Americans being at the university, either officials or non-officials?
MS TRUDEAU: At this stage, we're still working to account for all official as well as private Americans in Kabul.
QUESTION: Do you have a final number on that (inaudible) --
MS TRUDEAU: No, we would not have a number like that to share, Said.
QUESTION: Is – on Secretary's meetings in Saudi Arabia, is he --
MS TRUDEAU: Are we done with Afghanistan? I'm sorry, Michel, I just want to close this one out because it is a big news story. Are we okay on that?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Go ahead, Michel.
QUESTION: A senior U.S. official has said that the Secretary will present proposals on ending Yemen's conflict and resuming peace talks. Can you elaborate on that? What kind of proposals --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I'm not going to get ahead of the meetings on this. As I said at the top, we remain committed to a peaceful, sustainable solution in Yemen. We strongly support the UN special envoy's work. We'll let those meetings happen, and if I have more of a readout I'll certainly offer that, Michel.
QUESTION: And what's behind the participation of UK foreign minister in these meetings tomorrow?
MS TRUDEAU: So I'm not going to confirm the participation on that. What I would say is what I said, which is the international community is very seized with this. We're looking broadly at our international partners to move forward on a peace process in Yemen.
QUESTION: But last week --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- Elizabeth, on the same topic, the United States withdrew its advisors that were helping and assisting the Arab coalition in bombing Yemen and so on. So is that a signal? Would you consider that to be a strong signal that the United States is going to push hard for a peaceful resolution in the very near future?
MS TRUDEAU: Well, I think you have two questions on that. Of course the United States will always push hard on a peaceful resolution. Let's be very clear on that. In terms of the advisors, this is a Department of Defense issue and I'm going to let them speak to their personnel movements.
QUESTION: Because there is a great deal of – there are many accusations, let's put it this way, that you guys were looking the other way while the coalition that is led by Saudi Arabia was targeting hospitals and schools and so on.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I would – I would dispute that.
QUESTION: You would dispute it?
MS TRUDEAU: Certainly, not only have we spoken from this podium about our concerns, but we have engaged, as we've noted, both privately and publicly on that. Our commitment to a peaceful resolution in Yemen is very strong.
Do we have more on Yemen? Okay.
MS TRUDEAU: Do we – are we okay to move to Turkey?
QUESTION: Syria and just --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: In Ankara, Joe Biden said Kurdish forces must move back across the Euphrates River. He says, "They cannot – will not – under any circumstances get American support if they do not keep that commitment," end quote. I want to ask you about the geography of what Joe Biden meant there. And I'm looking at the map here and moving back across the Euphrates River would mean moving to the Kobani side. And the city of Manbij, which Kurdish fighters helped liberate from ISIL, is on the side of the river which Joe Biden wants the Kurdish fighters to leave. With that, I want to ask: Does the U.S. call on Kurdish fighters to leave Manbij as well?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. So what I would say is is the Vice President's remarks were very clear on that. What we have always said, as we gain ground and the operations on the ground gain ground against Daesh, is that we want local forces – local forces to continue for stabilization in that area. And we have made that very clear. We continue to work with our partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces as they complete these operations. The SDF is continuing to work on stabilizing areas that are reclaimed from ISIL so populations can safely return.
In terms of the Kurdish population, we do have commitments, as we've spoken to before, from Kurdish leadership that those forces who stabilize the area will mirror the local populations. We believe that that's the best solution for a long-term, sustainable peace – the local population who stays and rebuilds that area and restores local control when that's stabilized.
QUESTION: Kurdish forces are part of --
MS TRUDEAU: Hold on. Can we finish, Laurie? Thank you.
QUESTION: They are part of the local forces there, but Joe Biden – Vice President Joe Biden calling on Kurdish fighters to move across the river – does that also include a call on Kurdish fighters to leave the city of Manbij, which is on the side of the – on the other side of the river?
MS TRUDEAU: So I'm not going to parse the Vice President's words. What we would say is that we believe that local forces need to be in control of the areas that have been liberated by Daesh.
Laurie, you had a question?
QUESTION: What will happen if the YPG does not withdraw from west of the Euphrates River and move back east, as the Vice President said they had to do today? What do you expect might happen?
MS TRUDEAU: Well, you're asking me a hypothetical. The Kurdish commanders have made commitments. We expect them to live up to those commitments.
QUESTION: But --
MS TRUDEAU: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Actually – it was --
MS TRUDEAU: Sure.
QUESTION: It was actually a very specific question: Does the U.S. call on Kurdish fighters to leave the city of Manbij, which they helped liberate from ISIL recently?
MS TRUDEAU: So Kurdish commanders have made commitments that they will turn over areas to local populations as they have been so tremendously successful liberating those areas from Daesh. We expect them to live up to those commitments. I'm not going to get into this town or this village. The Vice President spoke to it today, and I'd leave his comments where they are.
QUESTION: Yeah, but you know this town and this village is exactly the problem, because you have your partners, the Kurds and the Turks, on opposite sides in many of these areas. So how do you know when to aid your partner and when to withhold whatever aid that you might give that partner?
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. I mean, this is a complex situation. I think you're exactly right, and this is what we're getting to. We continue to engage directly with the local forces on the ground as well as our partners, the Turks, as we work through this. The commitment, as we talked about with Laurie, that the local populations would be in control of those areas as they're liberated from Daesh – the Kurdish commanders have made that commitment.
QUESTION: Now, as the Kurdish forces are poised to control the whole of Hasakah, which is the whole region of Hasakah – now, that may give incentive to Turkey, for instance, to basically realign itself with Assad. Are you concerned about that? Is this something – a scenario that is likely to happen?
MS TRUDEAU: Again, I don't want to get into operational details. You guys know that there's another department across the river that can speak very clearly to that. What I will say, though, is that we do remain engaged. We are having very active conversations with our partners. This is something I think everyone is seized with.
QUESTION: A broader question on the Turks.
MS TRUDEAU: Are we doing Turks?
QUESTION: No --
MS TRUDEAU: Okay, hold on.
QUESTION: I have just a few more on that.
QUESTION: And I have something --
QUESTION: More broadly on policy --
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Well, hold on. Are we doing Turkey/Syria or are we doing plain Turkey?
QUESTION: Turkey. Just Turkey.
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Well, let's clean this up, and then I'll go back to you, okay? Laurie.
QUESTION: The Turkish prime minister said that the United States must reassess its view of the YPG. As far as you understand, does Vice President Biden's statement that the YPG must withdraw east of the – to the east of the Euphrates – does it address the concern that the Turkish prime minister expressed?
MS TRUDEAU: Our view on the YPG hasn't changed.
QUESTION: The U.S. supports Turkey's operations in Syria even though the Turkish president says he's going to go after not only ISIL but also Kurdish fighters in Syria, the very Kurdish fighters whom the U.S. had supported. What would you say to those Kurds in Syria who believe they are being abandoned by the U.S.?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Well, I would dispute views that they feel – that they're being abandoned. We have been very clear on our support. These have been tremendous fighters against our common enemy, which is Daesh, on this. As I've said, we remain in close contact with both the Turks as well as local Kurdish commanders on this. It's a complex issue. It's a fast-moving issue. I'm not going to be able to speak to specific operational details on this, but we have said and we have long said that we view that these are very capable fighters and we all need to focus instead on this infighting on the common enemy, which is Daesh.
QUESTION: Just one last one.
MS TRUDEAU: Of course. One last one.
QUESTION: So I was reading the news today, and I read this: Captain Abdel-Salam Abdel-Razzak, spokesman for the Nour al-Din al-Zinki rebel group, tells the Associated Press that the fighters on Wednesday were combing Jarablus for pockets of IS militants, end quote. This is the same group the members of which beheaded an 11-year-old boy a month ago. And I want to ask: Does the U.S. support this group's taking over Jarablus?
MS TRUDEAU: We've spoken about this at length on that particular group, the allegations of the beheading, the support or non-support of the United States for that group. What we are committed to is taking the fight to Daesh. I'm not going to speak to that specific group or who's involved on the ground. I just don't have that level of operational details.
Last one, Laurie, and then Matt, I'll come to you.
QUESTION: Let me rephrase my question more generally: Do you think that Vice President Biden's visit to Turkey has resolved the dispute that used to exist between Ankara and Washington over the YPG?
MS TRUDEAU: I think that we remain in contact with our friends and allies, the Turks, on a range of issue. Certainly the Vice President's visit is a huge nod to the importance that we view that Turkey has not only as an ally within NATO, our bilateral ties, but the importance of Turkey in the fight against Daesh.
QUESTION: Elizabeth --
MS TRUDEAU: Matt. I'm sorry, can I go to Matt, then, and then I'll come back to you, Michel.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) go to Michel.
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Go ahead, Michel.
QUESTION: How can you balance your support to Turkey in fighting ISIS and YPG in Syria and supporting YPG in fighting ISIS in Syria?
MS TRUDEAU: What we've said, which is what I said earlier, is we continue to engage in these conversations so we have a common understanding on who the real threat is, who the real enemy is, and that's Daesh.
QUESTION: But they are fighting each others on the ground.
MS TRUDEAU: And we continue to have those conversations with them to refocus that.
QUESTION: I would just like to know what the point of the Secretary's meeting – upcoming meeting in Geneva with Foreign Minister Lavrov as they related to Syria – what the point of it is.
MS TRUDEAU: So as we've spoken earlier this week, we continue to have discussions at a technical level with the Russians on our pronged approach, which is re-establishment of a nationwide sustainable cessation of hostilities to bring in humanitarian aid – we're very focused on that right now – to create the space for a political transition. As we have meetings – and I don't want to get ahead of them too much – we're very focused on how we can move that forward.
QUESTION: Yeah. I'm not asking you to get ahead of the meeting. I'm just wondering what – is this – are you expecting there to be any kind of resolution to the issues that you have just mentioned or least on an approach to the issues that you've mentioned, or is this just going to be another kind of see-where-we-are kind of meeting?
MS TRUDEAU: I think we're very pragmatic on this. I think that --
QUESTION: Well, that's good, but what does that mean?
MS TRUDEAU: I think that we don't want to – we want to be very measured in our expectations as we go forward into this meeting, but we believe the meeting's worth having.
QUESTION: Are you --
QUESTION: Yeah, well, obviously you believe it's worth having because you're having it, but the question is whether it actually results in anything.
MS TRUDEAU: Well --
QUESTION: And I understand that you want to set expectations low because, frankly, that's where they should be considering what's happened at all the previous meetings. But when you talk about restoration of the nationwide cessation of hostilities, is there not a focus primarily on the situation around Aleppo?
MS TRUDEAU: Certainly, Aleppo is a huge priority. The access for humanitarian aid is a huge priority. We have a laundry list of issues.
QUESTION: And – okay. So can you be more specific about the laundry list?
MS TRUDEAU: That – what I would say is exactly what we've said. The three prongs – you mentioned Aleppo; absolutely a priority going in. I can't get ahead of where we are in discussions.
QUESTION: I'm not asking you to get ahead of it. But I mean, are you looking to get an agreement on the kind of stepped-up cooperation/coordination with the Russians in Syria that people have talked about for more than a month now?
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. I can't get ahead of it. We are – we are --
QUESTION: So that's not going to be discussed at all?
MS TRUDEAU: It – I would say that the path forward in Syria will absolutely be discussed. This, as well as Ukraine, will be part of the focus of these meetings – focused very specifically what I said as well as Aleppo. Let's see where that goes.
QUESTION: Are you continuing to make headway, as Mark Toner said yesterday?
MS TRUDEAU: I think we continue to engage. I think that we have announced the meeting; we will have this meeting. We will go into it with – despite Matt not liking the word "pragmatic," a very pragmatic mindset.
QUESTION: He said he liked it.
QUESTION: No, I --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: But none of this --
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. I'll stand corrected on that. That was good.
QUESTION: But none of this addresses my question --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- which is yesterday you said you were making headway. Is that still the case today? Are you still making headway?
MS TRUDEAU: I think the fact that we've scheduled a meeting is a good sign, and we'll see what happens at the meeting.
QUESTION: Yesterday you said, "We're not quite there" – he said, "We're not quite there yet." That implies that you are on the brink of some kind of an agreement.
MS TRUDEAU: I wouldn't characterize as the brink, but what I would say is we have a ways to go.
QUESTION: So you go from yesterday, "We're not quite there yet," to today, "We've got a ways to go."
MS TRUDEAU: Well, it depends on how long your road is, Arshad. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, clearly your five --
QUESTION: The road is about five years old.
QUESTION: -- your five-and-a-half-year-old road --
MS TRUDEAU: Well, it is.
QUESTION: -- doesn't seem close to the end.
MS TRUDEAU: And you know what? To be honest, Matt, we haven't lost sight of that. This is where we think we're going. We're going to sit down. We're going to have a very real conversation. We're going into it with our eyes open.
QUESTION: Nobody's disputing that you're going to have a meeting, that you're going to sit down, that your eyes will be open and not closed during the meeting. The question, though, is the signaling that you're making about the meeting, which is very perplexing. Yesterday it's, "We're not quite there yet," and today it's, "We've got a ways to go." Where are you? Are you close or not?
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I – I would not characterize it as saying – I would say that we still have issues that need to be resolved. However, we are meeting. We are going to put Secretary Kerry and the foreign minister face to face to try and resolve some of the issues that remain. I don't know where we'll be after this. I hope to have a very good readout for you. Let's see. But we're committed to this and we're committed to advancing it.
Go ahead, David.
QUESTION: Well, it's a similar question. But first, very differently: Is holding the meeting a sign that your technical discussions are deadlocked and you need the big man in the room to fix it?
MS TRUDEAU: I wouldn't characterize it as that.
QUESTION: Or is it a sign that you've made – the technical discussions are complete and now they need to sign off on it?
MS TRUDEAU: I think you guys are reading – trying to read into this in a level that I can't provide, which is we're going to have the meeting. We believe it's worth the Secretary's time to have this meeting. He remains deeply committed to advancing this. That's where we're going to be.
QUESTION: Yeah, but the statement coming out of Russia – and I'm sorry, on this topic – by – from Mr. Lavrov's office is – shows that there is a huge gulf between your position and theirs. They are accusing you, basically, of ever since al-Nusrah changed its name to Fateh al-Sham, whatever, you have not been bombing it or you have not participated – the United States, that is, not you – I mean the United States has not participated in bombing the al-Nusrah group that has changed names. So if that tells us anything, it tells us that your positions are really farther apart than --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. I'm not going to characterize what the Russian foreign ministry puts out on this. I'll just reiterate that we think this is the right time and the right thing to do.
QUESTION: Okay. She had a question first on --
MS TRUDEAU: Oh, I'm sorry, are we still on Syria?
QUESTION: -- Turkey. Turkey.
MS TRUDEAU: Okay, let's go to Turkey.
QUESTION: Turkey, Turkey.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you so much.
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: The Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Turkey. This can be seen the most senior U.S. official visiting there since the coup in July. So why Vice President went there now? Do you think the relationship between U.S. and Turkey is getting more complicated and more misunderstanding as for – because not only relating to Russia-Turkey rapprochement, but also extradition of Gulen?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. So when you're asking specifically about the Vice President's visit, I'm going to refer you to the White House. But I would actually push back against your characterization. We say almost every day from this podium how strong we view our relationship with Turkey to be. The Vice President's visit there I think is a sign of that. In terms, though, of the messages he sent, his particular meetings there, it's just not appropriate for me to speak to from here.
QUESTION: But some media says rapid Russia-Turkey rapprochement casts shadow on Western security order and Biden visits Turkey to improve ties. So to what kind of extent do you think Biden's visit will reach America's goal or rebuild the relationship?
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I would dispute that there is a relationship that needs to be rebuilt. Our tie, our alliance through NATO with Turkey is very strong.
QUESTION: So you think it's a kind of rebuilt relationship?
MS TRUDEAU: No, I just pushed back against that. No, the Vice President's visit is a sign of how important we view Turkey as an ally and as a partner. On particulars, though, go to the White House.
QUESTION: A related question on --
MS TRUDEAU: Wait, are we staying on Turkey?
QUESTION: -- Turkey. Same.
MS TRUDEAU: Of course.
QUESTION: The Vice President now is quoted from a major news agency in Ankara saying that, "God willing, there will be enough data and evidence to meet the criteria that Turkey sees related to the extradition of Gulen." Isn't this extradition, as far as the United States Government is concerned, supposed to be an objective process? It sounds like the --
MS TRUDEAU: It is.
QUESTION: -- Vice President is taking sides here.
MS TRUDEAU: Okay, well, I haven't seen the Vice President's remarks saying exactly that. Mark spoke to this a little yesterday. I would say our legal experts are working right now with their Turkish counterparts to evaluate the material, the evidence that needs to be supplied to meet the standards for extradition under our treaty. They're meeting now. They will continue to do so.
As we've said, Turkey has provided materials relating to Mr. Gulen. We continue to analyze those materials. Under our laws, extradition requests must be assessed by an independent federal court along with the evidence backing it up. I spoke to this I think last time I briefed. It always takes time to work through an extradition request. However, there should be no doubt that we will continue to work through this working with our Turkish counterparts.
QUESTION: But just to follow up on the question --
MS TRUDEAU: Sure, James.
QUESTION: -- and perhaps in a way that doesn't require you to speak for the White House: Does Secretary Kerry pray to God that the criteria will be met for Mr. Gulen to be extradited?
MS TRUDEAU: We will continue to follow the letter of the law as signed in the 1981 extradition treaty with Turkey. We will continue to work with our Turkish counterparts on that.
QUESTION: It's still the case, as Mark said yesterday, that you have determined that what the Turks have submitted is – does constitute a formal --
MS TRUDEAU: Correct.
QUESTION: -- extradition request, although not related to the coup? That is still the case, right?
MS TRUDEAU: Exactly, correct.
QUESTION: Is it not the case that once you have made such a determination, that the judicial branch – that the executive branch of government is supposed to take action to prevent the subject of an extradition request from leaving?
MS TRUDEAU: That can be part of – speaking generally, again, that can be part of an extradition request. It isn't automatically part, is my understanding.
QUESTION: I understand. Well, yeah, but that's what the Turks have asked.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I would not be able to speak to parts of that extradition request.
QUESTION: But forget about the extradition request. But under your rules, U.S. rules for dealing with extradition requests when they come in from a country that you have a treaty with, is it not normally the case that the person who is the subject of the extradition request is at a minimum confined or not --
MS TRUDEAU: So --
QUESTION: -- or told that they can't leave?
MS TRUDEAU: So I – it is my understanding that that can be part of an extradition request brought forward. I'm not aware that any determination on that has been – been made.
QUESTION: So it's not standard operating procedure --
MS TRUDEAU: It's my understanding it's not standard. It could be.
QUESTION: It could be.
QUESTION: And what do you mean by part of that can be part of an extradition request brought forward?
MS TRUDEAU: So --
QUESTION: Do they – does the country seeking the extradition have to specifically request that?
MS TRUDEAU: It's my understanding – and I will say I'm not a lawyer, much to my father's chagrin – that it could be a part.
QUESTION: Different subject?
MS TRUDEAU: Can we stay on Turkey?
MS TRUDEAU: Go ahead. We'll go to Ilhan, then we'll go to you, Tejinder.
QUESTION: Thank you. Just two quick question, one of that, as we all know, there has been a very high anti-American environment in Turkey. Do you expect this rhetoric from Ankara to change after Vice President visit?
MS TRUDEAU: We've spoken about this quite a lot. We've spoken about our concerns with anti-American rhetoric. Our position hasn't changed. Turkey is a friend.
QUESTION: And second, final question: The other day, there was a schedule between the Dr. Henri Barkey and the Under Secretary Shannon. Earlier, Mr. Barkey has been accused of being involved in the coup. Do you have any comment on this now?
MS TRUDEAU: No. I would say the under secretary meets with a range of people. Dr. Barkey is an expert on Turkey. We appreciate the opportunity to learn as we can from academics and think tankers on that. I believe the Wilson Center spoke very clearly about the accusations against Dr. Barkey. Any accusation that any U.S. official had any role in this coup is absolutely false, and we've said that publicly.
QUESTION: Dr. Barkey is a former member of the State Department policy planning staff, is he not?
MS TRUDEAU: Yes, and he's also working for the Wilson Center right now.
QUESTION: So you believe he's not involved as well?
MS TRUDEAU: Yes.
QUESTION: You mentioned about the NATO, and the U.S. is not the only country in NATO. Major European Union countries are there, and there is --
MS TRUDEAU: And Canada.
QUESTION: And there is a brewing tension between Brussels and Ankara, as you know, on different – the Turkish president is asking for the billions in the aid for the – there are different subjects, but there is a big tension that's going on. Have you – are you aware? Have you addressed that? Is the Vice President talking only on behalf of the U.S. when you're mentioning NATO so many times? It's a – it's these countries which are other members of the NATO who are --
MS TRUDEAU: Well, I would let individual countries speak to their bilateral ties with Turkey and what relationships or tensions may exist. That's not for the United States to speak to.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from the Brussels. It's not usually the individual countries that are talking and where the tensions are, it's with the tensions with the EU. So are you in touch with the --
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Well, as not members of the EU, I would let the EU speak for itself. Thanks, Tejinder.
James, nice to see you.
QUESTION: Likewise. To the subject of the payments to Iran.
MS TRUDEAU: Yep.
QUESTION: You were quoted in the Associated Press today as having confirmed the manner of payment for the remaining 1.3 billion in interest and, in fact, the timing that those payments. What can you tell us?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. So I can confirm that the foreign claims payments made from the judgment fund on January 19th do represent the payment of approximately 1.3 billion in interest in connection with the Hague Tribunal settlement payment. For further details, I will have to refer you to the Treasury Department, but we did owe you that answer.
QUESTION: And this was broached in yesterday's briefing to some extent, but there is an obvious difference, which I think even from the podium you would be willing to concede, between the manner of payment of the 400 million and the manner of payment for the remaining interest. What accounts for that difference?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Well, we do make a practice of not commenting publicly on transactions, including settlement payments, due to the confidential nature of those payments and to respect the privacy of our international partners. In terms of the payment mechanics – and I know it's unsatisfying – I am going to have to refer you to Treasury to speak to those mechanics.
QUESTION: But you've already violated that rule in commenting, for example, about the leverage you sought to exert with the manner of the first payment and the timing of it. Did you not comment publicly on that as a department?
MS TRUDEAU: So we did talk about the juxtaposition of these payments coming in, our priority in getting our unlawfully detained Americans released, as well as the Hague settlement, so you're correct.
QUESTION: The staggering of the payments such that each would be just under $100 million – that was kind of odd, was it not?
MS TRUDEAU: I can't speak to that, James. I really can't. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: But you're not denying that that was the case?
MS TRUDEAU: I just don't have enough knowledge that I can actually adequately answer your question.
QUESTION: Can I ask one follow-up on this?
MS TRUDEAU: Sure.
QUESTION: You pointedly noted that it was approximately $1.3 billion in interest that was paid out.
MS TRUDEAU: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Just to go to Matt's question from yesterday, what about the other 13 cents? And did they actually get that or not? (Laughter.)
MS TRUDEAU: I think that is a question for Treasury.
QUESTION: That's wonderful that you say that, but when we go to Treasury and ask, they say "no comment." So referring us to an agency that is not inclined to provide any answers is kind of disingenuous, I think, for one. Secondly, what is this privacy that foreign governments enjoy?
MS TRUDEAU: So it's actually confidentiality for international transactions.
QUESTION: But you put it up on a website.
QUESTION: You paid it, right? This is a payment from the United States --
MS TRUDEAU: You guys --
QUESTION: -- to the Iranians, right?
MS TRUDEAU: I actually can't speak to that. I absolutely can't verify that. I believe you're referring to a document on Treasury's website. I do understand your concern. I just can't speak to it.
QUESTION: No, no, I – it's not my concern; it's my inability to understand how it is that governments have an expectation of privacy – which is the word you used, not confidentiality.
MS TRUDEAU: I'm sorry. Then I misspoke – its confidential nature.
QUESTION: Does the United States consider that this financial dispute, the 13 cents notwithstanding, is fully resolved?
MS TRUDEAU: Yes.
QUESTION: Different subject.
QUESTION: So hold on a minute, just --
MS TRUDEAU: Or wait, hold on. Let's --
QUESTION: When – and when you – when you're speaking of the payments that are listed on the – on that website, you're talking about the ones for 99,999,999, and that the thirteen of those, and the one for 10-point-roughly-4 million. Correct?
MS TRUDEAU: The 400 million was paid into the trust fund that was paid out because it was Iran's money.
QUESTION: No, yeah, I know.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. Okay.
QUESTION: I'm talking about the judgment – the – when you say --
MS TRUDEAU: The judgment fund.
QUESTION: You're talking the judgment fund. Everything on the 19th that says "foreign claims" --
MS TRUDEAU: Was made from the judgment.
QUESTION: Right. And that was the interest for Iran. But that means that's the 13 payments of the 99,999,999, and the one for the 10.39 – roughly 10.4. Right?
MS TRUDEAU: It's going beyond my level of knowledge, Matt. I'm sorry, I just can't answer that.
QUESTION: Well, you just said that --
MS TRUDEAU: So it's my understanding that those --
QUESTION: -- every single payment --
MS TRUDEAU: -- foreign claim payments made on January 19th --
QUESTION: Every single one of them?
MS TRUDEAU: Yes --
MS TRUDEAU: -- were made from the judgment fund.
QUESTION: So after you get through the ones with all the 9s --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- and you get to the other one, which was 10.4, and you add that on, it's actually more than 1.3 billion.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. You're asking me to go through payments that I am unable to do so.
QUESTION: Just a quick one on this.
MS TRUDEAU: Okay.
QUESTION: The – it's a technical question. I want just – I can't understand; I am so dumb. That you are saying about the confidential – you are respecting the confidentiality of the other nation. What --
MS TRUDEAU: Of international partners.
QUESTION: Yeah, but what about the people – that money has been paid from the U.S. taxpayers. And as a U.S. taxpayer, am I not supposed to know where the money is going, how it is going? Is that not worth giving it to the U.S. citizens?
MS TRUDEAU: I think you know, as the President spoke on January 18th, as the Secretary made clear, the resolution of the Hague settlement was in fact in the best interest of the U.S. taxpayer. In terms of the mechanics of this, what is made public, I can't speak to from this podium.
QUESTION: Okay. Somewhat related area. I have one on the Iran video edit, and then one on the Clinton emails, if we could. With respect to the editing of the video, this department has rather perversely from this podium sought to claim that there is no determination as to whether or not the videos that the State Department shoots and uploads to the State Department website are in fact federal records. I believe you are aware that the National Archives and Records Administration has now weighed in on this subject --
MS TRUDEAU: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- in collaboration with the State Department Office of Inspector General, and that both of those entities have now concluded that these are indeed federal records, just as I have been laboring to demonstrate in this setting for some time. What have you to say about that determination?
MS TRUDEAU: We agree with NARA. Thanks for the question. The rules for how records need to be treated are set by record disposition schedules. Records can be permanent or temporary, which I think you understand NARA had pointed out. The transcript is addressed in a disposition schedule on a permanent record. There is no disposition schedule as of right now that covers how the daily press briefing videos need to be preserved. We are working with NARA right now to create a disposition schedule for them, at which point it will be clarified if the videos will be temporary or permanent. Kirby's mentioned this last week that we would be consulting. NARA has come back and we agree with them.
QUESTION: NARA stated that it reached this conclusion after a query by the Office of the Inspector General, not a query by the Department of State.
MS TRUDEAU: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Did the Office of the Inspector General convey this finding of their own, with which NARA subsequently agreed, to the department at any point along the way?
MS TRUDEAU: I can't talk about timing; I will say that the Office of the Legal Adviser looked into it and we have – we agree with NARA. We'll work with them and we will set this schedule.
QUESTION: Right, but OIG is separate from OLA.
MS TRUDEAU: Very much, absolutely, and I couldn't speak for them.
QUESTION: Okay, but I'm just asking if your department was informed by OIG that they had reached this determination.
MS TRUDEAU: I don't know. I don't know who was informed by whom. Right now we're very focused on setting the disposition schedule, and I would even back up. Assistant Secretary Kirby has made clear there weren't rules on this. There wasn't this disposition schedule. We're going to fix this, we're going to establish this, we're going to set the rules, and also, frankly, he's set now the overarching guidance for Public Affairs that this sort of edit will never happen again.
QUESTION: You can claim, perhaps plausibly, that there were no rules in place to prohibit a deliberate censorship of one of these State Department briefing videos, but federal statute was in place at the time that this occurred, the Federal Records Act being that statute. Now we have the opinion of both the inspector general in this building and the National Archives and Records Administration that indeed these videos are covered under the Federal Records Act, so you would agree that at the time that this censorship took place – or, shall we say more neutrally, the editing --
MS TRUDEAU: Yes.
QUESTION: -- there was in place a federal statute that made it a crime to tamper with federal records and that these briefings were covered under that definition.
MS TRUDEAU: Well, I wouldn't be able to judge if this happened retroactively. What I will say is that what we know now is that we need to set a disposition schedule. We're working on it, we're going to put that in place. Okay.
QUESTION: Going forward, then, tampering with one of these briefing videos would in fact be a crime, correct?
MS TRUDEAU: Well, what I would say is – and I also don't want to establish what a crime is. What I will say is that we will set a disposition schedule; we'll see if it will be temporary or permanent. We will set in place guidelines that formalize this, but that's also already been done in terms of our own policies now within Public Affairs. Assistant Secretary Kirby has been very clear and that guidance came down very early, as soon as this was brought to our attention.
QUESTION: So going forward, under the rules that Assistant Secretary Kirby has put in place, tampering with one of these briefing videos will be a violation of State Department procedures.
MS TRUDEAU: Yes.
QUESTION: And you have no view at all as to whether that would also constitute a crime?
MS TRUDEAU: At this stage, no.
QUESTION: Do you know why there was never any disposition schedule for --
MS TRUDEAU: I don't.
QUESTION: -- this kind of thing? Was it just an oversight that people --
MS TRUDEAU: I think what I would say --
QUESTION: I mean, the video of the briefings, it post-dates my – I mean --
QUESTION: Pre-dates his (inaudible.)
QUESTION: -- pre-dates. Sorry. (Laughter.)
MS TRUDEAU: Thanks, Arshad.
QUESTION: No, it actually doesn't pre-date me, because there was no video when I started covering this building. And certainly not one --
MS TRUDEAU: You're aging yourself.
QUESTION: Are you sure?
QUESTION: Yeah, certainly not one that was going up online.
QUESTION: I thought it started under Carter. (Laughter.) George Gatton told us it started under President Carter.
QUESTION: Not – that didn't – it didn't go up on the website.
MS TRUDEAU: Let me know when you guys want me to chime in.
QUESTION: Anyway. (Laughter.) Anyway, so it was a relatively recent phenomenon --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, it is.
QUESTION: -- that these briefing videos have been put up online and even streamed live.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: So I'm just curious as to – did this just not cross anybody's mind?
MS TRUDEAU: I can't speak to that --
QUESTION: And how could it not have? Because --
MS TRUDEAU: I think probably – and, again, focusing really on James's question – we are going to fix this.
QUESTION: Well, I know --
MS TRUDEAU: We are going to do this, but the transcript --
QUESTION: -- but in the era of James Rosen --
MS TRUDEAU: In the era of James Rosen. Videos are important --
QUESTION: In which all of you are cursed to live. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: In the era of James Rosen, where video – and not just him, but of all his television colleagues --
MS TRUDEAU: Very much.
QUESTION: -- which – who rely on the video from the briefings, one would think that it would be a pretty big oversight to not set a rule or this disposition schedule.
MS TRUDEAU: I would say a couple things on this, is one – and when this came down, the first thing, I'll be honest, when we heard from James about this, is we checked the transcript, because for us the transcript was the official record. As we said at the time and as we have belabored at this podium, the transcript was always intact. Whether or not our rules kept pace with the technology, living in the age of James Rosen, it appears like they didn't. So now we're focused on that. We're going to put the rules in place. Kirby has put the policy in place, and we're going to live up to it.
QUESTION: Soon you will graduate and it will be the era of James Rosen.
QUESTION: I think we're living in the Matt Lee-Arshad Mohammed era myself.
Switching over to the Clinton emails --
MS TRUDEAU: Yep.
QUESTION: -- presumably you are aware of reports of a particular email in which Huma Abedin appears to have acknowledged that she left classified papers – indeed what she described as burn stuff – in the pocket of a seat in a car, and then was reduced to asking another colleague to remove those papers from that location in Ms. Abedin's absence from the car, and to store them in the trunk of that car. Did this conduct comport with State Department rules for the handling of classified information?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay. So I've read the article that you're referencing. I've also read the emails. I'm loath to get into talking about specific emails. But I will say this, is the premise of the article is incorrect. We were – the email specifically references materials in a burn bag, and the story alleges that burn bags, which I think you're all familiar with – they're brown bags with stripes on it – can only be used for the disposal of classified information. It's not the case. I use burn bags in my office for unclassified information all the time.
QUESTION: For sandwiches.
MS TRUDEAU: No. As the regulations state, sensitive but unclassified – what you guys would year as SBU – or personally identifiable information, PII documents, are often burned. It's not accurate to say that any document going into a burn bag is a document that's classified.
QUESTION: That seems to be an extraneous point to the overall thrust of the article, which I wish you would address, which is whether or not the conduct revealed in these emails met the standards for the handling of classified information.
MS TRUDEAU: No, you're assuming that the information in there is classified, and that's not what the email exchange shows, James.
QUESTION: Do you happen to know whether there was classified information at stake in this episode?
MS TRUDEAU: I think you're making a leap assuming there was.
QUESTION: I'm not. Now I'm not making any leaps. I'm asking you: Do you happen to know whether there was any classified information at stake in this episode?
MS TRUDEAU: I will say that the individuals who were involved in this are very aware of how to treat classified information. Burn bags are routinely used for SBU and PII information.
QUESTION: If the information contained in the back seat of this car was so innocuous, why was Ms. Abedin so urgently concerned with putting it in a trunk?
MS TRUDEAU: Well, I would say probably – and again – you know what, I don't want to get too – because now I'm answering hypotheticals, and I shouldn't do that.
QUESTION: I didn't. You're not answering a – you're answering questions about established sets of facts, not a hypothetical at all.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, but I'm not aware of the facts. I'm not aware of what went through this individual's mind, but I will dispute the fact that burn bags are only for classified info, because it's just not true.
QUESTION: Final question.
MS TRUDEAU: Sure.
QUESTION: To your knowledge, was Diplomatic Security ever alerted to this episode?
MS TRUDEAU: I have no information on that. I don't.
QUESTION: Or was Diplomatic Security standing outside of the car in question, which was in a motorcade in Delhi?
MS TRUDEAU: It's my understanding it was a motorcade, so yes, correct.
QUESTION: So – and the car in question was, in fact, the car that Secretary Clinton would ride in, correct?
MS TRUDEAU: I'm not sure, but it was part of a motorcade.
QUESTION: So it was secure?
MS TRUDEAU: It was part of a motorcade.
QUESTION: It was part of the package?
MS TRUDEAU: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: So in other words, it was protected by Diplomatic Security?
MS TRUDEAU: Yes.
QUESTION: In fact, it was an ambassador who was expected to be riding in that vehicle and from whom Ms. Abedin sought to shield that material. Am I correct about that?
MS TRUDEAU: I could absolutely not answer that. I have absolutely no information on that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS TRUDEAU: Thank you.
QUESTION: Can we go to --
MS TRUDEAU: Are we done with former Secretary Clinton's emails?
QUESTION: Can we go to the Palestinian-Israeli issue?
MS TRUDEAU: Yep. We – I would be more than happy to.
QUESTION: I have a couple – thank you, exactly. It's a lot easier. Anyway, so let me ask you very quick questions. The Israelis stopped a Palestinian children group – it's called Palestine Sings children chorus; it's part of UNICEF – from going to an event that they were invited to. Do you have any comment on that?
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. So I've seen those reports – from leaving Gaza. I'd refer you, of course, to the Israelis for more information. Generally speaking – and we've been clear on this – we're very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. We've spoken before about freedom of movement.
QUESTION: I understand, but don't you have a position on the fact that these kids who have been sanctioned and aided and helped by UNICEF, they want to go and sing about peace and love and things of that nature? Are you not upset, are you not outraged, so to speak? Would you bring this up to the Israelis and say why are you halting these kids?
MS TRUDEAU: I mean, I'm not going to speak to this specific incidence, but what I would say, which we've said multiple times, Said, is that we remain in close contact with the Israelis on our concerns on a range of issues that do include freedom of movement.
QUESTION: Would you urge them to allow them to go through and participate --
MS TRUDEAU: Not knowing the specifics of that – I've seen the same reports you have – I just really can't speak in any detail.
QUESTION: Okay. Let me also ask you on the advisory that you released yesterday.
MS TRUDEAU: The Travel Warning.
QUESTION: The Travel Warning --
MS TRUDEAU: Yep.
QUESTION: -- because it was very strong in language. I know that it was replacing or it replaced the advisory that you issued --
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. It was a routine update.
QUESTION: -- last December, but why the timing? Because it seems that you're calling on Americans to leave Gaza. I think there a number of Palestinian --
MS TRUDEAU: This was a routine update. It very closely mirrors what we've said in previous Travel Warnings as well. For people who aren't aware, we did do – issue a Travel Warning last night for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. This is part of our ongoing requirement to inform U.S. citizens for travel and people also who live there, and it was a routine update.
QUESTION: Okay. All right.
QUESTION: Can we stick with Travel Warnings?
MS TRUDEAU: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you have any intention of updating your travel advice for France in the light of the bans on wearing a burkini or, in some cases, hijab on the beaches of the Cote d'Azur? Would Muslim Americans be well advised to avoid holidays in south of France?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay, so a few things on this. We understand these are local ordinances, so I would refer you to the French authorities on this. I also understand that the French highest court will actually address this issue, I believe tomorrow. U.S. citizens are advised to comply with local law regardless of what country they visit, but on this particular, very local ordinance, I would refer you to the French.
QUESTION: So it's only if it becomes a nationwide – a federal --
QUESTION: Burkini ban?
QUESTION: -- a federal law that you'll take --
MS TRUDEAU: No. We constantly look at --
QUESTION: Your travel (inaudible) towards specific areas.
MS TRUDEAU: We constantly look at the conditions for every country. We understand that this is, as I mentioned, going to be brought before the French court tomorrow on this. U.S. citizens are required to comply with local law; however, we've also been very clear where we believe on freedom of religion, freedom to express your religious views. On this, in terms of how the French see these very specific local ordinances, I would have them speak to --
QUESTION: No, no, I understand – I get it. It's just that you have taken positions on national laws like in Turkey on the headscarves, in France on headscarves. Is that the bar for you to – if it's just a local ordinance, then --
MS TRUDEAU: Well, we understand – I think it's three local communities --
QUESTION: Yeah, but if it's --
MS TRUDEAU: -- and it's being addressed now at a national level.
QUESTION: Right, but so --
MS TRUDEAU: Is it 30?
QUESTION: But so if the supreme court or whoever it is is looking at it comes back and says, you know what, not only is it okay for these three – we're – that the government is free to go ahead and make this nationwide, is that – does then it rise to the level of something that you would comment on?
MS TRUDEAU: Well, no. As I mentioned, we – as we have said multiple times from this podium, of course we believe in the ability of people to express their religious views as they see fit, and we believe that in this case as well.
QUESTION: Well, but they can't do that if they go to a beach in one of these three towns.
MS TRUDEAU: So it is – it's a tension, because U.S. citizens, we do advise them to obey local laws. So while we do support --
QUESTION: So if the local law says that you have to hop up and down on one foot instead of walking, then you – you think that that's a reasonable thing to do?
MS TRUDEAU: And that's – well, we would certainly inform U.S. citizens of that issue.
QUESTION: That is a hypothetical, by the way.
QUESTION: So there's the --
MS TRUDEAU: Thank you, James.
QUESTION: So there's the question then. Are you --
MS TRUDEAU: We know it is, and we continue to look --
QUESTION: Are you – are you going to update your --
MS TRUDEAU: And we continue – I can't speak specifically to this. We understand that this is an ongoing discussion in France on this. But of course, as anywhere in the world, we will continue to look at local conditions, and we update our country-specific information accordingly.
QUESTION: Are you aware if any U.S. officials, either from the embassy or from the Office of Religious Freedom, have had conversations with their French counterparts to clarify this?
MS TRUDEAU: I am not. I am not, Dave.
QUESTION: Let me ask you this.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: Would you issue an advisory to, let's say, women who observe this kind of thing, who would like to have – that go to the beaches in France and so on from not going? Would you tell them not to --
MS TRUDEAU: I think this is what we were talking about too, so it's --
QUESTION: I understand, but it's (inaudible) --
MS TRUDEAU: We advise U.S. citizens, regardless of where they are in the world, to understand that they are subject to local laws. At the same time, we understand that this is an ongoing discussion in France. It's going to the high court there. As conditions – and the third part of that, which is Matt's question on our travel warnings, travel alerts, and country-specific information. As information changes, without speaking directly to this, we do adjust the information we provide to U.S. citizens.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS TRUDEAU: John.
QUESTION: I had a couple more on Turkey that I wanted to just get in. Is that all right?
MS TRUDEAU: Let's go back.
QUESTION: Just – President Biden, on his trip, said that --
MS TRUDEAU: Vice President Biden.
QUESTION: Vice President Biden, right – he advised or urged Kurds not to cross the Euphrates. Is that the official U.S. position?
MS TRUDEAU: So we actually spoke about this earlier, so I'd refer you to the transcript.
QUESTION: Okay. Just one more question.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah.
QUESTION: How do you expect the Kurds to follow this after fighting for weeks to liberate Manbij?
MS TRUDEAU: We actually – we spent a good part of the early part of the briefing on this.
MS TRUDEAU: So do we have more? Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on the North Korean SLBM test, this has been categorized by various experts as the most successful to date. Does – is the U.S. going to be taking any actions differently from responding to the previous two of the same kinds of the tests?
MS TRUDEAU: So I wouldn't speak to intelligence matters in terms of the success or the failure of this particular test. What I'd reiterate, which is what we said at the top of the briefing, is that we'll continue to work at the UN as well as through other intentional fora as well as with our partners to address.
QUESTION: I've got one more.
MS TRUDEAU: Sure. Are we doing – it's okay. Go ahead, Matt.
QUESTION: All right.
MS TRUDEAU: They've ceded.
QUESTION: All right, last one? Just I want to revisit the question that I've asked a couple times, and that is just to make sure because things keep kind of changing as new stuff comes out, but in light of recent reporting on the relation or the ties between Secretary Clinton's State Department and the Clinton Foundation, is it still the department's contention or determination that there was no conflict of interest, that everything that was going on, was appropriate and above board and followed the rules?
MS TRUDEAU: The department's actions under Secretary Clinton were taken to advance Administration policy as set by the President and in the interests of American foreign policy. The State Department is not aware of any policy decisions influenced by donations to the Clinton Foundation.
QUESTION: Okay, not policy decisions. The latest reporting is about access and meetings. Is it also the case that you've determined or that you're not aware of any preferential treatment given to donors?
MS TRUDEAU: No. As we've spoken to and you know, and I'm sorry to belabor this, is --
QUESTION: No, I asked the question.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah – is --
QUESTION: And I'm asking the question because more and more keeps coming out.
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. As we've said previously, State Department officials are in range with a range of outside experts – individuals, organizations, nonprofits, foundations, academics. This is normal. This is part of how the State Department gathers information and informs our thoughts, pro and con, on any particular issue.
QUESTION: But one more on this because I think the word that was previously used was "impropriety," and that you were not aware of any impropriety. Can you stick with that?
MS TRUDEAU: Yes.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Well, when the calendars of the secretary of state reveal that more than half of the people outside the government, who were lucky enough to secure a face-to-face audience or telephone conversation with her, were in fact through one means or another donors to her family foundation, doesn't that raise some legitimate questions about whether preferential treatment was in fact being given to those donors?
MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. I would dispute the idea of preferential treatment. I think you're referring to the AP article, and though Matt has shown himself as being perhaps the only person in the briefing room who can do complicated math – (laughter) – I won't --
QUESTION: That's not the same.
MS TRUDEAU: -- I won't unpack the math numbers on that. I do know that AP said that they did not take into account Secretary Clinton's meetings with foreign leaders and diplomats, as well as U.S. Government officials, to arrive at their calculations. As we've said before, the State Department meets with a range of people, and a wide range of people, outside individuals, and organizations contact the State Department. Meeting requests, recommendations, proposals come to the department through a range of channels.
We can go on, but I think I answered that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS TRUDEAU: Thanks. Thanks, guys.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:57 p.m.)
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